GREENVILLE — The following is a transcription of text from the June 17, 1897 edition of the Greenville Evening Herald.
Three Tragic Deaths
T.H. King, Miss Kate Austin and Miss Schenck Drowned
Were Bathing in Mr. King’s Pool
Their Bodies Recovered and Brought to the City – the Sworn Testimony of Fred Norsworthy, the Only Eye Witness to the Horrible Affair.
The accidental drowning of Mr. T.H. King, cashier of the First National Bank, Miss Kate Austin, of this city, and Miss Ida Schenck of Sherman has been the sole topic of conversation on the streets to-day. The drowning occurred about 11 o’clock last night in a pool in Mr. King’s pasture six miles northwest of Greenville.
The first news of this horrible affair was brought to the city at about 12:30 o’clock this morning by Fred Norsworthy, who was present and witnessed the drowning, and who first communicated the news to Mr. Joe Jones. Mr. Jones immediately notified the officers and a few minutes later left for the scene of the drowning in company with Sheriff Patton, City Marshall Velvin, ‘Squire F.M. Newton, Lee Ivey, E.W. Harris and Padgett Beckham.
Arriving at the pool, the body of Miss Kate Austin was discovered floating in the water, and was rescued. Drag hooks were thrown in, but it soon became evident that the other bodies could not be reached without the assistance of a boat, and Padgett Beckham returned to the city and secured a boat and vehicles. The body of Miss Schenck was found next, and then the body of Mr. King.
The bodies were brought to the city and the remains of Mr. King were taken in charge by Lasater & Harrison who embalmed the body and prepared it for burial and took it to his residence. The other bodies were taken to Miss Kate Austin’s home. Miss Austin’s body was embalmed and will be sent to Missouri for interment.
Mrs. Schniz, mother of Miss Schenck, resides in Sherman, and has been notified of the death of her daughter, who came to Greenville a few days ago to visit Miss Austin.
As there have been so many conflicting reports and rumors in regard to the drowning, THE BANNER produces verbatim the testimony of Fred Norsworthy, the only eye witness of the deplorable affair. Mr. Norsworthy’s sworn testimony follows:
“My name is J.F. Norsworthy and I am 30 years of age, and reside in Greenville, Hunt county, Texas. On yesterday evening, June 16, 1897, Mr. T.H. King and myself left the side door of the First National bank at 4:25 o’clock, in Mr. King’s buggy, and drove out the Kingston road to the Roby place, and there we took the direct road to Mr. King’s pasture, near Salem school house. After going inside the pasture, we drove around for some time and looked up the cattle and shot at birds. I had a shotgun and box of shells with me. When we got to the pasture gate, we met Miss Kate Austin and Miss Ida Schenck, of Sherman, Texas. They were in Miss Kate Austin’s buggy. We drove to the pasture together and the ladies went with us around to see the cattle and also hunting. Just about dusk we went over into the west part of the pasture at old Bill Craddock’s and had a lunch. We staid at old “Bills” until the moon came up and then we drove over to the pool. It was between 9:30 and 10 o’clock when we got to the pool. When we got to the pool we got out and debated for some little time the question as to whether it was too cool or not to go into the pool. Mr. King asked me what I thought of it, and I told him to let us go over to the water and see if it was too cold, and we, Mr. King and myself, went over to the edge of the water, and felt of the water, and found it warm at the edge, and Mr. King stated that it was warm at the edge, but might be cold out in the deep water, and asked me if I thought the water would be cold enough to cause cramps. I told him I thought not, and then I stated that I would undress and go in and try it. I then undressed, that is I put on my bathing clothing, pants and shirt, and got me a slat on the bank and put it in the water and walked out in it, and then got into the water and swam across and back to the west side of the pool. I then stated that the water seemed warm to me and then the girls said that they would go down to the end of the dam and get ready, and when we got ready to go in, to whistle for them and they would come, and Mr. King then took off his clothing and put on a pair of pants and his undershirt and socks, and I then whistled for the girls and they came up to where we were, and I then led Miss Schenck into the water about four feet deep and Mr. King and Miss Kate also went into the water together. We all went in together and Mr. King and Miss Kate turned in a northerly direction towards deep water, and Miss Schenck and myself turned a little south where the water was not so deep. We were all talking and playing in the water when all at once my attention was attracted by Mr. King calling “Fred! Fred!” and they both called one after the other “Fred! Fred!” I then turned my face toward them at once on hearing this calling, and I found that they were both out in deep water and Mr. King had both hands upraised and was making motions as if trying to swim, and at the same time Miss Kate appeared to me to be holding to Mr. King’s shoulders and he was strugling to get out of the water. I then pushed Miss Schenck back from me and told her to stand there, and I would go and help Mr. King and Miss Kate. I made a lunge in the direction of them and started swimming to them. I swam the distance of about 10 or 12 feet to them, and on reaching them I found that they had sunk once and came up again. They were still both calling “Fred! Fred,” but they were now both calling in a strangling peculiar manner. When I got to them I reached out to take hold of Mr. King and in the struggle I just caught the tips of his fingers on one hand with my right hand. In his struggles he pulled loose from me, and during the struggle some one jumped on my back and then we all went down to-gether.
