The Courier-Journal

Youth Aids Girl to Shore Rowboat Rescues 3 Children.

Six persons, five of them children slipped to their deaths beneath the surface of the Ohio River, two miles below Orell, Ky. at 11.30 o'clock Sunday morning when a flat boat containing twelve people capsized about 150 yards from the shore. Four more children were rescued.

The drowned are:
Joseph Guenthner, 43 years old, 4716 South Second Street.
Matilda Guenthner, 12, his daughter.
Mary Louise Helchelbach, 10, of 1118 Mulberry Street, a cousin.
William Guenthner Jr., 9, son of the drowned man's brother William Guenthner, 2064 South Shelby.
Mildred Guenthner, 12, daughter of William Guenthner.
Mary Lee Guenthner, 10, also a daughter of William Guenthner.
The tragedy struck in three families, all related. They had gone to a summer camp located on the property of Mrs. Malinda Madden, seventeen miles below Louisville to spend the Sunday holiday. The camp had been rented during the summer by Leo Guenthner, 21, son of the drowned man and a friend, Lawrence Shacklette, 19, of 1720 Bolling Avenue.

The small boat, powered by a outboard motor had crossed the stream to the Indiana side and after moving with the current for some few yards had turned its blunt nose toward the Kentucky shore.

The river was extremely rough, according to fisherman in the vicinity, and when the boat started making its way back the waves began lapping over the sides of the craft. The boat was low in the water because of the large number of passengers.

Just as it neared the shore, with Leo Guenthner and Shacklette operating the boat, it suddenly flipped over throwing everyone into the water, according to Virgil Marshall, 26, of 856 South Twenty-second Street, who was sitting on the bank nearby.

Panic followed, according to Marshall, who said some of the children began screaming for help while floundering in the water. Leo Guenthner succeeded in getting three of the children on top of the overturned boat while he hung to the side to see that they did not fall off. Shacklette swam to shore with another of the children.

Marshall, who said he seemed "paralyzed" for a moment before moving, ran up the stream fifty yards to get a boat at the fishing camp of Charles Hager, 56, of 1226 Beech Street. With Hanger he rowed to the overturned boat and brought Leo Guenthner and the three children to shore.

Meanwhile, Loe's father, Joseph Guenthner and His Sister, Matilda, 12, had sunk beneath the surface with their four cousins.

Another son of the drowned man, Joseph L. Guenthner, 23, who was with his mother in the camp about two blocks from the drowning scene, heard the cries for help and also hurried there.

Joseph hurriedly drove in an automobile to the United States Coast Guard Station, Fourth Street and the River and returned with the Coast Guardsmen Walter Fugitt and Frank Pezzulo dispatched to the scene by Capt. Walter Farrell. They recovered all of the bodies in the exact spot where the tragedy occurred, several hours later.

Marshall, who was seated on the bank of the river with Miss Marie Evens, 853 South Third Street, said he saw the persons start out in the boat about half an hour before the accident occurred. He said he thought at the time that the boat was overloaded and started to mention it but refrained.

County authorities, including Capt. Ambrose Hagerman, chief of County Police and Thomas Dover, jailer of Jefferson County rushed to the scene to aid County Patrolmen Carl Horn and Arthur Hagerman were called from duty on the Dixie Highway and hurried to the scene.

The three children rescued from the overturned boat were Alvin Guenthner, 4, another son of William Guenthner, Cletus Guenthner, 9, and William Guenthner, 6, both sons of the drowned man. Anna Mae Heichelbech, 14, sister of the drowned girl was helped to shore by Shacklette.

Another relative, John Guenthner, living at Mary's Lane and the Cane Run Road, arrived at the camp about 3:30 o'clock Sunday afternoon with his family. He knew nothing of the tragedy until reaching the camp.

Several hundred persons, hearing of the drowning, gathered on the river bank while coast guardsmen dragged for the bodies. Coroner Roy L. Carter viewed the bodies after they were recovered and said deaths were caused by drowning. The summer cottage had been named Camp Katy.

The three children of William Guenthner are survived, besides their father, by two brothers, Alvin and Jude Theodore Guenthner and three sisters, Catherine, Wilhelmina and Frances.

