|Birth: ||Feb. 14, 1894|
|Death: ||Aug. 26, 1923|
The Madison Courier, Jefferson Co., IN
27 Aug 1923
LIGHTNING SNUFFS OUT TWO LIVES
Robert White, Depauw Student, and Miss Jessie Wells, High School Teacher, Instantly Killed
Young People Took Refuge Under Cliff in Storm—Bodes Not Found Until This Morning.
Lightning during the storm yesterday afternoon took a toll of two lives when Robert White, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles White, north Walnut street, and Miss Jessie Wells, 29, English teacher in the Madison high school, were instantly killed on the hill top west of Lonesome hollow by a bolt that struck them under a ledge of rock where they had taken refuge from the storm. The bodies were not found until this morning and were first reached by the young man's father and several companions, who were searching for the couple.
Yesterday afternoon about 1:30 o'clock Miss Wells and the young man took a box luncheon and walked up Telegraph hill road for a picnic trip to the Lonesome hollow cliffs. From the road they had probably gone down the west side of Lonesome hollow until they reached the front hill west of the hollow. From the point above the stone house, occupied by James Davis and family, at the mouth of the hollow, there is a very fine view of the hills and river and an open grove of trees. The cliff is smaller than Little Cedar and less wooded.
The spot is on the farm of Mr. Davis and yesterday evening during the storm a member of the family saw the young couple eating under the ledge of the cliff. A half hour later members of the Davis family heard the terrific crash of a bolt of lightning that struck near.
The storm had begun to slacken and the time is fixed at about 5:20 o'clock. There is little doubt this was the time the young people were killed.
They had taken refuge under a ledge of the ten foot cliff in a sort of V shaped opening, huddling together under the side toward the west to avoid the sweep of the rain. Immediately above them on the top of the cliff was a small stunted ash tree.
The bolt struck the tree, shattering it half off and stewing pieces of wood in all directions. From the tree the lightning passed directly down the face of the cliff a distance of about six feet, and directly in line of where the two were sitting. Death must have been instantaneous.
Miss Wells was rooming at the John W. Hughes home and members of the family supposed she might have stayed the night with friends. The White family retired early last night and did not miss Robert until this morning about daylight. His mother then discovered his absence and Mr. White became alarmed. They knew the young people had gone to some spot near Lonesome hollow or Indian cave for their afternoon trip and Mr. White secured a searching party of Messrs. Harry Ballard, James Cavanaugh and Herbert Gourley.
The searching party went to Indian cave by way of the reservoir hill and then worked around east from there to the top of point just west of Lonesome hollow, which is a short distance east of Indian cave and Goat hollow. Herbert Gourley discovered the bodies first about 7:30 o'clock.
The two young people were lying huddled together under the cliff ledge with the lunch box knocked some distance down the hill below them. The spot is difficult to access and the bodies had to be carried down the long and steep hill to the river road at Lonesome hollow bridge. From there the remains were taken to the Haigh morgue and were prepared for burial during the afternoon. Coroner Henning held a brief inquest and found in accordance with the facts that "death was due to lightning stoke."
No time of funeral arrangements has been announced. The remains of Robert White will be taken this afternoon to his parents home on north Walnut street and news of the terrible tragedy was wired Miss Wells family in Indianapolis. Members of her family are expected this afternoon by auto or by train this evening. The body will be held pending their orders.
Neither of the bodies was mutilated but showed the traces of the bolt. Miss Wells's watch had stopped at five o'clock and young White's watch was running when the bodies were found this morning. Miss Wells's watch was probably stopped by the stroke of lightning establishing the approximate hour of the tragedy.
Miss Wells was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Wells, former Hanover residents who removed to Indianapolis several years ago. The daughter was a graduate of Hanover College and for the past five years has taught English in the Madison high school. She was a young lade of the most amiable and sweet character and was very popular with the other teachers and the students.
Besides the parents three brothers and a sister survive; George, Osmer and Ira, of Indianapolis, and Mrs. Bertha Blanchard, Key West, Fla.
Miss Wells had continued to teach here after her parents' removal to Indianapolis and had roomed with Mr. and Mrs. John W. Hughes, north Elm street. She came to Madison last week to attend the teachers' institute and had planned to go home this morning to spend the remainder of the vacation, returning here for the opening of school. Members of the Hughes family retired early last night, leaving the house door unlocked for Miss Wells' return and until they arose this morning did not know of her absence. Even then it was supposed she might have stayed with friends.
Robert White was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles White and was a graduate of the Madison high school with the class of 1921. He had secured a Depauw student's four year course and had completed this first term last spring. Besides his parents he is survived by a sister, formerly Miss Lillian White, now Mrs. Clarence Goley, of near Franklin.
He was a fine up-standing young man and was making a record in his studies and work and was liked by all who knew him for his clean-cut character and manly ways. A warm friendship existed between him Miss Wells, who had been his teacher during his high school days.
The tragedy has cast a gloom over the entire city and is one of the most pathetic and saddening that has occurred in Madison in many years.
George L. Wells (1863 - 1928)
Rebecca A. Harsin Wells (1861 - 1948)
George D Wells (____ - 1984)*
Ira Augustine Wells (1886 - 1977)*
Bertha Mae Wells Blanchard (1890 - 1994)*
Jessie Pearl Wells (1894 - 1923)
Osmer Spurgeon Wells (1899 - 1994)*
ROBERT C. WHITE -- JESSIE P. WELLS
MAR 11-1903 -- SEPT 14, 1903
AUG 26, 1923 -- AUG 26, 1903
BOTH KILLED BY LIGHTENING
ON LITTLE CEDAR CLIFF
HAND IN HAND MAY
I WALK WITH THEE.
Plot: West ˝, Lot 39, Plat I
Created by: Karen Phillips
Record added: Jun 09, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 112035546