The Body On The Kitchen Floor

The Body On The Kitchen Floor

by Kerry Scott on 18 November 2010

The theme for the 100th Carnival of Genealogy is “There’s One in Every Family.”  What I want to know is this:

Do you have one who left a dead body on the kitchen floor in your family?  Because I do.

Hansine Lein is one of the many members of my Norwegian families from around Albert Lea, Minnesota.  Years ago, in an effort to untangle some of them, I went looking for what I thought would be a fairly routine obituary for her brother, Arndt Lein.  This is what I found in The [Albert Lea] Evening Tribune, 15 December 1943, page 4, column 4:

ARNDT LEIN PASSED AWAY YESTERDAY

Found Dead on Floor of Farm Home by His Sister

Yesterday afternoon about 4 o’clock Coroner Louis Kuchera and Deputy Sheriff Carl Lindahl were called to the farm home of Arndt Lein, north of the city near the Hammer schoolhouse, where Mr. Lein was found to be lying dead on the kitchen floor.  Upon investigation the officers were informed by Miss Hansine Lein, who had been living with her brother on the farm for the past 12 years, that Arndt had been dead since 6 o’clock that morning.  He was past 82 years of age.  With Miss Lein and a hired man, he had been trying to take care of the farm of 140 acres and stock, but from all reports were not doing a good job of it.  When asked why she had not notified anyone of her brother’s death earlier that day, Miss Lein stated that she had been too busy with the farm work and the putting away of some hay.  She is 72 years of age.  Shortly before 4 o’clock a neighbor learned of Mr. Lein’s death and lost no time in notifying the sheriff’s office.  As far as is known, Arndt and Miss Lein were the only two members of the Lein families living in this section of the country.  At one time Miss Lein told Attorney Floyd Nichols, who is guardian, that they had relatives living in Norway and some in California.  Attorney Nichols will try to get in touch with them.  The two own the farm and also a house and lot near Christ Church in Albert Lea.  The body of Lein was brought to the Bonnerup Funeral home.  Funeral arrangements had not been made at noon today.

So, yeah.  That’s strange.  I can’t help but feel bad for Hansine, who probably just couldn’t deal with the shock of her brother’s death, which left her all alone on that great big farm.  She died in nearly seven years later, and her obituary says she still lived on that farm.  I wonder how she managed.

Photo by emerald isle druid

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Debi November 18, 2010 at 11:00 am

It amazes me the things they wrote in obits back in the ‘old’ days. With all of the privacy laws these days, I’m surprised we even have obituaries any more. I’ve found a few strange tales in my family from obits, too – not a dead person on the kitchen floor, though.

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Carol November 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

OOOO, now, that is a good obit, well, from a family historian’s point of view. We just ever know what we will find, eh???

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Susan Tiner November 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm

What a compelling story. It is not hard to imagine the farm work being overwhelming for both brother and sister, let alone Hansine by herself.

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JL November 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm

“… too busy …. putting away of some hay …”

Sounds right to me. If you have to get the hay in before the weather changes, you just have to.

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Kerry Scott November 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

You know, the fact that she was still putting up hay in mid-December tells you something right there. I mean, I’m no farmer, but I’ve read enough Little House on the Prairie books to know you do that in the fall, not in December. Especially in Minnesota.

The paper doesn’t have any further information (other than the fact that Arndt’s funeral was held later that week), but I’m hoping the neighbors saw this and maybe helped out or something.

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JL November 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Oh … I missed the part about it being December. In that case, she was lying and it’s an unsolved murder.

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Laura November 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

That is a fascinating obit! It really is amazing how much personal info they put in the newspapers back then, isn’t it?

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Pregnant Yuppy November 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

My grandma remembers when her little brother died that they had to leave him on the porch for the entire winter, or at least until the ground thawed so they could bury him.

My family’s story is a bit more practical than your family’s story though.

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Marian Pierre-Louis November 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Well the obit did say they weren’t doing a very good job of running the farm. Maybe that’s why they were still putting it away in December! :) Great obit.

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