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FRENCH, John 1856-1908


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 10/12/2016 at 14:35:34

Buried In A 20 Foot Well

Well Curbing Caved in on John French Yesterday and He Was Buried Alive

Dead Body Was Removed At Three O'Clock This Morning

John French was buried in a 20 ft well on the Morrison Bros. farm a mile northeast of town at five o'clock yesterday afternoon and his lifeless body was removed at three o'clock this morning. He was covered with four feet of earth.

Mr. French was cleaning out a well that had partly caved in a few days before. He had made a new curbing and this was set in the well and it was let down as fast as it was cleaned out. On the outside of the curbing the wet dirt that was taken out of the well was placed. The pressure of this dirt from the outside crushed the curbing and the wet earth that had been packed around it fell to the bottom of the well and entombed the man below.

Mr. French was in the bottom of the well dipping up the water and mud. Harold Mertz and John Allison pulled up the mud and water out of the well as fast as the man below dipped it up. This mud and water was placed about the curbing.

It was with the greatest difficulty that the body of the entombed man was taken out. The work of the rescue began at five o'clock last night and it took eight hours to get the body out.

The remains were taken to Mr. French's home where they will be until they are buried. The deceased was 52 years old. He had lived in this locality over thirty years. He was a day laborer and has no family. The only relatives is a brother who is on the police force in San Francisco.

--Grundy County Democrat (Grundy Center, Iowa), 29 October 1908, pg 1


Buried Alive In A Deep Well

John French a Well Digger, was Buried Under About Four Feet of Dirt in a Well on the Morrison Farm

Probably Instant Death

John French, a bachelor, residing in the house just east of the Kinney lumber office, no doubt suffered instant death last Wednesday afternoon, while cleaning out an old well on the George Morrison farm, formerly the Wilhelm place about a mile from town.

The well had caved in about a week ago and Mr. French together with another of Mr. Morrisons employees were sent to the place to dig it out and sink a new curb.

The new curb had been inserted to a point also upon top of the old one and Mr. French was below this new curb taking out the dirt while his assistant hauled it up. The well had not caved in from the top but a few feet below and the dirt that was taken out was thrown behind the new curb and it is thought that this was the direct cause of the accident as it caused another cave in, which came all on one side and crushed the new curb and buried Mr. French under about four feet of blue clay. Where he was standing was about twenty feet from the top of the ground.

Assistance was immediately summoned and many willing hands took to the shovels, but owing to the nature of the soil it was hard to make much headway, and it was not until 3 o'clock this morning that the remains were taken from the well. He was found in a stooping position with one arm up in front of his face. His cap was upon his head as before the accident which verifies the belief that death was probably almost instantaneous. The dirt was packed so hard about the body that after all was taken out but about six inches around his feet he could not be extricated with the use of a windlass and rope.

The accident is a sad affair. Mr. French is without relatives in these parts, having only one brother living, who resides somewhere in California. Efforts are being made to locate him before the funeral services are arranged.

A coroners inquest was held this morning, and their verdict was that he came to his death by smothering from being buried in the dirt, which was purely accidental.

--The Grundy Republican (Grundy Center, Iowa), 29 October 1908, pg 1


Grundy Obituaries maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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