Most Colorful Obituary - Sherman Maish

A large part of my research involves reading obituaries. Depending on the writer and the era, obituaries may tell the entire story of someone’s life or simply state that they died. In the last nine years, none has been as colorful as Sherman Maish’s. Sherman died in an unfortunate accident involving dynamite. The writer for the Blackduck newspaper, however, had quite a unique writing style.

BlackDuck American – Wednesday July 10, 1918

Killed By Dynamite While Blowing Stumps

Sherm Maish Blown to Unrecognizable Mass while Clearing Land North of Town Yesterday
One of the most horrible accidents that it has ever been our lot to chronicle occurred yesterday afternoon on Matt Steelman's place about four miles north of this village when Sherm Maish, old time resident and well known character of this vicinity, was instantly killed by a charge of dynamite which he was in the act of placing in position under a large stump.

The dynamite was the kind used in blowing stumps and was purchased by Mr. Steelman who went to his place yesterday to do a little clearing. He was accompanied by Maish, E. Merriman and Ed Peterson who were to help with the clearing. Matt Steelman's version of the terrible affair is substantially as follows:

We had been working all day clearing and up to the time of the accident, about two o'clock had no trouble with the dynamite. I was carrying the explosive, fuses and caps, and Maish got it ready to blow the stumps and lit the fuse. The three of us were standing around while he placed the explosive under this big stump and as he started to light it we turned and walked away expecting of course that Maish was following. While in the act of walking, young Peterson looked back and remarked that Maish was still at the stump and that he better get away or he would be killed. Just then the explosion took place. I was probably only fifteen feet away and Merriman and Peterson a little farther. As the dust cleared away we could see nothing of Maish and a fear came over us that he had been killed. Hurrying towards the stump we found, about eight feet from it, Maish lying on his back where he had been hurled by the force of the charge and from appearances his body had turned over twice.

It is said that Maish was often careless in handling dynamite and was known to take desperate chances and it is believed that he was waiting to see that the fuse was burning properly and that the explosion occurred before he could get on his feet. His face and check was an unrecognizable mass and presented a gruesome sight.

An effort to locate the coroner at Bemidji yesterday failed and upon orders of the local health offices the body was taken in charge by Undertaker Kolden and will be prepared for burial. As it is clearly a case of accidental death it is believed that a coroner's inquest is unnecessary and unless word is received from the county authorities funeral services will take place tomorrow.
Deceased leaves a large family to mourn his death.

One singular phase of Maish's tragic death is that this makes the fourth sudden death in the family circle with a few years, three of which were caused by accidents. These were Ole Lukken, a son-in-law, drown in Blackduck Lake, the sudden death of Lottie Maish, a daughter, and the drowning in a well only three weeks ago of one of his grandchildren.

I have done a lot more research the Maish family. Sherman’s parents were Joseph and Susannah (Poland) Maish of Iowa and he had quite a colorful family. If anyone in the family has more information on Sherman’s family, I would like to work with you to complete this family tree.