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RASCELLE SWARTHOUT

ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING

Our citizens have been discussing the details of another awful tragedy since last Saturday. It was one of those sensational happenings which Paw Paw has seen in the past and likely will witness at future periods. It seems that we have always been unfortunate so far as these tragedies are concerned. Most of our readers can recall those to which refer as occurring the past. This one throws two families into deepest grief, which nothing can lessen except time. A bright and promising boy of eleven years and a half is resting in the cemetery and his companion whose carelessness caused his death is resting under the grievous knowledge that he is responsible for that death. No blame attaches to him, however, except for his carelessness.

Stephen Parker, Sidney Osterhout and Rascelle Swarthout went to the "Y" grove in the eastern part of town last Saturday afternoon to practice shooting at a mark. Steve had two revolvers, one a 22 the other a 32 and the boys were enjoying themselves with the sport, as boys will. Of a sudden, the revolver went off while in Parker's hands and the bullet entered young Swarthout's head just below the right eye. At the time the accident happened, Parker was standing, Swarthout was lying on the ground with one arm supporting his head, and the other boy was sitting on the ground with his back to the other two. Immediately as they saw what had occurred, the boys were badly frightened and Osterhout went for some water, thinking perhaps he might be brought around. In a few moments, there was a crowd on hand and the injured boy was taken to his home and Dr. Stetler was summoned to give him attention. The shooting happened at three o'clock and the victim lived until 6:35, without regaining consciousness. Nothing which a physician could do availed anything, for the bullet had penetrated the brain and death was but a matter of time.

There were those who demanded the arrest of young Parker, for he told some very funny stories under the excitement of the occasion for he was badly scared. There were few, however, who thought that murder had been done, and he was put under bonds to appear at the coroner's inquest, which was held on Monday. Coroner Smith came over from Amboy on Monday accompanied by States Attorney Wooster and the inquest was held in McLaughlin's hall. The following jurors were impanelled and after hearing the evidence, returned a verdict of accidental death by gun shot: W. I. Guffin, W. S. Berry, J. W. Larrabee, J. W. Mayor, H. H. Bristow, and John Harper. The evidence as given by the Osterhout boy made it clear that Parker had no intention of shooting Swarthout for there had been no quarrel and they were all having a good time. It was simply the result of careless handling of the revolver by Parker.

The Parker boy has borne an unenviable reputation as a boy who was smart beyond his years and has a really bad temper, being quite incorrigible at times. Yet, there are none who believe that he is the sort of a boy to have murder in his heart. His father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Parker are sadly grieved over the unfortunate affair and are hoping that the terrible occurrence will be a lesson that he will never forget.

The deceased was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Teal Swarthout. They were absent at Dixon when the shooting happened and though informed of it by telephone in a short time, were unable to reach home before their boy died. Mr. and Mrs. Swarthout have had much more than their share of earthly trouble, for it was but six years ago that they lost their only daughter, Gladys, a girl of nine years, who, while riding a bicycle, lost her balance and fell under a horse, and received injuries which resulted in her death that same night. Everything which sympathizing friends could do was offered them in this last bereavement and helped to make the burden lighter. Rascelle was a bright boy of good temperament and all the young boys and girls were his friends. He, like the other boys of the family, was making fast progress in music and promised to be a proficient scholar in that line. He was a member of the band and played a clarinet.

The members of the band attended the funeral in a body, four of them being attendant upon the duties of pall bearers, as follows: James Wheeler, Elmer Boslough, Fred Henry and Earl Davis.

The funeral was held at the home on Monday forenoon, and the people from miles about came to pay their respects to the deceased and the family. Rev. W. B. Slaughter preached the funeral sermon. For the funeral there was the following music; The Vireo Quartette consisting of Misses Orla Stetler, Frances and Stella Dalton and Frances Preston; Quartette, Mrs. Hicks, Miss Ella Mitchell, Messrs. Geo. Hicks and E. E. Mitchell. Prof. Kleinsmid, of Sandwich, sang a solo. The attendance at the obsequies was very large, there being many who could not gain entrance and the lawn and road was filled with sorrowing friends. A large company followed the corpse to the last resting place in the Frantz Grove cemetery where the grave had been dug and all traces of it covered up from sight.

Those who were here from a distance to attend the funeral were: Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Thompson, Mrs. Robert Smith, Clyde Smith, Dr. Marion White, Mr. Byington, Mrs. J. H. Thompson, Dixon; R. B. Swarthout, Danville; G. W. and Mrs. Thompson, Steward; M. L. Lyon and family, and Arthur Nevitt, Ashton; Mrs. L. I. Taylor, Mr. Haas and Mr. S. L. Jenks, Earlville; Mrs. J. B. Tucker and R. B. Kleinsmid, Sandwich; a number from Compton and other neighboring towns.

In it all, there is an everlasting lesson to parents who allow their boys to have firearms. A boy naturally has a fascination for a gun or a revolver, and will obtain one whenever he can if he has not been carefully warned against it, and often warnings have no effect. We have not made any inquiries as to whether Parker's parents knew of his being so well supplied with revolvers, but rest under the belief that they are satisfied that he should never handle another one. Boys will get revolvers and hide them away from the knowledge of their parents and get them out when they wish to use them.

Contributed by Marilyn Widler - Article dated about 1901 -

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