Source: North Manchester Journal, April 28, 1904

B.F. Clemans Loses Life Near Laketon.

The most appalling accident that has happened in this community in many years was that which resulted in the death of Capt. B.F. Clemans on his farm near Laketon last Thursday afternoon. Mr. Clemans and his wife had driven to the farm from this city in the morning and he spent the day working about the place. He had been hauling stone from the fields with a team of horses whose safety was not questioned, and after unloading the last load near five o’clock in the evening started up a lane to the house preparing to return to town when the team ran away.

Just what scared the team is not exactly known but it is supposed the horses took fright at the discharge of the gun of a boy who was shooting ground hogs in an adjoining field. Before the team had become unmanageable, however, the wagon wheels ran into a hole made by ground hogs in the lane and the lurch of the wagon threw the dump boards in every direction. At the same time Mr. Clemans must have been thrown forward over the front end of the wagon and fell head downward in front of the axletree. In some manner the lines became tightly wrapped around his legs and caught on the stay chain hook in the axle in such a manner that he was unable to free himself. Ross Steele, a nephew of Mr. Clemans and tenant on the place, was drilling oats in a field some distance away and saw the runaway about the time the dump boards were thrown from the wagon and at once started after the team with all his speed but was unable to catch up with it.

The team ran about sixty rods and on reaching the house ran into the fence and stopped. Mrs. Clemens and Mrs. Ross Steel, who were at the house saw the team coming and were there at the moment it stopped. Mrs. Steel held the horses while Mrs. Clemans was able to extricate the body of her husband from its fastenings and drag him out from under the horses’ heels. Life was apparently extinct at that time, the injured man only making a few gasps after his body had been taken from the rig. His head and shoulders had been dragged on the ground and had evidently received the blows of the horses’ heels as they ran, thus battering the life out of him. There were many ugly cuts and bruises about the head and shoulders and his face was badly disfigured and one arm was broken in several places.

Medical aid was summoned at once but it was apparent that nothing could be done except to perform the last rites over the dead. Mrs. Clemans, who witnessed the end of the runaway and dragged her husband’s body out of the wreck, exhibited a nerve and heroism such as but few women could do, but soon after suffered an almost total collapse under the nervous strain which she had suffered in those agonizing moments. Her grief was inexpressible but kind hands assisted in caring for her and the body of Mr. Clemans which was brought to his home in this city the next day, and all preparations made for the funeral services which were held on Sunday afternoon.

This sad and untimely accident has caused a great shock to everybody in the community. Probably few men had as many personal friendships as Capt. Clemans and his death coming in this unexpected manner just at a time when he had settle down to quietly enjoy the fruits of a long life of hard work makes it all the more deplorable. He was a man of quiet, unassuming character, an earnest worker in all he undertook and a gentleman who always had the confidence of his friends and neighbors. During his life he had been entrusted with many responsible positions and in no case did he ever betray a trust or fail to fulfill his duties with honor and credit to himself and satisfaction to the public in general. Practically all his life Capt. Clemans has been a resident in this community and identified with its best interests and enterprises. He was so well known that to pronounce any lengthy eulogy at this time seems to be unnecessary and the best evidence of the esteem in which he was held by the people is shown in the manifest and universal expressions of sorrow upon his death.

Benjamin Franklin Clemans was the son of Cornelius and Salome (Wantz) Clemans and was born in Preble county, Ohio, December 19, 1843. With his parents he came to Wabash county in 1853 and his boyhood days were spent on farms in Pleasant and Chester townships. At the breaking out of the civil war he entered the service of the government , enlisting in company B, 47th regiment, Indiana volunteers. His record as a soldier was of the best and early in 1864 he became the regimental quartermaster and was mustered out with the regiment October 23, 1865. On April 11, 1870 he was married to Emma T. Bensan, who died July 3, 1874. To their union three children were born only one of whom, Louis L. Clemans, survives, the others having died in infancy. December 25, 1879, he married Miss Henrietta Travelbee, of this city, who he leaves with his son and other relatives to mourn the loss of an excellent husband, an indulgent father and a good man. During 1879 he was chosen a justice of the peace in this city which office he filled for twelve years. Soon after his election to that office he was admitted to the bar of Wabash county and continued in the practice of that profession with success until the breaking out of the Spanish-American war. Mr. Clemans was elected to the Indiana legislature in 1888 as joint senator for Wabash and Kosciusko counties and served with the distinction in the sessions of 1889 and 1891. In July 1897 a company of state militia was organized in this city and he was chosen its captain. This company afterward became company D of the 157th regiment in the Spanish-American war and was mustered into service at Camp Mount, Indianapolis in the spring of 1898. Capt. Clemans and his company served faithfully with that regiment until it was mustered out November 1, 1898. In the fall of that year and before his discharge Capt. Clemans received the republican nomination for auditor of Wabash county. He entered on the duties of that office in November 1899, his term of office expiring Jan. 1, 1904, after which he returned to this city to live a quiet retired life in the enjoyment of fruits of a well spent life. He was an honored member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Knights of Honor and I.O.O.F. orders in all of which he took an active and prominent part.

The funeral was held at the Lutheran church Sunday at two o’clock and was one of the largest ever known here. All of the orders to which he belonged together with many members of company D were in attendance. A special train came over from Wabash bringing 140 people. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. L.C. Douglas and Rev. D. Charles Little, of Wabash, also paid a tribute to the memory of the deceased. Rev. Samuels and Rev. Rowand assisted in the services. Burial was had in Oaklawn cemetery with the ritualistic services of the G.A.R. and I.O.O.F. The pall bearers were Melvin Grossnickle, B.H. Shock, George Hidy, Tral Sexton, Fred Sandoz and John Dunbar, all members of his company in the 157th regiment. The floral tributes were numerous and beautiful. The Wabash bar association passed appropriate resolutions of respect and was represented at the funeral by many of its members.