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A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY IN MINONK
TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 8, 1897 AT THE COAL SHAFT

Trouble Between Company Men and Miners Results in Deaths of Superintendent Andrew W. Morgan and John Wetoski, Jr. - An Awful Scene-Everything Quieted Down and No Prospect of Further Trouble

This is a news story from The Minonk News on June 10, 1897. The article was taken from the archives of the Filger Library and provided to us by Barbara Hutchinson.

The tragedy enacted in Minonk Tuesday morning by which two of our citizens lost their lives is one long to be remembered by the people. The whole affair was a mistake, and the result is sad to contemplate. The evidence as given before the coronerís jury is somewhat conflicting in some points but the facts are about as follows:

The miners have been out on a strike since May 1st owing to a reduction in the price of mining coal. The men held a meeting Monday and sent a committee to Mr. K. L. Ames, general manager of the Coal Company, to see upon what terms they could return to work. His reply was unsatisfactory to the men, and they decided to stay out and try to persuade a few men who had been working the past few days to stay out also. A committee of the miners were sent to Mayor Kipp to ask permission to talk to the men about working, and he informed them they could do so if they would do it in a peaceable, quiet manner, and go without weapons, and he also warned them against doing any damage to the men or to Mr. Amesí property. The committee promised to obey him and returned to the men. Tuesday morning, about 75 men met at an early hour in the grove west of the shaft, and at a little after 6 oíclock, went over to the mines stopping on the west side of the Central R. R. tracks, and along the south side of the shaft pond. Mr. Ames, A. W. Morgan, John Marland, Jr., Ed Kelly, and a few other company men were there also standing near the coal chutes.

A miner came out of the south house of a row of five brick houses west of the shaft, dressed as though going to work. Mr. Morgan seen him, and, with a revolver in hand, went across to the house. The miner and Mr. Morgan started to the mines, and when near the southwest corner of the pond, they were met by the body of miners, who commenced talking to the miner with Mr. Morgan, trying to persuade him to stay out of the mines. He finally consented to do so, and started back home with the men. Mr. Morgan was down in a depression in the ground, perhaps eighteen inches lower than the men. He had started towards the chutes but turned around and fired two shots from his revolver into the ground. About this time the miners began to close in on him. At this point the evidence is very conflicting as to whether he fired the third shot before being attacked, and we leave the reader to decide for themselves from the evidence as to the facts. When the third shot was fired, John Wetoski, Jr., who was standing perhaps twenty feet away from Mr. Morgan, in the public street, fell over dead, the bullet having entered his head about two inches below and 1Ĺ inches back of his left ear. The bullet lodged in the base of the brain. The course of the bullet shows that Mr. Wetoski was standing to the right and on higher ground than Mr. Morgan, and that he had his back or side turned to Mr. Morgan, who was immediately overpowered by the men and beaten and kicked until his life was nearly extinct.

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Joseph Romonoski was the man that first took hold of Morgan. He threw his arms around his neck and grabbed his arms. The two men fell to the ground, with Morgan on top, but Romonoski got hold of the revolver and handed it to Stany Matszywatz, who afterwards gave it to Peter Stret, and he turned it over to Alderman Steve Katchmark, and he to Mayor Kipp who arrived on the ground only a minute after Morgan was carried across the tracks. Three chambers of the revolver were empty. While Romonoski and Morgan were struggling on the ground, other men struck and kicked Mr. Morgan. He was struck by a fishplate, stones and clinkers, and kicked. As soon as Morgan was attacked, Edward Kelly went to his rescue, and picking him up attempted to get him away from the crowd, and only succeeded after he was himself knocked down twice. Joseph Erbland also tried to help Morgan, but he was knocked down and his revolver taken from him by Frank Adamzak, who gave it to someone and he afterwards gave it to Mayor Kipp. Mr. Erbland was being badly pounded when some one yelled ďman killedĒ and the men jumped up and let Mr. Erbland escape.


Stany Halegera received a bullet wound. It plowed through about three inches of his scalp, but is not serious. It canít be found out how he got the wound.

