Eugene Gillsen (1876)
Posted By: Pat Hochstetler (email)
Date: 5/10/2008 at 12:08:35
Winterset Madisonian - April 27, 1876
A Young Man Burned to Death
On Tuesday last about 3 o'clock in the morning the cry of fire echoed through the city on the still night air and continued some fifteen or twenty minutes before the bell sounded the alarm, and before the people could be aroused, those who heard it supposing it to be some boisterous person, not clearly distinguishing the sound of fire. At the tap of the bell we hastened to the ground, not to behold a conflagration but a more horrible sight, a young man, but a few moments before in the full bloom and vigor of life, literally roasted alive.
The accident happened in Mr. Parlin's boot and shoe store on the east side of the square. The victim of the flame was Eugene Gilssen, who was in the employ of Mr. P. as clerk, and slept in the store. He had been out that evening to a social party and returned between eleven and twelve o'clock and left his lamp burning beside his bed on a box, which at about the time mentioned above he by some means knocked over upon him, the oil igniting in his clothes and burning his flesh to a crisp all over from head to feet before assistance could reach him.
Mr. Parlin was first to his side, and found him completely enveloped in flames which he soon extinguished, but alas! too late; he was roasted alive. The flames seemed almost entirely confined to his person, from the fact that his bed was but little burned. He was removed to a room near by and all the medical assistance possible rendered, but the fire fiend had done its work completely, and after about one hour's terrible suffering he expired.
He was a young man of rather quiet and reserved habits, respected by all who knew him, and was 24 years of age. His nearest sister who resides at Des Moines was immediately telegraphed to, and arrived on the morning train and departed on the same train at noon with his remains to Denmark, in Lee county, where they will be deposited in the cemetery near his father and mother who have preceeded him. This should be a warning to others who handle kerosene lamps to be more careful in the future. You cannot be too careful.
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