NYTimes, 1886: The Saga of Mr. Loan, His Horse, and his Companion

Mr. Loan Lost His Horse. He Lost His Companion Also, but She Was Found Again

The New York Times

Published: February 6, 1886

A man with a nose like an August sunset and cheeks like the roses that bloom in the Spring drove up to Kelly’s Hotel, on the Ocean Parkway Boulevard near the King’s Highway station on the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad, at midnight on Thursday and called for a drink. He gave his horse to the care of a stable boy and assisted a bundle of cloaks and scarfs and hoods to alight from the sleigh and walk into the hotel. In the parlor, when part of these numerous articles of wearing apparel had been laid on a chair, the bundle resolved itself into a young woman of prepossessing appearance with an affinity for hot lemonade. The man repeated his call for a drink several times with great success, for he soon got thawed out, and the crimson hue of his face gradually softened to the color of an underdone tenderloin of beef. Every time the wind whistled around the corner of the hotel he called for a drink, and on each occasion he took whiskey. He remarked casually that it was a cold night and that he needed something bracing. Before calling for a drink he invariably commented with a reckless increase of adjectives upon the abnormal condition of the weather. At the sixth drink it was the coldest night on record.

After a time the man took another drink, the woman concealed herself in many swathings of clothes, and the pair went forth into an atmosphere 8 degrees below zero. Relieved of the bustle and confusion incident to the call for drinks, the hotel drowsed back into its normal condition. An hour later the strange man, covered with snow from head to foot, walked into the hotel alone and called for a drink. He seemed stupefied, and to all appearances was under the influence of liquor.

“Where’s your horse and sleigh?” the bartender asked.

The man looked at him stupidly for a moment, and replied: “In Coney Island Creek, I guess.”

The bartender did not question him through fear of rousing his anger. After warming himself at the stove for a few minutes the man walked out of the hotel and disappeared. The bartender spoke to John Kelly, the proprietor of the place, about the man’s conduct, and subsequently started down toward Coney Island Creek to find the woman. On the embankment near the bridge which spans the creek he saw cutter tracks leading down to the creek, and in peering about in the faint light he found the horse and cutter in a big hole in the ice in the bed of the creek. He spoke to the horse but the animal did not move. Then walking out on the ice he found that the horse was frozen stiff. A woman’s woolen scarf was in the sleigh, and a small shawl lay on the ice. No trace of the woman could be found.

The accident was reported to the Gravesend police early yesterday morning, and was telephoned from Coney Island to Brooklyn. Several detectives were sent out on the case. A Fourth Precinct officer called at the house of William Loan, at No. 145 Classon-avenue, Brooklyn, late in the afternoon.

“Billy,” said the officer, “did you lose a horse and cutter last night?”

“Yes, I did,” returned Mr. Loan.

“Do you know where they are?”

“Yes. They are in Coney Island Creek!” Mr. Loan then explained that while driving down the Boulevard his horse had become unmanageable, and swerving from the road had fallen off the bridge into the creek. The ice broke and let the horse into the water. Loan tried to get the horse out, but failed. He did not know what became of the woman with him, but not seeing her anywhere about, concluded that she had either been drowned or had sought a place of safety. He refused to give the name of the woman to the officer, but said that he had learned upon reaching home yesterday morning that she had returned home at about 4 oclock in the morning.

It was learned last evening that the woman was Mrs. Jennie Williams of No. 205 Marcy-avenue, Brooklyn. Mrs. Williams is about 30 years of age, and has been separated from her husband for some time. She said that when the sleigh struck the ice she was thrown out and partially stunned. She was confused for a time by the struggles of the horse, and when she regained her presence of mind she was alone. The horse struggled desperately for a while, and then lay still. Mrs. Williams then climbed up to the road and wandered about until she found a man who for the minor consideration of $20 consented to take her to Brooklyn. Upon arriving home, she found that her nose, ears, and toes were frostbitten. She was put to bed for medical treatment. She was called upon during the afternoon by Mr. Loan, who, she said, seemed both surprised and pleased to find that she had returned in safety.

Mr. Loan is a boss stevedore of some means. He does a thriving business on the Wallabout docks, keeping about 25 horses employed most of the time. He is about 40 years old, and has a wife and family. The horse that he drove into Coney Island Creek was Mollie Brannagan, a young trotter which he purchased in Danbury, Conn., a year ago for $1,000. The animal was a good roadster, with a record of 2:30 on a heavy track. She was a vicious beast, and was fond of running away. She had run away with Loan three times, on one occasion injuring him severely.



He Was Her Husband's Friend

New York Times

Published: February 7, 1886

Mrs. Jennie Williams, of No. 205 Marcy-avenue, Brooklyn, who had such an unpleasant experience in Coney Island Creek on Thursday night in company with Mr. William Loan was seen at her home by a Times reporter yesterday. She introduced the reporter to a tall, broad-shouldered gentleman about 30 years of age, whom she said was her husband. He is in the same business as Mr. Loan and the two are friends. Her husband, Mrs. Williams explained, was not able to own a horse and sleigh, so when Mr. Loan asked her to take a drive he was perfectly willing to let her go. The lady felt hurt that some of the accounts of the story represented her as being divorced from her husband, which she denied.