Mr. Morgan was carried into the office and his wounds washed; then he was taken home and Drs. F. W. Wilcox and P. M. Evans called in. The doctors found twenty-one cuts on his head; his hip was badly bruised, but there was no fracture of the bones. Mr. Morgan was conscious, but began to get drowsy before his wounds were all dressed, and soon afterward became unconscious. He expired about 1:30 oíclock.

The remains of Mr. Wetoski were taken to the engine house and a post mortem examination held by Drs. Wilcox and Ferd Seidl, the latter also being the coroner. A jury was summoned and all the evidence taken that could be obtained from the witnesses. The word was given the jury that Mr. Morgan was dead, and they concluded their labors, without going further into the case. Their verdict, in substance, was that John Wetoski, Jr. came to his death by a shot from a revolver fired by A. W. Morgan.


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Immediately afterwards, a jury was obtained to inquire into the cause of the death of A. W. Morgan. They went over and viewed the body, and also the place where the trouble occurred. They adjourned until 9 oíclock Wednesday, when evidence was taken from several witnesses, but as some of the most important witnesses could not be found the jury adjourned until 9 oíclock, Monday, June 14th.

The man that was the cause of the trouble left town after the shooting. He was last heard from at La Rose, but soon disappeared from that place.

Mayor Kipp placed a few special police on duty, but they had nothing to do. The saloons were promptly closed and Tuesday was almost as quiet as Sunday. Following is the evidence testified to before the coroner:

Edward Kelly

Reside in Minonk, Woodford county, Ill., June 8, 1897.

Were you up where this man was killed?Yes, occurred June 8, 1897. When I got there, there was a body of men standing on the west side of the railroad chutes where they coal the engines. One man coming to work, and Mr. Morgan went over to convey him over to the works, and on his return toward the shaft with this man these men met him, and he told them to stand back. They kept rushing onto him, and think Morgan fired a shot into the ground; after that he was clinched by some men. I couldnít see who it was; I rushed there then and tried to get Morgan out the best I could; they were beating him over the head with clubs and kicking him, heard three shots fired; was away fifteen yards when first shot was fired; was about thirty or forty feet away when last two shots were fired; didnít know a man was shot until I was retreating with Mr. Morgan in my arms and Joe Tamishuski told me a man was killed; this was about half past six oíclock this morning. The crowd was about forty feet from Mr. Morgan when he fired the first shot; didnít see the men have any clubs or rocks until after Morgan fired; Morgan was about the west line of the Illinois Central ground; as Morgan passed by the crowd after the man that wanted to go to work, I didnít see any sign of violence; the man that was going to work boards in No. 36, with John Quatkoski; I work for the C. & M. C. & T. Co.; John Marland, Jr. helped me carry Morgan, first, then Jim Smith helped me. I saw no firearms in the crowd, except the one Mr. Morgan had.


Page 4

John Marland, Jr.

Being sworn, testifies: My name is John Marland, Jr., 27 years old, assistant mine boss; saw the trouble at shaft this morning; went to the shaft about 15 minutes after six, usually go half past six or quarter to seven, my employer, K. L. Ames, requested me to go early; he just told me to be at the mines a little earlier, that they might have trouble, but there might not be; told me so about 8 oíclock last night; in the shaft store; a crowd there when I got to the mines; about 75 persons; south of the pond and west of Illinois Central, R. R.; they were Polish; couldnít say who else; Mr. Morgan was there; did not talk to him; when I got up to the mine, I stood on the east side of the Central tracks, and pretty soon I saw a miner come from the west side minerís houses, and he hesitated coming any farther and some of the miners hollowed at him; I donít know what they said to him; and then Mr. Morgan walked over to the house where this man stopped; this man went into the house, and Mr. Morgan followed him into the house, and in a few minutes Mr. Morgan and this miner came out, coming toward the shaft; and when they got about half way across the street, the miners in a body started towards Mr. Morgan and this miner; the miners were in a body south of pond, part in street and part on R. R. ground.






