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 Sarah <I>Graham</I> Wilkie

Sarah Graham Wilkie

Connecticut, USA
Death 26 Sep 1889 (aged 74–75)
Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, USA
Burial Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, USA
Plot Sec. 3, Block 4, Lot 338
Memorial ID 59004470 · View Source
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Story of Sarah's death can be found in the 28 September 1889 issue of "Aurora Beacon News". "Burned to Death in Her Chair -- A Most Distressing Accident".

But very few people who heard the alarm of fir Thursday afternoon, knew that it was the death knew of an aged lady. The fire was of no consequence but little damage being done, but small as it was, it caused the death of Mrs. Sarah C. Wilkie.

On Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Sarah Wilkie, the aged mother of Mrs. Thos. McGlenn, was left alone at the residence of her son-in-law, at 153 Jackson street, while her daughter, Mrs. McGlenn, stepped over to her neighbor's house. The first that was known of the sad accident was at shortly after four o'clock, when the alarm of fire was sounded and the report was circulated that the aged lady had been burned to death.

As near as can be learned, the particulars of the accident were bout as follows: Mrs. Wilkie had long been addicted to the habit of tobacco smoking, and on the afternoon mentioned had filled her clay pipe, and had settled down for a smoke when she accidentally set her clothing on fire and was burned and suffocated to death. A small portion of the carpet in the sitting room chair in which she was seated and a lounge were burned. The chair was badly burned although the lounge was not. When Mrs. Wilkie was found she was seated in the rocking chair and her clothes burnt from her body, her body covered with blisters, her feet being the only portion of the body that had not been scorched by the flames. In place the flesh was peeled off, the right had was nearly gong and her left arm was dislocated at the elbow, the result of the fire. When found, she had sunk through the chair, the sear of which had been burned out. Life was extinct when help arrived. She was beyond all earthly succor.

The first to discover the accident were the little granddaughters of the deceased. They had been in school and upon arriving at the house were horrified by the terrible spectacle before them. They rushed to the house of a neighbor, Mr. Mary Brouthers, and told the awful news. That lady gave the alarm, the fire companies were called out and the flames extinguished, but all too late to save the human being, who, rendered helpless by old age and infirmity, fell victim to the devouring element.

Yesterday morning, Coroner Williams impanelled [sic] a jury and held an inquest. The undertaker, Eb. Denny, described the condition of the body when called. The neighbor, Mrs. Mary Brouthers added her testimony, substantially the same as the above account.

The son of the deceased, J.S. Wilkie, a carpenter by trade, was called to the stand. He was away at the time of the accident but on being notified hurried home. He said that although his mother was 76 years old, was in full possession of her faculties. He had never known of her having fainting fits and had often known of her taking a nap. This son was was the last witness examined, the jury rendering a verdict in accordance with the facts named, that the deceased had came [sic] to her death on the afternoon of Sept. 26th by being severely burned, her closes having taken fire apparently from the pipe she was smoking.

The Exact manner in which the fire was started will probably never be learned. The only one who know will be silent forever and only the uncertain conjecture of mankind is left to settle the question. But from the environment it would seem that Mrs. Wilkie wen to the bed room where her son says she always left her tobacco, filled her pipe, and going to the mantel secured a match. Her son says that it has always been her habit to light the match by scratching it on the under side of the chair bottom and it is probably in this case that after the old lady had seated herself she lighted the match in that manner and then in lighting her pipe dropped some of the sparks on the front of her dress which, being cotton goods, was of course very flammable. Then discovering the presence of fire, she must have tossed her pipe from her onto the lounge, setting that article on fire also. That is the only way of accounting for the two fires, the spot around her chair and the lounge. The fire in the carpet did not spread to the lounge yet the lounge was burned. Yet when the pipe was found it was half full of tobacco that bore no trace of being lighted. Of course that is explained by the fact that the fire and ashes could be easily jarred out, leaving the pipe half full of fresh tobacco.

The death of this lady four sons and two daughters are left to mourn her loss. One son and one daughter reside in Aurora, Mr. J.S. Wilkie and Mr[s]. Thos. McGlenn, the latter being the wife of the engineer employed at Hill's sash factory.

Family Members


  • Created by: Katherine Cullen King
  • Added: 21 Sep 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 59004470
  • Katherine Cullen King
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sarah Graham Wilkie (1814–26 Sep 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 59004470, citing West Aurora Cemetery, Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Katherine Cullen King (contributor 46973355) .