A Shocking Death – William Stone


It saddened me to find this clipping about my great-grandmother’s younger brother. In genealogy, one sees births, marriages, and deaths but they are just dates on paper until you find the story behind those dates.

My great-grandmother Cordelia Jane Stone was married to John Thomas Martin and they had a young son, Archie. They lived not far from her brother William B. Stone and probably saw him often. What a shock it must have been to hear that he committed suicide.

stone suicide

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 15 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

Here’s the rest of the story,  which I transcribed from The Leader newspaper of Virgil, Kansas (22 Jun 1900, Friday, page 1)

Destroyed By His Own Hand.

Last Friday morning a deep gloom was spread over our community by the startling report that W.E. Stone had committed suicide. The report seemed too awfully shocking to be true, but upon investigation, it was learned to be a fact and not a rumor.

On the evening of June 14th Mr. Stone’s wife was somewhat alarmed at the despondent actions of her husband but being a woman of more than ordinary nerve she did not become very much alarmed and after spending the evening with their neighbor, Mrs. W. L. Evans, returned to her home and retired as usual.

On the morning of the 15th, Mr. Stone arose and went about his morning work as usual for some time, when coming into the house he made inquiry concerning the carbolic acid, Mrs. Stone having anticipated his motives had emptied the poison out. After parlaying some time about the carbolic acid, he next sought the razor, but Mrs. Stone was again too shrewd for her despondent husband and had taken the razor and given it to a Mr. Cooper who was doing some farm work for Mr. Eble and had come to the house to get a mowing scythe.

But Mr. Stone having fully made up his mind could not be so easily thwarted and next sought his revolver, a 38 caliber, which his wife had locked up in the sewing machine drawer. Upon finding the drawer locked, he at once proceeded to break it open, whereupon Mrs. Stone’s courage failed and she started with her two little children to Mr. Evans. She had only gone a short distance when she heard the report of the pistol. Mr. Cooper in the meantime having returned to the field where Mr. Eble was, reported to him what he had observed and Mr. Eble at once started for the house but was only about halfway from where he was working to the house when the fatal shot was fired.

Coroner Dillan was called and after making an investigation, decided not to hold an inquest.

(on the same page of the paper, his obituary was printed)


W.B. Stone was born in Dekalb County, Mo April 5, 1868, and died at his home near Virgil, Kansas June 15, 1900, age 32 years, 2 months, 10 days.

He was converted and joined the Christian church when a boy, and remained a member of that church until he came to Kansas with his parents in 1884. After coming to Kans. He joined the U.B. church.

He was married to Ella Walker Dec. 24, 1891. To them were born three children one of which died in infancy.

Bro. Stone was a kind husband, good neighbor, an honest man and a hard worker. Many think that it was overwork and bad health that caused his untimely death. A.W. Potter

More about This Story

His wife’s full name was Margaret Ellen Walker. Their two children were
Dow Lafayette Stone 1893–1905 and Erick Asiel Stone 1898–1930. Just 5 years later, the eldest son died of typhoid fever at age 12. An earlier news report praised Dow for 3 years of perfect attendance at school.

How the Family Coped

Many times a widow with young children would remarry quickly to have the family taken care of. The news clippings below show that Ella rented out part of her home and also started selling hats from her home. (All bits of news from The Leader, Virgil KS newspaper)

June 1900 – Two weeks after William’s suicide, the Woodmen, a fraternal organization, came to plow the 47 acres of corn. Sixteen volunteers with their teams did the work. I’m sure they made fairly quick work of this job that would have taken William a long time on his own.

widow w.b. stone newspaper clipping (read the rest of the story)

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 29 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

August 1900 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased the house and lot owned by W. F. Osborn. Uncle Frank expects to move out on his farm south of town in a short time.”

Oct 1900 – “Miss Susie Pinon is staying with Mrs. Ella Stone and going to school.” (Rural students often had to board in town to continue their education on the high school level.)

March 1901 – Ella placed an advertisement in the paper, “I’ve just received an invoice of spring hats. Call at my residence, get prices, and see the latest styles.”

ella stone millinary clipping

The Leader Virgil, Kansas 29 Jun 1900, Fri • Page 1

March 1902 – “Prof Reno and wife have moved into the front part of Mrs. Ella Stone’s house.”

March 1903 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased M.C. Mallicoat’s house. She is having a porch put on the front of the building and a stable built at the back of the lot. W. A. Barnes is doing the carpenter work.”

Mar 1903 – “A. L. Walker moved last Monday into the house lately purchased by Mrs. Ella Stone of M. C. Mallicoat. P. L. Cranmer moved into Mr. Walker’s house.”

ella stone switches houses again

I can’t keep up with all the moving and switching of houses. The Leader Virgil, Kansas 08 Jan 1904, Fri • Page 1

At the Cemetery – Marie Kennedy Joy


The 52 Ancestors’ blogging prompt this week is “At the Cemetery.” Appropriate for Memorial Day, of course, but a bit of serendipity for me. I’d pulled out a box of family memorabilia to sort and scan. The first thing out of the box was a yellowed envelope labeled “Deed to my lot in Blakely Cemetry – Marie Joy.” She is my great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family.

