Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Well THAT'S a unique way to die!"*

Ever since I learned that my great-great-grandmother's brother, Samuel Toner, died "suddenly" at age 18, I've given him remarkably little thought. Short life, no issue - what else was there to research? It had crossed my mind to wonder what had killed him, but I didn't order the death certificate (rather - ledger entry) to find out. Yesterday, I was searching for the Toners - each of them individually - on GenealogyBank, and I came across an item of note, published in the New-York Herald Tribune on 22 September 1870, the day after Samuel's death.

Samuel Toner, residing at the corner of Van Brunt and Tremont-sts., and employed at Smith's Flour Mills in Hamilton-ave., fell into a bin of bran, yesterday, and was suffocated.

That must have been an awful and frightening way to go, and such a shock to his family!

I figured that if his death had been significant enough to be a news item in the Herald-Tribune, it had probably merited more than just his death notice in the Brooklyn Eagle, and so I went to Fulton History and read the paper for Sept. 22. Sure enough, I found it, right there in small, faded type that makes a poor candidate for OCR.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22 September 1870
It reads:

SUFFOCATED.--About eleven o'clock yesterday, a young man named Samuel Toner, 19 years of age, was found suffocated in a bed of bran in the flour mill of Mr. Smith, in Hamilton avenue. His body was conveyed to the residence of his parents, on the corner of Van Brunt and Tremont streets, and the Coroner was notified to hold an inquest.

I'm certainly glad I checked the second paper, or I'd have no idea to look for records of the coroner's inquest!

*My husband's response when I read him the death notice.

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