History of GRATIOT CO., Michigan. Historical Biographical, Statistical

By Willard D. Tucker pub. 1913 Press of Seemann & Peters, Saginaw, Michigan



1895, May 4-In a runaway accident Mrs. A. Carmer had her neck broken when she was thrown from the buggy.

1895, May 7-Bernard Parks the 13-year-old son of Sylvanus Parks was kicked over the heart by a horse and killed.

1896, May-Dr. J. A. Morey, a practicing physician at Riverdale for some years, committed suicide with morphine, in the City of Cadillac. He was a man whose history showed a strenuous and varied career.

1903, Dec. 22-Harry Heiser, a freight brakeman on the Pere Marquette Railroad, was killed while doing some switching at Riverdale, by being caught between a car and the "chute" for loading stock

1904, March 29-Fire destroyed the house of Wesley Switzer at Wonders' sawmill, and Switzer's four little children perished in the flames. The mother had gone to a neighbor's a few rods away, when the fire broke out. The mill hands did all in their power to save the children but without success. The oldest of the children-a boy-was only five years old; the two younger ones were twins. The little bodies were found all together in one corner, burned and tortured to mere cinders. Nothing could appeal more strongly to the sympathies.

1905, Nov. 29-Earl Abbott, aged 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. D. F. Abbott, ended his life by shooting himself through the body with his father's shotgun. No cause was known for so desperate an act, and temporary insanity would seem to be the only explanation.

1907, Jan. 10-Two deaths by drowning was the record for this date at Riverdale. Harry Vallance, a lad of 14 was skating on the river, and unluckily skated into an open place. Albert W. Gibson, principal of the Riverdale schools, came to the rescue, but in his efforts he ventured too close to the edge of the ice and went in. Before other help could reach them they were both drowned. Prof. Gibson was a popular teacher and was on his third year at Riverdale. Probably this was the worst occurrence in the history of Riverdale. It certainly caused heart-felt sorrow with all the people.

1907, Jan. 19-A west-bound train on the P. M. Railroad left the track near Riverdale, just east of the river, and the fireman, Homer Johnson, of Edmore, was killed-crushed by the engine which turned over in the ditch.

1910, Jan. 16-Frank Wiltshire, 13-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Wiltshire, of Riverdale, was accidentally shot by the premature discharge of his gun while hunting with other boys Sunday, January 16th. His wounds proved fatal in about eight hours.

1910, June 12-Walter P. Wyeth, a well-known and highly respected citizens of Riverdale, was instantly killed by the engine of an excursion train on the Pere Marquette Railroad, Sunday, June 12, 1910, while walking on the track. Mr. W. was quite deaf and did not hear the train, and also failed to see it though it was approaching him from the front. He saw the train when it was close at hand but too late to get out of the way. He was about 73 years of age.

1912, Jan. 18-The little son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Billings, aged 13 months, was burned to death in the fire that destroyed the Billings home.

1912, Jan. 26-Gladys, aged nine years, only child of Harvey Humphrey and wife, died at Brainerd Hospital, Alma, following an operation on account of injuries received while catching on to sleighs four days previously.

1912, Oct. 2-Dr. R. J. Davison. of EIwell, came to his death by an "overdose of morphine administered by his own hand," said the jury. He had practiced medicine at Elwell only a few months.


1913, July 13-Jefferson Pratt, an old resident of Seville and highly esteemed, committed suicide by taking a large portion of carbolic acid, Sunday morning, July 13. He arose early and went to the barn where he was found dead by his son, an hour or two later. His mind had become unbalanced by sickness.


1876, Jan. 21-John Annis, of Sumner Township, was killed while hunting rabbits, his dog jumping upon the gun in such a way as to discharge it.

1888, Oct. 94-John Langdon, aged 62, ushered himself into the other world by hanging. Financial troubles were mentioned as the cause. Three months afterward, on suspicion of there having been foul play, his body was exhumed and examined, but nothing was found to substantiate the suspicions.

1895, May 27-John Giles was drowned in a ditch while out walking. He was subject to fits, and it was the presumption that while one was on he had fallen into the ditch. He was an old resident and well thought of.

1897, March 2-Thos. Gifford, a pioneer of the township, aged 73, blew off the top of his head with a shot gun. He was a respected citizen, whose ill-health had rendered him despondent.

1897, Aug. 2-Oscar Corbin, aged 75, was killed by falling from a wagon and striking on his head on the barn floor at Elm Hall.

