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

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


1881, Aug. 29-Blair P., aged four, son of S. B. Prichard and wife, had his life crushed out by a barrel of sand being accidentally tipped over upon him.

1883, Sept. l8-Geo. M. Churchill, aged 38, died from injuries received by the bursting of an emery wheel in Beckwith's furniture factory, on the previous day.

1883, Nov. 9-Miss Anna Nelson, aged 23, daughter of Rev. S. Nelson, pastor of the M. E. Church, Ithaca, was the victim of a shocking tragedy. Her brother, aged 19, came into the room where she sat playing the organ, and playfully placed the muzzle of a revolver against her neck and pulled the trigger, with the result that she was instantly killed. The young man had been out shooting off the revolver, and supposed it to be entirely empty. The shocking result of the useless and senseless accident was greatly mourned in the community, the young lady being an especial favorite.

1886, April 6-Mrs. Susan A. Sutliff, residing at the home of her son, Nathan G. Sutliff, died from burns received the previous evening, when the newspaper she was reading caught fire, enveloping her in flames. She was 90 years old.

1886, Aug. 22-It was a terrible fate that overtook little Nina Beasley, five and a half years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Beasley. The feature of cruelty which characterized it was calculated to send a shudder of horror to the heart of the most hardened and unfeeling. The Des Ermia House, at that time called the Central House, but now and for more than twenty years past known only in tradition and the vacant space at the corner of Main and Center Streets, had for its proprietor, N. G. Peet. Mr. Peet was the owner of a pet bear which he kept securely chained at the rear of the hotel. On Friday evening, August 20th, Mr. Peet's little daughter was feeding the bear, while Nina, who lived near, was looking on. She seems to have got too close, for suddenly the bear seized her with his teeth, shaking her violently, and lacerating her person in a terrible manner. Cries brought help immediately and the enraged animal was beaten off. But the child was so badly injured that she died about 36 hours' later. The distress of the parents was rendered more acute by the fact that they had lost Nina's twin sister by death three years previously.

1888, April l4-This date witnessed a sad occurrence in Ithaca-the death, by drowning, of little Nellie Thayer, aged four years. Mrs. Will Thayer, with her little daughter was calling, in the afternoon, at the home of K. P. Peet-now the McCormack residence, in the north part of the village. Nellie, who was playing with the Peet children in the back yard, started to go into the house by way of the back door, and when inside instead of going into the kitchen, by mistake she entered the bath room and fell headlong into an open trap door and down into the cistern. This, of course, only became known when she was missed a half hour later, and her lifeless body was found in the cistern, after a long and anxious search. Nellie was a bright and attractive child, the pet of all who knew her, and her tragic and cruel death was a sad shock to the entire community. She was the only child of loving parents.

1889, July 6-Stella, little daughter and only child of Thomas Hawks, aged two and a half years, was so badly scalded by falling backward into a pail of hot water that she died after a few hours of intense suffering.

1890, Feb. 28-A rear-end collision occurred at the Ann Arbor depot, which at that time was located three-fourths of a mile east of the business section, resulting in the death of Conductor James Enright, of Owosso. A


freight train, of which Enright was conductor, came from the north at 4 o'clock a. m. and was standing at the station, when another, coming from the same direction, crashed into the caboose of the standing train, killing Enright, who was asleep in the caboose. Several others of the train crews were injured. The wreck took fire and three cars were consumed. Many in the village heard the crash of the collision and hastened to the scene. A coroner's jury consisting of K. P. Peet, W. II. Beasley, B. E. Van Deventer, H.B. Smith, Fred Best and F. S. Van Buskirk, decided that by misunderstanding his orders the blame rested upon the dead conductor.

1895, Sept. 27-A peculiarly sad and distressing accident caused the death of Dora, little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. T. Naldrett, aged six years. She had been to the fair and was returning to her home at the corner of Center and Elm Streets, when, on crossing the last named street, she was run over by a heavy dray and so badly crushed that she breathed her last an hour or two later. She was an only child. Witnesses of the accident were agreed that it was unavoidable under the circumstances, and that no blame could be attached to the driver of the dray.