Mr. Morgan told the miners to stand back; the miners didnít stop, and Morgan shot twice into the ground and that excited the miners and they surrounded Mr. Morgan and this miner; after they surrounded them, I heard one shot fired, but did not see who done the shooting; then I saw the miners kicking and striking Mr. Morgan until Ed Kelly succeeded in carrying him away. I saw Mr. Erbland have a firearm. Mr. Morgan was about on the line of the street when he fired the shots; did not see the man shot. I was standing on the east side of the tracks, south of the chutes. I told the miners for God sake to stop; this thing was bad enough. I saw one man with a piece of iron about two feet long, before the shooting; didnít hear any threats made. I saw no reason for Mr. Morgan shooting into the ground; tried to get the crowd away from Mr. Morgan. This was in the city of Minonk, Woodford Co., Ill.

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Steve Katchmark

Being sworn, testifies: My name is Steve Katchmark, 22 years old; occupation, coal miner; live in Minonk, Ill; am alderman in the First Ward, this morning my brother called me, and said they are shooting; then mother called to me and said they were shooting the miners; started to the office; met Ed. Kelly and Joe Erbland; Ed. Kelly bringing a man along; boys told me it was Morgan; saw John Wetoski dead he was bleeding; heart didnít beat; miners told me Morgan shot him; they said Morgan was down in a hole, and they were all around him up on top of bank; asked them what they done before he fired a shot; they said they asked the man that was going to work to not go down; only stay out with them; and Morgan fired two shots then; when he fired two shots, didnít strike no one; and the third shot killed John Wetoski; I stepped off south of the old shaft pond; the first two shots were fired west of Ill. Cent. track, 34 steps; about two feet to a step, and the third shot, where John Wetoski laid, was forty-three steps west of the (illegible).

††††††††††† Frank Knoll, sworn as Interpreter, from Polish to English.

Frank Adamzak

Witness, being sworn, testifies through Frank Knoll, Interpreter; 27 years old, coal miner; lived in Minonk since Jan. 28, 1897; was at shaft where trouble was this morning; went there after six; about 15 minutes after six; about a hundred men; miners, majority of them Polish; some German miners that were striking; didnít have a leader; they went down to the men that were working and wanted to ask them what they were earning a day; didnít go by agreement; only went to ask the men what they were making, and if they could make a living; miners had a meeting yesterday in the grove between 5 and 6 oíclock; secretary was present at meeting; didnít keep a memorandum of any meeting; Stany Halegera was secretary and president; I was at meeting; they agreed that they should go to the men who were going to work this morning and ask them whether they could make a living or not; if they couldnít, to join them and stay out; this morning gathered in grove and went down after six, and when on west side of Central road they seen Mr. Ames and Morgan. Mr. Ames went to the office and Mr. Morgan went to the house of the man that was working; this was about half past six oíclock;


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Mr. Ames and Morgan were on Central R. R. between tracks, about 15 or 20 steps south of the chutes; then the men went to the man that went out of house and wanted to talk to him; but didnít get no chance; Mr. Morgan was down in the hollow, and he shot twice; hollow was between R. R. track and street; then the man went away from Mr. Morgan, back toward home, and then Morgan shot and killed a man; saw Morgan shoot the third time; was about six steps from him; John Wetoski was about three steps from Morgan when shot; at the time didnít know who was shot; I took Joe Erblandís revolver away from him; it was loaded; heard four shots; didnít see who shot fourth time; it was a company man; didnít know the company men; John Wetoski didnít attempt to fight or use violence of any kind; the striking miners were going back with the man; all were following the miner and wanted to talk to him; Morgan was following the men; he shot John Wetoski from the side; didnít see Wetoski shot; Morgan was twenty feet from Wetosk; didnít see the body moved; I went home; I didnít know the man I took revolver from, only he was aiming to shoot in the crowd; I twisted the revolver out of his hand.

Dr. F. W. Wilcox

Sworn, testified: My name is Frederick W. Wilcox, 33 years old; live in Minonk, Ill.; am a physician; have examined body of John Wetoski, Jr.; cause of death was a bullet wound; he was shot probably by a 38; it entered about 2 inches below and 1Ĺ inches back of the left ear; the ball went upwards and forwards; he was shot from side and rear; bullet cut off the jugular vein and passed upward and forward through the base of the skull, just lodging in the brain; if ball had gone clear through, and had not deflected it would have come out at the top of the right temple; no other marks of violence about his body; cause of death was severance of the jugular vein by a pistol shot, and its entrance into the brain; the deceased must be nearly six feet in height; weight nearly 200 pounds.


