Tragic Occurences

Earl Baker of Glen Cove, L. I., formerly of Danby, while on a visit with relatives in Vermont, jumped to his death from the new government bridge across Roaring Branch in Mount Tabor, Sept. 9, 1934. Will Pratt, a former resident of Danby, died in Glens Falls, N. Y., in Sept., 1934, as the result of burns sustained in a gasoline explosion while testing a motorboat. James Casey of Schenectady, N. Y., formerly of Mount Tabor, died Nov. 12, 1934, from injuries received in an automobile accident. William C. Bull of Brooklyn, N. Y.; retired architect, a native of Danby, committed suicide near Fredericksburg, Va.in Dec. 1934.

Tragic Occurrences in Danby and Mount Tabor; Vt.
From Reminiscences by George C. Riedon, who suffered the loss of his eyesight, following an injury to his left eye in 1915.

Following is a list of names of people who met tragic deaths in Danby and Mount Tabor, or who formerly lived here, and died or were killed elsewhere, and which I can remember, except a few told me by older persons:

Abner Tarbell was killed by a falling tree in the woods near his home. Eli Moore was killed by a log which rolled over him in the yard at the Greely mill. Elijah Winehip was also killed by a log rolling on him in the lumber woods of S. L. Griffith’s job on the mountain.

A man named Priest was found frozen to death in an old deserted house, called the Wright place. Charles Buffum was found dead by a hunter near the Barrett shanty. He was supposed to have been killed in a drunken row at a boarding house near the Hapgood lumber job and the body taken where it was found. David Dillingham of West Pawlet went deer hunting on the Mount Tabor mountains and disappeared. No trace of his body was ever found.

Leslie Rhodes was accidentally shot by his brother-in-law while deer hunting. A deer hunter from Middletown was killed by the accidental discharge of his gun while crossing a stream.

A little girl, whose name I cannot recall, was drowned in the Branch below what was known as the Miller shanty. The little son of Rock Stoppiello was drowned in Otter Creek, in the swamp south of “Brooklyn” bridge, and Henry Shippy was drowned in Lake Emerald while attending a Sunday School picnic.

Rock Privensal, Jr., jumped from a boxcar, on the side track near the box shop north of the station, into the path of a southbound passenger train. A man named Morrissey, conductor of a circus train, was also killed near the same spot. Herbert Hascall, a fireman, who was assisting in the making of a “flying switch”, fell under the car and was killed. Stephen Fury, walking the railroad track while intoxicated, was killed by a train just south of the station. Herbert McGinn while intoxicated, was also run over by a train near the “South End” job.

Wyman Bridge was killed by the kick of a horse in the large barn near the station.

A little son of Alfred Bushee was drowned in Otter Creek, near the “South End” mill, while he was fishing. Harry, a little son of William Crawford, was also drowned in a spring near the Daniel Lane house. Mr. Crawford found the body when he went for a pail of water. Mr. Crawford was injured several years later at the sawmill at the “South End” lumber job. His foot was caught by a rolling skid under a log and nearly torn off, resulting in lockjaw, from which he died after a few days.

A Mr. Patterson, who married Sadie Baker DeLucia, divorced from Joseph DeLucia, was found dead, and was said to have been poisoned in view of getting his life insurance. Mrs. Patterson was away with Theodore Collins, and has not been heard from since. George A. Warner was killed at the switch near the Foley place by the falling of a derrick. Charles Lincoln was partially buried by sliding gravel in the pit near the “South End”, and suffered a broken leg and internal injuries, from which he died the same day. The body of an unknown man was found many years ago near the brook where the lime kilns are now located. All of the foregoing happened in Mount Tabor.

John Collins was killed at the Imperial quarry by the breaking of a block of marble, which crushed him. Frank Lapoint, while drawing wood for the quarry, was killed when his load went over a log and he was crushed between the load and a tree. Jacob Basso was also crushed beneath a block of marble at the Imperial quarry. John Perry was killed March 22, 1930, by the falling of a derrick, making the third fatal accident at the Imperial quarry.

