Wednesday afternoon of this week, Alex Thornhill, prominent Comanche county farmer, was killed at his home southeast of Protection, by the accidental discharge of a shotgun.
He had been in the habit of killing hawks that appeared about the farm, and constantly kept his shotgun loaded and carried it with him on his trips to pasture and fields. He was last seen alive by Noah Zimmerman when he called at the farm about 2:00 p.m. and talked with Mr. Thornhill. At about 4:00 p.m., Al Cline, a neighbor, living two miles east of the Thornhill farm was motoring to Protection and came across the body of Mr. Thornhill, still warm, lying alongside the hiway.
The story of the accident has no eye witness, but can plainly be reconstructed from the evidence at the scene of the tragedy. Evidently soon after the departure of Mr. Zimmerman the deceased had seen a hawk in his wheat field, south of the road, and as was his custom, took his shotgun and went to shoot it. On his return to the house, he had crawled through the wire fence, surrounding the wheat field and bordering the road. The road ditch, which is about 2 feet deep and steep, and within a foot of the fence line, plainly shows the marks where he slipped on the edge of the ditch as it crumbled, and fell backward toward the road center. Undoubtedly, he drug the gun, which was a twelve gauge, hammer, double barrel, through the wire fence, gripping it by the muzzle, the gun being discharged as it was drug over the wire.
The shot tore away the whole right side of his face. The body was found lying with the head near the wheel track and the feet hanging down the slope of the road ditch. Near the body was an empty shell, which he was undoubtedly thoughtlessly carrying in his hand or taking home for reloading after shooting at a hawk, and the shell in the right hand barrel of the gun was discharged. As the gun was the breech loading type, there is no other theory to account for the empty shell lying in the road near the body.
Mr. Thornhill was a widely known Comanche county farmer and rancher. He was one of the early residents of this section, and was nearing 60 years of age at the time of his death.
His farm home was about 6 miles southwest of Protection, and he engaged largely in wheat raising and stock farming.
For several years, the family home was in Protection, but three years ago, the family returned to their farm to make their home. During his residence in Protection, he served the city in official capacity, many times, and was prominent in the township affairs in official capacity, during his long residence in the community.
He leaves his wife, Mrs. Essie Thornhill, a son, Melvin (Mutt) Thornhill, nationally known athletic during his school career at Kansas University, his brothers, P. D. and Lorenzo Thornhill of Protection, and many other direct relatives in Missouri and California. He is also a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Z. J. Bratcher, prominent pioneers of this county.
The body is at the Peacock Mortuary. Coroner
F. H. Holcombof Coldwater and Sheriff Giles visited the scene of the tragedy and decided that no inquest was necessary. As The Post goes to press, funeral arrangements have not been announced.
The Peacock Mortuary is in charge of the body.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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