Saturday, December 8, 2012

Theo Carson’s Close Encounter By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Theodore William Carson

Every once in a while, as I transcribe diaries and journals, I come across small nuggets of gold.

Delving into Emma Jane Carson’s journals is not for the weak-hearted because of the number of journals--more, it is the foolish who choose to begin, so you see where I stand!

To catch up on family genealogy, Emma Carson, daughter of William Carson and Jane Livingston, married Bryant Taylor (B.W.), and was the mother of Floyd and Lloyd, among other children.

Emma came from a large and close, loving family of Carsons. Emma had five brothers—Albert, Theodore, George, Edward and Harry. She had two sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Anna. Theodore was three years younger than Emma, so they were close in age, and close in actuality, as he often stayed overnight to help when Emma and Bryant’s children were young.

After Emma married, most of the Carsons remained in the area with the Taylors only a short buggy or train ride away.

On to my nugget of interest:

In her 1888 journal for December 5th, 1888, Theo's sister, Emma Carson Taylor writes:

"We were terribly shocked this morning to get a large letter from Anna (Emma’s sister) to Bryant telling us the sad news that Theo had accidentally shot himself last Friday, but was now doing as well as could be expected. We are waiting the result. We cannot help but cry ‘Oh God, spare him!’”

The twenty-five year old Theo was working for a year as a farm hand in a nearby town. He had not spent Thanksgiving with his family, but stayed on the farm. Orrin Taylor, brother of B.W.--again showing that the Carsons and Taylors were close as family friends-- was spending Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with Theo who was two years older than Orrin. About three o’clock while they were shooting at a target, Theo tried to make sure his footing was good before taking aim and instead slipped, arms flailing to attempt to catch himself. With that, the revolver went off, the ball entering his head above his ear.

Emma then transcribes a letter from her father, William, who rushed from his home to help Theo. William writes to his wife Jane and his children; Jane and their children at home read the letter and then sent it on to Emma and Bryant:

“It is a great comfort to see him as well as he is, and there is a faint hope that he may come through it. I hope you will have grace to be resigned. It is a hard thing to bear, but let us put our trust in our Heavenly Father hoping for the best. All of you pray for him and for yourselves, and let us say ‘Thy Will be Done.’ If there is any change for the worst I will telegraph to you. I remain your Husband and Parent, Mr. Carson.”

By Sunday, two days after the accident, William again writes:

“He is just now eating breakfast, sitting up in his bed. If you were here and could see him, the pleasant look and smile on his face would do you good. He feels as we all do, that it was a very sad affair, yet he is so resigned to whatever the result may be that nothing seems to bother him, only as it seems to make others trouble. When I got here, he could not speak, but was sensible, and knew me. Pretty soon he could talk and almost the first thing he said to me was that it was all right with him, let the result be what it would, but how will Mother stand it?”

By Monday, Father again writes to his worried family:

“It really does look as if he is going to be around again in a very short time. The Dr. says that there is a possibility that if the ball is inside of the bone that it may remain there and never make him any trouble. So we will hope for the best, and put our trust in him who said to the singing waters peace, be still and there was a great calm.

Four o’clock and fifteen minutes, Monday a.m., Wm. Carson”

Theo and Eunice Carson, 1897

Theodore William Carson did live to tell about this accident with, as far as we know, no lasting side effects. He married nine years later, and lived to the age of 43. While not the longest life, he DID make it past this event in his young life.


Sue Kinsella said...

How terrifying this must have been to Emma! And it appears that she didn't even know about it until the result had become evident. What if he had died before she got any letters?

Your quote says that she got the letter about it on December 5, 1888. That was Wednesday and the accident happened the previous Friday. In the interim, it looks like all her father's letters were written about the course of events after he got to Theo's bedside and before Emma even knew anything had happened. Maybe the fat letter that her sister sent to Bryant (why to B.W., maybe to give him a heads-up because this would be so upsetting to Emma?) included all the letters that had first gone to her family home and then been sent on to her?

It's hard to imagine someone surviving such an accident in 1888 - 124 years ago. Either they were a lot tougher then than I imagine, or their medicine was better than I thought - or their bullets weaker? Thanks for the pictures - they add a lot to the story.

Pat, I so appreciate all your, Mom's and Jim's genealogical research into the Taylor-Baker ancestors!

Pat said...

It would hard to get information like this so after the fact. While they often wrote letters twice a day and actually had some deliveries twice a day, they must have waited to tell Emma.

What a story!

Aunt CB said...

I may be wrong, but I think this event occurred in the Geneseo area, where Theo had cousins and Orrin was attending school. This is a 45 minute drive today from Bethany where William lived, today.

The mother referred to was Jane Carson, Theo's mother, who lived to see 5 of her 8 children die before she did, as well as her husband William.

Theo, as stated, did go on to marry, and fathered 2 children, a girl and a boy. Charles Carson, the boy, eventually became the head of a Rochester bank and was instrumental in founding "Valley Manor", an assisted living home on East Ave. run by the Presbyterian Church. I knew him well and when we dined, he'd always say pre-meal, when offering a glass of wine, "Have a little dividend?"
Had Theo died from the gun accident, see what would have never occurred?