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Bygones of Monroe:

DISTRESSING CALAMITY

(Monroe Commercial, Thursday, May 18, 1876, front page.)

Distressing Calamity (February 2, 1828)

The loss of the wife and five children of John Bt. Couture, on the evening of the 27th ult., whose residence on the south side of Otter Creek, in the township of Erie, is a calamity of which the recent history of this county affords no parallel. The following particulars are gathered from a hired girl who resided in the family, and who narrowly escaped alive from the scene of this melancholy disaster. The family were awakened by the beating of the ice against their little dwelling, occasioned by the rising of the waters of the lake, during a heavy storm of wind. They resolved on making their way to a neighboring house in the hope of finding safety.

Accordingly Mrs. Couture took two of the children upon her back, the hired girl took two, and the oldest, a little boy about eleven years old endeavored to make his was on foot. They had not advanced far through water and ice, waist deep, before Mrs. C. lost her two children. The idea of leaving them to perish in the water was insupportable. She endeavored in vain to find them, when the little boy requested his mother to leave him behind, in the hope of rescuing himself and comrades. Mrs. C. advanced as far as a fence, against which the ice appeared to beat, without materially extending beyond. She was found Sunday morning with her foot caught in the fence; her two children were found some rods distant, but the affectionate little boy was not found till next morning.

The hired girl finding she could render no assistance to those behind, proceeded to the house for which they had all started. It was deserted, surrounded with water, and the door fastened. While endeavoring to gain entrance, she placed the two children upon a ladder, where they clung for a few moments, but soon fell into the water below and perished. Finding herself thus alone, she sought safety by placing herself upon the top of an oven, built on the outside of the house, where she remained perched like a stool pigeon, thinly clad until the following morning, when she was taken from her perilous situation, where she could not have long survived. They had all, or most of them, only their night clothes on. Mr. Couture was absent on a visit to the only surviving child, then attending school, at the bay settlement.

(Monroe Commercial, Thursday, May 18, 1876, front page.)


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