In every community during a course of years, there are more or less occurrences which are generally regarded as misfortunes, some of which are the results of accidents and some of carelessness or mismanagement. Of these there have been quite a number in the history of the county. A few of these have either come under my own observation, or the knowledge of them has come to me while searching for facts on other subjects. I have made no effort to obtain this class of facts, but think it will not be out of place to mention a few of those about which I have learned.
On August 31, 1868, C. A. Kelso and Augustus Melvin, while crossing the Neosho in a skiff above the mill dam at Oswego, ran into drift which carried them over the dam; Mr. Kelso succeeded in getting to shore, but Mr. Melvin was drowned.
On September 18, 1869, the boiler to the sawmill engine located on Big Hill Creek, in Osage township, burst, and killed Messrs. Waymire and Worley, two of the proprietors.
On April 20, 1870, Wm. Patterson and Henry Bodine were examining a revolver in a street near the Oswego House. The revolver was accidentally discharged by Mr. Patterson and Mr. Bodine was instantly killed. The deceased was at the time undersheriff, and his death caused a good deal of annoyance in reference to official papers, as well as trouble to his family.
In June, 1870, some parties came to the, office of Dr. J. H. Lane, in Elston, in the nighttime, and desired him to go several miles in the country to see a sick child. He lighted a lamp to dress by, but it was almost at once blown out, either by a gust of wind or by the parties in the room. He became unconscious. The last that he remembered in reference to this transaction was that he was on his horse going somewhere - he knew not where. When he awoke to consciousness again he found himself in Missouri, and learned that several weeks' time had elapsed since he left his home. When he left he had quite a large sum of money on his person, most of which was gone when he found himself in Missouri. He was never able to give any account of the cause for his loss of consciousness, nor to intelligently trace his wanderings.
Only a week or two after the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Lane, the county surveyor, E. G. Davidson, living near Daytonville, mysteriously disappeared, and some time thereafter found himself in Oregon. He was never able to give any more satisfactory account of his trip than was Dr. Lane of his. After an absence of a few months Mr. Davidson and Dr. Lane both returned to their homes.
In the summer of 1871, old Mr. Hart with his little daughter were attempting to cross Pumpkin Creek, at Duncan's ford; the creek was very high, but so strong was Hart's belief that he would not die until the second coming of Christ that he drove in, and he and his daughter, as well as the team, were drowned.
In the fall of 1871 two children of Wm. Chatfield, in the north part of Mount Pleasant township, were burned to death. While the parents were both away from home, the boys, aged about four and six years, got some matches and were playing prairie fire. The mother, who was at a neighbor's, saw the fire, and started home. The children got into a henhouse built of hay, and shut the door; the fire caught into this, and in spite of the mother's efforts the children were burned beyond recognition before they could be rescued.
On March 13, 1872, C. B. Pratt, postmaster at Ripon, was found dead in the road between his home and Chetopa, he having fallen from his wagon and been run over by one of the wheels.
In May, 1878, a family came into Oswego and located in the east part of town, and almost immediately a part of the family broke out with smallpox; several members died of the disease.
About the middle of December, 1880, while Richard Sloan was painting the Frisco House, at Oswego, he fell from the scaffold and was killed.
In April, 1881, Alexander Bishop lost a number of head of stock from hydrophobia, and a few months after that some 23 head near Edna had to be killed on account of the same malady.
In the summer of 1881 quite a large number of cattle in different parts of the county died from hydrophobia.
On September 20, 1881, the boiler of a locomotive on the M. K. & T. Ry. exploded near the residence of Ben Roberts, and killed the engineer and fireman and also two other engineers who were running with them, and tore the freight train almost to pieces.
On December 12, 1881, while W. P. Wilson and his son Thomas J. were crossing Pumpkin Creek, the water in which was then very high, their wagon capsized and young Mr. Wilson was drowned.
On May 13, 1882, a locomotive on the M. K. & T. Ry., while stopping at Oswego, by some means got started while both the engineer and fireman were in the depot getting orders. It ran a mile or two north, where it collided with a passenger train and smashed both engines, but killed no one.
On July 24, 1883, Edgar Stonecipher, a little son of Mrs. Sallie J. Stonecipher, died of hydrophobia. A little play dog had a few days before that made a scratch on his hand, which was not at the time thought sufficient to be at all dangerous, but from its effects the boy died.
During the high water of June and July, 1885, travel over the Labette bottom above Parsons had to be by boat. On July 2d Master Mechanic W. E. Phillips, having Chester Jones and T. Fox in the boat with him, was drawn into a current, and all were drowned.
In July, 1886, the boiler of the National Mills, at Parsons, exploded, and caused a great destruction of property.
In July, 1886, a family of movers stopped just before crossing the bridge north of Oswego, and for some cause their team commenced backing, and backed the wagon off the bluff to the right. The mother was badly injured and a little boy had his leg broken.
In April, 1892, the barn of William Kollenberger, of Elm Grove township, was struck by lightning. Five horses and two cattle were killed, and the barn, with its contents of tools, grain, etc., was burned.
Since the foregoing account was; prepared, there have been a good many instances of destruction of buildings by storms, by lightning and by fire, as well as other accidents to property and to persons. But none has come within my knowldge[sic] which I deem of sufficient general interest to separately mention here.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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