What One Obituary Doesn’t Tell, the Other Does. Abraham Auxer, Beloved Son and Brother

The Obituary:

Harrisburg, Feb 15, 1873

AUXER-On February 13, 1873, ABRAHAM AUXER, in the 24th year of his age.

We heard his sufferings, heard his sighs,
With throbbing hearts and weeping eyes,
But now he calmly sleeps at rest,
All pain, all grief and suffering past.

The relatives and friends of the deceased are respectfully invited to attend the funeral from the residence of his parents on Boas street above Elder, on Sabbath, the 16th inst., at ten o’clock a.m.  Services in the Fourth street Bethel.

The Story:

The thing is, we really don’t know the story!

Abraham Auxer was the youngest child born to my great-great-great grandparents, Philip K. and Maria Leader Auxer.  He was born into a family with four older sisters.  Another son had died years before when the child was less than a year old.  Years after Abraham’s death, one of his sisters, Catharine, still mentioned him from time to time in her diary.

We know he lived, worked in the Car Shops, as did his father, and was planning on getting married.  He was well loved by his family and is buried with them.

What we do know, is the sensitive side of Abraham, and we know that only from an obituary that was published in the Church of God Newspaper* a month after his death.

The Second Obituary:

AUXER. February 13th, in Harrisburg, Abraham Auxer, in the 24th year of his age

Bro Auxer was awakened some four years ago by the sudden death of a young Christian lady of the church and of his acquaintance, and he became the subject of converting grace.  He united with the church in this city soon after under the labors of J.C. Owens.  After the opening of the west Harrisburg mission he identified himself with that work, where he remained faithful at his post as an officer until prostrated by sickness.  He was cheerfully submissive to the divine will during his illness, and while passing through the dark valley and across the narrow stream he helped to sing “I’m going home to die no more.”  The only son in family of six children, and shrouded in his intended wedding suit, he is greatly mourned, but as they are all Christians they can say:

“Thou art gone, but we will not deplore thee;
For God was thy ransom, they guardian and guide.
He gave thee, he took thee, and he restored thee,
And death has no sting, for the Saviour hath died.”

His funeral was largely attended in the bethel on Sabbath, the 16th inst, by the I.O.O.F., Knights of Pythias and companions of the car shops in all of which he was an active worker.  Services by the writer:

D.A.L. Laverty.


He is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery, next to his parents, grandmother and in the shadow of his sister and her husband.

*The Church Advocate, Lancaster PA., March 5, 1873.

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 9:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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How Much Was That Bucket Worth, John Niess?

The Obituary:

Lancaster Daily Intelligencer
Thursday, July 15, 1886

An Old Man struck By a Locomotive and Killed at Mountville
John Neiss, a man aged seventy-seven, was struck and killed by extra engine west, No. 374, of the Pennsylvania railroad, at the east end of the village of Mountville, this forenoon.  The property on which the deceased lived is situated along and extended back to the deep cut through which the railroad passes.  Between 10 and 11 o’clock a. m. his wife sent him out to empty some potato parlings down the railroad embankment.  The bucket containing them fell out of his hand and rolled down upon the track.  He went after the vessel, and while standing on the track was struck by the engine.  He was not mangled, but died in less than a half hour after he was struck.  Coroner Honaman was notified, and he left this city at 2 o’clock for Mountville to hold an inquest.
The deceased had resided in Mountville for some years, and besides a wife leaves several grown children.  One of them, a daughter, lives at home.  Neiss was crippled in one of his arms and was a laborer.

The Story:

It took me 20 years to find a death date for my great-great-great grandfather’s death date. . . . and then I just stumbled across the obituary while looking for another obituary.

Elizabeth Niess, his wife died in June of 1905.  Her obituary stated “Her husband preceded her in death nineteen years ago.”  That was the only clue I had about his death.  Going through newspapers from 1886, page by page by page was not an option but it was something I was going to do “someday.”

Of course, “someday” never came.  There was always something else that was more important.  One of those was looking for an obituary for somebody else.  Thank goodness that obituary was in July of 1886!

I know it is John S. Niess’ obituary.  It is 19 years before his wife died, he lived in Mountville area and his oldest daughter, Mary Ann, never married and always lived at home.  He was a laborer according to census data, but I never heard about the crippled arm.  It matches my John S. Niess

After reading my ancestor’s obituary, several questions come to my mind.

  • How much was that bucket worth that he would give his life for it?
  • Didn’t he either see that train or hear it?
  • Why didn’t the obituary name his other children?  Nuts!
  • and why on earth didn’t it mention where he was buried?

Does it sound like I want it all?  You bet!

Don’t we all?

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 3:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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