Inside was the deed form, nicely filled out and embossed with two seals. Very official looking. The lot was purchased in 1937, so probably at the time of her husband, Henry Alfred Joy’s death. It would have been a double lot.

The cemetery location in Greenwood County is known to me as many of the Martins, McGhees, and Joys are buried there. Their daughter Cora is buried there with her husband Charles Lorenzo Martin. Some of Cora and Ren’s children are there as well (Zella and Dorothy). Of the McGhees, there my grandparents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee and their daughter, Melba McGhee Harlan.

Also in the envelope was a list of expenses for a funeral. It’s unclear if it was from Alfred’s funeral or from Marie’s. The handwriting looks like that on the outside of the envelope so my guess is that Marie wrote this in 1937 after her husband’s funeral.

marie joy death burial 3

I’ll transcribe it here to make it searchable online.

  • Dr Fairbrother $5
  • Dr Manning $25
  • Lot in cemetry $10
  • Digging grave  $8
  • Minister  $5
  • Singer  $2
  • monument  $90
  • burial clothes $8
  • flowers  $5
  • Dr Lose  $38.50
  • Mr Cook $295
  • prescription, Dr Manning  $1
  • total  $492.50

So, it would appear that this includes the medical expenses for Alfred Joy’s last illness. A newspaper clipping tells that he was bedfast for 3 months before dying. One wonders if it was a stroke or cancer or another illness.

The newspaper also gave us the name of the minister (Rev. G. Russell Fosmire of the Madison Methodist Church) and the singer (Mrs. Lois Hamilton sang “Saved By Grace” and “Sweet By and By”).

The last bit of paper in the old envelope was labeled “Family of Mrs Marie Kennedy Joy.” Here’s the list (with my own notes in parenthesis):

  • Father – May 14, 1821 – 1906 (David Greacen Kennedy)
  • Mother – Nov 14, 1826 – 1918 (Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh)
  • Ed – Feb 13, 1851 (Edward Newton Kennedy)
  • Jim – Apr 1, 1853 (James Kerr Kennedy)
  • Ella – Feb 20, 1855 (Ellen Kennedy)
  • B.T. – Aug 13, 1857 (Bayard Taylor Kennedy)
  • Walter – Mar 1, 1860 (Walter C. Kennedy)
  • Marie – Dec 1, 1864 (Marie C. Kennedy)
  • John – Oct 8, 1868 (John B. Kennedy)
  • D.G. Jr. – Jan 23, 1870 (David Greacen Kennedy Jr.)

marie kennedy joy list family dates

I started comparing the names and dates to the family tree that I maintain on Ancestry. Everyone matches up. I wish I had the rest of the middle names.

The Death of Sam McGhee


My great-grandfather, Samuel Newton McGhee, was born on the 29th of November in 1875 in Perry, Arkansas. He married Viola Matilda Tower in 1895 and they started a family. In 1907, they came to Montgomery County, Kansas to help with Tildy’s mother who had had a stroke.

Over the years, Sam worked for a sawmill marking trees for the logging crew to cut (in Arkansas), then in Kansas he found work with his team of horses, ” helping farmers, grading roads and in the new industry in Kansas–the oil fields. Along with the oil, a new fuel had been discovered, natural gas. Gas lights and gas burners for heating and cooking were a great improvement over wood or kerosene we had been using.” (from daughter, Bertha McGhee’s memories)

They moved to Tyro where Sam took a job as night watchman at a glass factory which made chimneys for lamps and lanterns. He prepared the sand and chemicals for the following day’s run. When the factory moved to Oklahoma, Sam took an extra job hauling ice from an ice plant in Caney to the ice house of a local grocery store and also made home deliveries on a country route offered by the store.

He found work with the Montgomery County road maintenance crew. He also rented some farmland and grew sorghum cane and made molasses in the fall. In 1914, Sam became foreman of Montgomery County road maintenance and did extra hauling with his team for both the grocery store and in the oil fields.

By age 46, he was working in the oil industry in Montgomery County, Kansas. The photo below shows him with two of his sons, Roy and Clarence. the dog’s name is unknown.

Sam McGhee and Sons at Oil Well

Samuel McGhee

Sam McGhee died in an accident at work in October 1922. It was only recently that I uncovered some details of that accident after searching in Newspapers.com.

Sam McGhee crushed oil well accident

Enter a caption

The Coffeyville paper, The Morning News, gave some more information, “Sam McGhee was injured Saturday morning when he was cleaning out a mill on the Harding place, about two miles east of Tyro.”

The Wichita Daily Eagle described the accident this way, “an engine being used in connection with an oil rig near Coffeyville exploded.”

The Independence Daily Reporter clarified the incident, “Mr. McGhee was injured when a machine used for cleaning out oil wells broke on the Harding lease, east of Tyro, last Saturday. He was so seriously injured that no hopes were entertained for his recovery at any time.”

