Genealogy Bank Treasures: My Great-Great Grandma Was Hit By a Car

Family stories had been told that my great-great grandmother Christina Bergman (Kristina Katarina Söderlund) was hit by a car and killed, but that is all I knew.  I knew nothing of the circumstances or her injuries or even when it happened.

I did a simple search at GenealogyBank.com today and I’ve unearthed some great news articles about her death from the Seattle Daily Times.

A little background information first.  Christina was born 26 May 1852 in Ösaren, Valbo, Gävleborg, Sweden.  I have very little information about her childhood, but I know that she was born out of wedlock.  Her mother was married when Christina was about 11 years old and I”m not sure if she married Christina’s father, or someone else.  So many things to research!

Anyway, Christina married Lars Larsson Bergman in 1871, but her husband died of something alcohol-related just one month before their seventh child (my great-grandfather) was born.  She ended up immigrating to Seattle, WA one year after her bachelor son, David Bergman moved there.  They lived together in the Ballard neighborhood.

And on to the articles…

The first article I found was dated March 10, 1924.  She must have been in horrible pain and it breaks my heart that she lay in the hospital for several hours before she was identified – without any family around.  It doesn’t mention whether she was conscious or not, but with a fractured skull, I’m not sure.

Another little mention on March 11th.  There seem to have been quite a few car accidents reported.And also from March 11th, this article gives some more information on the accident.  She was hit by a 17-yr-old Ballard High School student, Fred Schultheis.  He was arrested and held in city jail over night.  He apparently didn’t have a driving permit.The coroner ordered an inquest.  My great-great grandmother was crossing the street on a Saturday night to attend a church function.  He said that he saw her before he hit her, but couldn’t stop his car in time to avoid the accident.He was found to be responsible for her death, by reason of gross negligence.  Some of the witnesses testified that the car kept going over 75 feet after she had been hit.  He wasn’t going over 20 miles per hour though (this was 1924).Despite the fact that he was found to be responsible, no charges were brought against him.  He was a minor and even though he was a negligent driver and didn’t have a license, there was no testimony to indicate that he was driving at an excessive rate of speed and Christina was crossing the street between intersections when she was hit.  Fred was driving the car without the authority of his father – and I bet he got in more trouble from him than he did with the law!! {this articled dated March 14, 1924}

I didn’t find an obituary for Christina Bergman, but I did find this Card of Thanks, dated March 20, 1924.

So now I know that my great-great grandma did in fact get hit by a car. I hope that the boy learned his lesson, but wasn’t haunted by the accident the rest of his life.  That would be a hard thing to live with.

This last article, the Card of Thanks, left me a little mystery – which may have been nothing but a typo.  The three children of Christina Bergman’s who were living in Seattle (that I know of) were Kerstin Elisabet (Mrs. Peterson), David Bergman (a bachelor), and my great-grandfather, Lars Julius Bergman.  My question is – who the heck is Talino?  That doesn’t sound very Swedish to me!  Maybe they just simply wrote the wrong name?

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  • Heather Roelker - February 23, 2012 - 8:36 pm

    I was thinking as I read this that living with what he did would be the worst punishment of all. Hopefully he was able to get over it.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - February 24, 2012 - 2:32 pm

      I agree Heather! It must have been an awful thing to have had to live with for the rest of his life. I hope that he was able to get past it.ReplyCancel

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