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The Milwaukee Sentinel

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, SENTINEL, 19 October 1881, page


Anxiety Exhibited for the Safety of Prof. King and His Air Ship.

The Confidence of Mrs. King in Her Husband's Skill and Experience.

Efforts of the Signal Service Men to Discover the Whereabouts of the Balloon.

Prof. King Determined to Make a Long Voyage - The Possibility of Disaster.

(Special Dispatch to The Sentinal)

CHICAGO, Oct. 18. - Every hour increases the anxiety for the safety of Prof. King, the missing aeronaut, who made an ascension from this city on Thursday last. In public places, the single topic of discussion is the probable fate of the daring voyager. Countless theories are advanced, but they are only theories. Every effort is being made to gather information and look for the balloonists, but at this writing without success. The balloon was the same one which went up from Minneapolis Sept. 13, and landed in a cow pasture. It was one of the largest and best balloons that ever attempted to float on the wind, it being 100 feet high, 1_0 feet in circumference, and about 65 feet in diameter. Its inside capacity was 100,000 cubic feet. Prof. King got $1300 for making the ascension, signing a contract that the firm under whose auspices the ascension was made should not be held liable for any personal injury to the Professor or his companion. The News to-night publishes a dispatch from Melrose, Wis., saying that the last time


was after it had passed over that village, and adding: "Some miles above Melrose a mail-carrier saw it at a high altitude, floating up the Trempealeau Valley. This valley would carry Prof. King and his companion up to the extremities of the country, and unless it sank on the way, it must have been seen in some of the towns of Alma, Centre, Hixton, Taylor, Blair, Whitehall, Independence, or Arcadia. I have sent out messengers to these points, and expect to hear from them soon. The balloon passed over Melrose, within speaking distance of a number of persons, whom Prof. King addressed as he went along, and as the shout went back "We will", it passed out of sight beyond a pine-capped bluff. Then it rose and it was seen that King or his companion had dropped a package of letters and a number of circulars. The letters were seen until they fell within about 100 feet of the earth, when they disappeared from view in the dense woods and undergrowth. All search for them up to this time has been unavailing.


here who are well acquainted with the lay of the land is that if the balloon passed over the high bluffs to the northwest of this county it must have traveled into the Mississippi Valley and then over to Minnesota. If this is the case it was certainly seen on the way, and I expect some intelligence which will put me on its track soon."

A reporter to-day had an interview with a member of the firm under whose auspices the balloon was sent up. he said: "We have no news whatever this morning, but everything that possibly can be done is being done to find out what has become of them. You are aware that the balloon was last seen at Melrose, Wa. It was going then in a direction of northwest by north. The lower current blew east, and from east to southeast. When they left Melrose they immediately ascended to the upper current to a height of 3,000 feet, and we suppose he has gone to some point in continuation of the line in which he was then traveling, which would carry him to Northern Minnesota or Dakota.

"But if he then ascended to the upper current, might it not have carried him in a directly opposite direction?

"No, because we know he descended from it, and that was the direction in which it was then blowing. It is


but still we think it a fair conclusion to arrive at that, although the day was cloudy, if he had drifted far from Melrose he would have been seen in some of the towns or villages over which he passed, and as he was not seen after 8 o'clock on Friday, we come to the conclusion that he alighted in that region at some point within a radius of seventy-five miles of Melrose. Yesterday scouts were ordered out from four or five towns in that neighborhood to scour the woods and see if the missing men cannot be found. In the evening I went to the Signal Service Office, and got Mr. Mitchell to telegraph to Washington that public anxiety was becoming aroused, and to suggest to the Government the propriety of sending out cavalry from Fort Snelling or some of the other forts in that district to scour the country. He had already received a dispatch from them making inquiries on the subject, which shows their interest in the matter, but we have not heard anything from them in regard to the suggestion. The Western Union offices in the Northwest have got instructions to jump at any news brought in; in fact, they have been ordered to go out and seek information, and everything that human power can do is being done to discover their whereabouts.


