Chicago, Illinois -- On the morning of July 24, 1915, 60-year-old Julius "Ferdinand" Reschke boarded the Eastland for the Western Electric company picnic; his wife Bertha decided to stay at home. Ferdinand's son Ewald brought a date, Hattie Hofmeister, for that morning, but ended up not boarding the ship.
Ewald and Hattie were standing nearby when the ship rolled into the Chicago River. Ferdinand escaped alive, losing only his straw hat. He immediately went out and bought a new hat, and when he arrived home his wife Bertha didn't notice that he was wearing a new hat.
The next day, the entire family gathered together while Ferdinand showed everyone the picture of the capsized Eastland in the newspaper. He pointed out how he crawled to safety.
Shortly after the disaster, and as Ferdinand left the wharf, he let others use his pocketknife. He never thought he would see the pocketknife again, but several years later a man returned the knife to him at work, mentioning that the knife helped to save many lives.
Every year on the anniversary of the Eastland Disaster, Ferdinand saw his pastor to give him a special offering to be used for missions. In 1926 when he was on his deathbed, Ferdinand had a feeling that he would die on the anniversary of the Eastland Disaster. On July 23, 1926, the day before the 11th anniversary, Ferdinand said, "Gott hat mir elf jahre frist gegeben, morgan ist es elf jahr." This translates to: "God has given me 11 years grace. Tomorrow it is 11 years." Ferdinand did not die the next day, but passed away on August 20, 1926.