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Joe Pietroski

Being sworn, testifies: My name is Joe Pietroski, age 36; coal miner by occupation, and have lived six years in Minonk; was at shaft at about half past six; didnít see Mr. Morgan and Ames together; saw Mr. Ames going towards office; saw Morgan going to house of miner that was going to work; Mr. Morgan went in and out of the house three times; Mr. Morgan and the man came out of house; miners wanted to ask the man what wages he was getting; they said to the man that he should come back and talk to them, and Mr. Morgan fired two shots; men followed the man back to house; Morgan followed the miners and shot a man; Mr. Morgan, Mr. Erbland and Mr. Kelly were together; then a man took revolver from Mr. Erbland; I was between seven and eight feet from Morgan when he shot the man; I was south of Morgan when Morgan shot; I seen Wetoski drop; Wetoski was 3 steps from Morgan when he was shot; the men were turned to go home with the miner that wanted to go to work, didnít know what was done after Wetoski dropped; was excited; the men didnít say anything to Morgan; John Wetoski said to Mr. Morgan we wonít make any disturbance here only we want to talk to the man; it was after this that Morgan shot Wetoski; the men didnít want to do anything to the man; just wanted to talk to him; didnít see any clubs; seen men take Morgan away; canít say exactly where Morgan did stand; Mr. Morgan came there very angry and attempted to do something; canít say how long Morgan staid out of house; might be three or five minutes; miners were about 20 yards from house.



George Kessler

Being sworn, testifies: I was peddling milk this morning; seen mob standing up there; saw Morgan walking with a miner and had a revolver in his hand; miners took hold of the miner and pushed him back; Morgan commenced shooting; he shot a man; then the miners went at Morgan with clubs; seen men with clubs after Morgan had shot the man; they were on street; never heard Morgan say anything. I am 38 years old; sell milk; didnít see the miners use any violence, except to push the man back with their hands.

K. L. Ames

Being sworn, testifies: My name is Knowlton L. Ames, aged 29; I am in coal business, Minonk, Ill., was not present at killing; I arose at half past five and went up to shaft, having understood from the night before that Polish miners were going to prevent the miners that had been working, from going to work this morning; stood out by shaft until about half past six; Mr. Morgan and myself and Mr. Kelly together; seen miners coming around by first brick house in the row; they walked up to R. R. track and Mr. Morgan and I were standing there; I said to Mr. Morgan I would go down immediately to Mayor Kippís house and ask him if he would come up to the shaft and talk to the men who had assembled and see if he couldnít disperse them; ask them to go to


Page 7

their respective homes and allow the miners who wanted to work to enter the shaft; went to Mr. Kippís house, and got him up and probably waited there 5 or 10 minutes and told him what I wished he would do; we walked back to the shaft, and when we got to entrance of tile factory several men came running to me and said Morgan had been terribly kicked and beaten, while he was bringing a man named Frank Lewis to work; as soon as I got to the north end of office I saw Mr. Morgan being supported by Mr. Kelly and Smith; took him into office; he was badly bruised; washed him off; sent for wagon and took him home; Mr. Smith said John Wetoski, Jr., had been killed and another man had his head bruised; there was over fifty men in the mob; didnít expect any more trouble than usual; Mr. Morgan, myself, Ed Kelly, Joe Erbland were there; they were not instructed to come armed; what Mr. Morgan done was (illegible) responsibility; told him to stay at shaft and see that it was not burned; did not see Mr. Morgan go to the house after the man; Mr. Morgan was superintendent, or salesman, and looked after things when I was away; miners sent a committee to me yesterday to see on what terms and conditions they could go to work; I said the same as the men that were at work, and in force the previous year except district price; I said that some of the men that were responsible for the trouble I would have to let go and get men in their places; had 20 or 25 men at work for four or five days; Mr. Morgan has since morning died from his injuries.