1897, Feb. 22-The cruel death of Miss Ada Amspoker was a case to bring sorrow to the most hardened. She was a young lady of 21, engaged in housework in the family of Judge Geo. P. Stone. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, while engaged in the kitchen, her clothing caught fire from the stove, and before the fire could be extinguished she was horribly burned. Young Ashley Stone, who was not far away, aided heroically in putting out the fire. She lingered, most of the time unconscious, until the next day at noon, when death ended her sufferings. Her people lived in Owosso. She was a young woman of excellent standing, and with many friends.

1899, May 28-Miss Bessie Miller, of. Ithaca, aged 23, daughter of James Miller, of Ithaca, was drowned in Crystal Lake, near Frankfort, by the upsetting of the boat in which she and Fred Tompkins were fishing. Will Van Wegen and Albert Wilkinson, who were not far away, went to their rescue and saved Tompkins, but the girl went down too soon. A coroner's jury exonerated all from blame.

1900, April 1-At the burning of the Owosso Union School building a fireman and a lad 16 years old lost their lives by falling walls. The lad was Frank Tucker, son of Mr. and Mrs Wm. L. Tucker, formerly and for several years residents of Ithaca. Frank and his parents had many friends in Ithaca.

1903, May 19-Sam. McCollum fell over a hydrant in the south part of town, while drunk, and injured himself so badly that he died five days later.

1903, Aug. 31-Gladys, the five-year-old daughter of Sylvester Brand, was accidentally shot with a toy pistol, and died from the effects a week later.

1904, June 24-John Smith, a young man farm hand working for C. Boyd, two miles east of Ithaca, was instantly killed by a stroke of lightning, while on the way to the barn when a thunder storm was approaching. His home was in Jackson.

1909, April 28-Wesley Gabrion, son of Isaac Gabrion, who had been in Illinois two or three years, was arrested. charged with wife-desertion, brought to Ithaca and lodged in jail. Wednesday morning, April 28, he cut his throat with a razor and was dead before a doctor could get to him. His general reputation was good; so whether his rash act was caused by shame at being arrested as a criminal, or by dread of again taking up the trials of married life-or was he insane; it was all a mystery never to be solved by his hosts of friends.


1910, July 20-Arthur D. Saunders, doctor of dental surgery, took his own life by shooting himself in the head, at his rooms on Jefferson Street, south, at about 8 o'clock a. m., July 20th. He was a popular young man and no adequate reason for the rash act was known to exist. He was about 30 years of age and had been a resident of Ithaca seven or eight years, coming from Bay City.

1911, Feb. 4-Loren Barnes, aged about 30 years, formerly of Ithaca, when crossing the tracks of the Ann Arbor Railroad at Owosso with a horse and carriage, evening of February 4, was instantly killed, being run over by a train. His wife and daughter, who were with him, escaped serious injury, though carried along several hundred feet by the engine. Mr. Barnes' body was terribly mutilated. No one was accounted to have been particularly to blame for the accident.

1911, March 29-Mrs. Pearl Boyer, wife of Frank Boyer, and daughter of Mitchell Augustine, of Ithaca, came to her death by a shocking accident at her new home at Hill City, Minnesota, March 29th. She was starting a fire with the aid of kerosene oil which she poured from a can when an explosion occurred, covering her with burning oil and causing her death. They had but lately moved to Hill City, Mr. Boyer being employed in the Armour Woodenware Factory which had recently been removed from Ithaca to that place. Mr. and Mrs. Boyer were married December 21, 1910, the wife being but 17 years of age. The body was returned to Ithaca for burial.

1911, April 25 (about)-At his home in Oregon, Will Townsend, formerly of Ithaca, committed suicide by shooting, at the age of 50. His wife died about two months previously. He was insane, without doubt.

