June 9, 1890: Mrs. Lewis Bechtel Dies from Strike by Lightning


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

June 9, 1890: A freak accident has taken the life of Mrs. Lewis Bechtel in Gabelsville. She was standing on her porch with her daughter Annie and servant, Arquilla Hertzog, watching a storm and its resultant lightning display, when lightning struck a walnut tree nearby and was conducted by a wire washline, that stretched from the tree to the porch and which she was apparently holding on to.

The current went through her arm, passed down her left side and out her shoe. The whole side of her body was terribly scorched and the flesh hung in threads. She was literally roasted alive and her clothing set on fire.

Miss Hertzog, stunned and speechless, fainted, but has recovered. Her daughter Annie was unharmed, as was the house. Mrs. Bechtel was 38 years old and is survived by her husband and 10 children, the youngest 18 months old.

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