Obit: Tragsdorf, Bernhard #2 (1855 - 1909)

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Surnames: Tragsdorf, Wagner


----Source: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) 10/21/1909


Tragsdorf, Bernhard #2 (1 JUN 1855 - 16 OCT 1909)


Following the shock of Joseph Morley’s death, came the equally, if not more shocking death of Bernhard Tragsdorf, one of the city’s oldest and most respected businessmen.  Mr. Tragsdorf was killed Friday night by the midnight train, and his body mutilated in a terrible manner.  The exact manner in which Mr. Tragsdorf met his death will never be known, for there were no witnesses to the tragedy, and his death was not known until Saturday morning when the body was found by Henry Marth.  Mr. Marth is one of the section men, and shortly after six o’clock while on his way to work, he discovered the body lying along the railroad track about 20 feet west of the depot platform.  The head was completely severed from the body, the body lying at a right angle from the south rail.  The authorities were notified and the body later taken to the Lowe undertaking rooms.  A coroner’s inquest was held before Justice Crothers and after the testimony was taken, a verdict of accidental death was returned.


As stated, the exact manner of Mr. Tragsdorf’s death will never be known.  Mr. Tragsdorf was in the waiting room of the depot up to the time that the midnight train first whistled.  He then left the room alone, and went west upon the depot platform.  This was the last seen of him alive.  From the position in which the body lay, there was a rumor that he had been killed by thugs and the body laid upon the track.  This theory is not substantiated by the fact that about 8 feet east of where the body lay the rail was splashed with blood, demonstrating that an east-bound train struck Mr. Tragsdorf, and that he was alive when the train struck him.  Mr. Tragsdorf was a man who never carried sums of money, and although he did speak of going to Milwaukee while he was at the depot, yet it is not probable that he had any great amount of money in his pocket.  His watch was found on the body.


The most plausible theory as to Mr. Tragsdorf’s death seems to be the one which supposes that Mr. Tragsdorf had left the depot at the time the train first whistled, about 10 minutes before due, and that he walked west along the track to kill time.  That he went further than he intended and that the train came in while he was gone.  He hurried back to the train which was by that time pulling out, and as he came along the side of the train he stumbled and fell, striking upon his head and shoulder.  The shock of falling may have stunned him, and he fell in such a way that his head lay across the rail, and as he was probably unconscious from the fall, he could do nothing to save himself from death.


To the bereaved family and friends of Mr. Tragsdorf, the business world and friends extend their deepest sympathy.  An autobiography of Mr. Tragsdorf was published in a special edition of the Times some years ago, and as the data was furnished by the deceased it is reprinted in part.


"Bernhard Tragsdorf was born June 1, 1855, in Saxony, Germany.  He worked on a farm and learned the blacksmith trade while young and came to America when only fifteen and settled in Washington County, Wis., where he had an uncle, and he hired to a farmer and went to school in the winter for two years.  He then went into a general store as clerk, at Batavia and from there to Neuburgh to clerk for B. Dangers, in 1873.


He later went to Plymouth and spent three years and then came to visit his brother, Julius, in Neillsville, in 1875.  This was at the time called the "Al Brown winter: and it was "hard times".  In the spring after the next year he went to gardening for Kirkland and in the fall Blakeslee starting a store he accepted a position as clerk and stayed with him until 1880, when he went back to his old home in Germany and spent six months visiting.  Returning to Neillsville he again went to work for Blakeslee and when that gentleman sold out to J. Hammel & Co. he remained with them.  B. Dangers wrote him asking if there was an opening here at that time and he replied "yes" and Mr. Dangers came here from Sherman, Sheboygan County, and bought out John Klopf, and he then went to work for Mr. Dangers and stayed with him until 1888, when he went into partnership ….til 1899 and then started the department store.  Mr. Balch sold out his interest in this firm in 1901 to Zimmerman & Kolar and the business ever afterward was styled the Tragsdorf, Zimmerman & Co.


Mr. Tragsdorf was married in 1880 to Miss Bertha Wagner of this city, and to this union seven children were born, six of whom survive to comfort the bereaved wife and mother.  The children are Will, who holds a position as stenographer at the Panama Canal, Clara, Elsie, Lillie, Walter and Edna.  One brother, Julius, also survives Mr. Tragsdorf.  Bennie, as he was familiarly known, the little man from the Big store, was a gentleman of scholarly attainments and a man whose friendship it was an honor to have.  In his business dealings he was honorable and courteous and his genial disposition won him the friendly feeling of all who knew him.  As a husband and father he lived a model life, as a citizen h was progressive and ass a business man he was held in the highest esteem.  Mr. Tragsdorf was a deep thinker and an excellent conversationalist, and the writer and others will sorely miss the occasional expressions upon subjects that he was wont to make.


The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock from the family residence, Rev. Hill of La Crosse officiating.  The Woodmen, of which order Mr. Tragsdorf was a member, conducted the services.  Roy Fitch of Madison, Mrs. Bauman of Wausau, Mrs. Stueber of Winona and Mrs. Firstenberg of Marshfield were here for the funeral.



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