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Involving loss of life, Serious Bodily Injuries, and Great Destruction of Property
North Vernon Sun - Tuesday, April 7, 1885

    About 1 o'clock p. m. last Wednesday the boiler of David Hulse's saw mill situated three miles south of Scipio, and five miles northeast of Hardenburg, in Geneva Township, exploded with a frightful force, scattering the building, engine, saws and lumber to the four winds, and burying the unfortunate workmen in the almost impenetrable debris.

    The mill had been running in the forenoon, but at this time the saw was not working, the engine being used to draw up logs preparatory to commencing the afternoon's work. There were five workmen: David Hulse, Albert Hulse, Morton Hulse, Anthony Kluber and John Hulse, and all except the last, were either killed or seriously wounded. It is not known just where each was at the time of the accident. John Hulse is about nineteen years old, is a son of the proprietor of the mill. He had one of his hands cut off by a mowing machine a few years ago. He says was splitting slabs for wood just outside the mill when he heard a tremendous explosion, and was simultaneously knocked down by something, he knew not what, and rendered unconscious for the time being. He soon recovered however, and is all right now except a slight bruise on his leg. The report was heard for miles around, and perceived to jar the atmosphere with a greater force than the firing of heavily loaded cannon. Windows of houses situated a mile distant were heard to rattle in their frames. The neighbors, filled with terror and trembling with fear of their fellow men's safety came rushing to the spot only to their gravest apprehensions a living realty, and the mill an unrecognizable mass, gory with human blood.

    Anthony Kluber, the engineer, was found dead about thirty feet from his place of duty, with his skull crushed in, his face badly scalded and the blood that had once animated his body, colleted in a pool as it flowed from the wounds in his head. From his position it was thought he was shot straight up into the air to a considerable height and descending with his head downward, struck a piece of timber with the sad result mentioned. He lived at Hardenburg and leaves a wife and a large family to mourn his untimely death.

    Albert Hulse, head sawyer, was dug from beneath the timbers of the mill horribly injured. His face was lacerated, his knee joint dislocated and his chest badly compressed. Upon surgical examination it was discovered that there was a rupture of the lung, and the whole body became emphasematous in a short while, producing agony and distortion. The best attention was given him, and though all his wants were attended to, and his sufferings assuaged, the damage his vital organ was beyond the repair of human science and he expired at half past five o'clock the next morning. He was a son of the owner of the mill, and leaves a wife and three children

    David Hulse, the father of John and Albert, is over 65 years of age, is a man of good business qualifications and of abundant means. He is possessor of the ill-fated mill and also considerable land surrounding it. He was chief director of the affairs of the mill, and unfortunately for himself was at work within the time of the explosion. He was found buried beneath a pile of green beach saw-logs, and how he escaped not being mashed into a jelly is beyond the conception of all who have seen the place from which he was extricated. After being rescued from this uncomfortable prison, he was carried to his home, about a quarter of a mile distant. His left thigh bone was broken high up, the injury being known as a compound fracture of the femur in its upper third. His hand and face are badly scalded and he has suffered much from the shock. He is still living but the circumstances of his old age, previous ill health and mental shock at the death of his son render his condition quite critical. He has a large family, most of whom are married.

    Morton Hulse, off bearer, a cousin of the others, received a penetrating fracture of the skull just over the right eye, and has his face and neck badly scalded. His physicians say that owing to the capricious nature of the brain injuries, it is now impossible to say positively what the result of this injuries will be, but are free to assert that in all probability inflammation of the brain will set in which case it will carry its victim to his last resting place.

    The physicians in attendance are Drs. Green and Dr. McGinty, of North Vernon and Dr. Reynolds, of Scipio.

    The place is visited by crowds of people anxious to learn the condition of the wounded and curious to see the wreck. The ruins of the mill is indeed a sorrowful spectacle to behold. The mill was erected five or six years ago and was in good condition. The boiler is an immense concern, 20 feet long and weighed 3 1/2 tons, and cost about $700. the site of the mill a piece of boiler weighing 400 or 500 pounds is lodged thirty feet from the ground in a tree, beside it in mournful aspect hangs some one's hat. Another part of the boiler, ten feet long and of the original dimensions was shot eastward, striking the ground, glanced upward, and now stands nearly perpendicular against an oak tree, 150 yards from the mill: this piece weighed over a ton. A fragment of flue from this immense mass struck a log three feet in diameter and 16 feet long penetrating it for a considerable distance and splitting it nearly to the other end. The head of the boiler was found 100 yards west of the place of the accident, and another piece of flue about 200 yards north, showing force was exerted in all directions. Everything bears the stamp of great central force and complete destruction. The cause of the explosion is supposed to be an insufficiency of water. Mrs. Anthony Kluber walked from Hardenburg to mourn alone beside her dead husband.

    Morton Hulse is a single man and perhaps the most touching incident of the wreck was the kind attention and uncontrollable grief of his betrothed bride who was constantly at his side. She was courteous to all, yet her mind was riveted on her lover and her mind was incognizant of most of the surroundings. She undoubtedly possesses many qualities that to make up a genuine woman and she merits the sympathy of all spectators, with her fondest hopes withering, her loved one lingering on the brink of the grave, and she yet in her "teens" bowed in grief.