Eugene Herbert and Charles Kendall each committed suicide by shooting, on account of having tuberculosis. Gary Harrington also shot himself because of having cancer. Leonard Law cut his throat while boarding at Henry Stone’s and died a few days later. Daniel Wetherby and Mark Buxton each were killed by being kicked by a horse. Frank Falzo was shot at Lake Griffith by a boy named Townley, and died at the Rutland Hospital. Ray Baird, son of Carl Baird of Danby, had his skull fractured at a West Rutland quarry and died in Rutland Hospital. Eugene Davison’s son shot and killed a boy named Hall while hunting deer.

George Ballard was killed by lightning, during a snowstorm, while crossing the road in front of the house where Milton Hutchinson now lives. Thomas Sullivan, boss of a gang of men who were running logs on the mountain east of Danby, was struck by one of the logs and instantly killed. Charles Thomas took bed bug poison, mistaking it for cough syrup, and died in a few hours. Louie Garrett and Hatsel Kelley both drank wood alcohol and died in a short time.

Mildred, a little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hebert, was drowned in the watering trough at the I. J. Nichols farm. John Brown, father of Tom Brown, was killed when he jumped from the high bridge near the Erastus Kelley place. Edward Belanger (or Baker, as he was called) ran his automobile off the road near the watering trough below the Erastus Kelley place, and was pinned under it and died before he was found. Hattie Winship was killed by an automobile in her own yard. Peter Giotti was showing her his new car and demonstrating how it worked. She got in the way and was run over.

James Fullam was injured on the hill near John Perry’s place in “Fishville”, while drawing coal to the quarry. The tongue iron broke, letting the load onto the horses, and he fell between the team and load, hurting him so badly that he died the same night. Jefferson Risdon, while fishing in a boat on Tinmouth Pond, fell from the boat and was drowned. Herbert Edmunds, son of Lewis Edmunds, was drowned in Otter Creek near his home in South Wallingford while bathing. Dr. Frank Whipple committed suicide by shooting himself through the heart at his home in Manchester.

Charles Fish was killed by an angry bull on his farm in New Hampshire. Harrison Parents was found dead in a shed belonging to the small house in back of Abe Rosen’s store. William Emerson fell down stairs in his barn at Vassar, Mich. He carried a lantern which set fire to the barn, and he was so badly hurt and burned that he died. Isaac Herrick, brother of Sarah Long, was killed by the care at Ashtabula, Ohio. Alta Herrick Edson, wife of A. W. Edson of Rutland, drowned herself in a fountain on the grounds of Ex-Governor P. W. Clement.

A brother of Levi Colburn was killed by a baseball bat thrown by Charles Baker while playing ball one Sunday near Scottsville. John O’Hearn, who lived where Frank Baker now lives, killed himself by cutting his throat with a razor. Harold Nichols was killed by the cars in the railroad yards at Albany, N. Y. Philip stone was killed by a switching engine in the Rutland railroad yards.

Neil McLaughlin went fishing May 29, 1928, after supper. Not returning home, a search was begun and the body was found the next afternoon where he had drowned in a deep hole in Mill Brook back of the house where Mrs. Maggie Moore used to live. A grandson of Horace Allen was killed by the breaking of a wood-sawing machine.

Elijah Bradley was killed by a falling tree while he was cutting wood on the mountain near the quarries. He was father of Mrs. Georgia Hughes. Amasa Bancroft, Ed Bancroft’s father, was killed in the James King lot in front of where Arthur Coleman now lives in “Brooklyn”. He was loading bark on a wagon, a man helping him, when the wind blew a piece of bark on the horses, starting them, and he was thrown off and his head crushed under the wheels. I was told of an accident which happened many years ago on the old road over the Blueberry Hill. A peddler called “Butter” Barrett, was killed on the hill near “Lovers’ Rock” when his team ran away.

