Oliver Wilson Lee
- Born: 31 Mar 1858, Wayne County, Iowa
- Marriage: Mary Ann "May" Clark on 2 Jul 1881 in Freemont, Iowa
- Died: 16 Sep 1908, Wellington, Larimer County, Colorado at age 50
- Buried: Highland Cemetery, Wellington, Larimer County, Colorado
Noted events in his life were:
• Census, 1860, Iowa, Wayne County, Clinton Township, Image 2 of 10. Age 2 yrs.
• Census, 1870, Iowa, Wayne County, Clinton Township, Image 11 of 17. Age 12 yrs., at home.
• Census, 1880, Iowa, Mills County, Pacific City, District 128, Image 2 of 5. Age 22 yrs., laborer.
• Census, 1885, Iowa, Page County, Shenandoah Township, Image 41 of 68. Age 28 yrs., Laborer.
• Census, 1900, Nebraska, Dodge County, Maple Township, DIstrict 93, Image 25 of 29. Age 42 yrs., married, farm laborer.
• Newspaper Article, 1908, Colorado. FORT COLLINS MORNING EXPRESS, THURSDAY MORNING, SEPT. 17, 1908
"Wellington Man Orders Box in Which to Bury Daughter of a Friend and Dies in Roadway on His Way Back Home...Cause of Death a Mystery and Coroner is Investigating"
O.W. Lee, living about a mile and a half south of Wellington, was the victim of a tragic ending of a sad mission, falling dead Wednesday afternoon in the roadway a short distance from his home while returning from Fort Collins after purchasing a casket in which to bury Clara Morris, daughter of J.A. Morris, who died Tuesday afternoon.
Just what caused his death is a mystery, although it is said that is was the result of having drunk some embalming fluid, which he was taking home to be used on the face of the dead girl. Coroner Hollowell went to Wellington last night and made a superficial investigation, but was unable to state the exact cause of death. An inquest will be held this.
The peculiar actions of Lee while at the undertaking parlors of H.M. Balmer, where he secured the fluid and also the casket, are basis of further suspicions as to the cause of death and whether is was suicide, an accident or the result of a craving thirst for liquor.
Lee, accompanied by another man, who is believed to have been Morris, the father of the dead girl, arrived at Balmer's before 7 o'clock yesterday morning. Lee, it is said, was under the influence of liquor, which it is understood he secured on his arrival at Fort Collins.
Mr. Balmer waited on them and got a casket for them. They left the place for a few minutes and then returned through the alley in the rear in a light spring wagon. While the casket was being boxed the man supposed to be Morris said that he wanted some fluid to put on the girl's face. On instructions, Walter Gough, Balmer's assistant, prepared the fluid. When he had done so, he remarked that there were not any bottles about. Balmer said there were some in the cellar and there Gough found a pint whiskey flask, a number of which are kept on hand for just such use as this. He filled the bottle about one-third with the fluid and then filled the bottle with water. He wrapped about it a piece of linen, with which the fluid was to be applied to the face of the dead, and then wrapped all in a piece of newspaper.
During all this time, Lee was talking profusely. Gough placed the bottle down, telling the men it was there and warning them of it's dangers and how to use it. When the casket was ready to be taken away it was found that the wagon in which the men came was too small. Without saying anything to anyone Lee rushed off out the back way of the undertaking place and down the alley. Balmer and the other man whistled for him to come back. But he kept on going and shortly after returned with an expressman whom he instructed to take the casket and rush with it to the railroad station. It was his intention to have it shipped by express on the first train.
It seems that some argument existed about the day for burying the girl, which also adds mystery to the case. Lee, who so far as is known , was only a neighbor of Morris and was acting through a neighboring feeling to which from some sources it is said, there was some objections. When the man left, Gough
had to call their attention to the bottle of embalming fluid again and he handed it to the man supposed to be Mr. Morris.
Nothing more was thought of the case until about 4 o'clock, when Coroner Hollowell got word that Lee was dead in the roadway near Wellington. He left for the scene and took charge of the body. He said last night that he inclined to believe that there was something further about the case. He could not say whether the dead man drank any of the embalming fluid, but said that the bottle when he got it didn't seem to be quite full. From his investigation made last night he said that he couldn't learn death was caused by the fluid or whether the man fell from the wagon. He didn't undress the body to see whether there were any marks to indicate that he had fallen, or that he had come to his death by any other violent means. He did not see the man supposed to be Morris and who left Fort Collins with Lee in the morning."
FORT COLLINS MORNING EXPRESS - Sept. 18, 1908:
"Hemorrhage of Brain Killed Lee"
"Decision of Physician and Coroner's Jury at Inquest"
"While bands passed to and fro in the street below sending their cheering strains throught the windows, and the noise of a multitude of enthusiactic people celebrating Harvest Jubilee rose above all, a sad scene was being enacted in a hall on Wellington's main street yesterday afternoon.
An inquest into the death of O.W. Lee, who died on his way home from Fort Collins, where he had gone to purchase a casket in which to bury the daughter of his friend J.A. Morris, was being held. Several times the grim proceedings had to be stopped while the noise of the merrymakers in the street below floating into the open windows and into the ears of a little woman in black and her sons and daughters, who were listening to manner in which their husband and father came to his death.
Lee's death was the climax of a day of drinking, in which Morris was also a participant. County Physician Purcell and two local physicians of Wellington , declared on the witness stand that death was due to hemorrhage of the brain and the coroner's jury returned a verdict to that effect."
11/1/02 Taken from "The Wellington-A weekly Bulletin - 9/19/1908"
Wellington's First Harvest Jubilee A Flattering Success"
A monster crowd-conservative estimatee at 3000 in attendance 1st day
Sad Event Mars 2nd day - about 1500 present"
the 2nd day opened with a feeling of sadness on the part of all caused by the sudden and tragic death of O.W. Lee who lived near town and whose funeral was held this morning from the Jones Bldg. conducted by the Modern Woodman of which he is a member."
Oliver married Mary Ann "May" Clark, daughter of Jasper Anderson Clark and Celina A. Shepherd, on 2 Jul 1881 in Freemont, Iowa. (Mary Ann "May" Clark was born in May 1862 in Wayne County, Iowa, died on 3 Mar 1933 in Laramie County, Wyoming and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming, Plot: Lot 1761 Sec D.)