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1901 Fatal Farm Incident in Milford Twp

Farming was also a dangerous task in the early 20th century. The photo, not in Milford Twp, shows the type of equipment that would have been used in the following story, the first fatal farming accident of record that could be found.

The seemingly pleasant job of raking hay with a team of horses and a buck rake turned into a deadly incident in Milford Twp on the M. W. Montgomery farm in the southeast quarter of Sec 17 (a mile west of the Center School) on Friday 19 July 1901. William Bridgman, 27, a cousin of the Montgomerys from Chicago, who was vacationing with his family, had volunteered to operate a buck rake with others who, according to the paper, were working in a 160 acre hay field. After raking a while he apparently dropped one of the reins and stood up and stepped out onto the tongue in an effort to retrieve it, however, his footing was lost and he fell to a sitting position on the tongue. Then one of the horses started kicking and kicked him in the head and he fell onto the ground with one leg through the fork in the tongue. The horses took to running and dragged him in this posture "for a mile" around the field because no one could approach the team to stop them. The runaway team plunged through the fence and onto the road, apparently northbound, and stopped in a neighbor's yard about a half mile north, but the rake and Mr Bridgeman stayed at the fence line.

The doctor had been summoned even before the runaway was stopped. William was still gasping for air when his cousins got to him but died shortly afterwards. "He was twenty seven years of age, an iron worker, very strongly built and muscled, and with as great an endurance as anyone could have had. Probably it was the kick that got him down and killed him

“The accident was of the sort that seems occasionally to come upon those who have the least reason to expect it, and in a moment it is all over. It was most pitiful as well as tragic ending of a summer outing.”

Internment was at the Nevada Cemetery. Mr Bridgman's wife left their two children at the Montgomery home and returned, with her parents (who had been at the Montgomery home for the funeral at the Nevada Cemetery) to Chicago to settle matters there with the intent for her to return to Iowa to live.

One of the things that might be overlooked within the article is - the doctor had been summoned - before the victim was released from the rake. This implies the Montgomerys, or one of the neighbors, had a telephone. Also, Mrs Bridgman's parents had been notified in Chicago following the accident on Friday and they were able to catch a train and arrive in time for the Sunday forenoon funeral service. By Tuesday, Mrs Bridgman and her parents were on the way back to Chicago. Communications were much more rapid in 1901 than we might have thought. It is not known whether her parents were notified by phone or telegram, but surely to summon the doctor for an accident implies the use of a local phone service in Milford Twp.

As a footnote to this location- the maps of the time, and up through 1912, show a farmstead with frontage on the east-west road along the south side of section 17. This farmstead was located on the east side of the half section line. Also, there was no farmstead along that road just to the west of the half section line. By 1912, however, the maps show the farmstead to the west of that half section line and none on the east side of the line. A Map maker's deliberate error? This farmstead, west of the half mile fence, is where the Bivens family lived in the forties.

School Board Members Terms

The academic question has been raised as to how the School Board Members originally established a pattern of overlapping terms. This was announced on 19 Feb. 1920 following the original consolidation on Wed 28 Jan. 1920. See page 166.

Two men, E.G. Morfey and O.G.Twedt, were elected to serve until the next annual meeting. Frank Allen and J. Twedt were to serve until the second annual meeting and D.O. Christy to the third annual meeting. Henry Birkeland was elected treasurer.

School Times Change

For some unstated reason, on 30 November 1942, the time School started was changed to 10 a.m. with dismissal at 5 p.m. Speculation would be that this might be a forerunner of Daylight Savings Time. Or, as some called it in WWII, "War Time", or "Victory Time"

Mail Time - 1862

The mail crossed Milford Twp on the diagonal road two times a week- Northbound from Nevada to Fort Dodge about 9 A.M. on Fridays and from Fort Dodge southbound to arrive in Nevada about 8 P.M. on Saturdays. Mailings to Des Moines and Waterloo were twice a week while Newton, Fort Dodge, Marrietta and Boonsboro were once a week. See page 22.

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© 2012 Mark Christian
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