Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How did Charles Davis really die?

Here is the TEXT from this article if it is hard to read above in the photo:

Charles J. Davis Dies from Gas; Wife, Son Live


Accidental Death Verdict Given in Johnson City Asphyxiation




Son of Bible School Head Insomnia Victim, Had Lighted Stove


After a narrow escape from death by gas, which took the life of her husband, Mrs. Charles J. Davis, 36, and her seven-year-old son, Jack, were recovering today in Charles S. Wilson Memorial Hospital, Johnson City.

The husband, 34, son of the Rev. John A. Davis, president and founder of the Practical Bible Training School, was found dead in the kitchen of his home, 103 Union Street, Johnson City, late Sunday morning. Jets on the gas stove were found open and Mr. Davis was slumped in a rocking chair.

Coroner Edgard J. Doig said death was due to accidental asphyxiation.

The mother and son were saved from probable death when Howard Morley, 11, of 82 Union Street, called at the Davis home Sunday morning to go to Sunday School with the son. His knocking arouse Mrs. Davis from a stupor and she was able to make her way to a front window and tell the boy to summon help.

He ran to the home of neighbors, who carried the mother and son from the gas-filled house. Johnson City police were notified and the Endicott Johnson ambulance was sent to the scene, accompanied by Dr. George Collella. He found the father had been dead for some time and the mother and son were taken to the hospital. The boy was in a serious condition and it was necessary to administer oxygen on the way.

After arousing neighbors, the Morley boy ran to the Bible School and told the victim brother, the Rev. Gordon Davis.

Mr. Davis, according to the police investigation, had been suffering from insomnia for some time and often got up in the night and sat in the kitchen after lighting the gas burners.

He was an undertaker, but for the last year had been employed by a Binghamton plumbing concern. Coroner Doig order the body removed to the funeral rooms of Ivan A. Barber.

The victim’s father left Johnson City for Newark, Saturday, on a preaching engagement. Using the teletype Binghamton police asked Newark authorities to locate him and were informed late Sunday night he was on his way home.

Mr. Davis was athletic director at the Bible Training School, and known as an expert marksman.

In addition to the relatives mentioned Mr. Davis is survived by his mother and a sister. (NOTE: sister is most like sister-in-law; meaning Hazel Davis, Gordon’s wife since Charles and Gordon had no sister).


How did Charles Justus Davis, the youngest son of John Adelbert Davis and Etta Carr Davis, truly die? The image above is from the Binghamton Press dated, November 23. Now he died on Sunday, November 22, 1931. He went down to make a cup of tea and fell asleep with the stove on. His wife and son were upstairs. He died from asphyxiation from the gas. Now I will give him the benefit of the doubt as the coroner did. Dr. Barackman (Class of 1944) in the latest issue he did on the history of PBTS writes,

An out-of-doors person and given to its related sports, Charles was not the scholarly type like his older brother, Gordon. Married to Mae Phillips, Charles had one son, John. Charles had charge of the basketball team for many years and the physical education program for five years. He seemed to be highly thought of by those who were associated with him. Tragically, for some unknown reason Charles committed suicide by asphyxiation.

I thought about this option too and almost believed it, but I am told that stoves in 1930s had no pilot light so this could have happened. And Charles had not been sleeping well. Share you thoughts in the comments and read the article. I will move this up in the posts if I get more information in the future.

To read a brief blog post I did on Jackie Davis, Charles' son read here.
Corey Adams

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