52 Ancestors :: Week 16: Storms
Let me start off with a warning for this one: the following newspaper articles describe a tragic death in graphic detail - please proceed at your own discretion.
The Tuesday, August 17th, 1920, editions of Wasatch Front newspapers, such as the Salt Lake Telegram and the Ogden Standard Examiner, predicted the possibility of rain showers later that day. The high temperature was 95 degrees, and from personal experience, I'm guessing it was unusually humid. Although it does not rain often in the desert climate of Utah, the region is known for monsoon weather in July and August. Powerful storms can sweep in quickly, with wind, lightning, and torrents of rain, which is exactly what would happen later that day. These predictions seem mild in comparison to what actually occurred.
Vernon Ronald Mitchell was the eldest brother of my grandmother, Lila Mitchell Ogilvie. I wrote about this family for Week 5: In the Census, although 1930 was ten years after Vernon's death. My grandma often spoke about the loss of her brother, and how devastated the family was about his tragic death. She was only three years old when he died (she was accidentally named "Laura" in the Salt Lake Telegram article), but she, and I imagine her entire family, carried his memory for many, many decades.
I was able to pinpoint the location of Vernon's death: Orange Street, between 200 and 300 South, just West of Redwood Road in Salt Lake City. It was a little over one mile from the Mitchell home on Iola Avenue. In the 1920 census there were four homes between 200 and 300 South: (204) Alexander Winter's family, (246) Ludwig Pollei's family, (260) Fredrick Rombach's family [all from Germany], and (280) George Spliethof, from Holland. That block of Orange Street, part of the Lake Breeze subdivision, barely escaped destruction by a large freeway interchange, and is now an industrial area. The irrigation ditch is gone, and there are no trees to speak of. There is no hint of this tragic event - no memory of small houses, immigrant families, summer storms, or enterprising young paperboys.
By the way, I scrolled to the front page of the Ogden Standard Examiner from the day the article was posted about his death, and was surprised to find this historic headline. A good reminder that you just never know what you might happen upon in your research:
1. "Weather," Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), Tuesday, 17 August 1920, page 1, banner; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
2. "Weather," Ogden Standard Examiner (Utah), Tuesday, 17 August 1920, page 1, banner; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
3. "Telegram Boy Killed by Lightning," Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), Wednesday, 18 August 1920, page 9; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
4. "Lightning Kills Newspaper Boy," Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah), Wednesday, 18 August 1920, page 3; online database with images, Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 18 April 2018).
5. "Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961," database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 April 2018), entry for Vernon Ronald Mitchell, 17 August 1920, Salt Lake County; citing "Death Certificates, 1904-1961," Series Number 81448, Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.
6. 1920 U.S. census, Salt Lake County, Utah, population schedule, Salt Lake City (Precinct 40), ED 119, sheets 18A and 19B (penned), [dwellings/families not enumerated]; imaged at Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 April 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1866.
Leave a Reply.
I'm Ginger Ogilvie, and I am absolutely, hopelessly hooked on genealogy!
© Keep Family History Services 2023