Tama County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Star – Clipper Supplement
Traer, Iowa, March 25, 1886
History of North Tama
By Daniel Connell

Chapter XXVI

Sudden and untimely deaths have been the lot of some who have made this their home. Mr. Horton and son were drowned in Wolf creek in 1854. Joseph Connell died suddenly while at Vinton the same year.

In December 1856, one Sabbath afternoon, one of those severe snow and wind storms, such as this country were then liable to, and such as the new comers have not realized, arose and raged with terrific force. A man named Crampton and his wife, who was a daughter of Henry Beatty, were at Peter Greenlee’s, a neighbor, a distance of half a mile. Not knowing their danger they started at nearly dusk to return to Mr. Beatty’s house. There was breaking between the houses, and they felt sure they could reach that and home. They did not succeed. Next day finding they were not at either house a party was formed to search for them, and the body of Mrs. Crampton was found the same day. On the second day the body of Mr. Crampton was found twelve miles from their starting place. They had followed the wind. When Mrs. C failed there was evidence that Mr. C. had carried her, and when he was exhausted or she dead he laid her across his tracks and started on the run for life.

In the fall of 1857, during a fearful high wind, a fire was started near the southwest corner of Perry and swept with terrible speed in the northeast course into Clark township, well into the northeast corner. Mrs. Newton Miller with her son William were at a neighbors’. Seeing the fire coming they started for home. The flames overtook them. Mrs. Miller died and the son was badly disfigured.

During the autumn of 1858 an aged man traveling on foot from Illinois to go to a son in Hardin county, stopped over night at the house of L. E. Wood. He was thinly clad for the season. The next day he resumed his journey. The wind was strong and increased and became very cold. He nearly reached Fifteen Mile Grove when he laid down exhausted and was found next day dead.

Joseph Brantley was a trapper whose home was where he happened to be between the Mississippi and the Rockies. He was trapping along our creeks in 1862 and made his home with Gen. wood. One day in September, while making his way through the timber on the Gordon farm and trailing a loaded gun, in some way it was caught and discharged, lacerating his leg. His recovery seemed probable, yet he died the next morning.

Newton Spencer was killed by lightning on his farm in Geneseo in the summer of 1862.

In the summer of 1867 Mr. Chamberlain, while at work on the farm of Ewing Brothers, complained of being unwell and was sent to the house. Mr. Ewing, sometime later in the day on his way home, discovered the body of Mr. Chamberlain under a tree beside the path dead.

A Mr. Steele, then recently from Scotland, died from the effects of heat on one excessively warm day while working on the farm of Robert Young.

In the summer of 1862 a daughter of Samuel Young together with a daughter of Stephen Klingaman, while bathing below the mill in Wolf creek, were drowned.

In the spring of 1873 George F. Kober and a man named Earnest Axon were plowing. Axon gathered wild parsnips and partook of them, giving some to Kober. They then went to dinner. On the way Axon felt the effect of them. Reaching the house Kober assisted Axon to bed and ten said he would lie down as he was not feeling well. In a short time both were dead.

The day and time of burial was also the burial of Francis Philp, and the occasion brought out an immense concourse of people from many miles.

In the spring 1874 Mr. Hitchner, one of the oldest of the old settlers, committed suicide by shooting.

On the 29th of July, 1873, Anthony Corrigan, a farmer in Buckingham, was thrown from a reaper while cutting grain and was terribly cut in several places. He lived but a few hours.

Mrs. Camp, who lived in Geneseo, was also killed in the same manner, date unknown.

On the last Sabbath of June, 1869, a number of sons and daughters of Peter Aldrich, living in the northeast corner of Spring Creek township, together with a young man named Welch, repaired to Wolf creek to see the flood occasioned by heavy rains. In a still, shallow place three of the daughters stepped in to wade. The bottom was uneven, and unexpectedly the three walked into a deep hole beyond their depth. The young men hurried to the rescue. Two were extricated, but Isabella, aged seventeen years, was drowned. This unfortunate occurrence threw a deep gloom over the entire community.

On the 4th of July, 1876, Gen. Wood with his son Franklin were milking in a field on the farm after their return from the celebration at Traer. It had been showery with some thunder. The storm increasing they started to return to the house. About 7 o’clock p. m. a stroke of lightning prostrated them. Mr. Wood had no recollection of what occurred. When he recovered the boy was lying beside him dead. He was a bright, intelligent lad of much promise. He was fourteen years old. During the 187- a young man by the name of William Elliott was living with Anthony Stavely in Buckingham township. One Sabbath afternoon while in his room examining a pistol in some unknown manner it was discharged. He was found on the bed dead.

In the spring of 1858 some Indians were hunting along the creek near Clark’s mill. With them was a young girl who was subject to fits. While under the influence of one she fell into the creek and was drowned. T. R. Shiner made a sled to convey the body to the reservation. Such was Indian honesty the sled was returned about ten days later, although not required.

In the spring of 1859 John S. Hopkins engaged to teach the school in what has for many years been known as the Seelye district in the southwest corner of Buckingham. One day during the latter part of June lightning struck the building. The result we give in the language of Mr. Hopkins of a recent date: “I was sitting at the time with my chair tipped back against the door and my body inclined forward hearing a class of small scholars recite. When I recovered consciousness I was lying on the floor in the center of the room with my limbs to my knees completely paralyzed. I was unable to rise and called on Lizzie Klingaman to assist me, she being the only one remaining in the house.

