John Ramsey, my great-grandfather, was a farmer all his life. It was working the land that eventually claimed his life.
John was born in Perry County, Ohio in 1860, the son of Samuel and Charlotte (Danison) Ramsey. In 1887, he married Melzena Kelly. John and Melzena had a tough life. They lost at least four children before their daughter Carrie was born in 1895; they would lose six children in all before 1900.
When Melzena died at the age of 49, John was left to care for four children, ranging in age from 6 to 16. (Ralph, my grandfather, was the 6-year-old.) Surprisingly, John never remarried.
John’s son Luke never married; he lived at home until John’s death. My mom remembers the front room at her Grandpa Ramsey’s house. It had a wood stove and a chair on either side — one for her grandpa and one for Uncle Luke. She also remembers her grandpa chewing tobacco and spitting into the fire. (Eww.)
Tuesday morning, 8 April 1941, John went to one of his fields to burn off some brush. It isn’t known if he had a heart attack and collapsed or if the fire turned on him and he was overcome by smoke. In either case, he collapsed and was burned “beyond recognition.” He was discovered later that afternoon by one of mom’s classmates.
He and Melzena are buried in Highland Cemetery in Glenford.
NOTE: John Ramsey isn’t my only ancestor to meet with a fiery end. Next week, I’ll discuss my ancestor John McClelland, who participated in the ill-fated Crawford Campaign.