1912, Feb. 17-Samuel L. Miller was killed by a train on the Ann Arbor R. R. near Lake, Clare County. He had recently moved to a farm in that vicinity, from Ithaca, where he was a well-known and highly esteemed citizen for about 15 years. He was hauling a load of logs, and one of his horses was killed also. Mr. Miller was aged 63 years.

1913, July 31-Leonard Braden, aged 18, son of Mrs. W. W. Yerby, of Ithaca, received injuries from which he died shortly afterward in a Saginaw hospital. He was a brakeman on the Grand Trunk, and received his injuries by falling between cars, and being mangled by the wheels.

1913, Nov. 6-Thomas Marr was instantly killed at Hill City, Minn., by being run over by an engine in the yards of the Armour woodenware plant, where he was employed as assistant manager. He was well known in Ithaca where he was similarly employed for many years. He was 53 years of age. He left one son, Clifford. Mrs. Marr died in Ithaca in 1900. Mr. Marr's remains were brought to Ithaca, by his son and Joseph H. Seaver, and were buried in North Star Cemetery.


1873, June 3-Stewart Kemp, aged about 20, son of Jacob M. Kemp, of St. Louis, was drowned in the mill pond. He was walking on the logs with which the pond was filled, and, losing his footing, he fell between the logs, which, closing over him prevented his escape. He was a worthy young man.

1875, Nov. 13-Mrs. Bridges, mother of Alfred Bridges, baggageman on the S. V. & St. L. R. R., cut her throat while insane and died at her son's residence, aged 51. Bridges was a son-in-law of Wm. Wait, the well-known meat dealer of those early times.


1876, March 9-Milo Harrington, a St. Louis merchant, killed himself with a shot gun. Business embarrassments led to the act. He was 60 years old.

1876, Aug. 15-Miss Minnie Truesdell, daughter of the late John E. Truesdell, died from poison taken with suicidal intent, at her home in the Eastman House. Her father, with Wm. H. Taylor, was proprietor of the hotel, and earlier was in the same business in Alma.

1880, Nov. 21-Dr. Jacob Myers, familiarly known among his many friends as "Dutch Jake," died from the effects of a gunshot wound received while hunting in Gladwin County. He was a very early settler in this vicinity, his wife being a sister of Missionary Meissler of the Bethany Indian Mission.

1881, July 25-Dennis O'Brien fell part way down stairs in the Leonard House and dislocated his neck. He had been but a few days in town, was intoxicated, and was about 30 years of age.

1884, July 30-Mrs. Samuel R. Dewey, St. Louis, ended her life by shooting herself through the head, at her home, apparently without adequate cause.

1885, June 3-Andrew J. Van Riper killed himself by cutting his throat with a razor, at the age of about 40.

1886, Nov. 25-Eddie Fox, aged 12 and living with his mother, Mrs. Fred Fox, on the angling road between St. Louis and Alma, lost his life by drowning. With other boys he was skating on the St. Louis mill pond just above the Cheesman bridge. The ice was thin, and, breaking through be was drowned. He was found standing upright in the water, his head being about a foot under the surface.

1886, Dec. 3-John M. Church, a prominent resident of St. Louis lost his life by drowning in his cistern. Life was extinct when he was found, but circumstances seemed to show that in reaching into the opening for a pail of water he had fallen in; perhaps being stunned by the fall, and thus rendered helpless. Mr. Church was aged 49 years; an old soldier. He served as postmaster at St. Louis three years; an efficient and popular official and a good citizen.

1887, Aug. 29-Mrs. John Hughes died in the operating chair of Dentist John F. Goss, from the effects of chloroform administered to ease pain. Accidental death was the verdict. She was aged 40 years.

1887, Oct. 9-The body of Robert George Scott, son of Amos Scott, was found hanging to a limb in the woods southeast of town, the deed having been done several days previously. The verdict was "suicide caused by domestic troubles." Scott was 23 and married.

1888, Dec. 30-Harry Hayes, only son of Wm. H. Hayes, St. Louis, aged 18, was drowned near Wolf's bridge, Arcada, by skating into an air-hole in the ice.