Irving Tabor was killed by a man who struck him with a sled stake. I think it was in, or near, Plattsburg, N. Y. Henry Stacy was killed at Millard Brothers’ sawmill by an edging thrown by a saw. His twin brother, Frank Stacy, was killed at Winooski by the cars. Exas Seymour was also killed by a train out West. I think it was in Michigan. Tom Bushee, Mrs. Joseph Badger’s father, was killed by a train at Bennington.

– May 1930

(Additional tragedies brought to my attention)
(since the foregoing happenings were recorded.)

A man by the name of Carns was found dead many years ago near the railroad in the town of Mount Tabor, opposite the Scottsville cemetery. A young son of Albert Bushee Was poisoned by breaking a thermometer and swallowing the mercury. William Hadwen took his own life by means of a kitchen knife. William Humphrey, at one time a cheesemaker at the Faxon cheese factory at Danby Four Corners, was killed by a train at Oakland, Vt.

Elba Harrington shot himself in August, 1930. George Hughes was fatally injured by an automobile south of Danby village, Aug. 15, 1930. Lucius Johnson, Rutland Railroad engineer, committed suicide by shooting, Sept. 1, 1930, in Rutland. Clifton Thomas of North Bennington preferred suicide to facing his father, after wrecking the family car, and shot himself on the bridge in Danby village about midnight, Nov. 15, 1930, following a hunting trip.

Hawley k. Barrett, formerly of Mount Tabor, hanged himself in the barn at his home in Granville, N.Y., Feb. 6, 1931. James Witherell, who, when a boy, lived in “Brooklyn,” was killed in Manchester by a falling tree, Feb. 28, 1931. Sidney A. Baker, formerly of Danby, a retired Rutland Railroad engineer, shot himself in the head Jan. 31, 1932, and died about two weeks later. Charles Fitzgerald, on April 7, 1932, fired a bullet into his heart on the farm of Carl Porter in West Danby, where he was employed. Paul Butler fell over a sled on the farm of A. W. Hilliard and punctured his side on a protruding iron and died in a few hours from loss of blood.

About 1870 a negro employed at Martin’s sawmill in “Brooklyn” (later the L. D. Pember mill) was crushed by a log. A man by the name of Underwood killed himself with a shotgun on the George Hadwen farm east of the railroad in Mount Tabor. Merritt Baker was fatally injured near Danby by a truck operated by William Dunigan of Salem, N. Y.

On April 30, 1933, Alphonse Merrow, while driving a horse and wagon south of Danby village, was struck and killed by an automobile driven by John Pashal. Grant Taylor, Jr., 11-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant S. Taylor of Center Moriches, N. Y., formerly of Danby, had his neck broken on Oct. 2, 1933, by being struck by the paw of a tame bear which was tethered in front of an inn near his home.

Benjamin Corey, 17, was instantly killed on Oct. 31, 1933, when he was struck by an automobile truck driven by Robert Ackert, south of Danby village. Daphne Mason, 4-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Mason, of Mount Tabor, was killed at the railroad crossing near the Danby station by the north-bound flyer Aug. 30, 1934. A man named LaCrosse, who once worked on the lumber job on Mount Tabor, was struck and killed by an automobile near Wallingford in the summer of 1934.


THE NEW WORLD
JULY 6, 1844

TERRIBLE EXPLOSION & LOSS OF LIFE

The powder mill at Danby Four Corners, VT exploded on Sunday, June 23rd, by which accident three boys were killed. It appears that a parcel of boys were in Smith’s powder magazine, at play, and concluded to have some sport. They filled a quill with the powder scattered on the floor, and put it on the box that contained the powder, and procured some matches. Mr. Lane’s son raked one on the floor, which set fire to the powder scattered there; that ignited the powder in the box and it all exploded. The shock was felt through Danby, Clarendon and Mount Tabor. It was so severe as to break out the windows on two sides of Mr. Seneca Smith’s new store, and shook off the plastering from one side of Mr. Variah Brown’s dwelling house, about four rods off, breaking out all the windows on two sides of it. Nothing is left standing of the old store magazine, except the posts and frame. Not a board is left on the building.

