December 23rd 1934 was a cold but clear Sunday in Rochester, New Hampshire. My grandmothers younger brother Herbert Bowen was riding around town that afternoon with his friends Arthur and Eleanor when the unthinkable happened.
Arthur is behind the wheel when he spots a car backing out of a driveway. He hits the brakes but they are coming down a hill and the road is icy, he loses control and skids into a telephone pole. Herbert is dead on arrival, he was just 20 years old. The two friends are injured but survive.
What a horrible Christmas that must have been for all the families involved. My grandmother spoke fondly of her brother but I don’t recall any specific stories, just what a tragedy his death was. If any family members reading this know of any, please post a comment or send me an email.
Herbert Sewall Bowen was born 30 Aug 1914 in Edmunds, Maine to George and Bessie (Stanhope) Bowen. The family moved to Rochester shortly before the accident because work was scarce in Down East Maine at the time and George’s brother Myron had found a job a the W.H. Champlin box company. They lived in the same multi-family house on Knight street with Myron and his family until 1935 or 36 when they moved to Portland Street. My grandfather Vinny’s family lived on Portland Street, he and Doris married on 28 Nov 1936. George, Bessie and their other son Alton later moved to Meaderboro Road, not far from Walnut Street where Herbert was killed.
Transcription of the Rochester Courier article:
One Killed, Two Injured, As Car Skids Into Pole
Hubert Bowen, 20, Dies in Local Crash
Herbert Bowen of 21C Knight street was instantly killed and Arthur Fairweather, Jr., 18, same address, and Eleanor Hanson, 17, of Bow Lake were badly injured when an automobile, driven by Fairweather, skidded into a telephone pole on Walnut street, Sunday afternoon.
According to police, the car was coming down the hill on Walnut street. A car, driven by Albert C. Elgar of Hillsborough and Mrs. Ethel Fitch of East Rochester, was about to back out of a driveway, which was on the left of the approaching car. A collision did not occur as the Elgar car did not back into the street, but evidently Fairweather applied his brakes and his car skidded at full speed on the icy street into the telephone pole.
Bowen was taken to the Frisbie Memorial hospital and was pronounced dead on his arrival. Dr. Norman Chesley rendered aid to the other occupants of the wrecked machine.
Dr. Forrest L. Keay, medical referee of Strafford county, viewed the remains and pronounced that Bowen was instantly killed.
Fairweather had a bad cut on the forehead and another cut on the back of his head. Miss Hanson was cut and bruised.
State Officer Frank D. Manning and Traffic Officer Clyde Cotton were on the scene early, being closely followed by State Inspector Harold Foss of Dover.
An investigation was held at the City hall, County Solicitor Thomas J. McGreal of Somersworth in charge. All parties involved were questioned and the accident was declared unavoidable.
Bowen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Bowen and was employed at the W. H. Champlin lumber mill.
Herbert Bowen Is Buried Wednesday
Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon at the Edgerly chapel on South Main street for the late Herbert Bowen, who was killed instantly in an automobile accident on Walnut street.
Mr. Bowen was born in Edmunds, Me., the son of George and Bessie (Stackpole) [actually Stanhope] Bowen and was 20 years of age. He was employed at the W. H. Champlin lumber mill in this city and a wide circle of friends were deeply shocked because of the tragedy.
Rev. Daniel H. Miller, pastor of the True Memorial church, officiated. There was a large and beautiful floral tribute. Undertaker J. H. Edgerly was in charge of the funeral arrangements.
This post is 3rd in the in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.