Von Flaugh – Shotgun Accident

While randomly researching names in the online newspaper archives (when I had a subscription to newspapers.com) I found some interesting stories.  This is one of those stories…  [heh – that reminds me of the start of the old TV series Dragnet].

It turns out that weapon accidents are nothing new.  I found my great-grandfather, Von Flaugh, (my mother’s mother’s father) had an accident with a shotgun that, apparently, messed him up pretty badly.

Before we get into the details, let’s look at some basics.

Von Flaugh

Von was…

  • born in March 1889 in Pagosa Springs, CO
  • lived in Pagosa Springs until 1905 when he moved to La Plata, NM
  • lived in La Plata, Aztec, and Flora Vista until 1935 when he moved to Ignacio, CO
  • died in Ignacio in September 1936

This map shows you these locations and, something I find interesting, is that he lived his entire life within 70 miles (as the crow flies) of where he was born.

Some other items of note; Von…

  • married Lucy Jeanette Johnson in March 1912
  • had my grandmother, Margaret Etta Flaugh, in January 1913
  • wounded himself in November 1913
  • had my great uncle Herbert Flaugh in May 1914
  • registered for the draft in June 1917

I bring these up because the timing of the accident is fortuitous. The accident happened after his wedding and subsequent birth of my grandmother – without whom I would not be here to write this blog!!

So, here’s the story I’ve been leading up to… this info is pretty much straight from the December 7, 1913 issue of the Albuquerque Morning Journal newspaper with a shorter version of the incident in this reproduction of an article from the December 5, 1913 issue of the Farmington Enterprise newspaper. The date on the reproduction is incorrect stating this happened in 1918; I’ve personally viewed a microfiche copy of the actual 1913 paper and found it.

At the time Von and his wife (and his parents) were living in La Plata, NM while her parents were living about 15 miles away near Aztec, NM. And, while Lucy was visiting her parents, Von went hunting rabbits [heh – now I’m thinking of Elmer Fudd].  After a while, he decided to head back to the house. Fortunately (?) he saw someone riding a wagon from Bloomfield to Aztec and asked to catch a ride (most people didn’t own automobiles back then).

He got up into the wagon and placed the shotgun on the floorboard butt down between his legs. Unfortunately, the floorboards shifted and the shotgun slid down between the boards allowing the hammer to strike and fire the weapon!

The entire shot went into his leg (tearing off an 8 inch chunk) and then entered his groin!

He was taken to Farmington General Hospital (a good 20 miles away or so) where he stayed for at least two weeks.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find when he was discharged.

He survived for another 23 years with this wound; but still died at the young age of 47 years old. By all accounts, when he died it was from complications associated with this accident. My Uncle Bob (a doctor no less and the grandson of Von) tells me that it could have been an embolic stroke or an infection that ultimately caused Von’s death.

If this happened today, he would have likely been at the hospital and in surgery within the hour via our local Air Care helicopter.  Back then… not so timely.

Twenty miles in a buggy? Ouch. Even if if they did have an automobile nearby it would have likely been a Ford Model T which could get up to 40-45mph. Now drive that Model T about 20 miles over dirt roads! I’m not sure which would be worse.  Once you get to the hospital, you’re looking at him getting medical care from doctors that have never heard of a World War (World War One won’t start for another six months or so).

So, once again, I find a story that basically tells me that I shouldn’t complain about my life when it goes nuts! The people in my past have had it much harder.  I can only wonder if our descendants (well, I have none, but my niece’s descendants) will think the same thing about us.




Johann Matthias Flach – Revolutionary War Veteran

So far, I’ve found a few ancestors of mine that fought in the Revolutionary War – and Johann Matthias Flach (aka Mathias Flaugh) was the first I found.  I wasn’t the first to find him though, a family genealogist (Sara E. Flaugh) in the past did some major work and actually traced him back to Germany.

Johann Matthias Flach Photo Source: Find A Grave - Dick Flaugh (#46573241)
Johann Matthias Flach
Photo Source: Find A Grave – Dick Flaugh (#46573241)

It turns out that Mathias (that’s what I’ll call him because most of his military paperwork goes by that), was born of a baker in Rimhorn, Germany in 1752. But he never met his dad, since he died a few weeks before Mathias was born.

The next we see of Mathias is him coming to America via Rotterdam on the ship Union on September 27, 1773. And we can see that he was registered on October 4, 1773 as an indentured servant to a John Peter in Philadelphia for 3 years and 3 months for a total of 20£ (pounds).

Wikipedia states that Indentured servitude was a labor system whereby young people paid for their passage to the New World by working for an employer for a certain number of years. It was widely employed in the 18th century in the British colonies in North America and elsewhere.

But… I think he paid off his debt early or John Peter let him go; because he joined the Continental Army on July 13, 1776. Most of the file in the previous link are several pieces of correspondence discussing Mathias and his service. Pages 8, 9, & 34 basically summarize the entire file. He was originally under Colonel Nicholas Haussegger (check out his story – turns out he was thought to have been a traitor at one point) and he fought in these battles:

  • Trenton – January 2, 1777 (Interesting that Mathias was a Hessian and he fought in America’s first major victory against Hessian troops).
  • Brandywine – September 11, 1777 (Our side wasn’t victorious all the time – we lost this battle).
  • Germantown – October 4, 1777 (And we lost this battle).
  • Monmouth – June 28, 1778 (This one seems to be mostly a draw until the British withdrew from the battle at night).
  • Sullivan’s Expedition against the Iroquois – Summer of 1779 (Continued fighting against Tory Loyalists and the Iroquois Confederacy).

We know he survived because he got his final pay in June of 1791.

We can also find that he had a land warrant for 100 acres that was surveyed in Apr 1793 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Sometime after this (by the 1800 Census) he had moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Later, in 1818, he started receiving a pension for his war service while living in Crawford, Pennsylvania. Thankfully, even his wife continued to get the pension as can be seen by this Congressional report in 1838.

After the war (from 1783 to 1803) he and his wife, Anna (Arnold) Flach, had at least six children. He is buried in Peiffer Cemetery in Saegertown, Pennsylvania. And, over 250 years later, his ancestors are still going strong!

John Mathias Flaugh Photo Source: Find A Grave - Barbara Wykoff (#47759591)
John Mathias Flaugh
Photo Source: Find A Grave – Barbara Wykoff (#47759591)