About Me

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Setting the Record Straight, Part II

I must apologize, Dear Reader, for taking five months to get back to the second installment of the story of Fred Shone. Like Rock Springs Park, it seems I closed down for the winter. I am back, however, and ready to add weekly, if not daily updates to this blog. Stay tuned for a new feature entitled, "This Day in Rock Springs Park History," in which I tell of events that occurred in the over 100-year history of the park based on the calendar date. But today, I must conclude the tragic story of the death of Fred Shone at Rock Springs Park and his great-nephew’s search for him which I began to recount last fall. If you review my blog post of Tuesday, October 18, 2011, you will be reminded of its content. I wrote for the second time of a drowning in Rock Springs Park in June of 1913. Fred Shone, aged 20, drown in the Crystal Pool. Fred’s great-nephew, Sayre W. Graham, Jr., read an earlier account of this accident on my blog and wrote me.

“I saw the mention of the drowning of Fred Schoen in 1913. Schoen was a misspelling; his name was actually Fred Shone (Alfred J) whom, had he lived, would have been my Mother's uncle.”

Graham went on to say that after reading my blog about Fred he stumbled across some papers in his father’s study about the accidental drowning.

“Whoa!” Graham reflected, “I started thinking that Great Uncle Fred wants me to set the record straight.”

It was my purpose last October to help Graham help Shone “set the record straight” by reflecting on the loss as more than just a historic footnote. Graham’s discovery and follow up research shows Fred’s death as a double-edged tragedy, for both the bereaved and the victim.

“I had no intention of bringing this up,” Graham wrote, “because I figured it wasn't all that interesting to anyone outside the family. But then, on the very same day that I read about Fred in your blog, I had to stop by Dad's house to pick up some papers that my sister had left for me. I opened the drawer where the papers were supposed to be and found them, along with a shoe box. Being the nosy type, I had to see what was in the box, and I opened it to discover it was full of old letters and such from my Mother's side of the family. One of the items in the box was a weekly calendar kind of thing from 1913 that my maternal Grandfather, William H. Thompson, had used as a sort of daily journal. This was four years before he married my Grandmother, Flora Shone, Fred's sister. I was flipping through, just sort of scanning it when an entry caught my eye. It was the entry for June 18, 1913. It was an account of Fred's drowning.”

In his brief journal entry, Thompson paints a very real picture of the sadness associated with the sudden, accidental, unexpected and traumatic death of a loved one.

Touched by this account, Graham and his wife, Debbie, set out to “find” Uncle Fred.

“My wife and I spent an hour or so most evenings for the next two or three weeks tramping around in three different cemeteries just randomly looking for him. I finally stumbled across him at Riverview. I then contacted Ruth Stenger, the superintendant at Riverview, and told her what I was up to. She dug up (pun intended) the cemetery records for Fred and a week later she sent me a copy of his obit!” (Read a portion below, right.)

The article goes on to explain that one of Fred's friends, Alfred Patterson, found him and "dove to the bottom of the pool and brought the body to the surface." It was only then that all realized what had happened.

Dr. J.L. Pyle, the park physician was immediately summoned, "all to no purpose as Shone had been dead fully 20 minutes before his arrival." Dr. Pyle and Dr. Hobbs, who arrived later, tried every means of resuscitation known at the time.

"G.C. Severs of Chester, who was seated on the hillside opposite the swimming pool, was the only eye witness to the fatal plunge. He said that the young man dropped headlong into the water, as if diving, and on that account he naturally thought nothing more about the incident until notified of the drowning.”

The obituary concludes with mostly standard details and tells of Fred’s employment as a decorator at a local pottery.

Graham explained, “I had everything I needed except for a picture.”

This he found in an online yearbook.

“I found a 1911 East Liverpool yearbook (Keramos) online and located Fred's picture. Problem was, it was a preview of a reprint of the yearbook that is for sale at Amazon for $80, and his pic was too small to use. I contacted the East Liverpool Historical Society and they scanned his image from a real 1911 Keramos and emailed it to me. I just got it the other day.”

The quote Fred or perhaps his classmates chose for his yearbook photo is taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It is a remark made by a citizen of Rome following Marc Antony's famous funeral oration "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

Antony concludes, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

For Fred, let be said, that we remember his goodness nearly 100 years after his death. He is and was well thought of by family and friends by all accounts. He was a local artisan who, like thousands of other workers of the time, was given a day off to relax and picnic at the park across the river. Unfortunately, a fun frolic in the icy spring waters of Crystal Pool ended as all tragedies must.

"But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him? O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with (him), and I must pause till it come back to me."

Additional research notes and images from Graham:

“Alfred (Alf) Shone at Rock Springs - Fred and Flora's father, my Great Grand Father. His name is written on the back of the picture, in pencil, and there are two lines of writing below the name that I can't make out. I think I can see 1888, but I can't be sure. I wonder if the catch basin and wooden planking were there at that time.”

Alf’s obituary.

Alfred (Fred) J. Shone’s Riverview Cemetery Record.

(All images except Image 1 are courtesy of Sayre W. Graham, Jr.)

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