Tragic Potomac Drowning Ends Romance

Washington Post headline
Washington Post headline

This is a sad story that we came across in The Washington Postfrom June 29th, 1908.

John McCalip, 22 years old, an electrician, at the Senate office building, was drowned yesterday while swimming in Broad Creek, on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, a short distance below Alexandria. The Washington Police were notified, and the harbor precinct launch hurried to the spot and recovered the body.

McCalip’s death brought to a close a pretty romance, dating from childhood. For several years he had been engaged to Miss Julia Hanna, of Crawfordville, Ind., his native town, and within a week or so they were to have been married.

Saturday evening McCalip and several companions started for a cruise down the river in the auxiliary yacht Duchess. They tied up in Broad Creek for the night. McCalip awoke about 7 o’clock yesterday morning, and, informing his companions that he was going to take a swim before dressing, dived overboard.

He swam several hundred yards from the boat, and had turned about to return, when he sudednly [sic] was overcome. He called for help, and then sank. His companions started the engine of the boat and hurried to his rescue, but when they reached the spot McCalip had gone down for the last time.

Friends of the young electrician are of the opinion that he was taken with a cramp while swimming toward the boat. It is supposed that the shock of diving into the water immediately after getting out of bed was responsible for the cramp that he evidently suffered.

Since coming to Washington McCalip had made his home with his parents and sister, Mabel, at the Naples apartments, 715 Nineteenth street northwest. He was a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, but belonged to no local organization. He was a self-taught electrician but for a time had been taking a course in a correspondence school. The body will be taken to Crawfordsville fro burial.

Such a sad story that this young man died so close to his eventual wedding.

Potomac River
Potomac River

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • Georgette Nelson

    Hi Tom,
    I grew up at 1425 Euclid St and barely escaped the riots. I was 10yrs old almost 11. They tore down the 1906 house I lived in but I still have two pictures of it. The land lords name at the time was a man I knew called Mr. Mac. I am hoping to find any relatives of his. My mothers name was Dorothy Cook. I was Georgette Cook and my brother Wayne Cook. I am hoping to find anyone who might have more pictures. I would also like to find the two National Guards Men that were so brave to come and rescue my brother and I. It was moments before it was to be set a fire. They will remember as they had to march up a long winding stair well. They had to use tear gas to move the crowd that already had lit torches made out of clothes wrapped around boards. I was a little dark haired girl with brown eyes and my brother blond with blue eyes. He was eight. I have been silent for years except to share a little history but I am starting to write my memoirs. It is a story many have told me should be written. My heart pounds as I write but it if it inspires or encourages anyone to survive then the promise I made to God will continue on maybe through my story. Thank you for starting this blog. Sincerely, Georgette Nelson

  • sherri

    I wonder what happened to Miss Julia Hanna?