February 11, 1899: Forty-two Horses Die in Panic from Ocean Tempest


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

February 11, 1899: Tragedy on the high seas has struck Boyertown, as two employees of the horse dealer Jacob Wallach and 42 of his horses died when their ship hit a severe tempest in the Atlantic Ocean. The horses, stabled on the upper forward deck, became frightened, stampeded, and made a wild dash, trampling each other to death.

The ship butcher and a number of crewmen went into the pen and tried to help quiet the animals; when they didn’t work, they tried to force the frenzied beasts overboard. Failing that, they cut their throats. Only 20 remained alive.

The butcher suffered two broken legs and one of the seamen was badly injured. Wallach was sending those horses on the steamer Bulgaria to Germany for sale there. A large part of Wallach’s prosperous business is selling horses to the German government. He is one of, if not the richest, man in Boyertown.

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