Sunday’s Obituary – Maria Parmenter

For my first Sunday’s Obituary post I thought I would post the most interesting family obituary I have.  There were actually three obituaries in three different local papers.  I will transcribe two of them here.  These obituaries, as well as many others, came to me by way of my Aunt Terri.

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Friday, 3 May 1895:

“Our citizens were pained this morning on receipt of the intelligence that Mrs Parmenter, one of Marion’s oldest and most highly respected residents, had passed to the unknown beyond.  Her death occurred at an early hour this morning, and was, no doubt, wholly accidental, her remains having been discovered in a barrel filled with rain water, half sunk beneath the surface of the ground.  The coroner was notified but did not deem an inquest necessary, there being but little uncertainty as to the cause of her death.  The funeral services will occur tomorrow afternoon from the family residence, corner Third avenue and Twelfth street.”

From the Marion Sentinel:

“An Unusual Death. Mrs. Maria Parmenter, who has been a resident of Marion for a period of forty years, was found drowned in a rain barrel at 4 o’clock this morning.  At 2 o’clock her daughter Hattie, who has been living with her at their home in the south part of town, gave her mother medicine that had been prescribed for the afflictions that she has suffered for about two months.  A little later the daughter discovered that her mother had left her bed, and she aroused Stephen Parmenter’s family who live across the street.  Search was instituted and the startling and sad discovery was made.  Several weeks ago Mrs. Parmenter received a fall from which she apparently sustained some degree of mental injury, and since the death of her husband she has at times been despondent, and expressed the wish that she might be with him.  But those who know most about the case do not credit the theory of suicide.  Mrs. Parmenter was restless of nights, and would arise from her bed and go about the house seemingly in the discharge os some trivial tasks, and it is thought she went to clean out the rain barrel and while leaning over was seized with heart failure.  Her head was found resting on the bottom of the barrel in about nine inches of water.  Mrs Parmenter was born in Massachusetts in 1828.  She was an esteemed neighbor and friend, and her sad death has brought surprise and sorrow to many.  Two sons and two daughters mourn her death.  The funeral service will be held Saturday, the hour to be announced later.”

This poor ancestor’s accidental death really messes with my imagination as this sounds like something I might do.  I also am restless at nights sometimes and wander around doing trivial chores.  And my biggest fear is of drowning so drowning in a little bit of rain water would be ironic.  I can imagine myself doing something like sticking my head in a rain barrel to clean it in the wee hours of the morning when no one is awake and falling in and getting stuck.  What a way to go.


About Rosanna Ward

Rosanna is a devoted mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11 and 6 year old sons. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University: She grew up in Tulsa and has been homeschooling here for the past eleven years. Rosanna has loved family history for as long as she can remember and love genealogy for the stories of her ancestors.
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