24 November 2010

Obituary--George O. Baker

This obituary caught my eye as it demonstrates both the graphicness of reporting in earlier newspapers, as well as the attitude of invincibility that is still so present in young adults today.  (As the mother of 2 twenty-somethings, I feel I have the right to attest to that fact.)  While I checked my spreadsheet to make sure I hadn't posted this obituary before, I noticed the only other Baker noted had the same name as George's father.  Sure enough, on 4 January 2010, the obituary of David Baker was posted.  At that time it was of note as the fathers passing left only 12 members of the GAR still in the community.   This obituary is just an example of how quickly a friendly outing can turn tragic.

From the 15 October 1914 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Tragedy is Climax of Sunday Outing Near Grand Haven--Was Son of David Baker
 A tragedy, which cost the life of George O. Baker, 350 Pine avenue NW served as the shocking climax to a Sunday outing taken by a party of local young men to Grand Haven Sunday. Charles Nagel, 360 Grandville Avenue, SW, a long time friend of the victim, fired the fatal shot from a 22-calibre rifle.  Standing in a launch, he was shooting at a turtle, when Nagel shifted his position just enough to come within range and the bullet plowed its way through his neck, lodging in the brain.  Death was almost instantaneous.
John DeKruif, drug store proprieter, 855 Caulfield Avenue, SW; Albert C. Nagel, 219 Wealthy Street, SW; James De Loof, 1501 Lake Drive SE; and the two principals in the shooting comprised a party Sunday that left for Spring Lake to return with a launch by way of Grand River.  Albert C. Nagel had taken along his little rifle.  The men had expressed a desire to shoot turtles on the return trip and just previous to the accident Charles Nagel had killed one turtle and was shooting at a second.
Shot at Turtle
According to James De Loof the marksman had shot once at a turtle basking on a log and had missed.  For this he received the laughs of his comrades.  "I'll get him this time," Nagel said as he took careful aim.  The launch was proceeding up the river rapidly and this lengthened the distance between marksman and turtle every moment.  Every one in the launch craned his neck to see what success Nagel would have.  Maker, seated in the rear of the boat, apparently was in a cramped position and desired to shift about just as Nagel pulled the trigger, De Loof states.  Baker arose and his head came into range as Nagel fired.
The party steered to shore and notified a physician.  Baker was dead ten minutes after the shooting, however and the Grand Haven coroner was later notified.  The body was removed to the J.J. Boer morgue at Grand Haven.  The accident took place at a point near Robinson resort about ten miles from Grand Haven.
Were Lifelong Friends.
Baker was employed as an engineer for the Pere Maarquette railroad.  He was a member of the Elks and of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, holding membership in the local division, No. 286. He is survived by the widow and two daughters, who had accompanied him to Grand Haven Junction Sunday on their way to Muskegon.  It was there that they were told of Baker's death. 
Nagel feels the death of his friend very keenly and cannot be consoled.  Since boyhood he and Baker had chummed together and an extremely close bond of friendship exists between them.  Grand Rapids Press.
George Baker was the son of Mr. and Mrs David baker of this city and formerly resided here.  Mr and Mrs Baker went to Grand Rapids Monday to attend the funeral which will be held today in Grand Rapids.

I had suspected that the article had been reprinted from a Grand Rapids paper, since all of the addresses given were from Grand Rapids.  Such a sad story.  However one other thing about this article is that no age was given, nor date of birth.  This is one of the many obituaries that, as we update our new database of obituaries, we will not be able to include.  At least until we can make the birth date optional.  Hopefully this will be changed soon and we can have our online obituary database working again.

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