Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Maggie (Joyce) Osborn - A Tragic Death

   Margaret Joyce was born February 28, 1863, in West Brookfield to Irish immigrants, William and Julia (Hyland) Joyce.  As a young woman, she moved to the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, where she found work as a housekeeper.  There she met and married, Hubert P. Osborn, a Civil War veteran.  Sometime after their marriage, on May 11, 1892, the couple moved to nearby Agawam, MA, where they were enumerated in the 1900 U. S. Census.  Hubert left Massachusetts and headed west to South Dakota, where he died in 1906.  I have been unable to ascertain Maggie's whereabouts between the time of the 1900 census and the fall of 1914 when she secured a room in a lodging house at 72 Pynchon Street, in Springfield.
  Page one of the "Springfield Republican" published Wednesday. December 30th, 1914, has the following headline:

                                        THREE KILLED BY GAS

                                      IN LODGING HOUSE ROOM

                                                 TWO WOMEN AND A MAN
                                        Mrs. Margaret Osborn, her Sister Josephine Joyce,
                                              and Man believed to be Their Brother
                                                         Dead When Discovered

   Maggie had arranged for lodging in the home just a couple months prior to her death.  It appears that her sister Josephine (born Julia) may have been with her at the time.  According to neighbors, the two sisters and the man (who turned out to be James Mahoney and not their brother James, as first thought), had been drinking liquor quite heavily for days.  The room was equipped with a coin operated gas supply, known as a quarter meter, which supplied gas to a stove and a burner. Apparently the time on the gas meter expired, the flames went out, but the gas had been left on.  Sometime later someone put a quarter in the meter, re-lit only the stove, and thus gas filled the room.  All were asphyxiated and dead when discovered by a neighbor who was alerted by the odor of the gas.
  Police investigated, and were, at first unable to identify the victims. Using information from neighbors, who knew the women to be from West Brookfield, and knew the man as Mr. Joyce, Springfield police made inquiries in West Brookfield.  Maggie's identity, and the probability that the sister know as Josephine was most likely Julia were later confirmed.  The police, in the course of the investigation found a copy of Maggie and Hubert Osborn's marriage record, and also a letter from the commandant of the soldiers' home in Hot Springs, South Dakota, informing Maggie of Hubert's death.  A letter from, Willie, a nephew, was also found. (Willie was most likely Josephine/Julia's son William Edward Joyce.)
   Margaret Osborn's death certificate, Registered No. 1776,  filed in Springfield gives the cause of death as "Accidental Suffocation due to the inhalation of illuminating gas during a period of intoxication."  Her sister Lizzie gave the personal and statistical information on the form, providing a birth date which was one year and one month later than Margaret's birth date in West Brookfield town records. 
  The newspaper article, found on the Genealogy Bank site, provided information, new to me, regarding the death of Hubert.  I also had not known that Julia used the name Josephine.  The article also contained information that I knew not to be true.  Maggie's brother James had been named as a surviving uncle to Willie, in a 1941 obituary, so I was quite certain that he was not the man found dead with Maggie and Julia.  A nephew, Claude Bugbee was named.  Claude was not a nephew, but his wife Julia (Bell) Bugbee was a niece.

http://www.americanancestors.org - Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910, Massachusetts Vital Records 1911 - 1915
http://www.genealogybank.com - above named article; and obituary of William Joyce, Springfield Sunday Union and Republican, Aug. 3, 1941, pg. 14A