Howard Wynn, brother of John Wynn, was among the Western Electric employees who escaped from the Eastland. He has told of his experiences in a letter to his brother which the latter has kindly allowed us to publish:
Chicago, Ill., July 28, 1915.
Dear Brother and Sisters;
Received your card last night, but have been too busy to answer until tonight. I was on the Eastland, but in no danger as I was on the stern end nearer the wharf side than the river, the side she turned over on; in fact I did not think of it seriously until I saw a woman with a little baby in her arms go into the water, with people dropping all around her. Just as I got ready to jump for her a life raft with one man on went past so I jumped on that, but as I turned around to get the woman and baby the boat settled and sucked them under so all I could do was pick up the others near, and there was plenty of them.
By the time the Petoskey gave me a line I had about twenty on, women and men piled up like sacks of wheat with nothing but their head uncovered so they could breathe. We pulled so many on that to keep from sinking some of the fellows had to slip into the water and kick to keep afloat.
I pulled one old fellow out on [a] two by four, that was at least 2 feet under water, hanging onto an arm chair which refused to sink, and so he was floating along about two feet under water. I got him to the raft and pumped some air into him then hoisted him on deck the Petoskey and when I got up there he was sitting on the cabin floor with his arms around his daughter whom we had also pulled out, crying and asking for two sisters and mother who were missing.
Maude and the children did not intend [on] going so all I had to take care of was just myself. You no doubt have read all about the details in the paper. We have been working night and day locating the needy and distributing money where needed. Today all the business houses in town were closed from 9 to 4 in memoriam of the dead. Marshall Field & Co. contributed 30 auto trucks to take 30 caskets and mourners to the cemetery this afternoon that we could not get hearses for, also had to send to New York for a train load of coffins, as the supply ran out. Well there is so much to tell, that if I tried to give details I could write a book, and it's getting late so will close thanking the Lord that none of our family was lost.
Love to all,
P.S. They have a man in a straight jacket up the street who lost wife and two children and numerous cases where they try to commit suicide.
©South Haven Tribune
reprinted with permission of South Haven Tribune