How Much Was That Bucket Worth, John Niess?

The Obituary:

Lancaster Daily Intelligencer
Thursday, July 15, 1886

DEATH ON THE RAIL
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?

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