It was a sweltering hot, end-of-summer, August Sunday in 1894, just perfect for a picnic by the river. Marie and Hugo Kramer gathered up their three children and joined Marie’s siblings, Georg and Lydia Hartman, and their in-laws Wilhelm and Walli Hartmann with their two children. Mrs. Williams and her three children tagged along. The group found a beautiful spot on the bank of the Guadalupe River at the top end of what is now Cypress Bend Park. The river came around the bend there and formed a beach-like sand bar with a shallow area where the children could wade and play. Quilts were spread out on the ground, baskets opened, shoes removed and adults and children tested the cool water. After getting their families happily settled, Mr. Kramer and Mr. Hartman walked downriver about a mile to do some fishing away from the giggling and frolicking kids.
At some point in the afternoon, 14-year-old Clara Kramer shouted; she had stepped off the sandbar into deep water and gone under. Mrs. Kramer, Mrs. Hartman and Mrs. Williams immediately recognized the child’s danger and jumped in after her. Two of the women instantly disappeared from the surface but Mrs. Williams struggled, and grabbing hold of a rock made it to shore where she then lost consciousness. The children ran safely back to the river’s edge, but George and Lydia Hartman risked the water in an attempt to save the three who had gone under and barely escaped drowning themselves.