1905 Accident in Yellowstone National Park

1905 Accident in Yellowstone National Park


My great, great Aunt Frances "Fannie" A.Weeks, an impressive employee of the Federal Government, had a Freak accident by slliding into a scalding pool of water while watching a geyser in Yellowstone National Park in 1905. To my knowledge, the accident is unique, but that is not the only part of her life that was impressive. Read her September 7, 1905 obituary from the front page of the Washington Post here.

Stories about 1905 Accident in Yellowstone National Park


  • Yellowstone National Park, Montana, USA

The Washington Post

No. 10680 Thursday, September 7, 1905 Page 1, Col. 8

DEATH IN A GEYSER Miss Fannie A. Weeks Scalded In Yellowstone Park. SANK INTO BOILING POOL Frightful Accident Befell a Prominent Treasury Employe. Limestone Crust Around Grand Geyser Collapsed as She Watched Waterspout Throwing Her Up To Her Elbows in the Scalding Water---Removed to Livingston, Montana Where She Died After Hours of the Most Intense Suffering. Miss Fannie A. Weeks, of 809 Twelfth Street, Northwest; an employe of the Treasury Department, was scalded on August 27 by falling into the Grand Geyser Pool, Yellowstone National Park; dying after terrible sufferings at Livingston, Montana, on September 4.While standing near the Grand Geyser, part of the shoreline of the pool, formed by soft carbonate of Lime, gave way beneath her weight. She sank to her elbows in the boiling water, and was frightfully burned about every part of her body, which was submerged before being rescued by bystanders. Miss Weeks, who was about 52 years of age and weighed nearly 200 pounds, was removed to the nearest Hospital in Livingston, Montana, where she received medical attention, but her injuries where of such a character as to baffle the best medical skill, and she died, in great agony, late Tuesday evening. Mr. Kovalevsky, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who witnessed the accident, notified Major Sylvester, Superintendent of Police, who notified the Department officials. Miss Weeks had no relatives in this city. The accident is believed to be the first of this character ever to have occurred in Yellowstone Park, although thousands of visitors annually visit the geysers there. Was on Annual LeaveFor the past year Miss Weeks made her home with Captain and Mrs. J. A. Graham at 809 Twelfth Street, Northwest, having previous to that time lived elsewhere in this city, and having a large circle of friends. On August 1, Miss Weeks, having obtained her annual leave, left this city in the company of one of her friends, Miss Eliza Hartman, of Michigan, was employed in the office of the Sixth Auditor of the Treasury, for Oregon and California. Her object was to visit the Yellowstone Park and the Portland Exposition, as well as to inspect the gold mines and works of the Great Western Gold Mining Company of Reading California, Miss Weeks owning considerable stock in its mining property. After leaving Washington, her friends heard nothing more from her until the news came of her untimely death.  The day after the accident occurred, Miss Weeks summoned strength enough to dictate the following letter to a Washington friend; Mrs. C. Hussey of 809 Twelfth Street, Northwest:                                                 Livingston, Montana August 28, 1905                             Dear Mrs. Hussey: While visiting one of the geyser field in Yellowstone Park, the edge of one of the geyser gave way with me, and let me down into the boiling cauldron. I am terribly scalded from the elbows down. Am now in Livingston, Montana, in a helpless condition, and under medical treatment. Do not know when I shall be able to be forwarded to Washington.                             Sincerely Yours, Miss Fannie A. Weeks per E. Hartman. Body Will be Buried HereBefore her death, Miss Weeks expressed a desire to be interred in Rock Creek Cemetery. She was a member of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and of Bethlehem Chapter, No. 7, Order of the Eastern Star. The remains were shipped to this city last Tuesday and are expected to arrive tomorrow. Arrangement for the funeral have not yet been completed, but it is understood that the obsequies will be conducted from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church under the auspices of the Bethlehem Chapter. Miss Weeks was born in Gainesville, Florida about 1853. Her parents are dead, but she has living a sister and two brothers --- Miss Matilda Weeks of Gainesville, FL, Mr. Stephen Weeks, of Gainesville, FL and Mr. Thomas Weeks of Fort Myers, FL; all of whom have been notified of their sister’s death. Miss Weeks was educated in New York City, and was for some years a stenographer for Senator Call of Florida. In May, 1886 she was appointed a superintendent and teacher for the Indian Schools in Utah. She received her appointment in this city, leaving the Capital for what at that time was the most turbulent, thinly settled, and desolate portion of the Western Frontier. For six years, she living and taught among the Utes, the White River Indians, and the Uncomphagres, learning their language and obtaining an influence over her barbaric pupils little short of astounding.  