1900, May 27-Mrs. Charles Sanders was killed by lightning. A storm was coming up and Mrs. Sanders was taking clothes from a wire clothes line, one end of which was fastened to a tree. Lightning struck the tree, followed the line and thence to the body of Mrs. Sanders. Death was instantaneous. She was 42 years old and a good woman.

1909, Nov. 7-Andrew Johnson, a well-known farmer of Sumner, was gored to death by a mad hull, while doing chores at the barn, Sunday morning. Just how the animal got the advantage of Mr. Johnson was a mystery, as he was known to be vicious and had to be closely watched. Mr. Johnson was aged 61, and stood high in the esteem of all who knew him.

1912, July 11-Anton Boyer committed suicide by shooting, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Walter Miller. He was in poor health, and was despondent on account of having lost his wife a few months previously. He settled in Sumner in 1869, and was much respected. His age was about 75 years.


1870, March 10-Henry English was accidentally killed while at work in the lumber woods, aged 26.

1878, Jan. 4-A little daughter of Samuel McCutcheon died from burns received on the previous day, by her clothes taking fire at the stove; eight years old.

1883, Nov. 5-C. E. McMannis, of Washington, was killed by a falling tree in the lumber woods near Loomis, Mich., aged 24. He was an exemplary young man; had been married a little over a year, and left a wife and infant son.

1888, May 10-Myron Slayton, aged 24, son of L. A. Slayton, was killed in his father's sawmill. His clothing was caught by the line shaft,


and, being whirled around it with great velocity, he was terribly crushed and mangled, living only about two hours after being released. He was a popular young man and his death was sincerely regretted by the entire community.

1889, Jan. 4-Edward S. Dean, of Washington Township, but who was a pioneer of North Star, was killed by a freight train on the Ann Arbor Railroad two miles south of Ithaca. The train came upon him from behind, and as he was quite deaf he failed to hear it in time. He was a respected citizen 61 years old.

1889, July 10-Thos. M. Sutton met with an accident that caused his death. He was driving the team that operated the hay fork in unloading a load of hay, when the whiffletree of the near horse broke letting the "evener" fly back with great force striking Mr. Sutton in the side. Several ribs were broken and his injuries were so great that death resulted next day. He was 59 years of age, a resident 21 years, and valued as an honorable and progressive citizen. He left a wife and one son, John T.

1900, May 18-Jasper Rhynard, a Washington farmer, aged 50, was with others washing sheep in Maple River. While stooped over reaching for a sheep to take into the water, an old ram butted him in the region of the heart, killing him almost instantly. He was a good citizen, a resident in Washington about 30 years.

1908, July 10-Geo. Whitaker was the victim of a bolt of lightning at about 5 o'clock p. m. He and his four children were on a load of hay and headed for the barn to escape from a shower coming on. Mr. Whitaker and his horses were killed, and the load of hay was set on fire and consumed, the children fortunately escaping, unhurt.

1911, March 7-Samuel Clifford, residing in the south part of Washington Township was loading logs on a wagon, alone in the woods when he was killed by a log getting the advantage of him and crushing him to the ground. He was about 60 years of age, and a man of good standing in his community.


1875, Nov. 2-Chas. S. Pratt was burned to death in the burning house of James Bottsford, at Ring & Rust's mill. He was trying to save the four-year-old daughter of Bottsford from the fire, and both were burned to death.

1881, Jan. 23-Alexander McLeod, a prominent and popular young man of Breckenridge, aged 26, was accidentally killed in a lumber camp near Cedar Lake.

1883, Aug. 6-A 12-year-old son of Jacob Ward was fatally wounded by the bursting of his gun as he was endeavoring to shoot a hawk. His skull was fractured and he died a few hours later.

1887, July 4-At the celebration held at Wheeler, a small cannon, used to produce a noise, burst and a piece killed a man named W. H. Wells. He was 64 years old, and was in town on a visit to his son, the engineer at the stave mill.

1888, June 21-Wm. Wierman, aged 20, whose parents resided in Wheeler Township, was drowned in the mill pond at St. Louis while bathing with other boys. presumably he had cramps.

1894, Sept. 15-Amanda, 13 years old, daughter of Wm. Tinklepaugh, was burned to death when her clothes took fire at the cook stove. She kindled the fire with kerosene, with the result as stated.


