My maternal grandmother was a Whetsel. This story is from that family line.

Louis Whetsel was born February 12 1862 and died November 6, 1940. He was the son of Layfatte Whetsel and Nancy Worley. On May 26, 1887 he married Alice Bean. Alice was the daughter of Jesse Bean and Amelia Long. The marriage took place in Ohio. Louis Whetsel and Alice had three little boys; Clarence, Jesse and Earl.

I am not sure of the time-line for their move, but I do know this family was living in Los Angeles, California area in 1901. Louis Whetsel worked as a carpenter. Alice Whetsel was in charge of a large rooming house with about twenty-five tenants. By December 1901 Louis and Alice were separated.

On December 17, 1901, Alice was busy cleaning small coal oil stoves. The stoves were portable and could be moved from room to room to heat water and such. She had lit a wick to check one of the stoves and when she blew, to put the fire out, the fire caught on in the coal oil reservoir, which in turn caused the glass to explode and the flames consumed Alice. Alice ran out of the room she was in and some of the tenants grabbed blankets to douse the flames. All the observers seem to know that it was too late for Alice. The firemen said she had breathed the fire and they could see she was burned from her knees to the top of her head.

The poor little boys were no doubt unable to process what was happening to their unfortunate mother. I read an account of the incident from the Los Angeles Times newspaper and I will quote what they said the boys were calling out to their mother. “Don’t worry, mamma; we’ll take care of the house.” “Come back fore next week, mamma, for you know it will be Christmas.”

This account is about as sad as it gets! The boys were my third cousins, 1x removed. My 3x Great Grandfather was their 2x Great Grandfather.




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