Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Postmortem

On Monday, I posted the obituary, or more accurately, the newspaper article chronicling the death of my ancestor, Johann Lorenz "Lawrence" Hummel. Horrifically, he lost his balance and fell to his death down the backyard well, fetching a pail of water.

I debated transcribing and posting the article. The descendant in me was horrified by his demise, but the genealogist in me felt the information and context would serve the greater good, especially for those future cousins I may meet out there. Even speaking to my grandmother about him, who she never knew, he was always 'grandpa that fell down the well.'

Readers of my blog may recall the previous article I posted documenting the Hummel's runaway horse. The horse seemed to often be spooked, and frequently caused mayhem enough that led to detailed newspaper articles, injuries, and even death. This typical feature of small-town life, the horse and buggy, cast a large shadow over the Hummel family.

The article mentioned in great detail Lawrence's injuries. The writer concluded that previous falls from runaways may have contributed to his death. Perhaps Lawrence had a concussion that never healed, or even more permanent brain damage. My children are athletes and are very familiar with required concussion testing today. Back then, who would have thought literally falling off of a horse would contribute to a death?

Link to Seeking Michigan

I also wonder what effect this incident had on the lone witness - my great-grandfather, William Hummel. He must have been traumatized by the accident as a five-year-old child. This is one of those instances where I wish I could have asked him, but I may not have wanted to have him relive the accident. And do I really want to know?

For now, I will appreciate the detailed article as an important, if horrifying, piece of my greater family history.

Rest in peace, great-grandpa Lawrence.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen