Fire & Death at A.E. Edwards Farm–

The Front page of the Turon Weekly, Thursday 30 June, 1921, covers the death of a local girl, Bernice, who helped my maternal grandparents, A.E. and Icea Edwards, with house and family.

My mother, born on 13 January 1921,  was a baby when the fire broke out. She told me that she and her sister Virginia were left in a safe spot outside while the rest of the family who were there unsuccessfully fought the fire. Bernice suffered extensive burns and died hours later.

At some point, my mother found and framed two items from the fire–small sewing scissors and a squashed thimble. Do any other Edwards relatives have relics from the fire, or know more about it? If so, click on the Comment option to the left.

Some years ago now, I took back to Australia the small frame, which my mother used to mount the two items. (My brother bought the house after my parents died, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to their possessions.)

At the Wichita Airport, I was pulled up by security for having a weapon in my carry-on. I thought they were crazy, until I saw the scan and realized it was the scissors. I explained what they were and what they meant. They told me to put them in my checked luggage or kiss them goodbye. Lucky it was a small airport. I raced back, and the staff at the check-in counter caught my bag just in time before it disappeared to be loaded onto the plane!

I’ve typed out the relevant articles from the Turon paper. Scroll down to read them.

img446033Newspaper article about fire and death at A.E. Edwards farm.

The paper provides an account of the fire, with the headline Fatally Burned (column 3),  a Card of Thanks from Bub and Pearle Edwards (col. 2), and Memorial, the death notice for Bernice Helen Hodson (col. 2) .

Some relatives will know more about the fire than I do. Mom said that Bernice was brought out of the house, horribly burned, and was put in the back of a wagon. She apologised to A.E. Edwards for her mistake. I’m not sure if she died there at the farm, or later. The obit mentions that Bernice was a member of Glendale Church. A.E. Edwards and his family were also members. The church is no longer there, but the Glendale cemetery is.
Does anyone know if the Rev. J.N. Edwards, of the Glendale church, is a relative of A.E. Edwards?

Fatally Burned

Miss Bernice Hodson of Sylvia, who was at the A.E. Edwards home six miles north of Turon, assisting Mrs. Edwards with the harvest work, was fatally burned Saturday evening about five o’clock when she attempted to hasten a slow fire in the kitchen range by pouring kerosene on it. The can was a 5-gallon one and contained only about a gallon of oil, leaving space for the accumulation of a good deal of gas.

The explosion which followed the attempt threw burning oil all over Miss Hodson and also set fire to the house. Mrs. Edwards was burned about the hands and arms in trying to save the girl, as also was Mr. Edwards, who was coming in from the field at the time of the explosion and hurried to the house as quickly as possible.

Miss Hodson was so terribly burned that she died at midnight and the house and contents were entirely destroyed. The property loss is partially covered by insurance.

Card of Thanks

We want to thank our friends and neighbors for their warm sympathy and generous assistance in our recent misfortune.

Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Edwards


Bernice Helen Hodson was born in Sylvia, Kans., Feb. 4th, 1903. She was converted and joined the United Brethren church at Glendale at the age of nine, was baptized by Rev. Givens and has lived a devoted Christian life ever since.

She went to her eternal home June 26th, 1921, aged eighteen years, five months and twenty-two days. She was president of the Christian Endeavor Society of Glendale and the last time she was at church led one of the best meetings ever held there.

She was graduated from the Sylvia High School in a class of fourteen, May 26th, 1921. She was very patent in time of suffering and all who knew her loved her. Her chosen life work was to help the sick and suffering.

She leaves to mourn her loss, her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. James Hodson, of Sylvia; one sister, Bertha; two brothers, Harry and Albert; an aged grandfather and grandmother, Mr. and Mrs. John Proctor of Nickerson; and a large number of relatives and friends.

Funeral services were held at the Glendale church Monday at 2 p.m., conducted by the pastor, Rev. J.N. Edwards. A mixed quartet from Sylvia furnished the music and six girls from her graduating class were pallbearers and her body was laid to rest in the Sylvia cemetery.




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