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Oscar Williams: A Victim of Somnambulism

“The startling intelligence reached here Tuesday morning by wire, that Oscar Williams, son of Captain WB Williams of this city, had, while walking in his sleep, fallen from a window of the fourth story of the American House at Columbus, where he was boarded and was fatally injured. Later reports, however, bring the more gratifying news that there are fair chances of recovery, though he would undoubtedly be crippled for life. He will be fortunate indeed if he escapes amputation. It seems almost miraculous that he was not instantly killed. Oscar, or ‘Doc,’ as he is famililary called, is a somnambulist, and has been from childhood. His companions here tell of his wanderings in his sleep at all hours of the night, and of his evolutions about his room when in the deepest sleep, to be startled by his awakening. Oscar is a telegraph operator and book-keeper, and is popular young man among his acquaintances, who wish him the best possible escape from his injuries.”

“The following from the Ohio State Journal gives all the particulars of the unfortunate accident, that are attainable:”

“A most frightful accident occurred early yesterday morning at the American hotel, in which Oscar M. Williams received injuries that are feared will prove fatal. About nine months ago he came to this city from Portsmouth and has been employed as book-keeper for Armour & Co. He has since his arrival in the city boarded with his brother, Mr. William H. Williams, at the American house. About 8:30 Monday night he bade his brother and Mr. Powers, the clerk, good night, and started to bed. Nothing more was heard of him until about 4 o’clock yesterday morning when a porter of the hotel found him lying in the court at the rear of the building in an insensible condition, he having fallen out of the window of his room, which is located in the fourth story of the hotel.”

“The porter hastened back into the hotel and told of his find, and patrol No. 2 was called and the unfortunate man taken to St. Francis hospital, where Drs. Hoover and Clark1 were summoned. It was found upon examination that he had suffered a compound fracture of the right leg just below the hip and had received severe contusions about the head.”

“Dr. Hoover states that while there is some hope of saving his leg, yet the chances are greatly against him, it being an exceedingly ugly fracture. At the hospital yesterday afternoon a piece of bone about 1 1/2 inches long was removed from the leg. The injured man was conscious last evening, and stated the fall awakened him, and that he endeavored to get up, but the pain in his leg was so great he could not stand, nor even crawl. It is supposed by trying to get up the injury was only made worse, and assisted in prying the bone out through the flesh. Mr. Williams appears to have been a somnambulist from the time he was a boy of five or six years, he having frequently been found several blocks away from home, while living with his parents at Portsmouth. Only last week his brother, David Williams, was here from Portsmouth, and awoke to find Oscar walking toward the window, at the same time saying, ‘Did you see him?’ ‘Did you see him?'”

“Relatives arrived late in the afternoon from Portsmouth, and are with him at St. Francis. While he is in a dangerous condition there are strong hopes of his recovery, and last night he was getting along as well as could be expected. Mr. Williams is a man of quiet disposition, and is much liked by his employers, who gave all the assistance they could yesterday.”2

Oscar M. Williams Sleeps in Greenlawn

Oscar Williams, known to his friends in this city by the familiar title of ‘Doc,’ died in one of the private rooms in St. Francis Hospital in Columbus last Monday afternoon about 4 o’clock; the body was brought here the next morning and Wednesday afternoon was laid to rest in the vault at Greenlawn, amid its autumn loveliness. The services were conducted at the house by Reverend Mr. McElroy, and were attended by a great concourse of friends, who came to show their respect for the memory of the boy whose bright ways, kind heart and willing hand had, in the childhood and early manhood, spent in this city, won him a dear place in the affections of a host of friends.”

“It is unnecessary to revert to the terrible accident which occured on the fifteenth of last September, or to speak of the agony it caused the unfortunate boy until death came to his relief. His faithful father was ever at his bedside, and would have willingly drank the cup of his suffering had that been possible, and sympathizing friends smoothed the pillow for his head and didi all that human kindness could do to alleviate his pain. The Sisters of Charity, those angels of mercy in human guide, who are found where pain and misfortune lays its heavy hand, were present constantly to lend their skilled and gentle aid, or to drop upon parched lips and fevered brow the heavenly dew of their sympathy. The sufferings of the dying boy were a chastening that fell heavy upon the hearts of his friends and will live for aye in the recesses of their memory, a sad and mournful recollection.”

“The room at the home on Third street, where the body lay, was a chapel of flowers, which lifted their sweet and innocent souls in fragrant testimony to the memory of the dead. A cross and anchor of rare flowers bore witness to the respect in which Oscar was held by his fellow employees in Columbus, and a pillow and cross of lilies, immortelles and roses was the tribute of his young friends in this place. His late employer, Mr. OB Galloway3, and wife4 of Columbus, sent a beautiful design, a floral representation of ‘Gates Ajar,’ upon the top of which perched a snow-white dove with outstretched wings, ready to take its flight. A pillow of flowers and a beautiful wreath were the remembrances of his brother Will and wife, and a lovely anchor came from Mr. and Mrs. Abe Cohen, of Columbus. A basket of rare cut flowers came from the employees at the Central Insane Asylum, and from Mrs. David Jones and other friends and acquaintances.”

“Oscar Moore Williams was born in this city on July 4, 1867, the son of Captain William B. and Margaret Edwards Williams. His mother died while he was an infant, and the boy looked to the kind father for a double share of parental love and guidance. The tie which this close relationship formed was a strong one and its violent breaking has left the loving father well nigh broken hearted.”

“Oscar learned the trade of telegraphy, and became quite an expert. At the time of his accident he was with the Columbus agency of Armour’s Dressed Beef Company, and he genial qualities as well as his efficiency and quickness in the business made him a general favorite with his employer and fellow employees. To his friends in this city he was endeared by many subtle ties of good fellowship. He was an ardent lover of field sports, a crack shot and ready for any innocent form of fun. He had a remarkably ready wit, and a vein of quaint humor, which is recalled by the writer, who knew and loved him well, with mingled feelings of pleasure and sadness.”

“It is an inseruptable Providence which calls from earth one just stepped across the threshold of life, flushed with youth and health, and with the roseate hues of morning flashing in his eyes, but we can only bow the head and in sorrow exclaim, ‘The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'”5

  1. Dr. Edwin F. Clark
  2. Frightful fall. (1890b, September 20). Portsmouth Times, p. 1.
  3. Orvis B. Galloway, Jr.
  4. Catherine E. Nagle Galloway
  5. At rest. (1890, November 8). Portsmouth Times, p. 5.
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