One of the moat terrible calamities that has ever happened within the limits of this city occurred on Saturday afternoon last, about half past two o'clock. The draw of the bridge at the foot of Ohio street gave way with a crash, precipitating to the river beneath eleven persons, two wagons, four horses and a number of cattle, and causing the death of three men, three girls and one boy. The immediate cause of the draw breaking through was the rush of a drove of cattle on the lower side of the passage way. The cattle were coming to this side, and at the same time two wagons were going west one containing the three men drowned, the other Mrs. Francis Thralls, her son and daughter, and two little girls of Mr. Henry Miller of this city. Directly behind one of the wagons were three small boys who were going over in the bottoms, nutting. The wagon in which Mrs. Thralls with the children was seated, and the boys, went down in the draw. The horses swam down about one hundred yards and were rescued. The east portion of the draw tilted and sent the other wagon with three men through the bend east of the draw, drowning or killing the three men and the horses.
The news of the accident soon spread through the city, and in a short tine the bridge and banks of the river were filled with people, anxious to learn the extent of the accident, for at first it was not known how many lives were lost A number of persons immediately went to work in small boats, with poles and hooks searching for the missing, and by dark all the bodies were found. It was indeed a sorrowful sight, as one by one they were taken up and lain on the river bank. Nearly all the unfortunate ones were sorely bruised by the falling timbers, or by striking the rocks below, and to these causes, undoubtedly, may be attributed the great loss of life.
The names of the killed wounded are, Patrick Monk, James Slaven, Patrick Kearney, Missouri and Annie Miller, Willie Brecount, and a daughter of Mr. Frauds Thralls, who lives near St. Mary's.
The first named were teamsters, and all, we understand in the employ of Wm. McQuilkin, coal dealer; about four miles out from the river. The next two were daughters of Mr. Henry Miller of this place, and the boy a son of Mr. Brecount, living opposite the Stewart House.
The persons saved were Mrs. Thralls, her son, and two boys, Edward and John Dunn. Mrs. Thralls caught on some timbers and was taken in a boat. Her son held to the horns of one of the oxen. Eddie Dunn was saved by his dog, which grasped him by the collar and pulled him safely to the shore, whilst John Dunn swam out.
One incident connected with the recovery of the bodies is worthy of more general publicity. All had been found with the exception of that of Miss Thralls, and the approaching night has about to compel the search to be abandoned, when some one suggested that by placing quicksilver in a loaf of bread and putting it in the water, it would stop directly over the body.
Accordingly a loaf of bread was procured and two ounces of quicksilver placed in it, then taken about fifty foot above the bridge and thrown into the water. It floated down the current, which is quite strong at that place, when suddenly it stopped and circling around, was apparently about to sink; when a gentleman in a boat caught it, and grappling hooks, being put down, the body was found directly beneath, in from eight to ten feet of water. We have read of this mode some years since, but supposing it one of the many superstitions, had almost forgotten it. What the philosophy is we cannot tell. Will some one afford some light on it?-- Terre Haute Express.
Weekly Vincennes (Indiana) Gazette, October 17, 1863.