EDITOR MOFFETT DIES, STRUGGLING IN SURF
Mark Twain's Nephew a Victim of Apoplexy on High Sea at Seabright.
WIFE SEES HIM GO DOWN
A. Q. W. Tollman, His Brother-in-Law, Plunges in and Drags Him Out, but He is Dead - An Editor of Collier's
Special to The New York Times.
NORMANDIE-BY-THE-SEA, Aug. 1. - Samuel E. Moffett, nephew of Mark Twain, an editor of Collier's Weekly and before that a well-known magazine writer, was taken from the surf here this afternoon dead. Three physicians who tried to resuscitate Mr. Moffett decided that death had been due to apoplexy superinduced by fright and overexertion and not to drowning. His struggles in the water and death were witnessed by his agonized wife.
Mr. Moffett, bringing his wife and two children, Anita, 17, and Francis Clemens, 13, alighted from a train here just before dusk, and the party registered at the Normandie Hotel. Mr. Moffett hurried to the rooms assigned to his party and in a few minutes reappeared in a bathing suit. Throughout the day a gale had been blowing and breakers twenty feet high were crashing in over the beach. Even earlier in the day, when the storm was not so heavy, only a very few swimmers had risked the heavy seas, and when he saw Mr. Moffett arrayed for a bath James Russell, the bathing master of the Normandie, cautioned him against risking his life in the breakers. Mr. Moffett laughed at the warning, remarking to Russell:
"I'll be all right. I'm a fairly strong swimmer and frequently take long swims with my brother-in-law, Albert Tallman." Mr. Tallman was stopping at the hotel, and Russell knew him for a sturdy swimmer.
An instant later Mr. Moffett dashed into the surf. His wife stood on the shore just out of reach of the breaking waves, and gazed admiringly at her husband's powerful overhand strokes by which he forced himself through the water until he had reached the last of the posts supporting the life lines. Then he was seen to stop swimming, grasp the post, and an instant later his voice was borne in over the whistling of the wind, calling for help.
Mrs. Moffett screamed, and John Artson, a life saver, hurried down to the shore. He took in Mr. Moffett's predicament and dived into the water and struck out for him. Against the incoming breakers Artson made but little progress and from the shore Mrs. Moffett saw her husband lose his grip on the post, fall back into the water and sink. He arose again to the surface, and for a moment or two those on the shore saw him struggle to swim in. Then he sank again.
By this time scores of people had rushed down to the bathing pavilion where Mrs. Moffett stood crying for help and almost hysterical. Among these was Mr. Tallman. He realized his brother-in-law's danger, and seeing how little progress Artson was making, seized a life preserver and ran headlong into the surf.
When waist deep he stopped for a moment to adjust the life preserver, and then once again he set out with strong powerful strokes toward his brother-in-law. Supported by the life preserver he made better headway than the life saver, and presently Mrs. Moffett and others on the beach saw him reach Moffett and clasp him around the waist. Then he called to those on the beach to haul in on the rope which dangled from the life preserver.
Both men were pulled ashore quickly. Mrs. Moffett was hysterical by this time and wept and screamed as her husband was stretched out on the beach where Dr. T. T. Goodwin and Dr. L. Denslow, both of New York, and Dr. Jones Reed, of Seabright, who were stopping at the Normandie, worked over Mr. Moffett.
Mr. Moffett had not been in the water more than three or four minutes, but after working over him for half an hour the doctors found themselves unable to resuscitate him. Then they got oxygen and this was administered as a last hope. Meantime, Mrs. Moffett walked back and forth wringing her hands and crying to the physicians to save her husband.
The doctors spared no efforts, but after an hour they determined that their work was in vain. Not a spark of life flickered in the man, and after one last effort the physicians announced that there was no hope of resuscitating him - that he was dead. Then they decided that it was apoplexy that had caused Mr. Moffett's death, as there was no water in his lungs.
Mr. Tallman took exception to this diagnosis, declaring his belief that his brother-in-law had been drowned. He said that Mr. Moffett was a powerful swimmer and corroborated Mr. Moffett''s statement to Russell that he had taken long swims with him, but these swims, Mr. Tallman said, had always been made in still water. He said he thought the rough surf not only frightened Mr. Moffett, who was unaccustomed to it, but also weakened him more than he realized, so that he was thoroughly exhausted by the time he reached the post and had not strength enough to cling to it until help came.
The body will be taken back to the dead man's home, in Mount Vernon, tomorrow. Mrs. Moffett and the children are prostrated.
Mr. Moffett was born in St. Louis on Nov. 5, 1860, the son of William A. and Pamela A. (Clemens) Moffett. His mother was a sister of Mark Twain. As a youth he showed a marked tendency toward literary work. In 1881 he entered the University of California, but after spending two years there came East and finished his course at Columbia. The latter university conferred an A.M. upon him in 1902. Soon after his graduation he went back to California and commenced newspaper work. His rise was rapid, and in 1885, he was made chief editorial write of The San Francisco Evening Post.
Mr. Moffett then held various editorial positions in the city, until in 1891 he was sent to Washington as correspondent for The San Francisco Examiner. At the end of two years he went back to San Francisco and served as chief editorial writer for the same paper for four years. Then Mr. Hearst brought him to New York, and he was connected with The Journal for four years.
In 1902 he was made managing editor of The Cosmopolitan, but severed his connection with the Hearst interests in a little over a year after this to become editorial writer for The World. He remained there for two years and then joined Collier's. Recently he had attracted much attention to his department, "What the World Is Doing."
Mr. Moffett was a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Economic Association, the American Political Science Association, the American Social Science Association, the National Geographical Society, the American Forestry Association, the Council of the American Association for Harbor Legislation, and the Municipal Art Society. While in college he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and was also a member of the City, National Arts, and Reform Clubs of New York.
Among the books published by him were "The Tariff," (1892,) "Chapters on Silver,": (1893,) and "Suggestions on Government," (1894.)
Mr. Moffett married Miss Mary E. Mantz of San Jose, Cal., in 1887. He was frequently identified with his distinguished uncle in much of his literary work, and when Mr. Clemens started on his trip around the world in 1894, Mr. Moffett accompanied him across the Continent as far as San Francisco.
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