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Newsworthy Fatalities

Recent news about deaths from natural disasters, accidents, and crimes made me wonder how many deaths in my own family occurred this way. These events cut a life short, so they usually make the news. As a genealogist, I try to collect this information as part of my research. I have found several news stories in my own family tree.

Working back in time, here is my list of our twentieth century fatal events:

  • Hugo Alexander Mattila (1918-1987) died in a home fire in Gainesville, Florida,
  • Betty Karoline Johansen Harrigan Cummings (1904-1954) was murdered by a local handyman in her Seattle, Washington home,
  • Johan Martin Johansen (1889-1947) drowned in the Gulf of Alaska after being swept overboard from a fishing boat during a storm,
  • Alexander Mattila (1878-1945) died due to trauma from being hit by a train as he walked home along the railroad tracks in Hibbing, Minnesota,
  • Francis Edmonds (1876-1944) fell from a horse and broke his neck while herding sheep in the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana,
  • Rose Wilhelmina Mattila Porras (1896-1941) froze to death in a snowbank in Hibbing, Minnesota,
  • Owen Herbert Reed (1896-1935) died from injuries received in a truck accident near Brighton, Colorado.

Only one of these deaths, the Seattle murder, resulted from a crime. Another, the drowning, occurred during a storm. The rest were accidents.

Now we find ourselves well into the twenty-first century, and we have had no deaths from anything other than natural causes. With all the danger in our modern world, we can count ourselves lucky.

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