Tag Archives: shooting

Thriller Thursday – The Accidental Shooting of Walter Pennypacker

Here’s the latest installment for Thriller Thursday, a prompt suggested by members of Geneabloggers.

It was Saturday the fourth of July in 1896 and Walter Pennypacker was anticipating spending a pleasant afternoon taking a carriage ride with his betrothed, Mary Finkbiner. Walter, who lived in Royersford, Pennsylvania, was about 21 years old. He was a son of the late Isaac Pennypacker and nephew of James Pennypacker, a well-known resident of Parkerford, PA. He was employed by Frank Eppehimer at the Royersford sand quarries.

It was about noon when Walter drove his carriage up to the Finkbiner residence which was in near-by East Vincent Township, near Latshaw’s nursery. When Walter arrived Mary’s younger brother, Winfield Finkbiner, was outside target shooting with his revolver. Mr. and Mrs. Finkbiner were not home at the time as they were attending a funeral. Walter entered the Finkbiner residence to let Mary know he was there. He then came back outside to talk to Winfield while he waited for Mary.

At some point, Walter apparently asked Winfield “to shoot off his revolver to see if his horse would scare at it.” But when Winfield tried, the revolver became jammed. As he was trying to fix it, the revolver suddenly discharged. Unfortunately, Walter was standing directly in the line of fire. The bullet hit him in the heart. As he fell, he reportedly said, “you have shot me.” Mary’s older brother, John, caught Walter as he fell. Blood was rushing from his mouth and nose. John and Winfield carried Walter into the Finkbiner home and quickly summoned their uncle, Dr. S. S. Finkbiner. But it was too late as Walter died almost immediately.

Coroner Howell, of Phoenixville, PA, was sent for and he empanelled a jury. The witnesses to the shooting were the three siblings, John, Mary and Winfield Finkiner. The jury questioned them and determined that “Walter J. Pennypacker came to his death by a pistol wound inflicted by Winfield S. Finkbiner accidently.” The Coroner censured Winfield for careless use of a firearm, but he was exonerated from blame in the death.

Walter’s funeral took place on Wednesday, July 8th. Services were held in the Baptist Church at Parkerford and he was buried in the adjoining cemetery. His death cast a pall over the entire region – from Parkerford to Spring City to Royersford – as both the Pennypackers and the Finkbiners were well-known and highly-regarded families. There was much sympathy for all the young people involved in the accident.

I have connections to both the Pennypackers and the Finkbiners. The siblings Mary, Winfield and John Finkbiner, were my 4th cousins, 3 times removed, and Walter Pennypacker was my 5th cousin, 3 times removed. As always, if you have connections to these families, I would love to hear from you!

Thriller Thursday – The Accidental Shooting of Emma

Well, it’s time for another installment of Thriller Thursday – an on-going blogging prompt suggested by members of Geneabloggers. Today I have the story of my 3x’s great-aunt, Emeline Newman Moyer Hallman.

Emeline Newman was born in December of 1852. She and her twin sister Rebecca were the youngest children of Abraham and Rebecca (Derr) Newman. For many years Abraham operated a stage coach between Norristown and Pottstown, Pennsylvania. By 1860, however, the family had taken up residence in Limerick, PA, (near Pottstown) where Abraham eventually followed the occupation of farming.

About 1871 Emma married a neighborhood boy, Charles K. Moyer. He was the son of Henry Moyer and Esther Krause. Charles and Emma had two daughters, Ella and Ida. Charles died in 1906, leaving Emma a widow. In April of 1910 Emma married John G. Hallman. John was a blacksmith. He was also widowed, his first wife Catherine Umstead having died in 1906 as well.

On the morning on September 12, 1910, Emma and her new husband were having their breakfast. The time was about 7 o’clock in the morning. As they were eating they heard a commotion. They looked outside and discovered a chicken hawk among their fowl. John got up and went to the sitting room to get his gun. As he walked back into the kitchen he tripped. The gun bumped against the door frame and discharged. Through a bizarre twist of fate, the bullet hit Emma in the back. She was actually still seated at the breakfast table when it happened. Although a physician was summoned, it was to no avail. Emma unfortunately died within a few minutes.

Emma was 56 years old and the mother of two grown daughters. She was buried in the Limerick Church Cemetery next to her first husband Charles K. Moyer. In addition to her daughters, she was survived by sisters Matilda Linderman, Mary Evans (my great-great-grandmother) and Rebecca Lightcap.

As a post script to this story, I also happen to be related to John G. Hallman. He was the son of John Hallman and Hannah Grimley and was my (half) third cousin, 4x’s removed. His first wife Catherine Umstead, was the daughter of Nathan Umstead and Eliza Shaner, and was my 2nd cousin, 4x’s removed. After the death of Emma Newman, John apparently married a third time. In 1920 he was enumerated with a wife named Mary Elizabeth. She died prior to 1930 and he died in 1937. (In case you are wondering, I have no information on the cause of death for the first or third wives.)