Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tauy Creek Digest #37: The Death of Charles Kizer

Everything was normal Saturday, October 20, 1917. Charles Kizer went to work at the farm of William Zirkle, something he had been doing since the summer began, and when the work day was over, he left the Zirkle farm and headed home. He would never make it.

Charles Kizer, at the time 33-years-old, was the son of Alex and Mary Jane Kizer. The Kizers owned land half a mile east of the Shawnee County line along present-day North 1500 Road. Based on what I can tell from newspaper articles, Kizer would spend the week at the Zirkle farm then return home for the weekend. The Zirkles lived in Monmouth Township in Shawnee County about three miles west of the Kizers. Charles was last seen Saturday evening after eating supper. What was strange was that he had left with his hat and overcoat but not his actual coat. Kizer was missing for a week. A search party was organized the Sunday morning after he didn't return home and while his footprints were found in numerous places, they were did not lead to Charles. His disappearance gripped Kanwaka and Clinton Townships and his parents thought the worst.
Headline to Lawrence Journal-World, Oct. 22, 1917

Charles Kizer's body was found in the corn field of John Hultz five miles southwest of the town of Clinton. That Charles was so far from home, Mary Jane knew that it had to be foul play. Charles had left the Zirkle house at around 9:30 at night. Initially it was believed that Charles suffered a "bout of insanity" but showed no signs of anything being wrong when he was at the Zirkle's. His body was taken to Cross Undertaking for an autopsy. Sadly, the doctor found no cause of death and it was determined that Charles "had a mental aberration" and died of exposure.
Autopsy report from the Lawrence Journal-World, Oct. 30, 1917.
Note Kizer's name is spelled wrong.
Charles' body was returned to his parents where a funeral was held on October 30. He was buried in Clinton Cemetery. On November 21, a card of thanks was in the Lawrence Journal-World thanking friends, family, and neighbors for their kindness and floral offerings during the death and funeral of their son and brother.
Card of thanks. Lawrence Journal-World, Nov. 21, 1917.

Mary Jane must not have ever gotten over the loss of her son as newspaper reports mention several bouts of sickness when friends and relatives would visit, back in the days when going across the county was considered news. Mary Jane passed away, at her home, on April 6, 1922 and was also buried in Clinton Cemetery. Alex would pass four years later in 1926 and was buried next to his wife.

The Kizers were a prominent family in Douglas County with the family name scattered throughout Kanwaka and Clinton Townships, mostly in Bloomington.

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