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.