Will County Newspaper Stories
Suicides and Accidents
FATAL ACCIDENT, LEMONT IL, DEC 18,1867
A very serious accident occurred today among the workmen employed in deepening the Illinois & Michigan Canal at this point, under the superintendence of Mr. J. H. Mallory, whereby the life of an unfortunate man, named James Shaw, was lost. The facts are as follows; at noon today some twenty or twenty-five men went into the engine house to eat their dinners. Soon afterwards several blasts went off, when a stone, weighing some three hundred and fifty pounds, from one of the blasts, was thrown to a great height, coming down in its descent directly through the roof of the engine house, at a point where Shaw and three others were eating their dinners out of one basket, instantly killing Shaw. It was a miraculous escape for the three men, who were seated within four feet of the unfortunate man, and, indeed, for the whole party, as the stone in descending broke a valve off the engine, cause a copious escape of steam. It was but a few days ago, when a building of our friend Boyer, near his works, was slightly "caved-in" by a "pebble" weighing but a few pounds less than the one above mentioned- No serious damage was done however. X. "The Independent", Wilmington, IL newspaper, dated Dec 25, 1867 (src. #2)
A most serious accident, and miraculous escape from death, occurred a little above Lockport at an early hour on Monday morning of last week. Messrs W. A. Steel, Henry A. Sanger, and Jas. O'Reilly, the latter the foreman of the rock excavation work for Messrs. Sanger, Steel & Co., were riding in the buggy of Mr. W. B. Caswell, along the tow path about two miles above Jack's Lock, when, at a slight curve, one hand wheel commenced sliding in and down, and before the buggy could be righted the three gentlemen were precipitated down the embankment over the rocks, some twelve feet and landed in the canal below, with the horse and buggy on them. Messrs. Sanger and O'Reilly only received a few slight bruises, but Mr. Steel was taken out from under the buggy in an unconscious state, and notwithstanding everything possible was done for his relief, he remained in this condition till Wednesday morning, since which time his physicians report him improving. We are glad to note that his friends hope for his complete recovery soon. The horse, though a spirited one, stood quietly in the canal after his rough fall, with both thills of the buggy broken and hanging at his sides. "The Independent", Wilmington, IL newspaper, dated Mar 4, 1868 (sub by Sandy Vasko)
TERRIBLE DISASTER NEAR LEMONT
A fatal accident occurred at Lemont, on Wednesday last. A blast had been put in on section 53, just below Lemont, on the Norton canal deepening contract, but as it did not explode the men were engaged in "tamping" it with a "needle" or "priming wire," when, as is supposed, the friction of the instrument ignited the powder, and the blast exploded. Three men were instantly killed, a fourth died early next morning, and a fifth was seriously wounded, but will probably recover. The names of three of the killed are Kelley, who leaves a wife and several children, Ed. Farrell and Leahy, both single men. "The Independent", Wilmington, IL newspaper, dated Mar 11, 1868 (sub by Sandy Vasko)
JOLIET - J.C. DUGAN, engineer of the Denver-Chicago limited train No. 6 of The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad, east bound for Chicago, was probably fatally injured when the train dashed into an open switch in the heart of the city, plunged over the steep elevated embankment and hurled itself into a street in the residence district of Joliet. The train was speeding through the city at 50 miles an hour when it plunged over the embankment into the busy street. The fireman and an air brake man, whose names could not be learned, jumped as the engine left the tracks, but the engineer stuck to his throttle and went down in the cab. The engine, its tender and a baggage car were almost demolished. Dugan was taken to St. Joseph's hospital by the police. He lives in Calumet avenue, Chicago. "Ste. Marie Tribune", Jasper County, IL newspaper, dated Friday, November 21, 1913 (sub by K. Torp)
Moritz EKHARDT, living near Lockport, Will County, blew the top of his head off a few days since. He was a farm hand, but one of evident anarchist tendencies, for in his room were found a number of socialist papers and several of Herr Most's incendiary pamphlets. "The Newton Press", Jasper County, IL newspaper, dated July 27, 1887 (sub by K. Torp)
Mokena Man Commits Suicide by Shooting Self
Thomas HOMERDING, aged 40 years, a resident of Mokena for quite a number of years, ended his life Monday afternoon by shooting himself in the chest with a shot gun. He committed the deed while at home alone following a domestic spat earlier in the day.
