Death by Fire: Charles Shuck

Charles Shuck was a son to Mose Shuck and Mary Ann Fleshman, a great uncle many times removed to myself.

I was looking up random ancestors names on Chronicling America when I discovered this article about the death of Uncle Charles Shuck. At age 80, Charles fell into his fireplace and burned to death. He was discovered with his face badly burned and his clothes nearly burned off. The fire was out and his body when he was found a day after he was last seen alive.

charles shuck obit 1893

The Clarksburg telegram. (Clarksburg, W. Va.), 03 Feb. 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84037844/1893-02-03/ed-1/seq-4/>

The moment I saw this article I thought of Rebecca Cornell and the odd way she died. She too was found dead in a similar manner. The difference being that when Rebecca was found burned to death at the foot of her fireplace her own son Thomas Cornell Jr was executed for her murder.

I am certain that burning to death was probably more common in a period where everyone cooked and heated their homes with an open fire. It seems odd that I had not just one ancestor, but two, who suffered such a strange unfortunate death.

That these cases had such vast different conclusions is even more shocking. By all accounts it appears that Charles’ death was never considered anything more than a tragic accident. In Rebecca’s case her son was hung for her murder on spectral evidence.

What do you think the difference was between the case of Charles Shuck and Rebecca Cornell and why do you think such different conclusions were reached in their deaths?

 

4 replies »

  1. What a horrible way to die and a terrible way to be found afterwards! Mose Shuck and Mary Ann Fleshman were my spouse’s 4th great-grandparents through their daughter Mary Jane Shuck (3rd g-g). That would make poor Charles Shuck my spouse’s 4th great-uncle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I cannot imagine being the person to discover that body. Definitely a bad way to go and a bad thing to find! Mose Shuck and Mary Ann Fleshman were my ancestors 3 times over. I am descended from their daughter Elizabeth and their son George Edgar Shuck. Charles was my 5th great-uncle so it sounds like your spouse and I are one generation off from each other. It is such an interesting and colorful family history through that branch 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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