Wayne History: 6 Children Tragically Died in Pond Drowning

Children from the Dotterweich family died when the sled they were on fell beneath the surface of the iced-over pond near their house.

Five children from the Dotterweich family died 139 years ago, Dec. 13, 1874, when the sled they were on fell through the ice on a pond near their home.

Five of the family’s nine children, Caroline, 16, Augusta, 14, Maggie, 13, John, 11, Philip, 9, and Barbara, 6, drowned after Caroline decided to go for ride on a sled. The five children went out on a pond near their house that had recently frozen over.

All five children were “very unexpectedly precipitated into the water,” according to “Preakness and the Preakness Reformed Church, Passaic County, New Jersey: A History.” The house was located on the old Hamburg Turnpike, near Green Brook Farm.

Their mother and father waded into the water up to their necks in an attempt to save the children. They had a rope, but it was too short and “rescue was futile,” the book states.

The bodies were pulled from the pond an hour later. Between 800 and 1,000 people attended the funeral. 

Scondo December 31, 2013 at 03:45 PM
The Headline reads 6 children, the body of the story reads 5. It is correct at 5. The real story for historical purposes is where did this take place. I personally believe that it was at the pond behind the William Paterson Building, the old Union Camp headquarters building. Based upon old maps and the account from the Preakness Reformed Church it seems likely. The farm was located near 7 Chimneys Drive and the boat that was used to recover the bodies was taken from Barbours Pond the site of the old saw mill. I believe that Dotterweich Field is named for the deceased children although of that I am not sure.


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