Obit: Sebastian, John (1890 - 1949)

Contact: stan@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

Surnames: Sebastian, Hildensperger, Hildebrandt, Wolf, Draheim, Scheuter, Koeppen

----Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) 06/23/1949

Sebastian, John (17 Nov. 1890 - 19 June 1949)

In a dynamite blast which could be heard for miles and which damaged the home and buildings on his town of McMillan farm, John Sebastian, age 58, ended his life Sunday morning at 8:25 o’clock.

John W. Hildensperger, Marathon county coroner, along with Undersheriff Harold Hildebrandt and Deputy Walter Wolf, investigated the explosion and termed the death a suicide.

Sebastian, who lived near the Marathon-Wood county line, a mile east of highway 97, apparently was despondent over ill health. He had undergone a major operation this spring.

He apparently ended his life by lying on about 25 pounds of dynamite in the farm pump house and ignited a fuse. The pump house, which was totally demolished with timbers and parts of a gasoline engine strewn over a 200-foot area, was in the center of the farm yard.

His wife, Martha, who had left him a few moments before and had gone into the house to learn what time it was at his request was thrown against the wall by the detonation. The doors and windows of the home were blown out and most of the plaster in the second-floor bedrooms were knocked down.

Three sons, Siegfried, 13, Norman, 8, and Charles, 26, who were in the barn throwing down hay, narrowly escaped injury as chunks of wood came hurtling through the structure.

Large timbers were found imbedded in the sides of two barns. The custion(?) following the blast left a gaping hole in the cattle barn as it sucked the planking loose.

Sebastian was blown to bits. His torso was found against a barn about 40 feet from where the pump house had stood. There was a deep depression in the concrete floor where he apparently had laid down.

A crude crucifix was found near the explosion. It was a cross sawed out of wood with a picture of the crucified Christ drawn upon it. There was some writing on the cross, but it wasn’t decipherable.

A large number of spectators was attracted to the farm and they had to be warned to step very carefully through the debris because a box of unexploded dynamite caps, which had been in the pump house, were strewn over a wide area.

Wilbur Draheim, who lives about a mile away from the scene, said a newspaper he was reading while sitting in his home, was knocked out of his hand. Other farmers reported that their houses shook.

Arthur Scheuter, chairman of the town of McMillan, who was attending church in Marshfield, three miles away, at the time, said he heard the explosion.

Sebastian and his family moved onto the 80-acre farm in 1940. Before that he worked a farm in the town of Rock, Wood county, and before that he lived in Spencer.

He was born in Germany Nov. 17, 1890, and came to this country in 1913. He was married to Martha Koeppen in Spencer Nov. 23, 1923.

Besides his widow and sons who were in the barn at the time of the explosion, he is survived by two other sons, Frank, 23, who lives at home, and Henry, 22, Waukesha. Charles also works in Waukesha, but he was home on a visit.

The body was taken to the Hansen funeral home in Marshfield.

 

 


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