© 2002-2017 Leona L. Gustafson
The Columbus Evening Dispatch
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Tuesday, May 17, 1904
Tied Her Child To Her
Tragic Suicide of Mrs. M. B. Copeland,
Who Carries an Innocent Child Down to Death With Her.
Both Sink Into the Swirling Tide and Are Lost to
View, Death Resulting Quickly.
Act is Witnessed By Many People Who Give The
Alarm And The Search For Bodies Begins.
Mrs. M. B. Copeland and her little daughter, who went to their deaths in the scioto, Tuesday morning.
In a most spectacular manner, Mrs. M. B. Copeland leaped from the north railing of the West Rich street bridge Tuesday morning, into the swirling chill of the Scioto's waters, going to her own death by suicide and carrying with her her 7-year-old daughter whom she had tied to her arm. Thus to the crime of self-destruction she added that of murder, but she has paid the penalty as both mother and daughter are lying death at the city morgue.
LEFT HIS WIFE.
Information gathered from different sources indicates that without a doubt the woman committed the rash act as a result of continuous troubles with her husband.
About three months ago Copeland, who was then a conductor on C. L. & [S] interurban line, drew his pay and left his wife and child. He purchased a ticket to Los Angeles, Cal., but did not let his wife know where he was going. She was informed by a Dispatch representative at that time as to where he had purchased a ticket and entreating letters to him caused him to return to her.
HAD MORE TROUBLE.
It seems that trouble soon began and on Monday, it is said, the couple had an argument which resulted in the man leaving again. He gave it out that he was going to Mt. Vernon, but it is known that he took a West Broad street car, got off at Hague avenue and then boarded a C. L. and S. car bound for Springfield.
He was seen by O. T. Britton, a motorman on the car, and by the inspector of the road with whom he conversed.
He has not yet been located.
CAUSE A MYSTERY.
There were a number of persons who saw the woman with the child on the bridge, and, from statements made by several, it appears that she went there with the determination of doing away with herself and her little child.
CHILD TIED TO HER.
A heroic effort was made by two persons who witnessed the act to save the lives of the two, but the fact that the mother had prepared against any rescue of the child by tying the little one to her are with a piece of twine, prevented the two hero's [sic.] from accomplishing any good.
POLICE RESCUE BODIES.
The police patrol, with a boat and crew, headed by Detective Dick Owens, was sent to the scene at once, and after some minutes succeeded in rescuing the bodies from a point where the woman was seen to go down last.
SPARK WENT OUT.
All efforts at resuscitating both were made, and at one time it looked as if a tiny spark of life still existed in the child, but this faded out, and death claimed them both. Dr. Lisle, who lives near the scene of the drowning, made all possible effort to save the little one, and __assantly worked for some minutes, but without avail.
The news of the drowning spread rapidily [sic.] in the neighborhood, and in a short space of time a thousand people or more had gathered about. In their anxiety to see the body of the woman and the child, they crowded about the police and those assisting in the work, and interfered somewhat, until a squad of officers forced them back.
CORONER TAKES CHARGE.
As soon as the two were declared dead, Coroner Murphy was notified and made a hurry run to the scene in his automobile. He ordered the bodies taken to the morgue.
West Rich Street Bridge From Which Mrs. Copeland Leaped Into River With Her Child.
TRAGEDY IN DETAIL.
Mrs. O. P. Southworth, of 387 West Rich street, was probably the nearest eye witness to the double tragedy. She was on her way across the bridge, going to market, when she saw the woman climb upon the railing. The woman got down again to the floor of the bridge, and then removed her hat, also taking the little girl's hat off. She held the child in her arms, as the little one's right arm was tied to the mother's left arm, and the twine encircled the waist of the woman.
NOT AT MT. VERNON.
Information from Mt. Vernon states that Mahlon B. Copeland has not been seen there for months by his relatives or the police.
The dead woman was formerly Sadie Marshall, of Wellsville, Ohio. She was Copeland's second wife.
STARTED FOR HER.
Mrs. Southworth suspected something wrong, and started towards the woman, and when about 60 or 80 feet distant from her, the woman climbed back, upon the railing, and with the
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child hugged close to her bosom, made a wild jump into the waters.
Mrs. Southworth began to scream, and her cries attracted the attention of L. K. Harding, a driver for the Adams Express company, who lives at 660 North Fourth street, and Charles Siegmond, of 91 South Gift street, who was nearby.
LEAPED IN AFTER HER.
Harding ran for the east bank of the river, to a point just north of the bridge abutment, and hurriedly divesting himself of his outer garments, plunged into the water. He swam out to where the woman was seen to go under for the second time, and reached her just as she was sinking, but as Harding himself was exhausted, and on the verge of collapse from the icy waters, he was compelled to desist.
EXHAUSTED BY COLD.
He was followed into the water by Siegmond, but the cold water also exhausted that individual. James Ballinger, of Rich and Jewett streets, also went into the water, in an effort to save the mother and her child, but all three were compelled to return to the shore.
HAD HOLD ON HER.
Harding at one time had hold of the little girl, but as she was tied to the mother, it was impossible for him to hold them both.
