The Drowning of Pat Malone

Commodore Steve Harris – June, 2015

Recently, I’ve been reading Joseph Simpson’s The Story of Buckeye Lake, published in 1912. Simpson’s book details the building of the canal and much of the early days of the lake area, prior to the founding of BLYC. Thanks to the efforts of P/C Frank Foster, III, a scan of this book is available on our website in the history archives.

Anyone who’s spent much time at the lake knows that our communities have many “characters” who add to the local flavor that makes the lake so unique. It has been this way throughout history. The following excerpt from Simpson’s book details a humorous story about one of the many “characters” who was a part of the early lake history, his demise, and the manner in which he was honored in death. I find it to be a fitting tribute. Perhaps I’ll leave instructions for my wake to be conducted in a similar manner – in the fireplace room at BLYC, of course.

Pat Malone helped to build the reservoir. He was a humorous character and his trite sayings created much fun and made him popular with his fellow workmen. One day, while feeling exceedingly exuberant, he banteringly attempted to walk a log reaching out over the water near where he worked, when he lost his balance and fell and was drowned. His death was greatly deplored by his fellow shovelers. His wit and repartee was keen and much relished.

He had no relatives to mourn him, and it was left to his companions to care for his remains. Following an old and established custom among his countrymen, a “wake” was held. A commodious cabin that stood where the Sellers Hotel now stands (most recently, the location of Smitty’s Restaurant) was used for the purpose.

Four dollars was due Pat as wages, which was placed in the hands of those in charge that his obsequies might be properly celebrated. For want of something better, a coffin was provided by nailing up a box made of stray boards that were found on the premises, lumber then being scarce.

At the wake, Pat was placed in a sitting position in one corner of the cabin. His cap was adjusted so that he might seem as natural as possible. Refreshments were in order, and when passed around, Pat was refreshed also, or pretended to be. A holiday was given a delegation that they might attend his burial.

The next day, Pat’s body was buried. The journey to his final resting spot, perhaps appropriately, included a series of interesting mishaps as well. He was interred in an area that, at that time, “has been a plot of level grass, unused, except for pasture” on the farm of a Mr. Laughrey. Years later, like most areas around our lake, that “once sacred spot” had cottages built upon it. Later in the book, Simpson refers to Laughrey’s Farm as “now Rosebraugh’s.” From what I could glean from the book, I presume that this graveyard was likely either near where the Rosebraugh neighborhood now exists, just west of the spillway, or possibly our parking area at BLYC.

 

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