Joseph Bigham was my first cousin, 3x removed. He was the son of Isaac Bigham and Mary Elizabeth Delong (my 2x Great-Grand Aunt. Elizabeth was the daughter of my 3x faternal Great-Grandparents). Joseph was born on 11th of May 1863, in Hocking County, Ohio. He was a farmer as was his father before him. On the 3rd of April, 1886, Joseph Bigham married Louisa Anna Hendrickson, daughter of George Hendrickson and Mary Leasure. Joseph and Anna (as she was called) had four children: Metta (died as an infant), Samuel, Alvah and Goldie.
Joseph was one of fourteen siblings in his family. His mother had twelve children before her death and his step-mother had two more children. His sister, Elizabeth Della married a man named Oliver Benway on the 27th of October, 1884. Oliver was a farmer and well- digger. This pair had four children, all girls: Lydia, Lauretta, Minnie and Nettie.
Joseph Bigham was building a new house and well. The cellar was dug and the well was under construction. His brother-in-law, Oliver was giving him a hand with the work.
On the 24th of July, 1895, the two men were working on the new well. Joseph had descended into the well, but soon called for Oliver to pull him back up out of the well. Joseph was unable to hold the rope. Oliver called for help. Two women came to their aid. Oliver was lowered into the well and he was fanning Joseph to try to revive him. Oliver was soon calling to the women for help. At this point the well was over thirty feet deep. The women were pulling him up, but about half-way, he fell back down. One of the women ran for more people. She returned with several men to assist with the rescue. No-one was able to go down into the well because of the gases. Using sheets and the windmill, the group was able to pump air into the well. A man was lowered with a bucket and rope. He tied the rope around the men to bring them out of the well.
It had been more than an hour since the first call for help and nothing could be done for Joseph or Oliver. It was noted that Oliver had a severe cut on his head from his fall into the well.
I copied the following for Clarification:Wikipedia: Blackdamp (also known as scythe or choke damp) reducing the available oxygen content of air to a level incapable of sustaining human or animal life. It is not a single gas but a mixture of unbreathable gases left after oxygen is removed from the air and typically consists of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor.
The funerals were held at Mt. Pisgah. The crowd was so large that the service was held outside.
Anna Bigham (widow of Joseph) married Samuel Lutz on the 6th of October, 1898. Anna died the 14th of January, 1899. She was buried with Joseph. The children were separated; Samuel lived with his uncle Frank (Anna’s brother), Alva worked as a servant-living with Salem and Samantha Shoemaker. Goldie lived with two of Anna’s sisters, Mary and Lavina.
Elizabeth Benway (widow of Oliver) married Andrew Roop on April, 22, 1897. He adopted the four Benway daughters and they had four sons to complete their family. The youngest son was named Oliver.