Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Robert Fulton Clough

Robert Fulton Clough
Click image to enlarge.
Earlier today, I received an old newspaper article related to my family history.  

I have long known that my ancestor Robert Fulton Clough died in Iowa in 1908, but I have never been able to locate an obituary, a death certificate, or even a burial site. Records have been just plain difficult to find. That all changed when Judy Hanson emailed a scanned copy of a newspaper article detailing Robert's death. The article states in full: 

At about ten o’clock last Saturday morning (November 21, 1908) R. F. Clough was found dead in his bed at the home of Mrs. James Stewart. Mrs. Stewart had called him several times, but receiving no response, she called in D. E. Harvey, who went to the room of Mr. Clough with the above result. Coroner Swezey was called, and after an investigation of the room, decided that an inquest was unnecessary as an empty laudanum bottle on the stand plainly pointed to suicide. No direct cause for the rash act is known. Mr. Clough was born in Vermont in 1840, was married to Nancy Millington (Billington is the correct spelling) in Wisconsin in 1862. The wife preceded her husband to the great beyond about eight years. Unto them was born four children, one boy Harvey, and three girls, Mrs. L. H. Lee, Mrs. W. C. Winn, and Mrs. Floyd Kaufman. Funeral services were held from the residence of Chas. Winn. The body was interred at Waucoma (Iowa) by the side of his wife.

Published in the Decorah Republican
Thursday, November 26, 1908

I added a few notes to the original text, mostly for clarification. For example, Nancy Billington's name was misspelled in the article. Also, the date of death would have occurred on November 21, 1908. 

Of Robert's children, my ancestor was Nettie Clough, or as the article stated, Mrs. Lewis Hazard Lee. 

Laudanum was an opium tincture that was sold over the counter during the 19th century for all kinds of ailments. Laudanum addiction was common, as were accidental overdoses. In fact, I find it surprising that the coroner mention in the article assumed that Robert's death was the result of suicide. It would seem impossible to know if Robert intended to die or if he accidentally overdosed. I suppose we'll never know.

In any case, many thanks to Judy Hanson for sending this article.

Click on image to enlarge. 

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