27 October 2011

Thriller Thursday - "Former Village Clerk of Hyde Park Has Thrilling Experience"

OK, so a bit of disclosure here: my great-grandfather, Henry Wersel, worked at the Cincinnati Enquirer for 54 years. Yep, that's right, fifty-four. The only reason he stopped working there, in 1936, is because he died on the streetcar on the way to work. He started out working in the press room, but eventually wrote for one of the columns. So, he not only had writing abilities, he had access to a typesetter. Heh.

I received, a few years after I had started my genealogical research, photocopies of the pages from a scrapbook in the possession of my mom's first cousin, Tom Wersel. Tom couldn't remember how the book came into his possession, told me via our phone conversation that it was in deplorable condition, but that he would make some copies and send them along. This is only one of the treasures I found among newspaper clippings (1896-1908) in the scrapbook:

In a Snow Wrapped Mountain Pass
Former Village Clerk of Hyde Park
Has Thrilling Experience

  William Wersel, former Village Clerk of Oakley, who has been prospecting for gold in the Thunder Mountains of Idaho, has just been heard from, with one of the most thrilling stories of adventure that has come out of that region. In a letter to his brother, Henry Wersel, he narrates the experience of himself and a party of gold seekers who had left the mountains and were wending their way through the foothills to a section of country that had not been invaded by searchers for wealth. They had reached the New Percez Pass when, one night, there was a fall of snow two inches in depth that completely obliterated all traces of the trail they had been following. Unfamiliar with the country, knowing nothing about the landmarks that would have been a sufficient guide for the natives, they were panic-stricken when they realized their perilous situation. They went through that experience so common to travelers in the Arctic regions - attempting to advance, but soon deviating from a straight course and returning to the original starting point. For six days they wandered about in the foothills, hopelessly lost. On the sixth day their supply of provisions was exhausted. They had not run across any game in their wanderings, and unable to replenish their arder, starvation stared them in the face. Despair seized on several members of the party, and, wrapping themselves in their blankets, they lay down and resigned themselves to a terrible death. Mr. Wersel, undaunted by this misfortune, continued the search for an outlet to the plains beyond the pass. On a day when the situation of the party had become desperate in the extreme he discovered a log cabin on the mountain side that looked as if it had not been tenanted for months. Searching in all parts of the structure he soon found a supply of provisions which had evidently been "cached" by the mountaineer, to be drawn on at some future date. Leaving money on the table sufficient to pay for the articles he took and a note of explanation, he hurried back to the camp. The famished gold seekers were in the midst of a feast when the owner of the provisions put in an appearance. He refused to accept the money left at the cabin, but as soon as he had heard their story tendered his services in piloting them out of the desolate country to a place of safety, which, of course, were eagerly accepted. 
  After a ride of 1,000 miles on horseback Mr. Wersel has returned to Butte, Mont. He has secured options on three mines there that five great promise of handsome returns when fully developed.

Oh, as far as I know, or was able to research, there was no record of the mine options this article spoke of; no family fortune was passed down. Only thing that got passed down? Tenacity.


  1. What a great story! So glad it had such a happy ending!

  2. Lisa, thanks for commenting and yes, I was glad also that the story ended happily. It's interesting what bits of information can be gleaned from an article like this for genealogical purposes. I hope to find out more about William and his (obviously) interesting life.


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