07 January 2010

Obituary—Henry Bode

A rather graphic story, with out a single “alleged” or “suspected” mentioned in the entire story. The early 20th century press didn’t sugar coat what happened.

2 November 1911 Fremont Times Indicator.


Henry Bode, seventy-six years old, sets fire to barn and is consumed in flames.

Last Saturday, Henry Bode, aged seventy-six years set fire to the barn of his son, John, living southwest of the city, and was consumed in the raging flames of the structure. Mr. Bode was unbalanced mentally and the thought is that he committed suicide. When his charred body was found in the debris, the neck of a bottle was discovered near the arm and it is believed that the old gentleman took poison after setting fire to the barn.

Mr. Bode seemed to have a mania for burning buildings. About five years ago his son’s dwelling house was burned and the old man admitted that he was the incendiary. Suspicion, also rested upon him as the person who set fire to two other buildings, but this was never proved.

Last Friday a petition was filed in the Probate Court of this county seeking for an examination into the mental condition of the man and the necessary order was issued. It was decided to have him brought to White Cloud, Saturday, with the view to sending to the hospital for the insane at Traverse City.

Saturday morning the two sons went into a field near the house to dig potatoes. About five minutes before the fire was discovered, the boys saw their father going from the barn to the house, but did not see him again.

Mr. Bode leaves a widow, two sons, John and Garrett, and two daughters, Mrs. Jake DeKuiper and Mrs. Ed Zagers.

Funeral services were held at the home Tuesday, Rev. Henry Keegstra, pastor of the Christian Reformed church officiating.

A tragic story, from the days before Prozac and other medications. His birth date would have been around 1835, making him mid-twenties during the Civil War. Maybe this was a story of post traumatic stress syndrome? Who can say now?

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