Before I get to Matthias, I wanted to say that you may notice the change to my WordPress theme. The old one had some sort of bug that would not allow me to limit the number of blog posts per page. And that was becoming very annoying (for me, anyway). This new one is much better in that regard though I am still getting used to it.
Re: Matthias, you may recall that I’ve done several posts concerning him. He is the son of Francis and Mary Woodruff who went off to farm land in the Dakota Territory back in the 1880s (see posts from March 28 & 30, and April 11). He passed away on April 6, 1893, at just 42 years of age. Wife Mary (Ayers) Woodruff was left a widow at 40, and their son Frances left without a father at 18. I have long been curious as to the circumstances of his death. Well, on Monday, the envelope arrived from the NJ Department of Health’s archives, and I finally got my answer (and, indeed, it’s a very sad one): “Shock & loss of blood after injury.”
The certificate says the death occurred in Chatham, Morris Co., NJ, and that Matthias’s residence was located in Madison (next town over). You may recall that Madison is where Isaac Ayers, Matthias’s brother-in-law, ran a grocery store. How terribly tragic for the Woodruff and Ayers families, and I can’t help wondering whether the below group photo may have been taken on the occasion of the funeral (Matthias’s brother William, my great grandfather, is shown standing on the right). It fits the timeline, though I can’t remember whether NJ looks that wintery in early April. Matthias was buried at Evergreen Cemetery near his parents, Francis and Mary (Trowbridge) Woodruff, who passed away in the early 1880s.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the circumstances of his injury, and I am not sure how I would go about finding that out. Was this an industrial accident? A road accident? What happened to his land in Dakota is a mystery. Had he sold it by then, or was he just home visiting before heading off to begin his spring planting? If I were on the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are?, I would be saying, “Guess I’m going to North Dakota” or “I’m off to Chatham, then.” But alas, such travels are not in the cards for me any time soon! Perhaps, someday a descendant of Matthias’s son Frances will contact me via the blog to provide some clues.