Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Adoniram Shute

Adoniram Shute and his wife, Mary (Groff) Shute

I found the death certificate for my third-great-grandfather Adoniram Shute a number of years ago, and was surprised at the amount of detail it had. It listed his name as "A. A. Shute", and said he was a 56 year old widower, that he was a laborer, was born in New York, and had resided in Montana for the last 8 weeks. There was no information on his parents, and the cause of death was one word - paralysis, with acute dysentery listed as a contributing factor. The informant is listed as "Quigley" of Culbertson, Montana, where he was buried two days after passing away.

Death certificate for Adoniram Shute
All this information, however, didn't tell the full story. A relative told me years ago that Adoniram died on a train in Montana, but didn't have anything to backup his story. I've wanted to try and get some more detail on what exactly happened, but have been unable to. Until now.
I splurged and renewed my subscription to (I mean, really, 8 bucks is a Value Meal these days, and this will get me SO much more than a McWhatever would). While searching for various family names, I got the idea to look for info on Adoniram's passing. Knowing that his death certificate had little personal identifying information, I went looking by place (Montana) and date (October 1909) but instead of a name, I searched for "train", "Culbertson" and "died". I found a couple of random stories, but a bit further down the list of hits, I found this in The Searchlight, the Culbertson, Montana newspaper, dated October 8, 1909.

The name is a bit off (Shultz vs Shute) and the date of death is off by one (Saturday was the 2nd, not the 1st), but everything else matched - the mention of paralysis, his being buried in Culbertson, and even the name Quigley (which seems to have been a company or worksite name, rather than a person). Also, Adoniram's mother, Letitia (Sanford) Shute was indeed enumerated in Milaca, Mille Lacs County, Minnesota in the 1910 census. I had found his obituary!
I find it very interesting that the information about his mother was mentioned in the obituary but not in the death certificate. Perhaps they didn't know her name or where she was born (the only info the death certificate asked for), just that she was alive in Milaca. I'm also struck by the language used in describing the cause of death - a "stroke of paralysis". Does that mean he died of a stroke? How would dysentery have played a contributing role to such a death?
The last sentence is the most intriguing. All of Adoniram's kids were grown by 1909 (the youngest was 25, the oldest over 40). His wife Mary Groff had died over 20 years previously, so there was no one at home for him to care for of the family he raised. His father, Alexander B. Shute, had died in 1897, but his mother was still alive (and would live until 1912). As the oldest of three boys, he probably had the responsibility to provide for his widowed mother. He was apparently out west working for a railroad and sending money back to her, literally until the day he died. (Interesting side note - the informant on his mother's death certificate is Warren Shute, the older of Adoniram's two younger brothers, so he probably took his mother in after Adoniram passed).
I've had the facts about Adoniram's life for a long time, but this one short paragraph I found in a newspaper today really helped turn those facts into a story. Adoniram seems to have been a good man. He carried on for decades after losing his wife, raised their children, and after his father died, took care of his widowed mother in the best way he could. He was a loyal son and provider right to the very end. I see those same traits in my father, Adoniram's 2nd-great-grandson, and I can't help but feel proud that we have a history in my family of such a good work ethic, family loyalty and devotion. I hope that I can live up to their examples and instill that same loyalty in my own kids.


Devon Noel Lee said...

This was such a great story. I'm glad I read it all. Might I give one suggestion? The next time you post a title for the post, include something intriguing for a reader. You could have said "Adoniram cares for mother till he died" "Finding Adoniram's Obit the Hard Way" "Adnoiram, loyal son" "Andoriam dies of paralysis" or some such. That tie it together and really makes for a great overall read. Your reluctant family will be supportive when you grab their attention with a great title.

Hope this makes sense. Otherwise, what a great story. I'm not sure what a stroke of paralysis and dysentery have in common. Perhaps you can look at the newspaper again for that time period and see if that disease is affecting many in the railroad camp.

ironhide781 said...

That's a fantastic idea, thank you for that. I will do that starting with my next post!

Gibson Family said...

Adnoiram is a great example for every oldest son to take care of their mother in her old age! (hint hint) Also, time to update your bio - three kids waiting on #4. : )
Great article - This is related to Blossom, right?

ironhide781 said...

Yup, through her paternal grandmother Eldora. Adoniram was Eldora's dad.