Maryville Times, (Blount Co. TN) Thursday, June 20, 1895:
"Drowned At A Park---Miss Nellie Neff, the young daughter of A.J. Neff of 520 Walrond Avenue, a member of the recent graduating class of the high school, and Albert L. Schabacher of 637 Garfield Avenue, were drowned while boating in Washington Park Lake last night. They were together in a rowboat and, is is supposed, attempted to change seats and thus capsized the boat and were thrown into the water and drowned within sight of several boating parties. Neither could swim, and those within distance to make a rescue were too horrified or confused to save them.
About 9 o’clock wild cries for help rang across the quiet waters and horrified the attendants at the boat house, 390 yards away. The people at the boat house pulled out to the place of excitement quickly but when several boats came together at the spot nothing was found except an upturned boat. It was evident that the occupants of the boat were drowned and the park people, under the direction of J.H. Staley, began dragging for the bodies at once. In the general horror, the people boating on the lake hurriedly pulled in and no one seemed to know who had been drowned. For a time nobody could be found who had witnessed the accident. In a little time, however, a woman’s straw hat and a man’s hat were found in the water together with a woman’s light wrap. In the straw hat was the name of Nellie Neff. About this time the friends of Miss Neff and Mr. Schabacher realized that they were missing.
The particulars of the accident are these: The Walrond Avenue Tennis Club gave a picnic at Washington Park yesterday afternoon. The party was chaperoned by Mrs. B.C. King and was composed of thirteen persons, all well known in the social circles of Kansas City and living on or near Walrond Avenue. At 8:20 o’clock last evening most of the party put out in four boats for a row on the lake. The boats did not keep together.
About 9 o’clock a young man of the name of Miller, who was boating with a lady, observed a man standing up in a boat some little distance from the summer opera amphitheater on the west side of the lake. The next moment he saw him pitch into the water. Thereupon arose the cries for help, which were heard all over that part of the lake and caused the confusion and excitement. One of the young men of Miss Neff’s party saw the drowning, but did not realize who the struggling persons were. The young woman with him was so badly frightened that their boat was endangered, and he attempted to land the frightened young lady before going to the rescue. He failed to affect a landing, the girl went into hysterics, and, when he pulled back, he was too late to save two lives.
Another man had two ladies in his boat who also becamed alarmed to a hysterical point and he was impeded in his efforts to pull to the scene. Other men on the lake, with ladies in their boats, before they could make out just what was going on and acquire clear heads, were of no service. It was too late.
Waldo J. Brent, who was in a skiff with Miss Alice M. Barnby, was the nearest one of the party to the scene of the accident at the time of its occurrence. He says he heard a rattling sound like that of oars coming in contact with the boat, a splashing and calls for help from Schabacher. He rowed to the spot, found the boat, Miss Neff’s straw hat and her cloak.
Benjamin S. Deatherage said: “I was in a skiff about 300 or 400 feet from the parties when the accident happened. I heard Mr. Schabacher call for help and rowed toward him as rapidly as I could, as there were three young ladies in the boat with me. Mr. Schabacher had one arm around Miss Neff, trying to save her, while with the other he attempted to swim. They sank before we could reach them.”
At 12:30 o’clock this morning they brought to the surface the body of Miss Neff. As it was lifted into the boat, the moonlight fell on the white, upturned face and dripping hair of the unfortunate girl and made a sight pathetic beyond expression. The body was taken to the boat house and Superintendent Floweree at once returned to the city on a special engine and communicated with Coroner Bedford, who authorized immediate removal to the city. At 3 o’clock it was in the care of Stewart & Carroll, the undertakers. It was conveyed there by Mr. George Neff, brother of the dead girl, who had driven to the park in a buggy. The lake failed to yield up the young man’s body, and the tired searchers gave up until this morning, when the efforts will be renewed.
Miss Nellie Neff was 21 years old and had just been graduated from the high school. She was the only daughter of A.J. Neff, whose home at 520 Walrond Avenue is one of the finest in that fashionable street. She was a sister of Jay H., George N. and Walter Neff of the live stock paper, The Drover’s Telegram, and of Frank C. Neff, a student at the Iowa State University, who will return home this morning unaware of the tragic event of last night. She attended the high school and received her diploma on the night of Wednesday, May 29.
The picnic party of the Walrond Tennis Club was arranged several days ago and Miss Neff extended an invitation to Mr. Schabacher to attend it. Her note of invitation to him was found in the pocket of his coat, which was recovered from the lake soon after the discovery of the accident. Miss Neff was a tall girl with a brown hair and was quite pretty. She was of strong physique but could not swim. She was gentle and lovable and of a vivacious temperment. She was a member of the Independence Avenue Methodist Church, of which the Rev. Dr. Quayle is pastor.
Mr. & Mrs. Neff were not informed of their daughter’s death until about 11 o’clock. They had retired, but were awakened by their son, George, to whom the bearers of the sad message had first gone, as they did not desire to go direct to the parents. George Neff lives a short distance from his parent’s house. He knocked and called, and his mother answered. He went in with Dr. E.R. Northup. Mrs. Neff was prostrated by the news and sank at the foot of the stairs. Neighbors called in to minister to her. Mr. Neff was scarcely less affected.---Kansas City Sunday Star.
Kansas City, Mo., June 12, 1895---The funeral was a very large one. Both Mr. Schabacher and Nellie were brought into the church at the same time. I think I never saw a more sympathetic audience or a sadder sight than the family gathered there. Frank came down the isle with the heart-broken mother and he himself could scarcely stand the strain. Mr. Neff was scarcely able to be at the funeral. You can picture the sad scene. The accident has been the only thing talked of in the city for four days.
I saw George a few moments ago and found that Mrs. Neff has been unable to leave her bed since the funeral. Mr. Neff is slightly better."---Arthur Ruble.