Daughter of Alex Stronach Fortunate in Gun Accident, 1883, NC

May 24, 1883 (The Commonwealth, a newspaper of Scotland Neck, NC, 3d page)

Narrow Escape—The little two year old daughter of Mr. Alex. B. Stronach received a slight flesh wound yesterday afternoon, in the breast, from the accidental discharge of a small pistol, under the following circumstances:  About 2 o’clock in the afternoon the children were playing in the kitchen. They opened a trunk belonging to a small colored boy who lives on the premises, and found a small pistol, which Mr. Stronach’s little son took hold of, and on pulling the trigger, the pistol exploded, the ball striking the breast bone of the little girl and glancing off, causing a very painful, though we are pleased to announce, only a flesh wound, which is not considered dangerous.

Mr. Stronach had charged the boy several times about bringing firearms on the premises. The latter says he found the pistol the night before and had put it in his trunk for safe-keeping. Physicians were summoned, who rendered the necessary medical aid, and made the little sufferer as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.—Raleigh Visitor.


[From Ancestry.com, it appears that this may be an Alex Benon/Barron Stronach who was born in August 1847 and died in June 1910. His wife was Mary Augustine Cook. On the 1880 Wake County census, Alex is listed as a merchant grocer. 

However, who this 2-year-old daughter might be is all a little confusing because there is an E. J. on the (June) 1880 census, who is a daughter who was 10 months old on that census and was born in September (which would have been September 1879). Daughter E.J., then, would have been 3 years 8 months old at the time of the incident. However, Ethel appears on the 1900 census, but not E.J., and because Ethel’s middle name is Jane, most of the records link her as the same person as E.J. On the 1900 census, Mary, the mother, is listed as the mother of 11 children, 8 living, and there are 8 children listed on that census living in her household. One of the sons who was older than the girls, Alexander Barron Stronach, died in 1895. That leaves two other children who died. Perhaps an infection set in and the child in the article died. It is too bad the article did not name the daughter who was injured!

From the 1900 census, the children closest in age are:
Alex B. born 1876, died 1885 (not on the census, info from Find A Grave and 1880 census)
1 year 3 months later
Van was born in May 1877
2 years 4 months later
E.J. (daughter) was born September 1879 (last child on the 1880 census) (3 years 8 months old in May 1883)
10 months later
Ethel was born July 1880 (2 years 10 months old in May 1883)
2 years 2 months later
Janet was born September 1882 (not born in May 1883)
3 years 9 months later
Donaldson was born June 1886 (not born in May 1883)

We know, at some point, two other children besides Alex died before 1900. If this is the right family, I think either:
1.  E.J. died before 1900 (I don’t think she was married/moved away by the 1900 census because there are eight children listed on the 1900 census, the living eight children). However, she would have been almost 4 at the time, so I don’t think this article is about her; or
2.  There is a missing daughter (born after 1880 and died before 1900) who could be this daughter. Ten months after Ethel’s birth would be May 1881, making her exactly 2 years old at the time of this incident. Janet was born 1 year 4 months after this hypothetical birth of May 1881, in September 1882, so the gestational math works. Perhaps she died later from infection in the wound or other complications? or
3.  This child is Ethel (she would have been 2/almost 3 at the time); or
4.  This child is Janet (seems least likely as she would have only been 8 months old at the time).

If there was another daughter, in May 1883,
E.J. would have been almost 4,
Ethel would have been almost 3,
Missing daughter would have been almost exactly 2, and
Janet would have been 8 months old. 

Why do I care? Because, even if no one died, this was a scary incident for this family. If the daughter eventually died, this was even more tragic for the family. It is not just about descendants and lineages–it is about stories of people who loved each other.

Of course, I could have the entirely wrong family. 

The family trees are sparse on FamilySearch.org at this point, but the record number for Alex B. Stronach is


Unfortunately, Mary Augustine Cook does not have a record yet that I can find there.]




About Kindra

Executive Director for Quaker House, bringing a little bit of peace through counseling and support to military members and their families.
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