A Frightful Fate

It never seems to fail that when I am looking for one thing, I find something else. I was attempting to find out when my great great grandmother, Sophia B Spiegel, died and where she is buried. Instead, I discovered the unusual fate of my great-great-grandfather’s second wife, Katherine G Spiegel. It seems that she died as the result of a gas explosion at their home in Dallas, Texas. I found this information in a newspaper published in a small town 300 miles south of Dallas.

I figure that Sophia, the mother of my great-grandmother Helen Spiegel Dobbs died sometime in the mid-1880s. She last appeared in the 1880 U.S. Census, and my great great grandfather, George C Spiegel, remarried about 1885. The woman he married was named Katherine Greuloch and was born in Germany around 1860 making her 20 years younger than George. According to George’s death certificate, he was a widower when he died in 1925.

I was searching the newspaper archives trying to find information on when Sophia died. I knew I would not find her death certificate because Texas, like most U.S. states, did not begin issuing birth and death certificates until after World War I. Instead, I found a newspaper article published in the January 29, 1924 edition of the Victoria Daily Advocate.

According to the article, Mrs. George C Spiegel, age 64, died at 7:30 o’clock Saturday morning at a Dallas, Texas hospital from internal hemorrhaging believed to have been caused by sudden fright when a room in her home caught fire from an explosion of gas.

With this information, I was able to locate Katherine’s death certificate. The details within line up with most of what is in the newspaper article; the main difference is that the death certificate gives her age as 68 years old. Also, it makes no mention of “fright” being a contributor to her death. Instead the cause of death is listed as Hemopericardium probably due to the trauma of the explosion.

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