HOPKINTON – Through the trials and tribulations of the good old days, it is amazing what some of our ancestors survived.

In May of 1886, two-year-old George Messerve of Hope Valley happened upon a collection of glass beads. Believing they were candy, he put them into his mouth, chewed them up and swallowed them. Soon after he was administered a medication to make him vomit, he heaved up almost a teaspoonful of broken glass.

On a Friday night, around 10 p.m., in June of 1888, a strange man appeared at the Wyoming boarding house where Lillian Campbell lived. He told her that her brother was seriously injured in Voluntown and wanted to see her. Lillian got into the man’s buggy and they headed toward the forested Connecticut State line. As soon as the buggy entered the woods, the man bound her hands and told her he had been hired by two men who planned to assault her at a location he was bringing her to.

Lillian started screaming and the man grabbed her throat. She cried and begged him to let her go. He refused until he realized her had taken a wrong turn and wasn’t headed in the right direction. He turned around and drove the buggy back toward Wyoming. As they passed the Hopkinton home of 70-year-old farmer Nathan Lewis Richmond, Lillian jumped out of the buggy and ran to her boarding house. About three hours had passed and her neck bore marks from his hands. Unfortunately, she had no information for police which could identify her kidnapper.    

The following month, on a warm summer evening, the small daughter of George Larkin of Hopkinton had the misfortune of falling while a lead pencil was clamped in her mouth. The pencil stabbed through her palate and went through the back of her head. A physician quickly put the child to sleep with ether and removed the pencil, which measured a little over two inches long.

In May of 1890, 24-year-old William Carpenter was out in his boat fishing just above the falls of the Nichols & Langworthy Machine Company where he was employed. The strong current pulled the boat over the dam and Carpenter jumped out, landing unharmed on the rocky ledge 13 feet below.

A short time later, 47-year-old Henry Sprague and some other men attempted to pull in the boat through the use of lines and large hooks. When one of the hooks slipped, it hit Sprague in the face, ripping his flesh open from the side of his nose all the way down to his mouth. Sprague was stitched up and three years later, Carpenter married his daughter.   

In March of 1899, 66-year-old Hannah Maria (Larkin) Burdick, of Rockville, felt a large cyst on the back of her neck break open. She had carried the cyst for 40 years and estimated it held about a pint of fluid.  

During the winter of 1920, 55-year-old Herbert Lewis, was entering Bailey’s woolen mill, where he was employed as a foreman, when a large icicle broke from the eaves and hit him on the head. It was feared he had suffered a fracture of the skull but no breaks were found and he returned to work two days later.

Today’s family trees would be missing many branches had our ancestors not survived such bizarre accidents and events.

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