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The General Slocum and The Two Evas

Eva_Schneider-GraveTim MilkThe grave of Eva Schneider and her daughter at Greenwood Cemetery.

On the 107th anniversary of the Slocum Disaster, local historian Tim Milk looks at the fate of two passengers.

It’s always had that inexplicable sadness about it, that red former Lutheran church on Sixth Street. Even before the plaque went up on the cast-iron fence which tells the sad story, one could never shake the brooding heaviness that hovered in its yard and hung over its doorstep while passing it by.

Surely it felt different on that lovely early summer’s day when Eva Schneider and her teenage daughter, also named Eva, departed its gates with so many mothers and kids from the largely German congregation to cross over to the East River piers. There, the two Evas and their many good friends, all in holiday dress, would board the excursion steamship General Slocum for an invigorating trip around the bend.

Today, their headstone looks out from a hillside just inside the fence of Greenwood Cemetery. It sadly attests to all who pass by that the two Eva’s lie there together, having both died that same day with 1,200 others. What a vivid picture the legend creates in the mind — a blue sky, the spray of the waves, stiff breezes stirring dresses and children’s hair tied with ribbons, then a desperate panic as the lumbering paddle-wheeler burst into flames.
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