POLICE TAKE A HAND.
In the meantime, while these three intrepid heroes were at work in their humane efforts a call was sent to police headquarters for the patrol wagon with the boat and a crew to manage it. Detective Dick Owens, who is a veritable "water rat," took charge of the boat, after it had been hurried to the scene, and with Wagonman James and other assistance, the bodies were recovered from a point near where they went down the second time.
DOCTOR WAS READY.
Dr. Lisle, thinking perhaps his services would be needed, and who resides in Ide Terrace, near the scene of the drowning, also went to the bank, and as soon as the bodies were brought to the shore he at once pronounced the woman beyond all aid. The child, however, showed some sparks of life, but those faded away after a short while, and she was pronounced dead.
CHIEF DIRECTS RESCUE.
In the wagon crew and among the police who worked faithfully and energetically in the efforts to save the lives of the woman and her child were Chief O'Connor, Sergeant McMannis, Detective Owens, Wagonman James, Wagonman Summers, Engineer Lewis and others.
TAKEN TO MORGUE.
Coroner Murphy, after viewing the bodies, instructed the wagonmen to take them to the morgue. The body of the mother had been placed in the patrol wagon, while the physician and others were working with the little girl, but after death had been pronounced, the little one's body was placed in the arms of the dead mother, and in that manner the two were taken to the morgue.
MANY SHED TEARS.
All along the way hundreds lined up and looked at the sweet-faced child, and many mothers in the crowd were brought to tears at the sad sight.
Both the woman and the child were well dressed. Persons who reside along the river near the point where the woman jumped into the water, declare that they saw the woman and the child walking up and down on the bridge for at least twenty minutes before the woman took the fatal plunge.
RUMOR OF ANOTHER.
A report about 9:00 o'clock was to the effect that the woman had two children in her arms when she plunged into the waters of the river, and acting upon this, Detective Owens and a boat crew began at once to drag the river in the neighborhood, either to verify or set aside the report. Persons who claim to have seen the woman just before she plunged off the bridge, say that there was but the little girl with her.
WAS IN MOURNING.
The woman was evidently in mourning for a near relative, as she was dressed in black and carried a handkerchief with a black border.
In her pocket was found a prescription, given by Dr. Edmondson, of West Broad street, calling for "three dozen Brooks' pills." An umbrella which the woman left on the bridge bears the initials, "E. L. G." on the inside.
HUSBAND IN MT. VERNON
Further investigation discloses the fact that Copeland left Columbus Monday, supposedly for Mt. Vernon.
His wife kept shop all day and superintended its closing in the evening. The store was not opened on Tuesday.
William H. Copeland, employed at Wiemer's foundry, Scioto street, said to reside at 21 North Princeton avenue, is and uncle of M. B. Copeland.
HEAD OUT OF WATER.
Engineer Lewis, of the city prison, who was one of the first officers at the scene after police headquarters had been notified of the woman's act, stated that when he reached the bridge the woman's head was out of the water, and he was told that it had been out for some minutes prior to his arrival.
A number of persons were attracted to the scene by this time, and it the general belief that she had caught on a spile [sic.] or a snag, and was prevented from sinking the last time.
This, however, proved false, as the woman, sank for the third time, but had evidently remained on the top of the water for at least eight of ten minutes.
It was also necessary for the police to go to the aid of Charles Seigmond, one of the men who valiantly plunged into the water in an effort to save the woman. after struggling with the woman in the water, and assisting Harding, the express driver, in as attempt to hold the woman, and after vainly trying to release the child from the woman's arms, and to untie the twine with which the little one was fastened to the woman's arm and body, the two men started again for the shore.
When within 20 feet of the shore, Siegmond was compelled to yell for assistance, as he was almost exhausted. Bal[l]inger went to his aid, and the man reached shore in an exhausted condition, where he was compelled to rest for some minutes.
Harding, also, was exhausted when he reached the shore after his unsuccessful, although heroic attempt to rescue the woman and child.
"I CAN'T SWIM!"
The frantic cries and actions of a colored man who stood on the bridge and watched the woman go down for the third time, were most pathetic.
The man cried out, "I can't swim! I can't swim!" Several times he climbed up on the iron railing of the bridge as if about to plunge in the water, but each time he jumped back to the floor of the bridge. He threw his arms in the air, cried and begged piteously for someone to save the poor little girl.
IS AN UPHOLSTERER.
Martin [Sic.] B. Copeland, the husband of the dead woman, is an upholsterer operating a store at 705 East Long street between Hamilton and Garfield avenues. For the past two weeks the family resided at 645 East Long street, just west of Lexington avenue.
Mr. Jones, owner of the store room, residing at 695 East Long street, stated that he could conceive of no reason why Mrs. Copeland should have committed the rash deed. To the neighbors, the domestic relations existing between the husband and wife were congenial.
Mrs. Copeland habitually spent the greater portion of each day in the shop assisting her husband and would oftimes [sic.] take charge of the store while the husband went to various sections of the city to perform the duties of his profession. Mr. Jones said that mr. and Mrs. Copeland were desirous of living in the rear of the store room, but the owner had objected to the plan.
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