She was of great force and character and was endowed with extraordinary courage. During the Utes troubles of the late eighties, the agent of the White River reservation, learning that his life was in danger, and knowing the influence which Miss Weeks possessed over the Indians, sent for her to come to the post, hoping to head off the impending danger. The post was surrounded one night by several hundred Utes, determined to have the life of the agent and his family. A band of them managed to gain access to the agent’s house and were at the point of entering his bedroom when Miss Weeks appeared and barred the way. A parley ensued, in which the Indians stated that they had learned that General Crook was soon to establish a garrison in their midst; that they had information that the soldiers were coming to kill the Indians, and that, furthermore, they felt certain that the agent whom they had trusted as a friend, had been responsible. They demanded his blood as the price of this treachery. Miss Weeks not only prevented the Indians from carrying out their threat, but she also gained a promise that if she produced the agent, that he would not be molested. Ordering the Indians to be seated she next threatened to shoot one of her subordinate school teachers who, hid behind a door, was making a great outcry. Calmed Savage Red MenHaving quieted the frightened school mistress, she left the house, to reach the agent’s room by a round about way. It was then that she realized the extreme gravity of the situation. The house was surrounded on every side by squadron after squadron of mounted Indians. Nothing daunted, however, she aroused the agent, who donned his weapons; determined, if need be, to sell his life at the dearest possible price. Together they returned to the room where the chiefs were waiting. A long talk ensued, in which a Pow-Wow was agreed upon, and the day following the agent and his men and the Indians rode away to the new garrison where the matter was satisfactorily adjusted.  Miss Weeks were fond of teaching and was an ideal teacher. In early life, she has taught in the West Florida Seminary. When she first when among the Utes, conditions were such that she, at first, felt that she could not stand the work. Once she wrote to Secretary Lamar begging to be relieved, but he encouraged her to remain, and by degrees, she became greatly attracted to her work. Several teachers that had been sent to the Ute Country before her arrival had failed and given up their places through fear and cowardice, but Miss Weeks established a rule of iron, soon turning the tables on the Indians, who in time, came to fear her instead of she fearing them. At the time she arrived in White River country, there were no schools, but by her efforts and the interest which she brought to bear on her work, she by 1898, had built a fine brick school Removed by Department The government then, without explanation, removed her from the service, placing the school which she had built up in the hands of another. The blow almost broke Miss Weeks heart, and her friends say that from that time until the time of her death, that she was never the same as she had been before. She cared little for the salary, but she loved the Utes and the work of teaching the Indian children. Three years ago a delegation of Utes visited the Capital and immediately made inquiries for Miss Weeks. They were shown to the room in the Treasury in which Miss Weeks was employed. These simple sons of the desert imagined that the Treasury building was Miss Weeks residence, and returned to the west firm in that belief. Miss Weeks took them to Mount Vernon and gave them a good time generally. Before leaving, they did all in their power to have the government return her to the position as their teacher. On leaving her position as teacher in the Utes country in 1872, she came, at the instance of friends, to this city. As a result of her disappointment she had lost all interest in teaching. Some time after her return to the Capital, she was appointed to a clerkship in the army and navy pension division of the Treasury department, under Chief Henry Casey, which she had held for a period of thirteen years or more. Chief Casey, who called last evening at Miss Weeks former residence, spoke in the highest terms of her abilities, she being, in fact, one of the most efficient and valued employes of the Treasury department.  [Presented as printed in the Washington Post on September 7, 1905. No spelling or phrase corrections have been made.]

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