Cahokia, IL Lightning Strike, Jul 1901

Three Instantly Killed.

St. Louis, July 2.-(Associated Press.) - Lightning instantly killed three men, fatally injured one boy and seriously injured a man and boy, members of a St. Louis fishing party, today, who sought refuge under a tree on the bank of Dead Creek at Cahokia, Ill.

Morning Herald, Lexington, KY 3 Jul 1901


Three Men Killed and Four Injured at Cahokia, Ill.

St. Louis, Mo., July 2.-Lightning instantly killed three men, fatally injured a boy and seriously injured a man and boy, members of a St. Louis fishing party, today, who sought refuge under a tree on the bank of Dead Creek, at Cahokia, Ill. The dead:

Wm. Inghauser, 32 years old.
John J. Degraff, 18.
Louis Stern, 26.
Fatally Injured:
Bernie Egglin, 18 years old.
Seriously Injured:
Joseph Egglin, 24 years old.
Albert Leidinger, 14.

The members of the party were gathered around a tall sycamore tree to get shelter from rain.

Times Picayune, New Orleans, LA 3 Jul 1901


Lightning’s Terrible Work Near Cahokia.

Three Men Instantly Killed, While Three Others Were Injured.

The Party Had Been Fishing and Sought Refuge Under a Huge Tree When a Storm Came Up, Accompanied by Several Electrical Disturbances.

Lightning instantly killed three men, fatally injured a boy and seriously injured a man and a boy, members of a St. Louis fishing party, who sought refuge from the storm Tuesday afternoon beneath the shelter of a massive sycamore tree just off the banks of Dead Creek at Cahokia.

The bodies of Louis Stern, William Inghauser and John J. De Graff were taken to the Henner-Brichler morgue in East St. Louis. Joseph and Bennie Egglin and Albert Leidinger received medical treatment after which they were removed to their homes in St. Louis. Bennie Egglin is paralyzed, and it is stated that he could not possibly recover. Hopes are held out for the recovery of Joseph Egglin and Albert Leidinger.

The storm in which the accident occurred gathered over Cahokia shortly before 3 p.m. The fishing party had had excellent luck and big strings of fish were hurriedly tied to saplings on the bank of the creek, while the fishermen sought refuge from the storm.

Instead of going to a farmhouse, the men and boys gathered around a tall sycamore tree about a hundred feet from where they had been fishing. They thought that the clouds only portended a shower and they did not fear lightning. Inghauser, DeGraff and Stern were closest to the tree. Bennie Egglin was in front of his uncle, William Inghauser, who held him, Joseph Egglin and Albert Leidinger, crowded as close as they could to the shelter of the great tree.

While the rain poured in torrents, the members of the fishing party congratulated one another on the dry spot they had discovered. Inghauser was telling his nephew a story of a great fish he had once caught in Dead Creek. The clouds grew heavier and seemed almost to touch the earth.

Bennie shivered with fear and clutched closer to Inghauser. Suddenly the tree and the party was enwrapped with a brilliant light. A tremendous shock made the earth tremble. The reverberations were felt for miles.

When Joseph Egglin recovered consciousness, he lay several yards away from the tree. The rain was pelting him in the face. He tried to rise, but failed. Elevating himself on his elbows, he saw the forms of his five companions lying prostrate in various positions beneath the tree. His brother, Bennie, lay near him. The little fellow did not breathe, and Egglin could not force himself to go near him. He thought that he was the only one in the party who had not been killed by the stroke of lightning. Strength came to Egglin slowly and as it did he crawled away from the spot. He was only able to use his arms and hands. His body and lower limbs felt a dead weight.

About 4 p.m. Lucian Godin, living near by on the Cahokia road, heard the fall of a man for help. It was Egglin. He told his story quickly and then collapsed. Godin forced liquor down Egglin’s throat, and in the meantime ordered a rig hitched up. In this he placed the young man and drove to where the accident occurred, almost a quarter of a mile away.

Bennie Egglin and Albert Leidinger were breathing, and restoratives were forced down their throats. Stern, Inghauser and DeGraff were dead.

The injured men were taken to Vital Hennett’s in Cahokia, where they received the best medical attention at the command of the villagers, who, headed by Camille W. Droit, formed themselves into a hospital corps.

A telephone message was sent to Coroner R.X. McCracken and also to the Benner-Brichler Livery and Undertaking Company of East St. Louis. Two ambulances and a dead wagon were dispatched to the scene.

Coroner McCracken arrived first and quickly gave attention to the injured. Bennie Egglin was completely paralyzed, and Doctor McCracken stated that the little fellow could not survive. Joseph Egglin was paralyzed from the hips down, as was also Albert Leidinger. The shoes of the trio were seared by the electric current.

The bodies of Stern, Inghauser and DeGraff were seared from the waist line down. Stern’s leg was shriveled, as were also the feet of the other men. Their shoes were burned and their clothing scorched. From the appearance of the dead men and the statements of the survivors, Doctor McCracken arrived at the conclusion that the bolt of lightning which struck the tree passed into the men at their waists and went through their limbs into the ground.

Joseph Egglin, who was least injured, says that the flash came so quickly that he did not realize what had happened, and that the first intimation he received that he had been struck by lightning was when he regained consciousness and saw the prostrate forms of his companions lying near him.

Albert Leidinger, the other member of the party who may survive, is partially paralyzed and was rendered almost totally deaf.

The sycamore tree under which the party took refuge is one of the tallest near Cahokia. The trunk is scarred and scorched in a line which travels around the tree to within three feet of the base.

Coroner McCracken held the inquest last evening. A verdict of death due to a stroke of lightning was returned by the jury, after which the bodies were taken to their homes in St. Louis.

Belleville News Democrat, Belleville, IL 3 Jul 1901