Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, August 2, l900
MISS ZELMA DRENNAN, daughter of MR. and MRS. JAMES DRENNAN, of Freemont Township, was instantly killed by lightning at 4 p.m. last Monday.
Misses FANNIE FOSTER, EMMA FINDLAY, BIRDIE SCOTT and GRACE INGRAHM had gone out from town to spend a few days with the young ladies at the farm during MRS. DRENNAN's absence on a visit in Nebraska, and all had stood for a few minutes watching the heavy rain approach over the fields. Part then went to the house and Misses FINDLAY, SCOTT and ZELMA entered the water closet. They were telling stories of lightning striking that they had known, when a call to them to come to the house was heard, and, the rain pouring in torrents, apparently they hesitated a moment, standing near the open door, MISS DRENNAN being farthest in and nearest the east side.
Then the lightning came. It struck a tree close to the side of the building but on the opposite side from it, leaped from the tree into the roof, tearing a small hole in the boards, ran down its side, then leaped again striking ZELMA in the temple, burning her hair slightly, ran down her neck and across her bosom. The sound of the thunder and the shock were terrific, of course, and the two girls nearest the door ran toward the house, but before MISS FINDLAY reached it, she says "something told her ZELMA was not coming," and she ran back, to see ZELMA lying where she had fallen dead, she discovered with the first glance. She then ran to the house and could ony say "ZELMA," but MR. DRENNAN, who knew from the crash, lightning had struck near, rushed out instantly and carried in her lifeless body.
Every effort was made, with all known restoratives, but life went out with the touch of the bolt, and no skill could summon it back. The grief and outcry of the group of young girls can be imagined. Neighbors were promptly at hand and messages were sent to town, where wild rumors went about. Neither of the girls with ZELMA were touched by the lightning, but BIRDIE SCOTT was rendered quite deaf by the concussion, temporary it is believed and EMMA FINDLAY's left arm was numbed, the shock running up apparently from her fingers and coming out at her ear, which is still a little deaf from it.
A more narrow escape than these two girls is seldom known. They had each spoken of their fear of the lightning, but ZELMA had declared it never frightened her. Perhaps there was no need it should. It took her painlessly, before she ever had known care or sorrow or anything but a happy, innocent life. She was a girl above the average in intellect, sweet tempered and affectionate. Her life had been good and brought happiness to others. Its swift translation leaves friends and parents mourning but no one doubts that with her "all is well." She was in her fifteenth year.
The funeral services were held at the DRENNAN home at l0 a.m., Thursday, and the earthly remains were interred in the Osceola Cemetery. Six young lady friends were honorary pall bearers; Misses VIDA GARRETSON, BRADY DE LONG, BIRDIE SCOTT, GRACE INGRAHM, EMMA FINDLAY and FANNIE FOSTER. MRS. DRENNAN came Tuesday morning from Beatrice, Neb., in response to the summons.
Copied by Cordelia Suzann
"With permission from the Leon Journal Reporter"
January 6, 2003
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