On regaining my feet I staggered to the door and supported myself until I recovered the use of my limbs and then started for Alfred Wood’s, about a quarter of a mile distant.

None of the children were seriously affected by the shock at the time, although Walter Bates was delerious (sic) all the following night.

An examination of the building showed that the bolt had struck the end of the building and passed down the door, splitting a large block which was used for a step, and entered the ground, making a hole about one inch in diameter. It must have passed within one foot of my body. My experience at the time led me to the belief that death by lightning would be painless. When I recovered my senses it appeared like awakening from a sound sleep, and I could not for some time recall what had occurred only a few moments before. I was so badly shocked that my feet and legs turned purple to my knees. When asked what form of death he preferred Julius Caesar replied: “That which is most sudden and least foreseen.’ My opinion is that lightning would have filled the bill better than Brutus’ dagger.”

It was providential none were killed. The following named children were in the house at the time: Alexander and Charles Wood, children of Alfred Wood, Henrietta, Mary, Sarah, Jane and Nathan, children of Jasper H. Scott, Walter Bates, an adopted son of Mrs. John Scott, and Lizzie, daughter of George Klingaman.

One day in 1873 a small child of Samuel Hyde, of Buckingham, was playing about the room while Mrs. Hyde was washing. A boiler of hot suds was on the stove. The child struck the stove, causing a leg to drop. The boiler tipped, throwing the boiling water upon the child, scalding it so severely that it died in a few hours.

During the month of September, 1868, a family named Hiley were living on the Bills farm south of Union grove in Spring Creek. One day the women of the family were in the grove after plums. A child of about three years old started to follow its mother and became lost.

On their return from the grove and finding the child absent the search began, but it could not be found. The neighborhood was aroused. Everyone joined the search which was continued for days and by some for weeks. So impressed was the community that the child had been kidnapped that the board of supervisors, then in session, were induced to offer a reward which they placed at $500 for the arrest of the kidnappers and return of the child. Strange teams that had been seen in the neighborhood were followed for miles. All efforts were unavailing . The search was abandoned.

Next spring Mrs. Mary Blakely, who lived near, while strolling near the small creek that runs through the farm, found a child’s hat among some grass. She also discovered hair in the grass. She discovered something in the water that puzzled her. She obtained assistance and got it out. It proved to be the lower portion of a child – pelvis bone and legs with flesh adhereing. The legs were broken. It was relief to the community, this discovery, a relief to the distracted parents. They knew the child was dead and probably had not suffered. The story that was published of mutilation and of the use of hounds was pure imagination.

Causalities - Continued
March 25, 1887

Near the close of a harvest in the summer of 1869 a small child of G. Jaqua followed a team to the field. The child did not return. The track skirted the timber through which ran Twelve Mile creek. As evening advanced messengers were sent to the village and throughout the neighborhood for aid. Many responded and the search continued through the night.

At day break the little one came out of the timber where it had slept. It would seem as if she had entered the grove and sat down and had fallen asleep, not awakening until morning. A disappearance of a child in this as in the preceding incident brings to surface the kindly feeling in man to aid in distress. In this case the news spread with astonishing rapidity, and spread all night. With the first streak of dawn people were on the move from long distances, and hours after the appearance of the child they continued to come. Wherever a piece of road could be seen in the distance it was black with teams. Until noon people arrived to join in the search, many of whom were strangers to the family.

On June 14, 1864, L.P. Dinsdale, a resident of Grant, observing a rain storm gathering went to the house for shelter about 11 o'clock a.m. He was sitting in a rocking chair when lightning struck the end of the house. A portion passed under the chamber floor and down by the chimney.

The end of the house was torn off, but did not fire the house. Mr. Dinsdale was struck and fell back in the chair insensible. He was carried out in the air and rain by his wife and some children who were there, and was supposed to be dead. He did not breathe for more than an hour. During that time water was poured over his head. Finally signs of life appeared and consciousness returned, but he could not speak. He had severe pains in his head for many days after.

He had received a charge of electricity and was unable to work for several weeks. He has no recollection of the shock or of the means used for his restoration.

In 1867 Samuel Philp lived in a log house in Grant with his family. One night during the month of July of that year he was awakened by a noise of an unusual sound to him. He arose from bed to light a lamp to discover the cause, and stepped into water and mud. He could not find the lamp where it was left on retiring. Groping about he discovered the roof of the cabin was not in its usual place but was down near the bed and directly over it, protecting the inmates from the rain that was falling. A high wind or tornado had passed and demolished the house, scattering all they had.

He found the children and wife, gathered such articles as they could find to cover themselves, and the procession started for the nearest house, one mile distant.

After this Mr. Philp did not take kindly to Iowa zephyrs and returned to Canada. Several tornadoes passed over the settlement, but no person was hurt.

The most terrible day for them was Sunday, June 2, 1860, the day Commanche was destroyed. Until recent years no tornado was known here only during the month of June. A destructive one in 186- destroyed the Crystal school house and the one to the west of Buckingham near the home of Dock Wood.

A severe one done some damage in Geneseo in June 1854. One cloud formed near and west of the village of Buckingham and one near West Union. They passed down the creek and united at the forks, sweeping through Geneseo.

For a number of years after 1860 they were an annual visitor, grand and terrible to view, and usually passed over us, for which all were thankful.

Chapter XXVII

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