Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1915 Accidental Death?

1915 Accidental Death?
After the 1906 fall freeze fruit trees died, farms were lost, families moved away and Casco was devastated.  The feeling of great loss was what I assume surviving victims of the San Francisco 1906 earthquake must have felt. We were thankful to be alive, as some 3,000 people died a result of the earthquake.  Life went on in Casco and after several years of replanting many of us fruit growers were back in production.  We all worked to diversify our fruit crops.  I added cherries, plums, pears, and more apples and peaches.  We all sought the highest land available to limit future freeze and frost damage. 
Our son Bill attended South Haven High School and was a very good student.  Being our only child, Daisy tended to shelter Bill from any possible harm.  When I could get him from under her wing, he was a hard worker on the farm.  It was no secret that Daisy and I did not see eye to eye on raising Bill and a whole lot of other things.  We had a loveless working relationship.  Then on May 14, 1915 I took my rifle out toward the orchards.  The last think I remember was  - BOOM!!!!!!  

NOTE - That ends the William Albert Overhiser (11Jan1857-14May1915) “first person” account of his life as written by Martin Overhiser based on records, stories and conjecture.

Lost Hope
Today I read about a man who shot himself because he lost his hat,
He was old, and of course, they say he was depressed.
I think not.
I think he’d just had all the losses he could take.
He said as much.
His last words were, “O God, now I’ve lost my hat, too.”
I know how he felt.
Every time you turn around, time – with a little help from
your friends – grabs off something else.  Something
Precious. At least to you.
Gone – Mother. Wife. Sons. Hearing. Sight. Health. Pets. Her Respect.
Finally, you lose the thing you can’t do without – hope
(that it can get better).
Dear God, when he gets to heaven, let him find his hat on the gatepost.
Adapted poem “Losses” From Green Winter – Celebration of Old Age by Elise Maclay 1977

Ward Was There
On June 15, 1980 I (Martin O) talked with Ward Overhiser (4May1896-17Sept1994) about Albert’s death.  Ward was a nephew and lived on his father’s farm west of Albert.  Ward said, “I was one of the first people to get to Albert’s body. He was just north of the large barn with his right foot up on the fence and a bullet hole in his head.  He had been out grubbing around fruit trees and went into the house, got a 22 riffle and told Daisy he was going out to shoot a crow.  A hired hand found the body and he had been dead for some time as the blood on his head had dried.” 

Ward went on to tell more.  In 1917 (2 years later) he was working on a large dairy farm in Hinsdale Illinois with his Uncle Lonson (Albert’s brother).  Lonson told Ward, that two weeks before Albert’s sudden death, Albert had said he had thought of shooting himself.  The reason he gave was that Daisy was so hard to live with and that she would not go anywhere with him in public.  Ward's conclusion to all he knew was that Albert's death might not have been an accident.  In defense of Daisy, Albert might also have been very hard to live with.  She never remarried and left Casco to lead her own life in Kalamazoo.  Next blog will start the Bill and Edna time on the farm.

At the Farm (June 1, 2010)
Fruit will be plentiful at the retail building and for u-pick but some of the production crops will be light this year. Don’t forget to visit the farm website and print out a 10% off u-pick coupon.  Sweet cherries will be ripe for the 4th of July weekend, so come on out.

Some of the production crops will be light this year because of the Mother’s Day weekend freeze.  In one section north on the homestead farm an east wind blew cold air from the lower areas to some orchards on higher ground.  Some peaches and apples were lost, especially Red Delicious.  On Memorial Day over 2" of rain caused some washouts.  In one orchard, just planted, a few trees got washed away and Allan has not yet found them.  Oh, the fun and excitement of running a fruit farm.