Strange Accidents

The following incidents reported in the late 1880s and 1890s show us how life can change in an instant:

A Fork in the Eye

In 1897, Mrs. Hobbs, the wife of farmer Wm. M. Hobbs living near Sykesville (Carroll County), lost an eye after attempting to untie a knot.

“She was trying to untie a knot in one of her children’s shoe strings with a table fork, when the fork slipped and stuck her in the eye, two of the prongs penetrating the ball,” reported The News. “She was taken to the Baltimore Presbyterian Eye and Ear Hospital by Dr. D.B. Sprecher, her physician, on Saturday, when it was found necessary to remove the eye in order to save the sight of the other one.”

A Life-Threatening Trip

Miss Ollie Bierly, 16, was injured in a life-threatening freak accident in 1895. She fell while carrying four large crocks across a railroad track in Highfield (Washington County). “The crocks were broken and she fell upon them, the razor-like points cutting her throat severely and severing the external jugular vein and several large arteries in the back,” reported The News.

A bystander helped Ollie until a doctor could arrive. “C.D. McCaulley, a young man who was near, seized the jugular between the thumb and forefinger and retained his hold until a doctor who was summoned could take up the several dismembered vessels,” according to the Harrisburg Telegraph. “The blood had already covered her clothing to her feet, and was flowing from her throat in an arched stream as thick as a finger. Her condition is grave, a second hemorrhage being feared.”

‘Almost a Poisoning Case’

A simple mix up in 1886 could have been a lot worse for the Kehler family of Frederick.

Adelia Kehler asked her husband to purchase insect powder, the particular kind that was “warranted by the labels to kill all kinds of vermin at a single pinch,” reported The News. “The preparation was taken out of the package and placed in a vessel in one of the closets of Mrs. Kehler’s house, where it evidently remained until it was forgotten.”

Removed from its original packaging and then forgotten about? You know that no good can come of this…

Some time later, she was preparing salad dressing and mistakenly added the insect poison, which looked very similar in color to mustard powder. “When meal time arrived and the family partook of the preparation, something worse than sea sickness came over them and the voluntary dread came to each and all that they had eaten of poison,” according to The News. “By the aid of a physician, who was quickly summoned, their mentally and bodily agony was relieved and nothing serious resulted from the unpalatable dose.”

Sources: Baltimore Sun, January 19, 1908 (determining Adelia Kehler’s first name); Harrisburg Telegraph, September 11, 1895; The News, July 27, 1886, September 11, 1895, October 5, 1897

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