Here Lies One Tough Dude

by Debbie on April 8, 2013

Andrew Marriner's headstone doesn't hint at the gruesome accident that took his life.

Andrew Marriner’s headstone doesn’t hint at the gruesome accident that took his life.

You can only find out so much about an ancestor by looking at census records and vital records. I followed the trail of census records to discover the identity of my fourth great grandfather, Andrew B. Marriner, and noted he identified himself as a 30-year-old “laborer” on the 1850 census. The family lived in Howell Township for much of the 19th century, and I was amused to learn their post office was identified as “Turkey.” I live just a few miles from the part of Howell once known as Turkey. In fact, I hike the trails of Turkey Swamp Park regularly, but now I do so wondering if I’m walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.

Through the Find a Grave website, I discovered he died in 1902, and was buried in the cemetery at the Ardena Baptist Church. I’d driven past that cemetery dozens of times, without knowing I had ancestors buried there!

But as interesting as these finds were, they didn’t tell me much about who Andrew Marriner was, or how he lived. For that, I started digging through old newspaper archives. And that’s when I stumbled on the gruesome tale of how my fourth great grandfather died.

From the Red Bank Register (December 10, 1902):


An Aged Man Falls Against a Circular Saw – Andrew Marriner of Ardena, in Howell township, met with an accident in Maps’s saw mill at that place a few days ago that will probably cost him his life. Mr. Marriner is 83 years old. He was watching the men in the mill when he tottered and fell against a circular saw that was in operation. One of his arms was sawed almost in two and a wound was made in his side that exposed his lungs. Only the prompt action of a mill employee in dragging him from the saw saved him from instant death. His recovery is doubtful, his chances being lessened by his advanced age.

Good Lord! I get queasy just thinking about it. And as predicted, he didn’t survive long. Just two days later, the following obituary appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (December 12, 1902):


ASBURY PARK, N.J. Dec. 11 – Andrew B. Marriner, of Yellow Brook, aged 82 years, is dead as the result of a terrible accident. He fell against a circular saw and his right arm was severed and his side gashed open to within an inch of his spine. He walked to his home, half a mile away, and sat down in a chair until a physician arrived. He died a short time after.

After reading the gory details of his demise, I felt compelled to visit the cemetery where he’s buried. I didn’t find a headstone for him, but if I could inscribe one for him today, it would read “Here lies Andrew B. Marriner. He was one tough dude.”

Mom April 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Very well written!!! I wonder if there is a place where we can find out where his grave actually is. Did you know that from find a grave or did you just walk around and look? Good job Deb!

Debbie April 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I knew he was buried at that cemetery from Find a Grave, so I just went and walked around. It’s a small church cemetery. I did find the headstone for his son Andrew and his daughter-in-law, so I’m guessing the father is buried in that same plot, just without a stone. I think the church may have records. I’ll have to stop there again and ask.

Mom April 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

That sounds like a plan! You amaze me. You’re really hooked. I just read the article to Dad and your comments after it made me get all teary. Someone cares, that’s a good thing.

Robert Freestate November 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm

What a great researcher you are. And so entertaining.

Robert Freestate November 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm

What a great researcher you are. And so entertaining. This comment may appear twice because I lied and said that 9 + 3 =57. This time I will not tell a lie.

KTC April 19, 2016 at 9:56 am

I never knew about this! What a horrible way to go!

Andrew Marriner was my 5th great-uncle. His brother John was my 4th great-grandfather.

Thanks for sharing this piece of family history, Debbie.

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