Louise Kleiss, NYC; Louisa Kleiss Zecher, Lancaster, PA ~ 15 years apart

As many of you know, I am a Kleiss researcher.  My ancestor, Philip Kleiss was a Tavern keeper in Lancaster in the late 1700’s.  After his death his sons ran the Tavern located on the corner of Vine and Queen Streets in the heart of Lancaster.  Today the Tavern is incorporated in the Convention Center, but that is on another blog.  This blog is about the two women referenced above.

I periodically put my surnames in search engines and tonight I was playing around with Genealogy Bank, one of my favorite sites.  I’ve got a lot of information from the old newspapers on this site and an a big fan of it! When I found the following article, I thought it sounded familiar ~

New York Herald
26 December 1895

Mrs. Louise Kleiss Struck While Walking
On the North Hudson County
Railway’s Tracks.

Mrs. Louise Kleiss, forty-five years old, of No 27 King street, West New York, was struck by a motor of the North Hudson County Railway Company early yesterday morning and instantly killed.
Mrs. Kleiss came to Jersey City Tuesday evening to make some purchases and took the midnight boat back on the Forty-second street ferry. She had a number of bundles and started to walk home up the company’s tracks on the old Fort Lee road. When between Niles avenue and Twenty-third street, motor No. 191 came up behind her at a rapid rate and striking her hurled her to one side of the track. So rapidly was the car going that it ran three hundred feet before the motorman could stop it.
When the trolley men picked her up she was dead. The body, which was not cut, but badly bruised, was brought to Hoboken where it was identified yesterday morning by the woman’s husband. The woman left a daughter, besides her husband.

As I read this it rang a bell.  I knew I had a Louise Kleiss who had died the same way, and thought perhaps the information was wrong and this one really died in Lancaster.  So I went to the books, my Kleiss books that is, and found what I remembered.  Several differences though:

  • My Kleiss was born as Louisa Kleiss, but married a Zecher
  • My Louisa Kleiss Zecher died exactly 15 years and 10 days after Mrs. Louise Kleiss
  • and of course, my Louisa Kleiss Zecher died in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey.

The similiarites are:

  • Their names
  • The month of the year they were killed
  • The way they were killed
  • and they both had been shopping!

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
15 December 1920

Mrs. David Zecher Meets Instant
Death When Hit by Express
at Crossing
Body Severed But Glasses Stay
on Nose When Searchers
Find Upper Portion
Eight Mistakes Cause Alarm in
Homes — Son Passed Soon
After Accident

Killed by a west bound express train at Prince and Walnut streets last night while on her way home from the evening market at the Northern Market House the body of an aged woman cut in half under the wheels of the train at 5:33 o’clock was not identified as Mrs. David Zecher, aged 72, of 239 Elm street, until near 10 o’clock by her son. In the meantime eight false identifications were made and much anxiety was caused among relatives of per (sic) victim.
The train which struck the aged woman was No. 639, bound for Altoona, the accident occurring within a minute of the time the train had left the station.
Mrs. Zecher’s son, Charles J., 328 Pine street, passed the scene of the accident a few minutes after it had happened while on his way home from work, but did not stop to mingle with the curious crowd that had gathered round the crossing. Had he done so identification of the dead woman would have perhaps been immediate. As it happened the body laid for a time in the freight station near the crossing and later at Fisher’s undertaking establishment until 1o o’clock last night where the son finally was brought to identify his mother. In the meantime efforts on the part of the railroad officials to identify the woman resulted in eight false identifcations before the truth was known.
Witnesses to the accident stated that Mrs. Zecher walked around the guard rail which was down on the crossing as she was making her way toward home west on Walnut street and stepped in front of the engine of the west bound train which had left the station at 5:51, a minute before. She was mangled under the wheels, her body was almost completely cut in half. The upper part of her body extended outside of the wheels of the baggage car with her legs and feet under the car when the train was brought to a halt fifty feet beyond where she had been struck. A pair of eyeglasses worn by the woman were on and unbroken when she was taken from beneath the car.
A market basket she had carried on her arm was recovered near at hand, but the contents could not be found, except a few stray pieces of paper picked up in the vicinity.
A crowd quickly gathered and the body was placed on a railroad stretcher and carried into the freight building away from the eyes of the curious. The pocketbook belonging to the dead woman was picked up by a passenger of the train which killed her, who in the excitement put the article in his pocket and later turned it in at the Harrisburg station upon the arrival of the train at that point. The pocketbook with identification papers enclosed was returned to Lancaster on the 10:18 train last night in a sealed envelope five minutes after Mrs. Zecher had been identified.
Not Missed at Home
Mrs. Zecher, whose maiden name was Miss Louisa Kleiss survived by her husband and daughter, Florence, both at home, and her son, Charles J. Zecher, 328 Pine street. She was a member of St. Paul’s church.
It had been Mrs. Zecher’s custom after attending evening market to visit her son on the way home, which accounts for the lack of anxiety on the part of her relatives. Mrs. Fisher, wife of the undertaker, upon viewing the body about 9:30 last evening said she thought she recognized the woman as Mrs. Zecher. Mr. Fisher then called up the son and asked if his mother was at his home. Charles immediately connected the accident he had passed with his mother and hastened to her home to learn that she had not returned from market. Hastening to the undertaking establishment, Charles then identified his mother.

The main difference between the two?

Living in a much smaller city, the account of Louisa Kleiss Zecher‘s accident was much, much more sensational!


One thought on “Louise Kleiss, NYC; Louisa Kleiss Zecher, Lancaster, PA ~ 15 years apart

  1. I remember stumbling upon this article together when I met you at the Lancaster Historical Society. I came to look for Zecher, Kleis, Garvin, and Fralich history. I think we decided that perhaps Kleis sisters had married Zecher brothers. I’m not sure if your research confirmed that or not.

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