Boiler Explosion

| September/October 1967

Route 2, Box 64A, Topeka, Ind. 46571

On Wednesday afternoon, February 22, 1882, the 20-Horse-Power engine owned and used by Henry Troyer and George Stutzman, at their saw-mill, on the farm of David Helmuth near Carlisle, Ohio, exploded killing five men. (So stated the Iron-Valley Reporter Extra, of Canal Dover, Ohio, dated Monday, February 27, 1882.)

Those killed were: George Stutzman, Leonard Hershberger, Michael Immel, and Andrew Beechy, and Elias Beechy, the latter two were sons of Benjamin Beechy. George Stutzman, the engineer, was thrown about 175 feet. His left leg was blown off at the knee and a piece from the knee eight inches toward the hip was blown off, and the hip was torn loose. The body was naked except for the right boot and the lower part of a pantaloon leg. His right arm was broken between the hand and elbow the left arm torn off at the shoulder, as clean and smooth as though cut with a knife; it was broken above and below the elbow. He had burst open and part of his internal organs were out of him. Elias Beechy, age 16, was thrown 60 feet and scalded some but not disfigured and no bones were broken. Nearly all of his clothes were stripped from his body. Andrew Beechy, age 20, was blown 360 feet, and those who saw him said he was 70 or 80 feet in the air. He landed in a plowed field and his body bounced 20 feet. His leg was torn off above the knee and thrown 100 feet up a slope. His face had been considerably disfigured. Leonard J. Hershberger, almost 18 years of age, was picked up 168 feet from the engine. The top of his head was blown off, from the eyebrows up. The skull was picked up half way between the body and the engine. There were no bones broken. The body of Michael Immel, 57 years of age, was found nearly stripped. There was a hole knocked in his head, his abdomen was torn open and his bowles were scattered about; the right leg was broken close to the knee and his neck was broken. Michael Stutzman had one leg smashed. The leg was amputated the next day between the ankle and the knee. His whole face had been scalded by the steam and being thrown on the saw dust made it look as though it was covered by one large brown scab. He could partly open one eye, and knew and conversed with his acquaintances.

On the fatal day, after dinner, Andrew Beechy and his brother came over from their home a mile away to roll in some logs for their father. Michael Immel came down from his home for the same purpose. The explosion left pieces of iron, lumber, and clothing scattered about. In the mill yard were lying hats, boots, mittens, suspenders, pieces of shirts, pants, coats, boiler iron, castings, flues and the like. One piece of the iron had been thrown over the house of David Helmuth and had buried itself in the ground. One end of the boiler with the flues sticking in it flew almost directly toward the house, mashing down a rail fence and a big gate. The boiler had fifty-five flues, thirty-three of which were still in the flue head. A large piece whizzed within three or four feet of Henry Troyer, while two pieces of boiler and the body of George Stutzman were whirled right over his head.

Winter has its advantage: No lawn to mow, no garden to take care of; nights are as warm or as cool as you care to make them, and it is so dark you can get to as early as you wish.'