How My Great-Great Grandma Lost Her Arm

I have been wondering about the details of my great-great grandmother’s accident since I was a little girl. I remember by Grandma Donna telling me that her grandmother had lost her arm in a carriage accident.  She didn’t tell me any details though – or maybe I just don’t remember them.  Grandma Donna unfortunately died before I started on my genealogy journey, so I couldn’t ask her again about the family stories she knew.

I was later given confirmation of this story, when a distant cousin sent me this picture of Sally Jane (Lee) Agee:

She did indeed only have one arm.  And she quilted!! I think this is especially amazing since I can’t even quilt with two arms – and a sewing machine!:)

I also had the following information in her 1934 obituary, which I found on my first trip to Mount Ayr, Iowa.  “Twenty-two years ago Mrs. Agee lost her arm in an accident and through all the years has been a constant sufferer.”  So, I knew that she probably lost her arm in about 1912.  Unfortunately, I was short on time and couldn’t search for it.

That was years ago and I’ve been wondering about the accident this whole time.  This past week, I talked my husband into taking a day trip up to Mount Ayr again.  This time, I was completely prepared to read through the entire year’s worth of newspaper (or more) to find out what happened.  Thankfully, I only had to read through half the year, because I found this in June 1912 in the Mount Ayr Record-News:

“Mrs. A. Agee, of Delphos, who with her daughter Viva and son John, were going to visit her daughter, Mrs. Guy Fisher, south of Delphos Friday afternoon.  When going down a hill the shaft came down, caught in the ground and overturned the buggy.  The occupants were thrown out and Mrs. Agee’s arm was broken above the elbow in such a way that the doctors were unable to set it.  She was taken to the hospital in St. Joseph Saturday morning where the arm was amputated.  Mrs. Agee underwent the operation nicely and at last report she was getting along as well as could be expected.”

I was so happy to finally have some of my questions answered.  I hadn’t realized that her daughter Viva (my great-grandmother) was in the buggy with her.

It must have been a horrific thing to have happened to her.  They transported her to St. Joseph, MO – which is about 100 miles away.  And in the days before airlifting people by helicopter, that was a long ways to go.

She seems to have recovered from her trauma soon enough, because just a couple of months later, I found newspaper tidbits, saying that she was out visiting people.

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  • Heather Roelker - May 28, 2011 - 11:12 am

    I love to quilt and I am constantly amazed by hand-quilters, which I’m sure is how your gg-grandma quilted. I can see how she could have done the quilting on a frame, but how on earth did she manage the piecing?!?! It’s amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - May 28, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    Congrats on solving the mystery. And adding the fun stuff to your genealogy! (I can’t even sew a button with two hands…)ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lee - May 28, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    OH WOW! I wish that there was a “like” button :D What an incredible find & story to share. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - May 28, 2011 - 5:21 pm

    Wow!! I love to hand quilt and couldn’t imagine doing it with only one hand. What a fantastic woman!! She certainly accomplished alot with only one arm! Great story-thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Cayemberg - May 29, 2011 - 1:31 am

    Glad you found the story! How awful that journey to the hospital must have been. How luck the children weren’t hurt!ReplyCancel

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