1954 Lightning Strike Ignites Gas Line at Foutz Home
There’s nothing like a few idle days — and a free trial subscription to Newspapers.com — to get the old family history hankerings humming.
In some inspired binge-searching, I racked up several dozen clippings and unraveled a few family mysteries. Enough to unspool in this space over the next several weeks. So, stay tuned!
Today’s stop: March 1954 in Dover, Ohio. A morning storm sends a lightning strike to surprise great-grandma Laura Foutz and damage not only her home, but the bungalow owned by my grandparents Don and Erma Foutz just behind it.
From the Dover Daily Reporter, Monday, March 29, 1954:
Out of 3,407 Dover residences, lightning yesterday picked on the home of Vance C. Foutz of 323 E. Front St. as the county experienced a weekend of freakish weather.
Out of the overcast skies came a bolt which struck the Foutz home at 8:55 a.m., causing a flash fire that did damage estimated at several thousand dollars. Another house at the rear of the Foutz residence, occupied by a son, Don, also was slightly damaged.
Heat of the bolt melted a lead connection on the gas meter in the Foutz basement, opening a three quarter inch gas line. The spreading gas was ignited and in a matter of minutes it had swept throughout the house.
Other than shock, members of the Foutz family and Mrs. Frieda Mizer, who also lives there, escaped injury.
Mrs. Foutz was preparing a roast at the gas range in her kitchen when the lightning hit. She thought the stove had exploded and immediately called to Mrs. Mizer, a cook at Katie’s Restaurant, who was asleep in an upstairs bedroom.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the thumbnails below!
Foutzes Not Long for Front Street
The conclusion of this electric caper? Both Vance and Don Foutz’s families would move from the 300 block of Race Street to the homes of my dad’s childhood.
- An item in the April 18, 1955 Daily Reporter, about a year after the lightning strike, reports Don and Erma Foutz selling part of lot 289 (that would be the bungalow in the rear) to Donald and Helen Schrump.
- An item from June 7, 1955 finds Don and Erma Foutz purchasing parts of lots 2271-2272 from Clem and Katherine Stratton — their home at 115 N. Cross St., I’m supposing.
- Meanwhile, great-grandparents Vance and Laura Foutz move in with son Carl at 428 Race Street. That is, until Vance receives a building permit for a one-story, 40 x 24 residence at 428 Race Street rear, as reported April 6, 1955. Luckily, son and daughter-in-law Carl and A. Louise Foutz follow up by selling Vance .11 acres behind their home to build his small residence, where he would reside until his death in 1968.