Saturday, March 17, 2012

Struck Cows, An Ax-Wielding Civil War Vet, His Wife & Their Kids & A Stabbing on the Train

The plague of deaths from accidents via train at Eloise seemed to be quite contagious
in the early 1900s. Of course drunkenness, feebleness, old age and suicide compounded the natural occurrences of dumb luck tragedies but it still seems disproportionately high to me. Then again, trains and trolleys were the automobiles of the day so it was most likely just another human frailty at work with the numbers. Being mentally addled surely tipped the the numbers to the heavy side of the margins.

Cows on the other hand! If a cow didn't get spooked by an oncoming train then most likely they were butchering deer and other wildlife on a regular basis. I supposed that the cattle prods on the engines were aptly named for just such an episode of accidental violence.

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What happens when an old man gets duped into signing over his infirm wife to the county looney bin? An ax stand-off is what! With half of Mrs. Fred Bechler's children of the opinion that she was no longer of sound mind and the others disagreeing the matter was certain to come to a head at some point. That point came when the county attendants, in the form of two Deputy Sheriffs, arrived at the house to receive her person on orders from the court.

Not wanting to go Mrs. Bechler hid in the garret and screamed at the top of her lungs as her husband, a Civil War veteran, grabbed an ax and defended her honor and liberty having felt tricked by the order which he clearly didn't understand when he signed it. The deputies, who were of very sound mind, wanted no part of the familial dispute and went on their way leaving the family to work out their conundrum.

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It might not always be a fair assumption but any time two people come together and one gets stabbed, the former mental patient usually is going to take the rap. As was the case in the confrontation between Andrew Warner and Hugh Managan, former Eloise inmate on a freight train whisking across Michigan. Each blamed the other but the man holding the knife became the accused while the other who received a stab wound was given the benefit of the doubt which seems reasonable enough.

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