has the utmost confidence in her husband's skill and experience. She went east last night on the 9:40 train for Fort Wayne, Ind., the constant anxiety and being alone, the hotel expenses and the constant annoyance to which she was subjected from parties seeking interviews, and the yelling of the newsboys being the circumstances that led to her determination in this respect. She feels that the Professor is all right. The only thing she fears is that he has lighted far away from any habitation, and may be in lack of provisions. He had only 24 hours' supplies with him. What he took were two roast chickens, six ham sandwiches, four slices of bread and butter, one piece of pie, two small slices of cake, two sticks of celery, three bunches grapes, three pears, two oranges, three apples, one gallon of water and some pickles. Prof. King has told me that large clouds act with a sort of suction on a balloon, and if the balloon has got caught in a large cloud it might be carried along with it, and it may he has


of this kind and been carried off, where, we do not know, but I think the most unfavorable feature of the case is the small quantity of provisions he had with him. He had no arms or ammunition, only a large clasp knife which he carried for cutting the ropes. He told me that this was the strongest balloon that he ever built. There were three thicknesses of rubber on top and two everywhere else. The rubber was put face to face with the back outward. All the seams were stitched three times over, and the strength was pretty thoroughly demonstrated by the tossing about it got in the wind in the baseball park before he started. He began to fill it on Monday evening, and did not ascend till Thursday evening, and during all the interval a high wind raged here and tested its strength thoroughly. Some cords of the netting did break, but they were thoroughly repaired, and everything was in perfect order when they went up. When he started he was bent on making


and took unusual care to have everything in thorough order. The valve was in good working order. I tried it myself and told Mr. Hashogan, of the Signal Service, who accompanied him, to see it as well. We know, too, that Professor King would not go the Lake Superior region with a balloon that was not strong or in which the gas was wasted, and I think it may be settled that they lighted on the plains of Dakota or in the lumber regions of Wisconsin. The Signal Service office at Washington had perfect confidence in his prudence, skill and experience. When he was here he received a letter from the chief of the Department, General Hazen, thoroughly approving of his prudence at Minneapolis, and asking him to submit a proposition to the Department with a view of his being permanently engaged in the services to make ascensions. He replied by informing them of the expenses of an ascension and by leaving it to them to say what his remuneration should be. He has a national reputation for prudence, and his past success, extending over a period of thirty years, indicates that the confidence reposed in him is well founded.

"What is the longest voyage that Prof. King has ever made?"

"About 600 miles."

"And what is the greatest length of time he has been unheard from in the past?"

"I cannot say positively, but I am under the impression that he was a week once."

"Are you not becoming alarmed yourself as to his safety?"

"Well, I am, as is natural, a little uneasy, and it would be a great relief to me to hear of his safety, but still I just feel that he will


"I think it is just like this: When he went up he was determined to make as long a trip as possible, and finding himself on the direct road to Minneapolis, where he fared so hardly on account of his inability to make an ascension there, said to himself, 'Well, this is good. I'll show these fellows what all their ridicule amounted to,' and I think his aim was to descend on the farther side of that place, and that he is now in the woods in that region. Or he may be perfectly safe but unable to communicate with us, on account of interruptions in the telegraph. From a great many points there the wires are reported down. At all events, I think we shall have some account of him before long. Now, I think you have pumped me completely dry, but if you can think of anything during the day that we have omitted, just run over here, and I'll be happy to tell you."

Mr. Mitchell, of


office here received a dispatch from Gen. Hazen, chief of the Department at Washington, notifying him that the Department was using every means in their power to find out what had become of the balloon and its occupants. He sstated to a reporter that he had received no intelligence whatever from which the lost aeronauts are supposed to be, and could not throw any light on the mystery enveloping them, but he added that the reports showed that the telegraph wires are in very much better condition than at any time since the ascent was made, and that they are now reported down only at one or two points.

It is understood that the gas in the balloon would not hold out at the longest more than thirty hours, and there is hardly any doubt that the aeronauts landed somewhere or met with disaster before Friday night.

The opinion is pretty general to-night that the balloon has met disaster. The Signal Service has arranged to have cavalry from Fort Snelling make a circuit of that region in search of it.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, SENTINEL, 20 October 1881, page

King's Balloon.
(Special Dispatch to The Sentinel.)