1898, Dec. 18-Wm. L. Reynolds, residing in the east part of Bethany, was instantly killed while attempting to cross the railroad track just east of Breckenridge, ahead of an approaching passenger train. He was about 65, an old resident and much respected.

1899, May 16-While Burr Parrish, aged 17, son of Supervisor John H. Parrish, and David Merrill were handling a revolver in the house of Mr. Merrill, the weapon was accidentally discharged, the bullet entering young Parrish's forehead, killing him instantly. A terribly sad and unfortunate accident.

1899, July 1-Lynn Lapham, miller at the flouring mill, Breckenridge, but whose home was at Eaton Rapids, was caught in the machinery and terribly injured. He died in a few hours.

1903, May 15-The little four-year-old son of V. Leimbach, of Wheeler Township, fell into an old well in the field, and his neck was broken by the fall.

1905, March 17-Shooting himself through the head was the way in which Wm. Frick, of Wheeler, ended his life, after struggling along until he had reached the age of 80. Despondency induced by poor health accounted for the desperate deed.

1907, July 5-Arlan W. Stone sustained injuries which resulted in death a few hours later, by being thrown from his buggy when his team ran away while driving in the streets of St. Louis. He was a prominent and popular business man of Breckenridge, aged 37, and had been a resident there about 27 years.

1909, March 27-Bernard Odell, of Breckenridge, aged 25, while in Springfield, Ill., was found dead in a barn at the place where he was staying. A revolver in his hand furnished strong evidence that it was a case of suicide, though no adequate reason was known for such an act.

1910, Dec. 26-A shocking tragedy at Wheeler Village resulted in the instant death of Dr. A. J. Ervey of that village. In attempting to walk across the railroad track ahead of the east-bound fast passenger train which was rapidly approaching, he was caught and terribly mangled, dying instantly. Bystanders warned him of his danger, but he failed to heed them, doubtless misjudging the train's speed. No inquest was held, as there was 110 mystery to clear up, except perhaps the mystery of the workings of the man 5 mind which allowed him to take such chances; and it was too late to get light on that mystery. The Doctor was about 65 years of age, an old soldier of the Civil War and had been a practicing physician at Wheeler for 30 years or more.

1913, July 27-Wm. Gephart, of Wheeler Township, was killed by lightning.

1913, Sept. 1-Hattie, daughter of Clinton Sutfin, residing near Breckenridge, was kicked by a horse and instantly killed; aged ten years


1883, Nov. 4-Alex. McCormick, a young man boarding at the home of Wm. Adams, Alma, went hunting Oct 30th and not returning, a search was instituted resulting in finding his dead body in the woods with his gun lying near, and empty. He had been shot through the heart. An inquest conducted by Dr. J. F. Suydam with a jury composed of S. F. Anderson, I. B. Wolf, F. E. Pollasky, David Cuvrell, W. H. Rogers and C. I..Delavan, found from the testimony that he "came to his death by his own hand during a fit of temporary insanity." He was 20 years old and his parents resided in Midland County.


1884, May 23-Lewis B. Miller, Alma, shot himself through the head, with suicidal intent, in his own house and in the presence of his wife. Excessive use of liquor, long continued, doubtless was responsible for the deed. His age was about 60.

1894, July 18-Mrs. Fred Frusch killed herself with rough on rats. She went to the woods ostensibly to pick berries, but not returning when expected, a search was instituted and she was found dead with a package of the poison by her side.

1897, April 25-A man named Genson Judd, whose home was in Chesaning, walking on the Ann Arbor Railroad bridge at Alma, was caught by a freight train and so badly injured that he died an hour later at Brainerd's Hospital to which he was taken.

1899, April 7-Jackson Tally, an old resident of Gratiot, had both legs cut off by an engine at Owosso, and died soon after.

1903, Dec. 23-Robert J. Walters, a workman at the Alma Sugar Factory, was killed instantly by being struck by a train, near the factory.

1907, March 14-Nothing like an adequate cause was known for the suicide of Archie Peters, who shot himself through the head.

1907, May 24-Miss Grace Johnson, a student at Alma College, was drowned in Pine River near Wolf's bridge, Arcada. She was a popular girl whose home was in Lapeer. A canoe in which she was rowing with her sister and another young lady, upset, the other girls being rescued, while she sank and was drowned.

1907, July 5-Mrs. Frank Dennis went to her death by means of a large dose of carbolic acid. Domestic troubles was the cause assigned.