For quite some time there was domestic discord between Homerding and his wife and last July she sued him for divorce on the grounds of cruelty. After a brief separation the couple patched up their differences and lived together again but of late the same old discord flared up again.
Mrs. Homerding who is employed at the munitions plant left for her work about two o'clock Monday afternoon. Homerding was seen on the streets of Mokena about four o'clock when he headed for his home located in the rear of the Helenhouse blacksmith shop.
Shortly after four o'clock Mrs. Anton Benson was on her way to the flag shanty at the Wolf Road crossing where her husband is flagman when she heard Homerding calling "Mr. Benson, come help me". She rushed to the flag shanty and told her husband what she had heard. Mr. Benson rushed over to the Homerding cottage and saw Homerding lying in the open doorway face down. Mr. Benson then hurried back to the flag shanty and told Mrs. Benson to tell Mayor Harry F. Mall to get aid. The latter quickly responded. He summoned Dr. E. G. McMahon and called the Will County Sheriff's office. Fred Steinhagen and Mayor Mall went to the Homerding place. Looking in the open door Mayor Mall saw a pool of blood and a gun lying on the floor. Homerding was still able to talk. Mayer Mall asked "Who shot you Tommy"? and Mayor Mall states Homerding replied "I did it myself".
Homerding had evidently aimed to hit his heart, but the shot gun blast missed the heart but tore a hole thru the left lung. Upon the arrival of Sheriff Ralph Newkirk and a deputy Homerding was placed in the sheriff's car and rushed to the Silver Cros hospital in Joliet where he died at 6:30 o'clock the same evening.
Surviving are the widow and three children, four sisters, Mrs. Norman Woock and Mrs. Fred Deckow of Lockport Mrs. John Carter and Mrs. Chas. Codar of Joliet and four brothers James of Lockport and Peter, Gilbert an Harold of Mokena.
Services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Goodale Funeral home, Lockport. Burial will be in the Lockport cemetery.
Homerding at one time was engaged in the painting and decorating business in Mokena.
Relatives of Mrs. Homerding told Mayor Mall that Homerding had made threats at various times to kill himself and his wife. [THE NEWS BULLETIN-MOKENA, WILL CO., IL, THURSDAY DECEMBER 31, 1942 - submitted by Donna Kendall]
SHOTGUN BLAST KILLS MOKENAN [possibly from Joliet paper]
Thomas HOMERDING, 40 years old, of Mokena, a munitions worker, died at Silver Cross Hospital last night of a shotgun wound in his chest. He was taken to the hospital by deputies, after he was found bleeding on the floor of the kitchen at his home. A shotgun lay beside him, and Deputy Roy Deerflier reported that thee were indications that the wound was self-inflicted.
An inquest will be held tomorrow morning by Dr. E. A. Kingston, Will county coroner, he announced today.
Had Made Threats
Mrs. Effie Homerding, 33 years old, widow, who was notified of the death at the home of Robert G. Fugett, 11 Mississippi Avenue, told the deputies that she divorced the victim last July but they were reconciled three months later "for the sake of the children." The widow, the deputy said, told him that Homerding had been drinking heavily and had several times threatened to take his own life.
Surviving are the widow, three children, William, 16, Doris, 14, and Donald, 12; four sisters, Mrs. Norman Woock and Mrs. Fred Deckow, of Lockport, and Peter, Gilbert and Harold of Mokena.
Services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Goodale funeral home, Lockport. Burial will be in the Lockport cemetery. [Submitted by Donna Kendall]