Wednesday, April 29, 2015

8 Escape Injuries When Auto, Ambulance Collide (June 30, 1923)

Climbing My Family Tree: "8 Escape Injuries When Auto, Ambulance Collide" June 30, 1923
"8 Escape Injuries When Auto, Ambulance Collide"
The Findlay Morning Republican, June 30,1923, page 2
(found at
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8 Escape Injuries When Auto, Ambulance Collide

Touring Car Driven by S. M. Hartman, 318 First Street, Crashes into Rear of Carey, O., Ambulance Driven by Charles Sutter, Funeral Director of That Place, Who Suffers Minor Injuries

      Eight persons narrowly escaped injury when a touring car crashed into and toppled an ambulance from Carey, O., on its side at First and S. Main Streets yesterday afternoon.
     Charles Sutter, funeral director, of Carey, who was driving the ambulance, was slightly injured about the head and neck. He was the only occupant of the machine, having taken a patient, Miss Clara Shull, of near Vanlue, to the Home and Hospital, a short time before.

               Seven in Touring Car

     The touring car was driven by S. M. Hartman, 318 First Street. Other occupants of the machine were his wife, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, all ranging in ages from 3 to 18 years. All were shaken by the impact but unhurt.

     The children were:

     Berenice and Helen Duffield, daughters of Jay. W. Duffield, of near Van Buren.

     Mabel and Dale Erwin, children of Mrs. Fannie Erwin, 225 Park Ave.

     Josephine Hart, a grandchild, of the same address.

     The collision occurred shortly after 3 o’clock. The ambulance was northbound from the hospital on the return trip to Carey, and the Hartman machine was running south on Main Street.

               View Is Obstructed

     A third machine, driver unknown, passed the Hartman car obstructing the view of Mr. Hartman as he turned his car to go east on First Street. Before the machine could be halted, it crashed into the rear of the ambulance, turning it around and pushing it over on its side in front of the Campfield apartments.

     Mr. Sutter, his straw hat bent by the mixup, crawled out of the window while residents nearby, hearing the crash, held their breath for signs of life around the ill-fated car.

     The touring car with its seven occupants lost a wheel in the jam. The ambulance was badly damaged. A wheel was broken, the body battered and glass in the windows and windshield shattered. It was removed to Runnell’s garage.

     Renshler’s ambulance was summoned to the scene.

(Findlay Morning Republican, June 30, 1923, page 2 (found at

This was likely the accident I talked about a year and a half ago, in the profile of my second great grandfather, Samuel Myers Hartman. I had not found this article when I wrote it, but I did find legal notices in the papers that due to a car accident in the spring of 1923, Samuel M. Hartman had been sued for $4500 in damages by the driver of the other vehicle, and that Samuel M. Hartman had filed a cross-claim against the other driver for $1200. In that prior profile I noted, for perspective, that in 1923, the average car cost $393, the average house cost $8,142, and the average yearly wage was $1,066. I stated then that it had to have been one heck of an accident, even though both drivers obviously came out of it alive. Now that I know that Mr. Sutter’s ambulance was destroyed, I can speculate that it likely cost more than a regular car to replace, and that its loss likely had a significant adverse impact on his ability to carry out his normal business because, in most of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the town‘s ambulance service was run by a funeral home in the town (I've learned by reading accident and death notices). So Sutter could have sued for the replacement value of the ambulance and for the damage to his business.  I don’t know enough to speculate as to what damages the amount of Samuel M. Hartman’s cross-claim represented. On the eve of trial, the parties came to an undisclosed settlement. 

From this article, I could learn:

  • that S. M. Hartman, my second great-grandfather, lived at 318 1st St., Findlay, OH on June 30, 1923; 
  • that he was well-off enough to own a touring car in 1923; 
  • that he was married, and his wife was living at that time;
  • that he had at least four grandchildren, all granddaughters; 
  • that one of his daughters had married a Jay W. Duffield of near Van Buren Ohio and they had two daughters, named Berenice and Helen; 
  • that his daughter Fannie (my great-grandmother) had married a man surnamed Erwin (my great-grandfather) and was either widowed or divorced from him since she was allowed the use of her own first name in the newspaper account (traditions of the early 1900’s requiring that married women were always identified by Mrs. "their husband’s name.");
  • that Fannie and Mr. Erwin had (at least) two daughters, Mabel and Dale; 
  • that Mr. Hartman had a great grandchild by the name of Josephine Hart who was also Fannie Erwin’s grandchild (which indicates that Fannie probably also had at least one older child);
  • that Fannie, Mabel, Dale, and Josephine lived at 225 Park Ave., Findlay, Ohio, on June 30, 1923; 
  • and that the named children ranged in age from three years old until 18 years old. It was likely, but not certain, that Josephine was the three-year-old child. 

I also learned the names of a few businesses in Findlay, Ohio.

That’s a lot of genealogical information to pull out of one newspaper article. Besides allowing you to show some slice of life color for your ancestors, newspaper articles are often a genealogical goldmine!

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