"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

Another case of Mystery Fires, this one targeting one particularly helpless woman. From the (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) "Argus-Leader," March 23, 1922:
Alva, Okla.--Blue flames, their origin a mystery, which burst into being apparently from the air itself, threaten death to Mrs. Ona Smith, 23 years old, an invalid, who lies paralyzed on a bed in a little cottage here.

The authorities are completely baffled and the woman cowers in terror. Bedside watchers, who are keeping vigil day and night, can only leap to the rescue as the mysterious fires break out at intervals in bedding, clothing worn by Mrs. Smith, wall draperies or any inflammable material in the room.

Two mattresses have been reduced to smoldering ruins, a calendar on the wall has been ignited, a shawl worn by the invalid has burst into flames and several other blazes started in bedding in the last few days.

The first fire came at midnight Wednesday. The flames, which suddenly leaped up from the bottom of the mattress on the bed were extinguished by Mrs. Smith's mother, Mrs. John Meyers. Later the mattress caught fire in another another spot.

Friday a calendar on the wall blazed. Soon afterward the carpet ignited. An aunt, Mrs. Mary Wagner, was in the room at the time.

The invalid was removed from the bed to a chair. Her shawl flamed as it touched the floor. All bedding and apparel were removed from the room and a new mattress installed. It burst into flames yesterday morning, witnessed by several among them a newspaper reporter.

Dr. C. L. Rogers, who was called in following the first blaze, failed to solve the mystery. Speculation here is rife concerning the reason for the fires. Theories advanced include spiritualism, chemical reaction from urine and incendiarism.

Witnesses say the fires seem to start in the air, blue flames jumping and crackling.
The last report on the story, dated several days later, stated that after Mrs. Smith was removed to a hospital, the terrifying blazes stopped. Sadly, however, according to findagrave.com, poor Ona died on March 20, before most of the newspaper items about her strange affliction even appeared in print.


  1. That's sad. Her end could at least have been peaceful, but it was not to be.


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