I wandered through Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton, Maryland, this past Sunday afternoon and came across this gravestone, which reads “In Memory of William Hayward, Born Feb. 10, 1876, Died June 8, 1880, from the effects of a cruel accident.”
I’m usually drawn to the gravestones of children anyhow — it’s saddening to think they died so young and you can’t help but wonder about the circumstances. This stone’s engraving really piqued my interest. My morbid curiosity got the better of me — I simply had to try and find out what happened.
Unfortunately, there isn’t easy access to old archives of the Easton, Md., newspaper (The Star-Democrat) online. What I can access from my computer at home only goes back to 2005. I tried a couple of searches in Baltimore Sun databases, thinking that a sensational incident might have earned coverage in that paper, but didn’t have any luck.
Next, I tried the archives of The Denton Journal, through the web site of the Caroline County Public Library (I’ve done research there and so my library card code works on their site as well). Really noteworthy Easton-based stories often made this paper, even though the events happened in the neighboring county.
Searching for “William Hayward” in quotes between 1880 and 1881 didn’t return any results, but when I removed the quotes, I found what I was looking for.
The article was actually about “little Willie Hayward” (luckily, the name William appeared elsewhere on the same newspaper page). The headline says it all: “Gored to Death by a Bull.” The article gets pretty graphic. I’m only including a portion here.
“Gored to Death by a Bull,” The Denton Journal, 12 June 1880, p. 1, col. 3; digital images, Caroline County Public Library Electronic Databases (http://www.caro.lib.md.us : accessed 25 October 2009), The Newspaper Archives of the Denton Journal.
The article simply placed Willie in the wrong place at the wrong time — the bull was being driven down one of the streets of Easton, and after becoming spooked, charged and gored the little boy. Willie’s injuries were so grievous that he died a few hours later.