Event Person

Lightning Bolt Takes Life of Virgil Elliott

New Boston man, 21, found dead in hills early Sunday. Struck Saturday. Clothes torn to shreds; body discovered by berry picker.

Struck by lightning while seeking shelter under a white oak tree on the Theodore Houston farm, quarter of a mile south of Feurt hill road and a mile east of Scioto trail, Charles Virgil Elliott, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Martin Elliott of Gallia street, Lakeside, New Boston, was killed about 2 PM Saturday. His body was found at 8:30 AM Sunday by Billy Houston, who was picking berries on his father’s farm. The victim’s clothing was torn to shreds by the lightning. The electrical storm which passed over that section was one of the most severe of the season.

Elliott left his home at noon Saturday, en route to Scioto trail, neat the Feurt farm, where he was to visit a friend, Miss Elva Conley. A man gave him a ride to the foot of Harrisonville divide. Upon arriving at the divide the victim started walking back through the hills, taking a short cut to the trail.

The last person to see him alive was Albert Siler of Munn’s run, who saw him start up the hillside. Elliott had walked about a mile and a half when he was killed.

According to residents of that community the storm came suddenly and only last about 30 minutes. Heavy rains accompanied the lightning and thunder and men who were working in fields were forced to shelter.

Billy Houston had been picking berries about 30 minutes when he saw the dark form of a man underbrush. Thinking that the man was ill or sleeping he rolled the victim over on his back and found he was dead.

Houston then went to a farm house and summoned Coroner Virgil E Fowler and Deputy Sheriff Frank Purdy.

Coroner Virgil Fowler gave a verdict of accidental electrocution. An examination of the body disclosed that the charge entered the man’s head and came out his back and feet. The crown was torn from a white felt hat he was wearing. Coroner Fowler said that it looked as if the bolt of lightning exploded after entering the man’s body.

It is assumed that Elliott was standing under a huge tree and that lightning struck the tree, passed through the victim’s body and entered the ground through a barbed wire fence near where the body was found. Two large locust fence posts were split by the lightning. The bowl of the victim’s pipe was blown from the stem and found several feet away from the body. His left hand was in his pocket and was holding two matches.

The body was carried to the Roy Slusher farm from where it was moved to Asa Sowards’ funeral home in New Boston.

Roy Slusher said that he was working on his farm Saturday afternoon when the storm came up. He said that he saw the lightning strike on the hillside near where Elliott was killed, but that he did not know anyone was near the scene. He said the lightning struck the tree at 2 PM. It is thought that this bolt killed the man.

Elliott is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles M Elliott; two brothers, Leon and Eugene Elliott; four sisters, Mrs. Nellie Hunter, Myrtle, Genevieve and Freda Elliott, all at home. Funeral services will be held at 10 AM Tuesday in New Boston Holiness Mission. 1

  1. Lightning Bolt Takes Life of Virgil Elliott. (1932, July 18). Portsmouth Times, pp. 1–3.
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