Gen. McDaniels writes, “I stood by my office window, when suddenly the building shook as with an earthquake. On looking in the direction of Mr. Seneca Smith’s old store, about eight rods distant, the air was filled with smoke, flames, boards, and shingles. As soon as the smoke cleared away, the first object I saw was a small boy crawling out from under the timbers, his clothes on fire. I at once concluded that the boys had set fire to Mr. Smith’s powder magazine which he keeps in the old store. I immediately went to the ruins, where I witnessed a scene that beggars description—mothers wringing their hands and to tears inquiring for their children! On moving the rubbish we found two other boys. They were sons of Nathan J. Smith, David Lane and Variah Brown, their ages ranging from six to ten years.

“They were so disfigured that we could not recognize them except by their clothes, which were on fire! The first boy I saw was Mr. Lane’s. He extricated himself, and on running a few rods met his father, who inquired of him whose boy he was. He cried, “I am yours.” The boys all had their senses when found. Mr. Lanes died Sunday evening about 9 o’clock, Mr. Smith’s died today at 1 o’clock P.M. and the other, Mr. Brown’s is still living but little prospect of his recovery. There was supposed to be one hundred and fifty pounds of powder in the store.”


PROBABLE MURDER: THE VIOLENT DEATH OF CHARLES BUFFUM
Rutland Herald January 4, 1896

DANBY, Jan. 3—An autopsy made here today upon the body of Charles Buffum, which was found New Year’s Day in the wood in Mt. Tabor, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the man was murdered. The post-mortem examination was made by Dr. B. C. Senton of Rutland and Dr. E. O. Whipple of Danby at the instigation of State’s Attorney Jones of Rutland. The doctors decline to give the full particulars to the public at this time, but intimate that death was caused instantaneously by a blow upon the head such as might have been produced by the butt of an axe.

To say that Danby, Mount Tabor and adjacent towns are thoroughly aroused at the probability of a murder in their midst would be mild words for it. Feeling ran particularly high when the anticipated result of the autopsy was authoritatively announced by the physicians who made the examination. The men and women who had previously said but little openly offered to assist the authorities in running down the assassin of a man known and respected as a sober, law-abiding citizen.

During the morning the body, which had been placed in a box in a small building adjoining Griffith & McIntyre’s lumber office was viewed by scores of people. They began to congregate before the morning whistle called the men to work and kept streaming in until the noon train brought State’s Attorney Jones and Dr. Senton. Then the box was closed and taken to a building where the post-mortem was held.

The question of the identity of the murderer or murderers was cautiously discussed but the evidence is so conflicting that few seem willing to speak their minds as to the shadow of suspicion resting on certain parties. Several clews that appeared at first to afford good ground for legal action were dissipated by investigation, while others of a different and perhaps less sensational character will bear close following. What the officers will do they decline to say, but promise prompt action.

The spot where Buffum was found affords but little material evidence of the crime itself. The death-ground, if such it was, is barely more than a rough pasture in the dense woodland where two old lumbermen’s shanties, long since abandoned to hedgehogs, are the only marks of the hand of man in this out-of-the-way place four miles from the nearest habitation. The road to Danby borough, nine miles to the southwest winds to the valley of the Otter in a rough, irregular descent through desolate reaches of dreary “waste” forests, punctuated now and then by abandoned huts, whose dismantled appearance attests to the lumbering activities in years gone by. Running in the opposite direction, the old road to Weston leads over a country once alive with lumbermen, but now the playground of wild animals.