Mrs. Josie Wetoski

Being sworn, testified: I am the wife of John Wetoski, Jr., who was shot this morning, aged 21; have been married over a year; husband was a coal miner, he was 24 in May; have one child; had no property; and has no money.

Stany Halegera

Being sworn testifies: My name is Stany Halegera, aged 36 years, occupation digging coal; live in one of Mr. Amesí houses near the grove; have lived here nearly 6 years; donít belong to any society, have no union; had a meeting in the grove; from 60 to 70 men there; had a meeting to have a committee go to Mr. Ames to ask him what terms; what the miners were going to get paid, the committee brought proposition from Mr. Ames; committee notified Mr. Ames that they couldnít go to work at the price offered; miners decided to go to shaft in the morning and ask the men at work if they could make a living, and if not, to ask them to stay out with them; this morning, men met at grove, and went down to the pond to tell the men they couldnít live on the wages they would make; had a word which they asked the mayor; and he told them they could go down and not take any arms or anything; didnít have anything; seen only one man that wanted to work; they talked to him; he left Mr. Morgan and went with them; he was 7 or 8 yards from house; Mr. Morgan shot twice,


Page 8

and afterwards shot once more; the men said to catch Mr. Morgan and take the revolver away from him so he couldnít shoot them; Morgan aimed for the crowd but bullets went into ground; I took man by back of shoulder and told him not to make us all this trouble; the man said he was not going to work; some of the men went with the man and some went to get Morganís revolver. John Wetoski was turned back from Mr. Morgan; I donít know how I got shot; blood got in my eye; felt as though something pinched me; but didnít know what happened; three shots fired; Mr. Morgan often walked up and down the houses with a revolver in his hand; didnít see anybody strike Morgan; only saw the one revolver that Mr. Morgan had. Anton Broski was one of the committee that asked Mr. Kipp if they could go; only two committees; had no committee to see if men could go to work.

A. B. Kipp

Being sworn, testified: I am mayor of this town; a committee of miners interviewed me Monday; I think there were five men; they were Anton Brusk, Simon Rozinski, Martin Soliski, Joe Tomaschiski, Steve Maciavich; they asked me if I had heard the militia was to be sent for; I said no, I had heard nothing of it; and donít think there is any intention of that kind; they asked me if they would have a right to talk to the men; I told them that if they done it in a peaceable way, there could be no objection; but under no circumstances must they resort to any violence; that if there was any violence used that in order to keep the peace and save the property we would have to call on the deputies to keep the peace, for the reason as I understood the law now if Mr. Ames sustained any damages through any unlawful act of theirs the city would be held responsible. I told them under no circumstances to carry revolvers or any other weapons; they promised not to do so; I understood that this committee of five men had been appointed to see the men; two revolvers, one taken from Mr. Morgan, and one from Mr. Erbland, were turned over to the coroner, in the same condition that I received them.


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††††††††††† In the matter of the inquisition on the body of John Wetoski, Jr., deceased, held at Minonk, on the 8th day of June, A. D. 1897.

††††††††††† We, the undersigned Jurors, sworn to inquire into the death of John Wetoski, Jr., on oath, do find that he came to his death instantaneous at 6:30 oíclock a. m., 1897, by a shot from a revolver fired by Andrew Wood Morgan, foreman or superintendent of the Chicago & Minonk Coal & Tile Works, and that said Morgan is now dead, and as to the criminality of the act there is no further cause to inquire into.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† S. A. Miller, Foreman †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† R. T. Bulkeley,††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A. K. Tate,†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† J. A. Riely, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Tom Pickard,

J. P. Robinson

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Andrew Wood Morgan

††††††††††† Andrew Wood Morgan, son of Dr. H. C. and Julia M. Morgan, was born in Mason Co., Ky., near Maysville, the county seat, and died in Minonk, Ill., June 8, 1897. He grew to manhood in the home of his birth, and in July 1884, was married to Miss Elizabeth Morgan Ranson, at Covington, Ky. There are three children livingóBessie Edith and Julia Graham. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan lived in Chicago a number of years, where he was a prominent member of the Board of Trade. He came to Minonk four years ago last July and entered the employ of the C. & M. C. & T. Co. as superintendent and salesman. He was a pleasant gentleman, and had many friends here who sincerely mourn his untimely death. He leaves, besides his wife and three children, a mother and sister, Mattie, in Maysville, Ky.; a brother, Daniel, traveling salesman for Proctor & Gamble Soap Co., Cincinnati, Ohio; and three married sisters--Mrs. Garnes Hunter and Mrs. Louis Patton, at Louisville, Ky.; and Mrs. Frank H. Mannen, West Superior, Wisconsin. The deceased was a member of Minonk Camp of Modern Woodmen, No. 952, and carried $3000 life insurance.


