Chesterfield, NH Lake Spofford Drowning, May 1882


George A. Conly and Herman Rietzel of the Kellogg Concert Company Drowned there last Friday.


The sad drowning accident which occurred at Lake Spofford, Chesterfield, N. H., on Friday afternoon or evening of last week, has awakened a deep feeling of sadness and sympathy in this community, and has furnished a universal theme of conversation since its occurrence. On the part of many of our people this feeling to render any service possible toward the recovery of the bodies. The facts in regard to the disaster are as detailed below.

On Thursday evening of last week Miss Clara Louise Kellogg brought her concert company to Brattleboro, where they remained over night, Miss Kellogg herself going on to Burlington on Friday morning to full a personal engagement to sing in a Philharmonic concert in that city. The company remained in Brattleboro, the arrangement being for Miss Kellogg to return here Saturday afternoon and rejoin her company for the concert announced to be given in the evening. On Friday afternoon, by invitation of H. W. Alexander and L. K. Willie, the gentleman of the company, consisting of Geo. A. Conly, basso, Mr. Summers, tenor, Herman Rietzel, pianist, and Mr. Crosby, the manager, drove over to Lake Spofford for a few hours recreation. The party reached the lake shortly before 4 o'clock. Mr. Conly, who greatly enjoyed natural scenery, at once expressed a desire to go out upon the lake, and , procuring a boat from Mr. Farr, soon set out with young Rietzel as a companion, the rest of the party remaining to fish in a small trout stream near the boathouse. Conly was in fine spirits, declaring that the lake just suited him and expressing a wish to spend a vacation there. He was cautioned to be careful, as a strong south wind was blowing; but he replied that he had no fear, as he was accustomed to manage a boat and could swim. As he pushed off, Mr. Summers said, "If anything happens, telephone us." To this Conly smiled a reply, and pulled vigorously away in a manner indicating perfect familiarity with the oars.

The last seen of the boat and its occupants by the party on shore it was just off the northern point of the island. This, probably, was not far from half past 4. About 5 o'clock, as on Puffer was rowing with his sister from the Charlier place up to the Factory village be observed the boat and the two men and thought they were trying to run into the shelter of the island. About the same time Mrs. Farr also observed the boat.

When half-past six came and Conly and Rietzel did not return, some anxiety was felt and Mr. Farr and Mr. Willis took a boat and rowed around the island without discovering any signs of them. It was thought possible that they might have gone up to the Factory, and the party on shore drove up there but without finding them, and afterward drove around on the Westmoreland road, thinking they might have landed in the Charlier cove and started to walk around to the other side. When they were not found here the party became thoroughly alarmed and a search of the shores was begun, although it did not seem possible that the men should have been drowned. Just at dark their boat was found bottom side up on Jewell's point, near the Charlier place, but no further traces were found that night. A messenger was sent to Brattleboro and the search continued as well as it might be, though a strong hope was felt all night that the missing men had strayed into the woods and would appear in the morning. The early morning brought earnest workers from Brattleboro and the dragging of the lake for the bodies began.