Galena Daily Gazette
22 Nov 1938

Leslie U. Vandervate, 45 Year Old Galena Man, Found Dead in Harris Slough

The calls for help from Harris Slough near the Portage tower Wednesday night, Nov. 16, were revealed this morning as having come from Leslie U. Vandervate of this city, when his body was found this morning by three of his brothers, and Chief of Police LeRoy Felderman. The body was found near the semaphore west of the tower at Portage.

Mr. Vandervate had left home Wednesday morning about eleven o'clock with the intention of going down to Charles "Slug" Steiman's camp near the Galena Junction He had planned to remain down a few days to fish, and did not say when he intended to return. Mr. Steiman did not expect him and was in Galena at that time. It is supposed that Mr. Vandervate waited at the camp until shortly before midnight Wednesday, thinking Mr. Steiman would return, but then decided to walk to the ferry landing, a distance of about three miles, on the railroad track, and then walk on the road to Galena.

A path runs alongside the track between the track and the slough, and at one place near a deep culvert the path narrows considerably. Those accustomed to walking there are unusually careful for fear of falling in the culvert, and it is assumed that Mr. Vandervate did not know of that place, and walking in the dark, fell into the culvert.

The culvert at that time had about seven or eight feet of water in it from backwater, and the sides are too steep to allow anyone to climb out. It is further assumed that Mr. Vandervate worked his way out toward the slough believing he could get out on the bank, but that he was overtaken with cramps from the cold water. He started to call for help, and K. H. O'Banion and W. G. Ostendorf, tower men at Portage, heard the calls but could not locate the victim. They called Galena, and Chief of Police LeRoy Felderman and Relief Officer John Wren went down, but were unable to locate him with a boat as the victim had stopped calling for help.

The Vandervate family, when they read in the paper about the incident, did not think that it could have been Leslie until he failed to return Sunday. They wired Mrs. Vandervate, Leslie's wife, who had gone to Montana to attend her father's funeral to see if he had decided to go out there with her, and when they learned he had not, they started to investigate further.

This morning Cornell, Elmer and Roy Vandervate, brothers of the victim, decided to go down to Steiman's camp and inquire of him, but learned that Mr. Stieman had not seen him. They then learned that LeRoy Felderman was hunting down below Camp 19, and walked down to get him. Mr. Felderman returned to Portage, and with his boat began the search.

The body was found about 30 feet out from the present shore line. The water has receded considerably since the night of the accident, and it was estimated that at the time the place where the body was found would have been about 45 or 50 feet from the shore line and under about 7 feet of water.

Mr. Vandervate was born in Galena on July 23, 1893, a son of Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Vandervate. He has spent his entire life in Galena where he attended the Galena public schools. He was united in marriage on April 27, 1921 to Miss Daisy Nichols. He was a member of the South Presbyterian church in Galena.

Mr. Vandervate followed the occupation of a florist, working at the Vandervate Greenhouse.

He leaves to mourn his sudden death, his mother; his wife; four sisters, Mrs. John Koser of Savanna, Ill.; Mrs. Rudolph Hoffman of Davenport, Ia.; Mrs. George Decker of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Mrs. Ray Powers of Rodden, Ill.; six brothers, Benjamin, Jr., of Chicago; Roy of Dubuque; Cornell and Klem of Galena; Homer of Hanover, Ill., and Nelson of San Marino, Calif., besides several nieces and nephews. His father preceded him in death.

The funeral announcement will be made later. The coroner's inquest has been tentatively set for Thursday morning.

Submitted by Tim Doser