Page 10

††††††††††† The remains were encased in a metal casket weighing 700 pounds, and conveyed to the train Thursday morning, June 10th, by a large concourse of friends, the Woodmen turning out in considerable strength. The body was taken to Maysville, Ky., for interment, being accompanied by Daniel Morgan, his brother, and H. C. Smith, of this city. Mrs. Morgan was suffering from a severe attack of nervous prostration, and was unable to undertake the journey. Her brother, Franklin B. Ranson, and sister, Matilda G. Ranson, of Maysville, Ky., arrived Wednesday evening and remained in Minonk with her. They will take her and the children to their home in Kentucky just as soon as the physician thinks she is able to travel.

††††††††††† The floral offerings were many and beautiful, the Woodmen gift being a pillow of Roses, lilies and smilax, with the words ďM. W. A. 952.ĒThe employes of the Department Store gave a pillow with the words ďAt Rest.ĒThere were many other beautiful flowers also all of which were sent to Kentucky.

††††††††††† No services were held here as it was the wish of his family to have them held in his boyhoodís home.

††††††††††† The pall-bearers were F. H. Hewitt, C. M. Golden, A. K. Tate, M. Gulshen, J. C. Smith, N. L. Davison, Jack Fehring and Fred Danekas for the Woodmen. U. G. Williams, Chas. Garrett, S. B. Ogle, K. L. Ames, Ed. Kelly, Jas. Langan, John Marland, Jr., Conrad David, of the Shaft, and Mayor A. B. Kipp also assisted.



John Wetoski, Jr.

††††††††††† John Wetoski, Jr., son of John and Annie Wetoski was born in Russian Poland, in May 1873, and died in Minonk, Ill., Tuesday, June 8th, 1897. He came to America with his parents in the latter part of 1873, and for nearly four years lived in the state of New Jersey and Shamokin, Pennsylvania, coming to Minonk in 1877, where he has since lived. He attended Catholic school until he was about fourteen years of age, when he entered the coal mines, where he has since been employed. He was a quiet, peaceable young man, and every man that knew him was his friend. In January, 1896, he was married to Miss Josie Schimiski, who, with a babe, survives him. Besides, he leaves a father and mother, three brothers and five sisters to mourn his loss. He was a member of the Minonk Military Band. The funeral services were held at St. Patrickís church, Thursday morning, June 10th, 1897, at 8 oíclock. Rev. Fr. Isadore saying High Mass. The friends met at the late residence of deceased, and headed by Marshal Fred Wendland escorted the body to the church. The band, of which he had been a member, came after Marshall Wendland, followed by over 100 miners in line two abreast, and friends in carriages and on foot. The band played a dirge and funeral march. The large church was filled with people. After services the band led the way to the Catholic cemetery where the remains were laid to rest. The floral pieces consisted of an anchor, cross, wreaths, and many other pieces, one of the prettiest being furnished by the band.


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††††††††††† The flower bearers were Anton Kozikoski, Wm. Szymanski, John Tomaszeski, Martin Malinoski.

††††††††††† The pall bearers were John Ciesolka, Frank Knoll, John Rutkowski, Joe Szydloski, Martin Zaliewski, Stany Kaezmark.

††††††††††† The attendance at the funeral services and cemetery was estimated at several hundred. In fact, it was probably the largest funeral ever held in Minonk.

CARD OF THANKS

††††††††††† We thank the friends who gave us their sympathy and assistance in our sad bereavement, and hope in more time to repay it.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Mrs. John Wetoski

John Wetoski and Family