Thornton B. (1893 - 1935)
Contact: Crystal Wendt
Surnames: Milton, Reinhardt, Woefle, Kurth, Garfield, Snyder, Gallagan, Mantague, Ross
----Sources: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) 25 July 1935
Milton, Thornton B. (18 Feb. 1893 - 1935)
This community was greatly shocked Thursday morning at learn that Thornton B. Milton, formerly a resident of Pine Valley, had been killed in a mysterious explosion which wrecked and burned his home at 2318 Sheridan Avenue north, Minneapolis. The cause of the blast was not determined, but firemen were of the opinion that a leaky gas connection or burner was responsible.
Mr. Milton, whose wife and five children were at Mauston visiting relatives, had planned to leave about 4 a.m. Thursday to join them. A neighbor reported she was looking out of the window at 7:30 a.m., when the Milton home suddenly blew up with a rush of flames enveloping the debris. The neighbor stated that Mr. Milton always made it a point to start on trips about 4 a.m., and was unable to account for him being partially overcome by gas. It was thought he might have aroused himself enough to try to light a cigarette or turn on a switch, the spark of which ignited the gas in the home.
Four firemen were injured, one of whom died later, it was reported, in a futile effort to rescue Mr. Milton.
Mr. Milton was born Feb. 18, 1893 at Spooner, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Milton, and settled with his parents in Pine Valley in 1894. He attended the Pine Valley school and took a course in the Neillsville Business College, followed by a course in dairying at the University of Wisconsin.
For a time he was employed as a cheese maker in this city by Frank Reinhardt and later owned cheese factories at Lodi and Mauston. From Mauston Mr. Milton went to Minneapolis where he was employed by a creamery and then went into business for himself, manufacturing ice cream. In recent years he worked as a salesman for the Cedar Lake Ice and Fuel Co., of Minneapolis.
On June 27, 1922, Mr. Milton was married to Miss Mary Woefle. Five children, Gladys, Philip, Robert, Luella and Rita May being born to this union, all of whom survive. He is also survived by his father, who lives in Pine Valley, four brothers, Leslie and James, Pine Valley, Harry, Centralia, Wash., and Elmo, a resident of Texas, and a sister, Mrs. Louis Kurth of Neillsville, Wis.
Mr. Milton was a man of the highest ideals and character and well liked by all who knew him. He was highly skilled in his work as a dairyman and his jovial nature and honesty made him particularly well fitted for his work as a foreman.
The funeral was held Saturday morning at Mauston. Pallbearers were Leslie Milton, James Milton, Louis W. Kurth, of Neillsville; Ralph Garfield, Minneapolis; George and John Woefle, brothers of Mrs. Thornton Milton.
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Kurth, George Kurth, Leslie and James Milton and families attended the funeral.
The following account of the explosion and death was taken from the St. Paul Dispatch.
"A man was killed and four city firemen injured in an explosion at 7:30 today which destroyed a home at 2318 Sheridan Avenue North, Minneapolis, and set fire to two neighboring houses.
"Thornton B. Milton, in whose home the explosion occurred, is the dead man. He was alone in the house while his wife and five small children were visiting in Wisconsin. The family is expected home today. He was 45 years old.
"The four firemen injured are L. A. Gallagan, Hook and Ladder company No. 10; Leonard Mantague, member of the same company; Charles Snyder, of Engine Company No. 25, and Frank Ross of Hook and Ladder company No. 4. Ross was overcome by smoke.
"The men were taken to General Hospital for treatment. Gallagan, it was reported, suffered sever burns on the hands and body. Snyder was burned on the shoulders and neck.
"Milton, a salesman for the Cedar Lake Ice Co.; was buried under the flaming ruins of his home. The explosion shook a wide district of north Minneapolis. The fire which followed spread almost immediately to houses on both sides.
"The Milton residence was burned to the ground. The Richard Anderson house at 2320 Sheridan Avenue and the Charles DaVidson house at 2314 Sheridan Avenue were heavily damaged. Occupants of both neighboring houses had narrow escapes.
"The cause of the explosion was not at once determined. Officials of the fire prevention bureau said they learned that Milton had been fumigating Wednesday with some liquid, but prevention bureau officials said they could not tell if this was a factor in the tragedy.
"Neighbor heard an explosion about 7:30 a.m. and ran out to see the Milton home, just flying to pieces and in flames."
"In the Anderson home, occupied by Richard Anderson, 75 years old, on the first floor, and by Clifford Brabant, his niece, Margie Brabant, and a little girl visitor upstairs, the explosion was through an earthquake."
"Brabant was thrown from his bed. He looked out of the window and saw the Milton home in flames. He and the two girls made their way to safety. Margie taking care ot save a canary and pet parrot.
"In the Davidson home were Mr. Davidson, his wife and 15 year old twin daughters, Opal and Garnet, were just getting up, when the explosion occurred and set their house on fire. The father remained to help the girls out and after he found his own escape through the door cit off. He broke an upstairs window to the porch and jumped to the ground.
"Members of the M. J. Chapman and Robert Colburn families living downstairs in the Davidson home escaped unhurt.
"Working for more than two hours firemen recovered the body of Milton from under a heap of charred debris. Two alarms turned in brought approximately 75 firemen to the scene."
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