Drowning at Lake Calumet

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Lake Calumet
Roseland, Cook, Illinois, United States
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Lake Calumet Rand McNally Map 1910

Drownings were especially fearsome to the Dutch because few knew how to swim, even though they had lived by the sea. In 1904, four young men in Roseland drowned on Lake Calumet when both their two small boats capsized while duck hunting. Pieter Piersma and his cousins, the brothers Abraham and Teunis Slingerland , were members of the First Reformed Church; the fourth victim, John Brandt, Jr., belonged to the Bethany Reformed Church. Piersma left a widow and two children and Abe Slingerland a widow and one child. The shocking tragedy pulled the entire community together in grief and forced them to draw on their faith in God
from: Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City, by Robert P. Swierenga, 2002, pgs. 520-521)
Many a poor hunter lost his life in Lake Calumet in the early days…
As late as March 27th, 1904, four young men from Roseland lost their lives. They went out duck hunting in two boats, and were only about five hundred feet from the Pullman shore when one boat capsized. The other boat with two men went to rescue them, and one of the drowning men pulled over that boat too, all four men were drowned. They were Peter Piersma , thirty years old, and Abraham Slingerland, twenty-six years old, both married, and Tunis Slingerland, single and John Brandt, twenty-one years of age, also single. They found two men after two days, the third man in five days and John Brandt in ten days on his twenty-first birthday. The boats they kept on Lake Calumet were not fit for two at a time, but unexperienced [sic] men didn’t know that, so they risked their lives, besides, the men were heavily dressed.
from The Calumet Region and it's Early Settlers by Harry Eenigenburg, Chicago, Ill., 1935, pgs. 11-12


Newspaper articles

Drowned in Lake Calumet


Four Duck Hunters Meet Death By the Capsizing of Their Boat.

Chicago, March 30. - Four men were drowned Tuesday in Lake Calumet by the capsizing of their boats, while hunting ducks.

They are: Tunis Slingerland, Abraham Slingerland, Peter Piersna and John Brandt.

The men were in two rowboats, two in each boat. A very high wind was blowing over the lake and the water was very rough. The men were seen from the shore to rise in their boats and fire at a flock of ducks that passed over them. As they fired their boats went over, and the four men were thrown into the water.

Daily Illinois Courier, March 30, 1904

Enkele Ongelukken


Die deze week plaats hadden

Chicago. Teunis en Abraham Slingerland, Peter Persma, en Jan Brand waren met twee bootjes uit eenden jagen op het Calumet meer. De wind woei hard en het water was tamelijk ruw. Van den oever af zag men, dat een vlucht eenden over hun heen streek, dat de jagers in de booten op stonden om te schieten en dat toen beide bootjes omsloegen.

Jos. Vought watchman bij de Pullman Co. en Edw. Frazier, een visscher, sprongen in een boot en roeiden met alle macht naar de plaats des onheils. Toen ze er aankwamen waren allen echter reeds verdronken en hunne lijken gezonken.

de Grondwet 12 apr 1904


Some Accidents which occurred this week

Chicago, Teunis and Abraham Slingerland, Peter Piersma and Jan Brand, were in 2 boats on Lake Calumet hunting ducks. The wind was blowing hard and the water was rough. From the shore the men saw a flock of ducks flying over the boats and the hunters stood up to shoot and both boats capsized.

Jos. Vought, watchman at Pullman Co. and Edw. Frazier, a fisherman, jumped in another boat and rowed with all their might to the scene of disaster. But when they arrived, all were already drowned and their bodies sunken.

Four Drown in a Lake


Boat of Hunters Capsized in Calumet and Occupants Struggle in Water -
Companions Rush to Aid and Other Craft is Overturned, All Sinking, While Man on Shore Watches -
Slingerland Brothers, Peter Piersna, and John Brandt Are Victims.


By the capsizing of two rowboats in Lake Calumet near One Hundred and Fourth street four duck hunters were drowned yesterday afternoon. Two lost their lives while trying to rescue the others. The bodies have not been recovered.

The Dead.

BRANDT, JOHN, 10041 Halsted street.
SLINGERLAND, ABRAHAM, married, farmer; 10726 Wentworth avenue.
SLINGERLAND, TUNIS, brother of Abraham; same address; employed by Hastings Express company in Pullman.
PIERSNA, PETER, married, farmer; One Hundred and Eleventh street and Fort Wayne railroad tracks.

According to George Larson of Kensington, a witness of the drowining, the Slingerland brothers were in the same boat, 200 feet from shore, and some distance from the boat of their companions.

Both rose at the same time and fired their guns, with the result that they fell into the water. The boat was overturned. Piersna and Brandt, who had seen the accident rowed rapidly to the spot. They found both men struggling in the water, but too exhausted to right the boat or to maintain a grasp on it.

As their own boat drew near to the men in the water Piersna stretched out his hand to Tunis Slingerland. At the same time, Brandt left the rower's bench and crawled forward to assist.

"Don't," Larson says Piersna called, "you'll capsize all of us."

A moment later the boat was overturned and both the rescuers were thrown into the water. Benumbed by the water, the Slingerland brothers sank from sight, and Brandt and Piersna, after trying to right their own boat, sank soon afterward.

The drowning was reported to the Kensington police by Larson and the search for the bodies will be continued this morning.

Chicago Daily Tribune, March 30, 1904

Additional Resources


De Grondwet (The Constitution), Newspaper, 1871-1938
"Founded in 1860 by Jan Roost as publisher and M. Hoogesteger as editor this Republican sympathetic, weekly newspaper was published in Holland, Michigan and in Chicago, Illinois."
from: Hope College joint archives of holland Newspaper Collections