The finding of the body was as uncanny as the surroundings of the pasture that held it. At sunrise on the morning of New Year’s Day Frank Paola Coupola and an Italian friend named Peter Dalto set out hare hunting. They went from “Griffith’s” four miles below the fatal pasture, to the woods lying in a northeasterly direction and wandered on until they were scarce a dozen rods from the old shanties. They came this way because they knew of good hunting grounds beyond her pasture. On the way, Paola had killed a hare and was jokingly twitting his companion when the later had the good fortune to shoot one of the animals just as it was running into the bushes. At the discharge of the gun the Italians noted a movement in the top of a fallen spruce and looking up, saw a large bay lynx crouching among the branches. The animal is the most ferocious to be found in Vermont’s forests and it did not attempt to escape. A simultaneous discharge of both guns brought it to the ground. The men were elated. Dalto thought a male might be lurking in the vicinity of one of the shanties and suggested a reconnaissance. As the men emerged from the woods to the edge of the pasture they came abruptly upon the body of Charles Buffum lying in the open ground without the sign of stick, stone, or stump in the immediate locality. The body was on its right side, with the head bent slightly backward in an unnatural position. The left leg was crossed over the right and the knees were drawn up toward the chest. The nostrils and mouth were bloody, while a clot of blood was imbedded in the hair at the side of the head. Hastening home the men informed the mill boss of their discovery. Authorities in this town were notified and the next day Justice George C. Risdon, Selectmen F. E. Bond and O. O. Nichols, together with Dr. E. O. Whipple, went to the shanty and brought the body here, as related in these dispatches yesterday. It will be remembered that in the dead man’s pockets was found $3.36 in change, a watch, a knife, a diary and several small articles. A lantern, which had been discovered lying on the opposite side of the shanty, was the only clew that indicated the direction from which Buffum had come. The fact that he had on no cap or mittens was commented upon, as it was cold and snowing when he left Hapgood & Stiles’ “timber job” to go to his home in Wallingford on November 9. When the clothes were taken from the body a peculiar fact was noted. Between the vest and the underwear on the right side a dead mouse was found. The animal was crushed and had probably laid there for weeks. Outside the fact that the garments did not have the appearance of being long exposed to the weather, nothing of note was found and the body was laid away.

An investigation made yesterday by the HERALD representative developed several facts of more than passing interest. The last persons to see Charles Buffum alive are said, on good authority, to be Charles Hart and his son. These men, together with Mrs. Hart, live four miles from the pasture where the body was found. Hart says that Buffum, himself and his (Hart’s) son went to Weston on the afternoon of Novemer 9. They bought some alcohol, drank a little andreturned to Hart’s house. While there Hart alleges Buffum received word that ____ in Wallingford was ill and then he started to go home through the woods. This would lead him near the shanty where he was found. This was, he claimed the last time he saw Buffum alive. Subsequently he told several conflicting stories, and what is still more significant his wife says that when Buffum left he had $3.35 in his ocket. She is positive that this was the amount. She also says that Buffum had no oil in his lantern, a fact that turned out to be true. This latter statement was made some days after a note to this effect had been published in the HERALD.

The tin lantern found by the side of the old shanty was rusted but little, and from all appearances had not been long exposed to the recent rains. The grass was not matted in any place and there was no indication that he lantern had struck heavily upon the ground. The Hart family suggests that Buffum fell down on his way home and struck his head against a rock. The locality alone supports this theory. People here argue that there is no foundation for such belief. They say in the first place that there was no indication that Buffum fell; if he did there was no stone to strike his head upon. Then the good condition of the clothing, the absence of deep rust on the lantern, the crushed mouse, the position of the body and lastly the appearance of the lynx, all go to show that the body of Charles Buffum had not lain long in the pasture near the shanties.

But even if these theories should prove false, many people will tell you that the very spot where Buffum was found has been several times visited by searching parties during the past three weeks.

Taking all things into consideration, it is thought that the murdered man was killed at some point not far from where he was discovered, and that the body was taken and placed in the pasture where it was evidently thought it would be discovered with the melting of the snow in the spring.