On September 26, 1879 Mrs. Olive B- and Mrs. Mollie W- were driving down Findlay Street when their horse’s harness broke. The break spooked the horse, which took off running. If you’re unfamiliar, harnesses are fairly instrumental in convincing giant animals to do what you want.
Olive decided to leap from the carriage. Compiling the descriptions of several newspapers, she somersaulted several times before landing on her feet with only minor bruising. I assume she was shocked at how well this worked.
Her friend attempted to follow her example but did not have the same luck. Mollie was thrown from the carriage and landed on her head on the pavement (pavement meaning cobblestones). She was knocked unconscious and had to be carried to the nearest drugstore where a doctor ordered that she be taken to a hospital. (Tag yourself in the story: I’m Mollie)
On the day of the accident most newspapers reported that Mollie’s injuries were fatal. The next day most follow up articles edged back from this statement. Newspapers that cried fatal injury were more common than boys who cried wolf.
What made Mollie fall? Well, the newspapers had some thoughts. Mollie was apparently not a dainty lady. The Cincinnati Daily Star felt compelled to point out that she weighed two hundred pounds. How they knew her weight is not provided. Why is Mollie’s weight relevant? The Cleveland Leader explains:
“Being a very heavy woman the force of the blow caused compression of the brain.”
This makes perfect sense, as we all know, slim women float daintily to the ground when tossed in the air. Still, the injustice of the description irks me. Can you imagine waking up in the hospital, dignity already pretty smashed, and then learning multiple newspapers across the state blamed it on how fat you were? No, thank you, let the cobblestones take me.
This is our second article where no one actually ended up dead. Thinking of renaming the blog, How Your Ancestors almost Died. I’ll keep you all posted
For the old timey newspaper buffs out there, here is a short summary of the newspaper timeline.
Sept 26 – The Cincinnati Daily Star and Cincinnati Enquirer run the initial story
Sept 27 – The Cincinnati Daily Gazette runs its first story. The Cleveland Leader reprints the stories run in Cincinnati the day before. The Daily Star and Enquirer give short updates indicating Mollie may not die after all
October 2 – The Stark County Democrat runs the story as run by the Daily Star and Enquirer on the 26th. A little behind the times, but still at the party. No further update is printed so everyone in Stark County thinks Mollie’s dead.
Articles found in The Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati Daily Star, Cleveland Leader, Stark County Democrat, Cincinnati Enquirer.
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