Aunt Esther told me an intriguing story about her Uncle Alphonso Hanson:
Uncle Alphonso married a schoolteacher and lived in Wyoming. They had a son, Gene. One day, Gene was walking to town, and he was accidently shot by a gun. Apparently, someone on the second floor of a building was cleaning the gun when it went off. Gene died that night. Uncle Alphonso himself died not long after.
What a horrible tragedy! What information is available to confirm or refute this tale?
Any time there is a death under unusual circumstances, it’s newsworthy and this one was no exception. We find the following in the October 28, 1927 edition of the Green River Star:
GUNSHOT WOUND FATAL TO FORMER GREEN RIVER BOY
The following, taken from the Laramie Republican-Boomerang of October 24th, is of interest to some of the townspeople of Green River. The Hansens were residents of Green River some years ago. Mr. Hansen was express agent at this point at that time, and the little son was born here. The Hansen’s have the sympathy of their many Green River friends.—Ed.
Jean Maxwell Hanson, 10-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Hanson, 1621 Rainbow avenue, died at 8:50 o’clock Sunday morning as a result of a random bullet which struck him down in a busy downtown street Saturday.
The shot was fired when a small rifle which Edison Bouse, 13 years old, was examining in his rooms in the second story of the Midwest Barber shop, 114 Thornburg street, was accidentally discharged. Examination at the Ivinson hospital, where the wounded boy was taken at once, disclosed that the bullet had entered the left side, pierced the stomach, and lodged in the liver. It was extracted by surgeons that evening, but the shock proved too great for the boy’s vitality.
Jean was born in Green River, Dec. 6, 1916, but had spent most of his life in Laramie. His father is agent at the Laramie office of the American Railway Express Company. His mother was with him when the tragedy occurred, and was at his side until the end. He was an only son, and the bereaved parents are receiving the most heartfelt sympathy of their friends.
The funeral will be held form the Stryker Mortuary at 10:30 Wednesday forenoon, with services by the Rev. Walter L. French, pastor of the Methodist church. The interment will be in the city cemetery.
As for Alphonso, he indeed died a few short months later. From his death certificate1, we learn that he died on January 27, 1928 from an obstructed or strangulated bowel.
Aunt Esther nailed it on this one, even the minor detail about the gun being fired from the second story of the building! (I’ll note that I wrongly assumed the spelling of “Jean’s” name in my notes from my interview with Esther.)
This story tells us that over the course of three months, poor Gertrude Hanson lost her only child and her husband. But according to Esther, Gertrude’s life took yet another tragic turn. Next time…
1 Ancestry.com. Wyoming, U.S., Death Records, 1909-1971 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2020. Original data:Wyoming Marriage, Death, and Divorce Indices.Wyoming State Archives. Cheyenne, WY. Wyoming County Death Records, 1884-1908.Wyoming State Archives. Cheyenne, WY. Wyoming State Death Records, 1909-1971.Wyoming State Archives. Cheyenne, WY.