Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Death, Flying Body Parts, and Insanity

A look at the Portland newspapers from the mid-1800s reveal a very different idea of what was considered "State News". This column was filled with descriptions of accidental death, gossip, and proclaimations about the insanity of the deceased. While in the present day newspapers, details of death or personal information are politely couched in more palatable language, that was not the case in the 1800s.

Here are a some dastardly items that appeared in the State News column of the Daily Eastern Argus newspaper during the years 1865 and 1875.

"Mrs. Grace White, wife of Job White of Belfast, was killed in her husband's basswood mill last week by having her clothing caught in a shaft. Her head was literally torn from her body, by being brought in contact with the chimney near the shaft in its revolutions, and her lifeless reamins thrown over the circumference of ten feet." ( July 8, 1865. Vol. 33, no. 159)

"The Biddeford Journal says that the marraige of a wealthy, retired shipmaster with his servant girl of Celtic origin, has created quite a tempest in a teapot among the gossips of the village referred to." ( July 11, 1865. Vol. 33, no. 161)

"The Oxford Democrat learns that Miss T. Jane Grover, daughter of Deacon L. Grover of West Bethel, who commited suicide by hanging herself in the attic of her father's house, had been out of health and showed signs of sinsanity for some time previous." (October 7, 1985. Vol. 33, no. 286)

"Frank Winship, a nine year old son of Enoch Winship, fell from a load team this afternoon. One of the wheels went over his head, crushing it and killing him instantly." (July 2, 1875. Vol. 43, no. 155)

"Alton Hastings, engineer at Haley's mills, Bath , was caught by a nut on the main shaft Saturday forenoon, and completely stripped of clothing. He is delirious but it is hoped he is not fatally injured. No bones broken." (July 13, 1875. Vol. 43, no. 163)

"On Tuesday last, while a young man named William Greenleaf, aged about 17 years residing in Litchfield, was handling a revolver, the firearm was accidentally discharged, the charge entering his left side just below the heart. He was only able to exclaim, 'I'm shot mother, farewell,' and died in a few minutes." (August 18, 1875. Vol. 43, no. 195)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

>>"I'm shot mother, farewell"

This made me cry. Reminds me of Uhura's "Captain, I'm frightened!" for some reason