1908, Feb. 20-A little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Secord, aged four years, met a horrible death. A steam pipe at the college grounds, running under ground from the heating plant to the main building had burst and the escaping steam and water had formed a pool of hot water and mud two or three feet deep. Into this the child fell, and though rescued almost immediately, the plunge proved fatal. She was on her way, with her mother, to see her father who was night fireman at the works, and just when he espied her coming and started to meet her, she fell to her shocking death. A most pathetic and cruel fate!

1908, May 10-Albert Henderson, an Alma College student whose home was in Detroit, was drowned in Pine River. Toward night on that day he had gone up the river in a boat to get flowers from the bordering woods. As he was returning a violent thunder storm came up, and his boat was swamped sending him to his death. After constant search for four days his body was found in 12 feet of water. He was a popular student, and his dreadful fate was greatly deplored.

1908, July 29-Miss Doris Smith, aged 16, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Smith, was drowned in a lake near Oscoda, Mich. She was an Alma High School student and was spending part of her vacation among friends at Oscoda. She was a bright and charming girl whose sad death was deplored by a multitude of friends.

1908, Nov. 21-John C. Wolfe, an employee at the Alma Sugar Factory, while walking on an elevated tram track, slipped and fell a distance of about 30 feet, striking on a cement floor and sustaining injuries that resulted in his death about 20 hours later. He was 59 years of age.

1909, June 18-Richard Bird, aged 60 and quite deaf, was killed by a train on the Ann Arbor Railroad near the coaling station just south of town.


1910, Sept. 12-Pcople of Alma were greatly shocked and grieved when it was known that Ely Brewbaker, cashier of the First State Bank of Alma, had killed himself by shooting, in the office of the bank at about 8 o'clock in the morning. Temporary insanity caused by too close application to his duties was the cause. His accounts were correct in every particular. He was an exemplary and popular citizen who could count every acquaintance as a friend.

1911, March 20-Reuben F. Shunk, formerly of Emerson. later of Alma, lost his life in a fire in an automobile factory at Lansing where he was at work. He escaped safely with the other workmen, but went back to get his coat in the pockets of which he had money, and was overcome before he could again make his escape. He was 51 years of age and left a family.

1911, July 2-Louis Thomas died in St. Mary's Hospital, Saginaw, from injuries received from a fall at the Alma Sugar Factory four days previously. He fell a distance of 20 feet, striking on his head and shoulders. He left a wife and four children.

1912, Nov. 11-Mrs. Kate (Archer) Harlock, wife of Charles Harlock, became insane at their home in Box Elder, Montana, and took her own life by shooting herself through the head with a revolver. She was 36 years of age, and left a husband and two children. They were residents of Alma up to 1910, when they removed to Montana.

1912, Nov. 24-Fred Bruce, an employee at the sugar plant, was found dead in an outhouse, having been killed with a shotgun which was found near by.

1913, July-Roden C. Hooper, aged 26, son of Fred W. Hooper, of Alma, together with his young wife and four other people, were drowned at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, by the upsetting of their yacht. Mr. Hooper was engaged in business at Edmonton. The terrible accident was a great shock, not only to the family, but also to all the acquaintances.

1913, Dec. 25-Death by fire was the terrible fate of Miss Mattie Williams on Christmas morning, at the home of Leo J. Schaeffer, where she was rooming. In an attempt to hurry the kitchen fire which she was kindling, in the absence of the Schaeffer family from home, she mistook the gasoline can for the kerosene oil can and by the resulting explosion and fire was so frightfully burned that she died four hours later. Miss Mabel Lake, who was staying with her, attempted to go to her aid but was driven back upstairs by the flames, and, jumping from a window, was seriously though not fatally injured. The fire was soon extinguished by the fire department. Miss Williams was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Williams, residing two miles east of Alma. Miss Lake is a daughter of Edward W. Lake of Alma.



1881, May 30-The violent death of Fred Bowen, son of Norman M. Bowen, was a great grief to his family and friends. He was instantly killed at Church's sawmill, four miles north of Ithaca, by being caught by the line shaft and whirled to his death. He was nearly 18, and a very popular lad.

1881, July 1-A man named Walter Jones. hostler at the Fox House, was fatally injured while aiding in lowering a large wooden cistern into the ground. A lever, released from its fastenings, flew back, striking him with such force as to cause his death five hours later.


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