More details emerged in The Morning News which noted, he “died at the Southeast Kansas hospital here Sunday night from injuries received Saturday when a well-drilling rig on which he was working broke, crushing his head and puncturing a lung.”

About two months later, a settlement was suggested (The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 12 Dec 1922, Tue, Page 5).

“Chas. D. Ise of this city, acting as referee in the matter of the compensation of Viola Matilda Mc-Ghee, administratrix of the estate of S. N. McGhee, against the Kansas-Oklahoma Consolidated Oil company, has recommended a payment of $3,200.40. McGhee died recently of injuries sustained in an accident on a lease near Tyro.”

I was curious about whether that was a good offer or not. Here’s a chart showing wages at that time. I also found that average earnings in 1924 were $1,303. So the offer was only equal to a few year’s wages.

“Wages And Hours Of Labor In The Petroleum Industry, 1922. “. Hathitrust.

Sam was survived by his wife Viola Matilda Tower, five sons, and two daughters. The sons, Clarence, Roy, Lealon, Austin, and Loren, lived at home, while son Jesse resided at Morgan, Texas. The daughters, Bertha and Ethel, lived at home. Ethel was only 7 years old and Austin just 10. The other children were in their teens or grown. The McGhees had lost a young son, Elmer, just the year before.

Years later, Sam’s daughter Bertha shared her memories with her niece, Gail Lee Martin.

“Papa worked for hire with his team of horses helping farmers, grading roads for Montgomery County and hauling pipe in the new industry in Kansas — the oil fields. My earliest memories are of running to meet him as he came home from work. He would swing me up on the wagon seat to ride the few feet home with him making me feel so special.

At home, Papa loved to play the pump organ and when I would learn a new song at school or Sunday School or Campfire Girls, I would be eager to sing it to papa. Papa had a good tenor voice and sang in the choir at our local Methodist Church. He had learned music in Arkansas when a tuning fork was used to get the pitch and the melody was learned by singing do, re, me’s. So papa could take a piece of music and sing the notes until he had the melody in his head, then he’d set down and play it on the organ by ear – just adding chords for the left hand. 

Often on Sunday afternoon neighbors and friends would come visiting and stand around the organ to sing while papa played. On the back porch, Mama and the boys would make a freezer of ice-cream to be shared after the singing was finished.” 

For more of Bertha McGhee’s memories, visit the Our Echo site to read Sam McGhee, Memories of Hayrick Mound, and From Melbourn, Arkansas to Tyro, Kansas.

The Death of Roy Martin, Son of John and Cordelia Martin


The Hamilton Grit, Hamilton, KS

Thur. May 11. 1911

(transcribed from Newspapers.com)


A very sad accident occurred last Thursday afternoon, when Roy Martin, aged 14 years, 9 months and 11 days, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Martin, living about 10 miles northwest of Hamilton, was killed while at work in the field, the boy left the house at noon and went out to plow. About half hour after he had been seen talking to some boys, Dudley Dillingham and brothers, who were working nearby noticed him to be lying on the ground near the horses. On arriving where he was the boys found him dead.

One horse was standing on his lower limb which was broken, his foot entangled in the tug and his hand still grasping the lines. It is thought that the horse stepped over the tug and the boy attempted to raise its foot to put back without unfastening the tug and the horse had fallen or thrown itself on him, the dirt on it, showing it had been down but was standing quietly when found. Three of the child’s ribs were broken on one side, two on the other and his body otherwise mashed.

Funeral services were held at Prairie Bell church, 1:30 p.m. Saturday and were conducted by Rev. Wilson, of Virgil. Interment was made in the No. 8 cemetery.

Roy was a much liked little boy and had a host of friends who will miss him from their presence. He was the youngest of five children, three brothers and one sister surviving him. Relatives and friends have the heartfelt sympathy of all.

Citation for the clipping: 

11 May 1911, 1 – Hamilton Grit at Newspapers.com

11 May 1911, 1 – Hamilton Grit at Newspapers.com. (2018). Newspapers.com. Retrieved 5 June 2018, from https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=20705833

How We Are Related:

Roy Martin was the brother of my grandfather, Charles Lorenzo Martin. Thus, he was my great-uncle. The other siblings were Archie, Robert, and Anna Faye. Roy Martin’s parents were John Thomas and Cordelia Jane (Stone) Martin.

Clarifications: I had to puzzle a minute over one sentence, “One horse was standing on his lower limb which was broken, his foot entangled in the tug and his hand still grasping the lines.” My question was whether it was the horse or the boy that was entangled in the tug. The horse was standing on the boy’s leg and it must have been Roy’s foot entangled in the tug (or the article would have said “hoof” instead of “foot”).

I also had to look up the parts of the harness to clarify what the tug was.  The picture below is from Wikipedia and it shows the tug running from the horse collar back to whatever it is pulling.


This graphic shows the tug. (Public Domain photo from Wikipedia)

You can see Roy Martin’s gravestone at the FindAGrave site. It shows that he was born July 23, 1896 and died May 4, 1911.