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):
INJURED IN A SAW MILL
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):
FELL AGAINST A SAW AND DIED
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.”