By Special Correspondent to the Sun
SCIPIO, IND, April 1st - This vicinity was thrown into the wildest excitement to-day, by the announcement that the large saw mill owned by David Hulse had exploded its boiler leaving death and destruction in it's wake. Your correspondent immediately repaired to the scene of the disaster and gleaned the following facts.
    The mill is situated on Mutton Creek, three miles south of this place. It was a large stationary engine, the boiler being twenty feet long and weighing three and a half tons. The owner had rented it to his son, Allen Hulse, who had just started up for the season, having for his engineer, Anthony Kluber, a German and a first class machinist and engineer. Allen Hulse was doing the head sawing while Morton Hulse son of Joseph Hulse, deceased was employed as off bearer of lumber. From the best information attainable it seems that the mill had just been started after dinner or at one o'clock. When the explosion occurred there were in the mill the following persons: Anthony Kluber, engineer, Allen Hulse, head sawyer, Morton Hulse, offbearer, and David Hulse, owner. Of the above named persons Mr. Kluber was killed instantly, having the whole top of his head blown off. His body was found fully twenty feet from his station as engineer.
    Allen Hulse was found beneath the debris pinned fast by several heavy beech logs laying across his body; he was taken out alive but horribly mangled.
    Morton Hulse was found among the rubbish, sitting upright, with blood gushing from his mouth, nose and ears, and terribly scalded about the face and head he was taken out and upon examination it was found that he had a rent in his skull above the right eye resembling a gun shot wound. He is still alive but unconscious.
    David Hulse was found in the fire pit, laying across the red hot grates, unable to move badly burned and scalded, his right leg also shattered near the hip joint. Medical aid was immediately summoned and in a short time an able corps of surgeons consisting of Dr. Reynolds, of Scipio, Green Sr. and Green Jr. and McGinty of North Vernon, were upon the ground ministering to the wants of the wounded. A diagnosis of the case disclosed the following facts:
    Kluber dead, top of head blown off, neck dislocated, and badly scalded. Allen Hulse hurt internally, right leg dislocated at knee joint and badly cut about head and face. Morton Hulse, skull fractured by a bolt or other missile, wound probed to the depth of three inches, brain penetrated, hand, face and body scalded.
    David Hulse, compound fracture of right leg near the hip, badly burned and scalded and it is fear that he inhaled a deadly quantity of hot stream. It is hardly probable that Allen and Morton Hulse will live until morning. Allen is a powerful man, physically, and is bearing his pain with heroic fortitude. Morton is still in a comatose state. All that medical skill and kind attention can do is being done for the sufferers.

    At the time of the explosion John Hulse, son of David Hulse, a young man of 18, and by the way a one armed boy, having had his left arm cut off at the shoulder, two year since by a mowing machine, was cutting wood within twenty feet of the fire front of the boiler, strange to say, escaped with but little injury. He says he experienced the sensation of being shot in the forehead and knocked to his knees. Fully five hundred pounds of the boiler iron passed over his head. He was stunned pretty badly but not hurt.

    David and Morton Hulse are still living and some hopes are entertained that Morton will recover. He has regained consciousness and converses freely with his friends and has also taken considerable nourishment. David was worse this afternoon and not much hopes are entertained of his recovery he being old (near 70) and very infirm. We are informed that he has made his will and otherwise prepared himself for the final change. Crowds of people still gather each day around the scene of destruction viewing with awe the torn and shattered building and machinery. The engineers vest was hanging on a post in the mill at the time of the explosion the pocket of which contained his heavy silver watch with the end of the chain hooked into a button hole. The vest has been found but the watch is missing. One of Pierce's Memoranda Books was found to-day among the debris which proved to be the private memoranda book of David Hulse. The book is supposed to have been on his person at the time at the time of the accident, though it was found quite a distance from where his body laid.

    A short time before Allen Hulse expired he sent for his mother to come and pray for him she being a devout Christian. She immediately repaired to the bedside of her dying son. Allen was perfectly rational and knew his family by their voices, his eyes being so much swollen that he could not see. His mother approached too full for utterance and took the sufferer by the hand when he in ecstasy declared "That is mother's hand." Allen had never made any profession of religion though he told his friends that he was ready to bow to God's will. We have withheld this communication as long as possible in order that we might give your readers the latest facts. We will keep you posted on further developments.

April 15, 1995 - North Vernon Plain Dealer, page 7
    David and Morton Hulse, victims of the late boiler ecplosion, are slowly improving.

April 24, 1885 - Columbus Herald, page 5
    David Hulse and his nephew who were supposed to be fatally injured by the saw mill explosion near Scipio, a few weeks ago, are in a fair way to recover. The old gentleman is able to sit up part of the time.

    I have seen quite a few different articles on this explosion but this one seems to have most of the detail and to be as accurate as any such sensational story would have been in the 1880's. Most of the other articles gave the name of the engineer who was killed at the moment of the exlosion as Anthony Chever or Cleaver and this one says Kluber - his headstone in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery as does other records of his family have his name as Kleber. David Hulse did live until November 6, 1890 he is buried in the Hulse Cemetery not far from his son Allen who died the day after the explosion. Morton Hulse lived until October 11, 1921 it does not appear he married the young lady who was there at the time of his injury but married in Illinois in 1889 to his first wife Polly Beam. John Hulse became a school teacher and County Auditor, he died in Johnson County on February 25, 1943. Sheila Kell

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