CHICAGO, Oct. 19. - It is now the sixth day since Professor King made his ascension from the baseball park in this city in his balloon, the A. J. Nutting, and the fifth since the air ship was last seen journeying in its element towards the vast forests of Wisconsin, and the wide-stretching, sparsely-peopled plains of the great Northwest, and still no intelligence has been received from the venturous voyagers, and the mystery attaching to their whereabouts or their fate is still as great as ever. It is true that a rumor was circulated yesterday that the balloon had been seen floating over Fargo, D. T., on Monday, but the report was too adsurd to be believed by even the most credulous, and this morning, it is positively denied by an Associated Press dispatch from that place. It is feared that the balloonists may have landed in some spot far from any habitation, and that they may suffer from hunger before help can reach them.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, SENTINEL, 21 October 1881, page

Indications, fair weather, southerly winds, lower barometer, stationary or higher temperature.


A comparatively greater sacrifice of life appears to have attended efforts to navigate the air than has marked the development of many of the applied sciences which have been brought into practical operationduring the past century. The mythologies of ancient times seem in many instances to have led, through a long series of experiments, to the final perfection of useful arts and inventions, and it is not difficult to trace the tentative efforts at aerial navigation which have so frequently engaged the attention of the world to the legends of Daedalus and his son Icarus.

The facts in the case are, however, too palpably at war with the fable. It is alleged that to escape the wrath of Minos, the King of Greece, whom Daedalus had offended, he constructed artificial wings for himself and his son Icarus and by their aid escaped from prison and fled to Crete. Icarus is said to have so enjoyed the novel sensation of speeding swiftly through the air on wings that unmindful of his father's advice he rose too high and the heat of the sun melted the wax of his wings and he fell into the sea. Although the scientific observation which have been made by means of balloon ascensions and otherwise have established the fact that the temperature is lowered as the distance upward from the earth is increased, still one portion of the legend unhappily appears to maintain a degree of vraisemblance. It has been almost the invariable fate of the daring scientists of late years who seek to navigate the skies that sooner or later their buoyant and artificial support is found to be inadequate and, like Icarus, they fall where they are driven by the uncontrollable element in which they move. It is capable of approximate proof that aerial navigation can never be achieved by the ordinary balloon. The machine rises through the air simply in obedience to the law of atmospheric displacement as a vessel finds its water line, governed by an exacty similar law. When the balloon ascends to a certain height it reaches a line of equilibrium and glides along like the vessel. In the case of a balloon charged with olefiant or hydrogen gas the equilibrium cannot be maintained. The pressure around the balloon diminishes as the balloon rises, and the gas continues to expand so that a balloon only two-thirds full at the surface of the earth will be nearly bursting at the height of two miles. The gas being lighter than the air is always seeking to escape, and at the end of thirty hours a fully-charged ordinary balloon would not rise from the earth at all in in all probability. Within that time at all events through the process og gaseous degeneration or diffusion, it will quickly descend to the earth if in the skies, and over ocean or land the inherent dangers of such a method of aerial navigation will be at once apparent.

More than a week has now elapsed since the ascension of Prof. King, the well-known aeronaut, from Chicago. His balloon was last seen near Melrose in this State, moving in the direction of the Trempealeau Valley. No tidings have been heard of the aerial travelers since the date of their ascension, and public anxiety is manifested as to their probable fate. At the instance of Gen. Hazen, of the United States Signal Service, Mr. Hashagen, one of the officers of that department, accompanied Prof. King for the purpose of taking scientific observations for the use of the Service. As it is clear that the buoyant properties of the gas with which the balloon was inflated must have to a great extent disappeared after the first forty-eight hours, the absence of any communication from the lost aeronauts after an interval of six days from the moment when they must necessarily have descended in any case points to the dread apprehension that they have perished like Donaldson and the newspaper reporter, Grimwood, who started off only a few years ago on just such another expedition.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, SENTINEL, 21 October 1881, page


The Air-ship Reported in the Dakota Wilderness.

Fears that the Intrepid Voyagers Have Been Lost.

The Latest Advices Concerning Their Whereabouts.

