Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Five Terrible Ways To Go

I have been looking for the parents of my 4th great grandfather John McKee whom I've been starting to focus my genealogical interest on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of John McKees in a close proximity to each other which makes the details sometimes hard to sort out. In hopes of learning more about John, I have been looking into his kids, namely trying to track down obituaries so see if any information could be gleaned from them. I was able to locate my 3rd great grandfather's obituary in the paper and once again I was reminded of how fragile life can be sometimes.
Bertram Edwin McKee, who was injured Saturday, July 20th, while running a saw in Harris & Cole Bros. factory, died at eleven o'clock Thursday evening, July 25th. As he was alone at the time of the accident it will never be known exactly how he came to meet with the misfortune. A piece of board flew against him, striking him in the abdomen with such force as to paralyze the upper portion of his body. From the first, the wounded man was discouraged about his recovery, but those about him felt hopeful until the last twenty-four hours. He was conscious to the last and everything possible was done for his relief....
Bertram was only 44 years old and left behind a wife and eight children, the youngest being only six years old according to the newspaper account. What the newspaper doesn't mention, because it probably wasn't known at the time was that an eighth child was about two months along in his widow's belly and would be born the following March and appropriately named Bertram Jr.

Tragedy wasn't over for my 3rd great grandmother Ella J. Smith McKee. Less than a year later after the death of her husband, she lost one of her children in another accident.
Fatal Accident - A sad and most unaccountable accident occurred last Saturday afternoon about four o'clock, by which Willie, the ten year old son of Mrs. Edwin McKee lost his life. He had been playing circus with a trapeze and when trying to take the rope down in some mysterious manner it was caught about his neck, strangling him to death, although his feet were scarcely free from the ground. There was no know in the rope so it must have been accidental. He was a bright and good boy, and great sympathy is felt for his widowed mother....
They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and so it wasn't really surprising that there were similar tragedies in Betram father's life as well. The first item is about Betram's half brother Melvin McKee who had a different mother but shared John McKee as their father.
Melvin McKee, a three-year old boy living near Parkersburg, fell from a grain roller and was crushed to death, on Thursday morning. It seems that the driver had temporarily left the team, during which time the little fellow climbed on the roller, and by some means the horses started, and the boy fell between the roller and the frame, breaking nearly every bone in his body.
A few years later, this time to Bertram's full brother John Jr.
Dies While Sobering Up - John M. McKee, a traveling salesman for the Hamm Brewing Company at St. Paul, died at Sioux City from an overdose of morphine, take to quiet his nerves after a protracted spree.
John McKee himself also was involved in his share of accidents with several wagon wrecks mentioned in the newspapers that mostly resulted in broken bones to those with him. The one posted below resulted in yet another tragedy that seemed to haunt this family. The scanned copy of the archived newspaper is a bit fuzzy so I can't read what exactly happened but what I can read gives me enough.
John McKee and his ..... mother, throwing both out. Mrs. McKee who is past 90 years of age is probably fatally injured. The accident was caused by the carelessness of Mr. McKee, who turned onto the track a few feet ahead of the car. 
Finally after having lost three sons and one grandson to a freak accident, being involved in his mother's death John and his second wife (Melvin's mother/Bertram's stepmother), perhaps looking to start over somewhere else would pack up and leave the area for Brule county, South Dakota where he lived out his remaining years (outliving his second wife by at least seven years) before dying in a sanitarium of "hypostatic pneumonia" with "exhaustion of senile" listed as a contributory cause.


R. Sherman said...

That's known as "bad karma."

Actually, it tells us how advanced things are now, such that those things which were fatal 100 years ago are unknown today, (although we've got our share of worries, to be sure.)


Three Score and Ten or more said...

Really tracing our ancestors will usually bring about an understanding that accidental death and injury was much more prevalent a hundred or more years ago, even than today. We sometimes see all the accidents in autos, and think about a simpler time. My family records are also full of accidental deaths from horse accidents, falling trees, "industrial accidents" and, of course so many women and babies died at childbirth. It is somehow humbling to think how fortunate we are to live in this era, when life expectancy is at its highest rate and length in history.

warren said...

Interesting read for sure!

Ron said...

Man oh man, I can't decide which one is the worst.

Jeff said...

don't show this to your life insurance agent, he might think it's in your genes and raise your rates!