Burning Rubbish – Burned to Death

burning rubbishl

Image from Neville Anthony Watts – Local Norfolk Artist

I ran across this article when I was searching for news clips about the William Smearman murder:


Clothing of Mrs. Smearman of Near Addison Ignited in Yard.


Husband Was Working In the Field But Before He Arrived Clothing Was Burned Off and Body in a Crisp.

Special to The Courier.
CONFLUENCE, April 9. — Burned to death at her home in the presence of her children while disposing of some rubbish in the yard, was the fate of Mrs. Louis Smearman, aged about 25 years, who lived east of Petersburg, Addison township. Mrs. Smearman set fire to some rubbish in the yard and was placing some more on the pile when a sudden gust of wind blew the fire in her direction and set fire to her dress. The flames made great headway and soon enveloped her body and her horrified outcries were heard by the two children in the house and by her husband, who was working in the field some distance away.

The husband reached the scene as soon as possible, but was too late. The wife was lying on the ground with all the clothing burned off her body and with part of her hair burned off. He caught hold of the remaining hair to raise her head and give her air for her dying breaths, but the pressure of his hand on the hair loosened the top and the whole scalp came off, and after a few faint breaths the woman was dead.

The entire body was burned to a crisp and every stitch of clothing was consumed, the only remnants left being a buckle and part of her shoes. The Smearman home is on an elevated location and the wind blew hard at the time of the fire.

Several days before this tragedy the eight-year-old son broke his leg and was lying in the house when he saw his mother’s dress catch fire. Suffering and disabled as he was with a broken leg the boy made a brave effort to lend assistance and attempted to get out the window to help her and broke several pains of glass, but his efforts at relief were fruitless. The six-year-old daughter was in the house, but was too small to do anything.

The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Apr 9, 1909

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