“As soon as I came up again, I swam out towards a plank, and did get the plank and shoved it in towards these parties, and I also got a shorter plank and sent that towards them hoping to reach them with the planks. After pushing the planks out, I crawled out on the bank and fell on the bank exhausted. While going out towards the west bank I let down once to dry the depth, and went under again and the excitement of the moment and the fact that sinking twice had completely exhausted me. I was full of water when I crawled out on the bank and threw up a large quantity of water and I suppose I became unconscious, because I laid there on the bank for some time. I don’t know how long I laid there, but when I came to myself everything was over and quiet. When I left Miss Ida Schenck to go to Mr. King and Miss Kate, as stated above, I told her to stand there in shallow water where we were standing, in fact I shoved her towards the bank, but after I got to Mr. King and Miss Kate, I found she had followed me into deep water, and even right up to Mr. King and Miss Kate. I do not know why she followed me, and I am sure if she had stood still as directed, she would have been all right. From all the surroundings it is now my impression that Miss Kate accidentally and unknowingly got into deep water and pulled Mr. King under with her in her fright and when he came up the first time he began calling, “Fred! Fred!” as stated above. Neither of the young ladies could swim and they were both entirely helpless in deep water. I did all in my power to save all of them, and came very near being drowned by some one of them during the struggle. When I swam out to where Mr. King and Miss Kate were struggling, it was my intention to swim up to them and take Mr. King by the hand with my right hand and swim to the shore with the use of my left hand but with the slight hold I got with my fingers I lost my hold on him, and I could never get any other chance at him. After coming to myself on the bank again, I got up and went to our buggy and put on dry clothes, and took Mr. King’s clothes and put them inside of the wire fence around the pool and while putting them over the fence his watch dropped out and I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I then got in the buggy and started home in great haste, and I passed the first house near the road because it was so far from the road and drove on to the second house and after getting the man out I told him Mr. King had been drowned in the pool in his pasture down there, and he asked if it was Tom King, and I stated that it was, and asked him if he would please get some of the neighbors and go down and look for him till some one could get out from town, and he said he would. I then drove on to the next house and called to the man who was sitting on his front door and asked him also to go down after telling him what had occurred, and he said he could not go because his wife was sick and he could not leave her. After this I drove rapidly on to Mr. Joe Jones house, and called him out and stated to him that Mr. King had been drowned in his own pool in the pasture, and asked him to go with me back out there and get him out, and he stated that he would look after it and for me to stay at his house. This is all I know about the unfortunate matter, and I do not now remember any other facts or circumstances of any kind, whatever, in connection with the matter. I knew all these parties during their lifetime, and to the best of my knowledge they were accidentally drowned in the pool in Mr. King’s pasture, about six miles northwest of Greenville on the night of June 16, 1897.”
Joseph R. Jones testified as follows: “My name is Joseph R. Jones, and I reside at Greenville, Texas. Fred Norsworthy came to my house this morning about 12:30 o’clock and said that Mr. King was drowned in his pool out in the pasture and asked me to go with him out there to get him out. I did not believe him at first, as he seemed to be in a dazed condition, and I told him to stay at my house and I would get some persons to go with us.
“I then went to E.W. Harris’ residence and got him, and myself in company with Will Velvin, Max Patton and others, went at once to King’s pasture and on arrival at the pool in the pasture, we proceeded to drag the lake as best we could, with our appliances, and we found one of the bodies floating on the water, and after further efforts we succeeded in dragging out two other bodies. They were all dead, and one of them was the body of T.H. King. The other two were ladies and I did not know them. I did not notice any signs of violence having been used on any of the bodies. We then placed the bodies in a vehicle and brought them to Greenville. From the surroundings it is my opinion that they all met their death from accidental drowning. This is all I have in reference to the matter.”
J.R. Nichols, M.D., testified as follows: “I examined the deceased bodies of T.H. King, Greenville, Texas, Miss Kate Austin, Greenville, Texas, Miss Ida Schenck, Sherman, Texas, and found that death resulted from asphyxia, due to drowning.
“I found upon external examination some slight contusions and lacerations, but not of a sufficient nature to warrant me to sustain suspicions of foul play.”
Elsewhere in the paper:
Mr. King’s Funeral
Mr. King’s funeral will not take place until Saturday morning, as it will be delayed until that time in order that Mr. King’s brother, Mr. W. H. King, can arrive from Abilene.
Mr. King leaves a wife and three children. Mrs. King is one of the most lovable ladies of our city, the daughter, Miss Ollie, is just verging into womanhood, quiet, unassuming and loved by all, two sons who give much promise of sterling manhood. As a family they are beloved by the entire city for their unassuming qualities and sterling worth and in this hour of their bereavement the entire city tenders them their sincerest sympathy.