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Garfield County NEGenWeb Project © 1997 to 2007 BAS 

From The Burwell Tribune, front page, May 03, 2006

 Ward Family Tragedy
     A towering headstone near the center of the cemetery (Willow Springs-Banner) marks the Ward family plot.  Three members of the Ward family died in a tragic food poisoning episode in 1903.  The unfortunate tale is told in the Garfield County Roundup.
     "It was the morning of July 20, 1903.  Mrs. Ward was sick in the morning so her husband told her to stay in bed and he would fix a bite for the children and himself to eat.  He went out to the store and got a can of sardines, the first taken from a new box.  He opened them and set them on the table in the can while he prepared what else he could easily.  He gave each a helping and also helped himself.  The mother did not eat any breakfast herself.  Some of the children did not like the sardines so Wilber and Tessie ate what Bertha and Vesta did not want, Mr. Ward eating the largest serving.  About half the sardines were not eaten and were set away until noon.  By this time, Mr. Ward thought the sardines did not smell right and gave them to the dog.  They did not seem to hurt the dog.
     The next morning early, Mr. Ward left for Burwell to get a load of supplies for the store.  When the children got up, Wilber complained of not being able to see well, everything was double.  The children made a sort of game of it and he laughed too.  His mother sent him out to milk the cow.  He soon returned saying he was too sick.  Mrs. Ward had him lie down although she did everything she knew to do, he got no better.  Mr. Ward came home the next day and said he had been terribly sick most of the trip.  When he found out Wilber had the same symptoms as his, he walked to Ballaghs and asked someone to go for a doctor.
     Robbie (Ballagh) got on a horse and rode as hard as he could to Chambers for a doctor.  The doctor got lost and did not make it until the following morning, by that time Tessie was sick also. Clara Bell took sick while the doctor was there.  He suspected the sardines right away.  Two other doctors were sent for and all three physicians stayed until it was over.  There was nothing they could do and Wilber died July 25, 1903; Tessie died July 28, 1903; and david Ward (the father) died July 29, 1903.
     The doctors took out three cans of sardines from the top, middle and bottom of the box and sent them to Washington, D.C.  The report came back, "all three deadly poison."  The remaining box was buried deep so nothing could get them.  Clara Bell was sick for a long time but recovered.  Neighbors came from far and near to offer help and brought food and did everything they could."
      More on this family can be found on page 301 of the Garfield County Roundup and in a Ward family history, Beyond the Sod by Willa Ward Kabetzke. (Willa was born two months after the father's death.)