Joseph Guenthner is survived by his wife, Mary Guenthner and sons, Joseph, Leo, August, Urban, Louis, Jerome, Cletus and William Guenthner. Funeral services for the drowned man and his daughter, Matilda, will be held at 7:45 o'clock Tuesday morning at Holy Name Catholic Church. Burial will be in St. Michael's Cemetery.

The Heichelbech child is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Heichelbech, two sisters, Masie and Anna May Heichelbech and six brothers, Maurice, Norbert, August, Eugene, Edward John and Kenneth Heichelbech.

(reprinted from The Record August 7, 1930)


Six Members of the Guenthner and Heichelbech Families Meet Death When Boat Capsizes.

A sudden large wave and the shifting to one side of nine little children, not over-loading, was ascribed by members of the family as the cause of the capsizing of a flat-boat on the Ohio river Sunday morning when one man and five children were drowned in one of the grimmest tragedies to appall Louisville or vicinity in a number of yeas.

Those who lost their lives were Joseph Guenthner, 45, 4716 South Second Street, a worker in the L & N planing mill; his only daughter Mary Matilda who was 12 the 22nd of July; three children of his brother William; Mildred 12, Mary Lee 10, and William Jr.,8; and the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Heichelbech, of 1118 Mulberry St., Mary Louise who would have 10 in November. Mrs. Heichelbech is a sister to Mrs. Joseph Guenthner.

Twenty-nine members of the three families anticipated a pleasurable day's outing Sunday at a camp on Madden place fourteen miles below Louisville on the Ohio river. The camp had been rented for the summer by one of Mr. Joseph Guenthner's sons, Leo, and some friends. Leo Guenthner, Lawrence Shacklett, and two other companions had gone earlier and had been on the river in the flat-boat which was equipped with an out-board motor, but never beyond midstream. When they saw the families arriving, which was about 11:10 they pulled to shore. The children wanted to boat ride and nine of them were put in, Leo Guenthner and Lawrence Shacklett taking charge and Joseph Guenthner the father accompanying the party. The boat stayed within 50 feet of the shore and after going a quarter mile upstream turned around to come back to camp. A sudden large wave caused the children to shift to one side and then the other, then dipping the boat several inches. The older men told the children to sit still, [planning to get out and swim back to shore with the boat, but the children, when they saw the men climb out, jumped into the water after them, and the boat capsized, stricking Joseph Guenthner who was rendered unconscious and drowned. Louis Heichelbech, who was at the camp a quarter of a mile away when the accident happened, succeeded in saving one of his little girls, Anna May, aged 11. Chas. Hager, who was fishing a few yards up stream, rowed out to the overturned boat and took off several of the children sitting on top. A valiant but ineffectual effort was made by the older boys to save all the children, who became panicky. Joseph Guenthner, Jr., drove to the city and took out two coast-guardsmen, who found all the bodies close to the spot where the accident happened.

The flat-boat, 16 feet long and 4 feet wide had been used by the Joseph Guenthner family several times during the summer and was considered safe and large enough to hold ten or twelve grown people. All but three in the boat Sunday were small children. Surviving Joseph Guenthner and his little daughter are his widow Mrs. Mary Schnell Guenthner, and eight sons, the youngest 8 years old William Guenthner, an organ builder, who lives at 2064 South Shelby Street, has left three girls and two boys, the youngest a baby two years and eight months old. Mrs. Guenthner, who was Wilhelmina Brumleve before her marriage, died two years ago. Mr. Heichelbech, a building contractor, has eight living children, six boys and two girls.

Funeral services for Joseph Guenthner and his little girl were held from the Church of the Holy Name Tuesday morning, the Rev. John Oconnor pastor, celebrated the Mass of Requiem. Wednesday morning at St. Elizabeth Church, four coffins containing the remains of the three children of the Wm. Guenthner family and little Mary Louise Heichelbech, stood in the center aisle while a Requiem Mass for them was offered by their pastor, the Rev, John F. Knue.

The tragedy shocked the city, in their sorrow the bereaved, parents have received the sympathy of hundreds of friends and sympathizers. Among those who hastened to offer condolence to the bereaved ones was our Right Rev. Bishop John A. Floersh, accompanied by the Rev. Francis R. Cotton, who visited each of the three families and spoke to every member of the stricken household, which, needless to say was a source, of the greatest consolation to those hearts benumbed with sorrow through the tragic ending of a happily-planned family outing.

Mildred and Mary Lee Guenthner

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From the files of:Thomas J. Guenthner