11 February 2010

Obituary--Madison Smith

Another in my series of unusual deaths. This one involves a farm implement called a hay tedder. It was used to "fluff" up the hay before raking into windrows for baling. Warning--it is fairly graphic.

from the 17 July 1913 Fremont Times Indicator


Prominent Farmer Living West of Fremnt Was Mangled Beneath a Hay Tedder Last Friday.

Madison Smith, a prominent farmer living 3 1/2 miles west of this city met a tragic death while working in his hay field last Friday. the accident occurred between nine and ten o'clock. While driving a hay tedder, one of the horses attached to the machine kicked over the tongue thus breaking it off. This frightened the horses who soon became uncontrollable. When the frantic animals commenced to run the broken tongue gouged the earth, throwing Mr Smith from the seat. In his effort to subdue the frightened horses he wound the reins around his hands. When he fell under the machine it is probable that he was unable to free himself from the lines.
Mr. Smith was dragged about 80 rods across the field, his head and shoulders being beneath the forks of the tedder. The machine was in gear during the runaway.
Dr. Long was summoned immediately but life expired within a few minutes after his arrival. Mr Smith was unconscious from the time of the accident and lived about a half hour.
Mr. Smith's daughter, a girl of about 12 years was riding on the machine with him and it is probably that he threw her off in order that she might escape injury. She sustained only lght bruises on the head and leg.
James Madison Smith was born in Newaygo County March 25 1866 and was 47 years, 3 months and 16 days at the time of his death. In 1896 he married Martha A Bennet, of Brookside and three children, two daughters and a son, were born to this union. Mrs Smith passed away in July 1912. The three children, together with his aged father and mother survive him.
The funeral services were held at the home Sunday afternoon conducted by Rev. R. A. thibos, pastor of the Church of Christ and were attended by a large concourse of relatives and friends. Burial took place in Clark cemetery.

An unusual and tragic means of death. Life was tough and uncertain nearly 100 years ago. Factory workers, lumber men and farmers all had to face the possibility at all times.

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