1889, May 31-People were shocked by the suicide of John Dunlap, who shot himself through the heart. There was nothing known that could be called an adequate cause. Aged about 35.

1890. Feb. 27-According to the finding of a coroner's jury the suicide of E. F. Frost was caused by despondency.

1890, July 15-Ludwick Miller, aged 35, drowned himself in the river. Nothing worse than financial stringency was presumed to have been the cause. He was son of Lewis B. Miller who shot shot himself dead at Alma six years previously.

1892, March 24-August Arndt went to the house where his wife was staying-she having been compelled to leave him on account of his actions-and after vainly trying to have her go back and live with him, drew a


revolver and attempted to kill her. He only made a flesh wound in her shoulder, however. He then put a bullet through his own head, thus finishing a career that was certainly a failure.

1893, Aug. 23-Victor White, a Chicago man, temporarily staying in St. Louis, bought a revolver, loaded it, and then walked out Franklin street to near the southern limits of town. Then he shot himself and died in the street. Temporarily insane, it was said.

1896, Oct. 2-Wm. H. Leppard ended his life by shooting himself. Domestic infelicities were presumed to have been the moving cause.


1896, Nov. 12-A young man named John Updegraft was instantly killed by the accidental discharge of his own gun while hunting in Midland County in company with Bert Kemp, R. V. Faurot and Howard Placeway. He was an industrious and popular young man, aged 21.

1898; Dec. 4-Fred Eagan, aged 13, son of Peter Eagan, was drowned in the mill pond when he broke through the ice.

1901, June 9-A young man named Jasper N. Wright, living in St. Louis, was found dead in some woods near the road a mile or so northwest of town. . A woman living near gave the alarm; claiming that she found him dead. The coroner's jury, after getting all the evidence available, rendered a verdict that the man "came to his death from over-exertion, resulting in heart-failure."

1903, April 25-Mrs. Manahan, widow of Jeff. Manahan, committed suicide, while insane, by drowning herself in the cistern at her home, aged 50. She settled in Bethany about 1878.

1905, June 18-Jas. Chase died from the effects of a dose of Paris green taken with suicidal intent. He was 76 and insane.

1906, Dec. l6-Jo. Byers, an old resident of St. Louis, suicided (sic) by hanging, at the age of 66. There was no known cause that seemed to give a plausible excuse.

1910, Sept. 28-Fred L Kemp lost his life in an automobile accident near Breckenridge. He was a liveryman at St. Louis, aged 35, son of Geo. L. Kemp, of Forest Hill.

1910, Dec. 15-Robert Shank, son of the late Hamp. Shank, was killed while hunting coyotes at Pendleton, Oregon, by the accidental discharge of his gun. His body was returned to St. Louis for burial.

1911, Feb. 3-O. J. Becker, an old resident of Emerson, but for a few years living in St. Louis, met his death at the farm in Emerson, Friday morning, February 3rd.. He was driving a team hitched to a dray, and the horses becoming frightened and unmanagable, turned in such a way as to throw him off and against a corn crib, inflicting such injuries that he died in a short time. He was an esteemed citizen, an old soldier and had been a resident of Gratiot about 40 years. He was 71 years of age.

1911, May 26-Floyd Shippey, son of Degrasse Shippey, was killed by an engine in the Durand railroad yards where he was employed; aged 42.

1911, Sept. 18-Martin F. Frear, while en gaged on some work at the sugar factory, fell a distance of 15 feet, Monday, Sept. 18th, and received injuries which resulted. in his death the next day. He was son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Frear, of Pine River. A wife and one child, besides other relatives were left to mourn his sad death.

1911, Sept. 28-Edwin D. Clow, aged 42, lost his life from injuries received four days previously when the automobile he was driving was struck by an Ann Arbor motor car, at Alma. Son of Jas. Clow, of St. Louis, and a resident of that place nearly all his life. He was in the employ of the city as electrician.


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