Monday, September 20, 2010

Three Men Killed in Well

Marietta Intelligencer, June 12, 1845

The following particulars of the death of three men in Adams township, on Friday last have been furnished us by a citizen of that place:

Mr. Henry Harwood, recently of Morgan Co., had been engaged for several days in deepening a well on the farm lately purchased by him, about four and a half miles from the village of Lowell.

On Friday morning, Mr. Jeremiah Robinett, one of the men employed by Mr. Harwood, said he would work a while before breakfast, and was let down into the well (already more than fifty feet in depth) by Mr. H.  A short time after, Mr. H. called him, but received no answer.  He immediately obtained the aid of Mr. John Bell, was himself let down into the well and fastened a rope to the body of Robinett.  Bell then drew them both up to within 12 or 15 feet of the top, when Harwood, with his foot in a loop of the rope, fell against the wall and lodged so that he could be raised no higher.  Bell then went down to the place where the bodies were lodged, and so raised and fastened them that he could probably get them out.  He then started up, but when within a couple of feet or so of the top, fainted and fell upon those below. 

There was now no person to give assistance but Mrs. Harward, who ran for help, and found one man near at hand.  While he was waiting for others to come, Bell fell from his lodging place upon the other bodies to the bottom of the well.  Many persons soon arrived, and Robinett and Harward were taken out dead.  A Mr. Brooker was now fastened to a rope, and let down to obtain the body of Bell.  He did not succeed, but was himself drawn out, speechless.  Efforts were now made to get out the bad air, and at length Timothy Clay went down fastened to a rope, which he also succeeded in attaching to the body of Bell, and they were drawn out together.  Clay said it was with difficulty he could breathe, the worst place being half way to the bottom.

We have somewhat contradictory accounts of some immaterial facts, but think the above is doubtless correct in the main.

Since the preceding statement was in type, we have received the following communication from a gentleman of this place who has since been in the neighborhood of the occurences.

Dear Sir:  In volunteering, last evening, an article on the melancholly occurrences in Adams Township, my view was simply to offer on my responsibility, a report of reports, and intimating that something better might be expected next week.  Perhaps a better course will be for me to glance at such items as may possibly assist yourself in framing an article of that sort.

The location I understand to be near the N.E. corner of Adams township, a little to the west of the ridge road, near the head of Bear Creek - not far from "German" Hall's.  I understand Harwood's place is very near the residence of old Mr. Bell, whose son was one of the victims.  It was stated to me by the sister of young Bell, that some difficulty was felt in working in the well the day previous to the catastrophe, and that on the fatal morning (I think it was said very early) before going into it they attempted to purify by burning straw in it.  All accounts I have heard concur in stating that the fatal gasses seemed to prevail more particularly in the upper part of the well - it was said within ten feet of the top.  I was told that lights had been let down, and that if a candle were not extinguished in the descent, it would continue to burn near the bottom.

I have no wish to have my name appear in this business - but should have been pleased, were it convenient, to have assisted in the investigation.

C. E.

It is to be hoped that a thorough investigation of all the facts in the case may be had, the results of which will be given to the public.

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