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William Ralph Mears

Death 1923 (aged 22–23)
Burial Biggsville, Henderson County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 62719659 · View Source
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Stronghurst Graphic, June 28, 1923

When the news of the drowning at Carman reach here, the Stronghurst ball team was engaged in a contest with a team from Macomb on the local diamond one mile south of town and several of the spectators left the grounds for the scene of the accident.

Those who remained were destined to become the witnesses of another tragedy, more thrilling in its details and more unusual in its character than the one at Carman. The game between the teams had reached the sixth inning and the Macomb team was at the bat. Orson Croxton, one of the Macomb batters had reached second base and was playing off a distance of about 10 feet, preparing to steal third. William Mears of Gladstone, the second baseman for the Stronghurst team was standing with his feet on the sack. Carl Dillon was in the pitcher's box and Clarence Hartquist who was acting an umpire was not far from second base. E.B. Nebergall of the Macomb team was coaching the base runner. A storm was brewing and there were several deep rumbles of thunder. A few pattering raindrops had fallen and a number of the spectators were leaving the grounds. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash accompanied by a concussion like that produced by an explosion of dynamite. Following the momentary blindness caused by the vivid flash, the spectators saw five men stretched out upon the field, some motionless and some showing signs of life. The men were Croxton and Nebergall of the Macomb team, second baseman Mears and pitcher Dillon of the home team and umpire Hartquist. Those of the spectators who were not too badly dazed to render them incapable of assistance, rushed to the side of the fallen men and assisted or carried them to autos, in which they were placed and brought to the village where medical aid was sought. Dr. Marshall had been called to Carman on the Peterson case, but Drs. Harter and Lauver were soon engaged in an examination of the injured men. They found that in Mears case, life was extinct, and that he had evidently been directly in the path of the electric bolt. His cap was torn to shreds and there was a wound near the top of his head such as might have been caused by falling and striking his head against a sharp object. The hair about the wound was singed considerably and there were numerous small burned places on the surface of his body. One foot was somewhat shattered and the shoe torn off. The opinion expressed by the physicians was that death had been instantaneous and that the victim never realized what had happened.

The other victims of the shock soon recovered from its effects and were able to be out on the streets before evening where they mingles with the crowd which had gathered and related their experiences to eager listeners. Croxton of the Macomb team seemed to be the most badly shocked of the survivors and at the advice of the physicians, he was sent home by train in care of another member of the team. The balance of the team returned to Macomb by auto in the evening.

The body of young Mears was removed to the undertaking rooms of W. C. Regan where it was afterward viewed by the same Coroner's jury which acted in the Peterson case and the verdict rendered at the inquest which followed was "accidental death from lightning." Mears came to Stronghurst to act as a substitute player for the regular second baseman of the home team. He was proprietor of a restaurant at Gladstone and was but recently married. His wife was visiting friends at Morning Sun, Ia., at the time of the accident and left for Stronghurst on receipt of a message telling of the death of her husband; she arrived here at about 8:30 in the evening. The remains of her husband were taken to Gladstone Monday morning and funeral services were conducted there on June 27th at 2:30 p.m.

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  • Created by: No Reins
  • Added: 9 Dec 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 62719659
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Ralph Mears (1900–1923), Find A Grave Memorial no. 62719659, citing Biggsville Cemetery, Biggsville, Henderson County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by No Reins (contributor 46595053) .