(Special Dispatch to The Sentinal)

CHICAGO, Oct. 20. - Fears are now expressed that Prof. King and J. George Hashagen, of the United States Signal Service, have lost their lives. This is the seventh day since the ascension, and nothing has been heard from either of the voyagers. It is now said that the balloon was seen at Detroit, Minn., last Sunday night traveling to the northwest. This statement is corroborated by the fact that Detroit is exactly in the direction which Prof. King was taking, and in the direction which the wind would necessarily have carried him on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If traveling at a slow rate of speed, and as the wind would necessarily have taken him on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it would have taken sixty hours to reach Detroit after leaving Melrose. The wind continued to blow north and north of west on Sunday night through all the section about Detroit and Fargo, and the probabilities are now very strong that Prof. King has gone into Manitoba. The statement is made by Mrs. King that he had provisions for ten days, and that he proposed making a long journey. It is probable from this account that he is still alive, and will yet be heard from at Winnipeg or Pembina. Advices received from LaCrosse, Wis., are to the effect that the balloon was seen on the farm of A. D. Tracey, in the southern part of Eau Claire County on Friday. It passed within fifty feet of the ground. Prof. King asked the usual question of those on the farm. The balloon then sailed northwestwardly. This makes it not improbable that the balloon landed in the dense wilderness known as the Eau Galle woods, where the famous search for the Williams brothers occurred. If it landed there it is not surprising that nothing has been heard from it. The men had provisions with them sufficient to last ten or twelve days, but were poorly clothed for a long stay in the woods. This afternoon A. J. Nutting & Co., of this city, sent the following telegraphic dispatch:

"Knapp, Stout & Co., Menominee, Wis.: Will you send today four horseback scouts toward Whitehall, Lincoln County, searching for our lost balloonists, at our expense, three days if necessary? Have them telegraph us at every opportunity. Answer."

Mr. Atwood, of the firm, received a visit from a Mr. John McCarthy, doing business at 27 Wesson street, who was an assistant of Prof. King at the time of the ascension, and for several days before, during the inflation. Mr. McCarthy is positive that in addition to the food takenby Prof. King, Mr. Hashagen took along quite a bountiful supply. He said Mr. Hashagen's supplies were contained in in something which he calls a sort of "wooden valise", 15x10x6 inches in size. He says that when the rope broke Mr. Hashagen was sitting upon concentric ring to keep from being injured by the ballast and other things which were being thrown around with great violence in the basket below. Among the articles that were shaken up was Mr. Hashagen's "valise", which was thrown about so violently that some of the victuals were thrown out of it. Mr. McCarthy is positive that there was food in the "valise", and he believes that it was full of provisions. He says that this was an entirely different thing from the Professor's peach-basket of lunch. He says that just before the ascension an old friend of the Professor came up and conversed with him, and among other things asked him if he had an ample supply of food in the basket. J. George Hashagen, who made the ascension with the Professor, was born in Wilmington, N. C., and studied there under the direction of Rev. T. M. Ambler. On finishing his education he obtained an appointment in the Postal Service as a railway mail clerk and continued at that for some years when he went to Washington to fill an appointment in the Signal Service Department. That was about three or four years ago, and since then he has been stationed at New York, and at several other stations on the Atlantic coast. He came to the office here last March, and had remained there since, with the exception of six weeks in August and September, which he spent at St. Paul and Washington. His father and mother are dead, but he has one brother living in Wilmington, who is engaged as a railway mail clerk, and he has a stepmother. Hashagen was about 24 years of age, was very small, not five feet six inches high, and did not weigh more than 125 pounds. He was well educated, very intelligent and ambitious.

CHICAGO, Oct. 20. - The Inter-Ocean reports that a lady who has arrived here from Valley city, Dak., saw King's balloon Monday afternoon as she was awaiting at the station the arrival of the train. The balloon was observed by several parties and was the topic of interesting comment.

A correspondent at Menomonea, Wis., telegraphs that the balloon was seen at that point by a little girl Friday evening. It was then going toward the Northwest.

CHICAGO, Oct. 20. - At 4 P. M. Monday evening, Mrs. Storett, of Cinncinati, who just arrived from Dakota, saw the King balloon at Valley City some distance west of Fargo, going southwest. The significant feature of this statement is that it corresponds with the observations of three other persons in that section who saw the balloon some hours earlier than she, and that the wind was blowing from northeast at the time. None of the observers report seeing the men in the balloon.


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