Wednesday, April 15, 2009

William Reed's Death

We've known for some time that William Reed (AKA William Farncombe) died by accident Feb. 24, 1891 (it is on his tombstone). I suspected fire because he was a blacksmith and that was confirmed by the funeral home records that just went on-line in 2009. They stated "accidental burning" as the cause of death. I felt pretty smug having guessed the cause of death until a cousin Catharine McComb contacted me. Here are Catharine's mother, grandfather and great-grandfather:

William J. Reed (Farncombe)

Below is John Reed (Annie Reed Maupin's brother)---one of William Reed and Frances Glanville's nine children (Catharine's grandfather)

Below is Claudia Aleene Reed (Vivian Maupin Long's cousin), daughter of John Reed and granddaughter of William Reed.
Catharine had a clipping from a newspaper and a bit more from the family story on how William Reed died. Catharine wrote, "Its hard to read, but the story goes he was in the outhouse fell asleep, his beard caught on fire and he perished! One of the dangers of out-houses." Double click on the clipping below to enlarge, then use a back arrow to return to this page, or look to the bottom of the page where I've tried to transcribe it.
Clipping transcribed: William Reed, who was blacksmithing in and near De Soto nearly ever since that place was started met with a singular death last Tuesday morning. His wife had slept that night in a separate room with some sick children in order to give them medicine. Shortly after 4 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Reed got up and partly dressed. He came into the room where his wife was, stooped over and kissed her, passed on into the kitchen and lit a lamp, and then went out into the back yard. A few minutes later, his next door neighbor heard a peculiar noise and on looking out, he saw Reed [running from his] water closet with his clothes burning and Reed immediately [fell]. The neighbor ran to him and threw a bucket of water over him, extinguished the fire; but Reed was dead. His shirts and vest were burned in front from the waist up. the only theory we heard advanced was, that when he went into the closet, he lit a match to see wether [sic] or not everything was clean and in some way accidentally set fire to his shirts. The wind was blowing very hard at the [time]. Mr. Reed leaves quite a large [family].

When I told my Aunt Mary about his death she said that outhouses used to have coal oil heaters which were about 3 feet high. Her mother (William's granddaughter)was always very nervous about them because they were so easy to tip over. We wonder if his death was the source of a family cautionary tale about coal oil heaters.
Above is the Reed House near DeSoto, Missouri. Below this realtor's listing was written: "This is the house Grandpa Reed built when he came over from England to raise his 9 children. Would like to keep it. . ."

1 comment:

Leah Morgan Korbel said...

Oh no! That is certainly a shocking way to go.