Today in Wheeling History: May 17--Wheeling policeman Harry Downs accidentally shoots and kills his wife (1905). While cleaning his 38-caliber revolver at their home on Chapline and Twenty-seventh streets, the weapon discharged, fatally injuring Mrs. Downs. Their eldest child, a 12-year-old boy, witnessed the heartbreaking event and ran out in distress, alerting the neighbors. Medical assistance arrived promptly, but the bullet had already claimed Mrs. Downs' life. Devastated, Harry clung to his wife's lifeless body, desperately hoping for her return. The kitchen, where the accident occurred, remained untouched as the family was about to have dinner. Mrs. Downs, formerly known as Laura Friend, hailed from a rural area near New Martinsville. Officer Downs had recently joined the police force under Chief Clemans. Mrs. Downs, 34 years old at the time, left behind three children: Harry (12), Lola (7), and Hulda (4). The couple had been married for thirteen years. (https://rb.gy/bmyv2)
Mike Minder was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia. He is the author of Wheeling's Gambling History to 1976.