The boy who fell in the well and other miraculous stories

  • Friday, April 11, 2014

Photo courtesy of The Georgetown County Historical Society from A Walk Down Front Street, 2011. Gertrude Hurcombe may have fallen from this window. James Raftelis standing in front of building in 1920s.

Thanks to the Georgetown County Digital Library, I recently read accounts from our local newspaper about Georgetonians who survived life and death situations. Do you believe in miracles?

In September, 1897, it was reported that Hallie Carraway and other young boys were playing around a well in the yard of Mr. Coachman of Plantersville. Little Hallie was sitting on the wall surrounding the well when it gave way. He fell, headfirst, to the rock-lined bottom.

Fortunately, there was enough water in the well to break his fall and cause him to turn “right side up.” The paper reports, “A rope was let down to him about fifteen feet and he was hauled up with his head covered with mud and sand and looking like a drowned rat.”

Another article recounts the plight of Tom Madry, a black man who was almost hanged as the result of mistaken identity.

In 1902, Madry was working for a lumber company in Georgetown. A fellow worker mistook him for Don Gould, a convicted murderer, sentenced to death, who had escaped from a North Carolina jail nineteen years earlier.

Madry was arrested and taken to Wadesboro, N.C., where the sheriff and the jailer identified him as Don Gould. A trial was held with 12 witnesses swearing that Madry was Gould, mainly because a scar on Madry’s neck was identical to a scar on Gould’s neck.

Other witnesses, some from Georgetown, swore that Madry was not Gould – that Madry was too young to have committed the murder nineteen years earlier. Madry was acquitted and released. (I wonder if they ever found Gould.)

In June of 1907, the paper reported that little Hugh Johnson was playing with other children in the vicinity of City Hall. Running backwards, he ran into a horse pulling a wagon, fell, and was run over by the wagon.

Drs. Beckman and Bailey attended to Hugh and found that he had suffered 4 broken ribs and numerous severe bruises. The reporter stated, “That it did not kill him instantly is a miracle.”

In August, 1907, Miss Gertrude Hurcombe fell 16 feet from a window to the pavement below. She and her sister, Mrs. D.C. Simpkins, were living on Front Street over a store owned by O.B. Lawrence. Apparently, Gertrude was sitting in the window, fell asleep, and tumbled to the ground.

The paper reported, “It is certainly miraculous that she was not instantly killed or some of her limbs broken, but fortunately she escaped with several painful bruises and a general shaking up.”

In October, 1929, Victor Johnson and a fellow named Tune were driving on Route 51 when they took the curve leading to the Peters Creek bridge too fast. The car hit the guardrail, broke through, and plunged into 10 feet of water. Tune was able to open his door and escape, but Johnson was trapped.

Luckily, Charlie and Herman Moore happened by and sprang into action. They lowered themselves into the creek, broke the rear window, and pulled Johnson’s head above water. He was still trapped, so the Moores tied a rope under his arms and were able to extricate him from the submerged vehicle. Johnson received severe cuts but survived a worse fate – drowning!

Another near drowning took place in February, 1930. George Rowe and Pennyman Jacobs were approaching the Black River bridge when their truck plunged off the road and overturned in a rice field. The tide was rapidly coming in and flooding the field with Rowe and Jacobs trapped underneath the truck.

Deputies Cribb and Wilson were driving by when they saw a glowing light from the rear of the truck. Assessing the situation, they summoned 13 men to help them lift the truck enough to rescue Rowe and Jacobs. Both received serious injuries, but survived.

I hope you enjoy these stories of miracles throughout the Easter season.

To the GCDL . . . thanks for the memories!

Debby Summey may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email djsummey@gmail.com.

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