Earl Wagoner Gartrell

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

(November 19, 1916 - January 25, 1941)


The Lusk Herald
January 30, 1941


Earl Gartrell Fatally Hurt in Fall from Walking Beam at Oil Field Saturday; Burial Tuesday

Earl W. Gartrell, young married man, and son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Gartrell of this city, suffered fatal injuries while at work in the east end of the Lance Creek oil field early last Saturday morning. He passed away at the Lusk hospital at 12:30 p.m. without regaining consciousness. Earl was in the employ of the Hayes Servicing company, and Saturday morning had joined a crew of workmen preparing to put a Continental Oil company well on the Apex lease, on pump.

He was astride the "walking beam" and had crawled out to near the end of the beam to the so-called "horse's head," where he was attempting to put on the heavy coil wire connecting the head with the string apparatus. In some manner as he was lifting the wire, commonly called the "bridle," he is believed to have become over-balanced. He fell to the concrete platform of the well, striking the floor on the right side of his head and body in a somewhat angling dive. The accident was said to have occurred about 8:45 a.m.

The terrific impact of the fall, which has been estimated to be between 12 and 15 feet, caused a basal fracture of the skull, broken neck and a broken right arm, rendering him unconscious. He was given first aid by Mrs. "Happy" Fritscher, registered nurse at the field, while local physicians and the ambulance of the Peet mortuary were called.

Every possible aid was given the young man, and he was kept under oxygen throughout the trip to this city. Arriving at the hospital, it was hoped by the attending physician, Dr. W. E. Reckling, that he would gain sufficiently so that an operation might be performed to relieve the pressure on the brain, but all attempts to bring about this improvement proved futile.

His wife, Minnie, and his parents, had been notified and were at the hospital when death came. The remains were placed in charge of the Peet mortuary.

No inquest was conducted, since testimony of fellow workers and attending physicians revealed clearly that Earl's death was purely accidental and that it was not caused from any carelessness on the part of young Gartrell or defective materials of the company for whom he was working. The Hayes company was absolved of any blame in the tragedy.

Funeral services were conducted from St. Leo's Catholic Church at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning, Father Miller of Wheatland having charge. The remains of the deceased were interred in the Lusk cemetery, casket bearers being Carl Reuber, Thurman Roberts, Chad DeCastro, Kenneth Erlewine, Charles Slaughterbech and Ross Gentry.

Earl W. Gartrell was born November 19, 1916 at Buffalo, Wyoming, second son of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Gartrell. He passed away at the Lusk hospital on Saturday, January 25, 1941 at the age of 24 years, 2 months and 9 days.

The family moved to this city in December, 1920, when Earl was but four years old. He attended the grade school here and later was a student of the Lusk high school.

On July 3, 1937, he was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Rafferty, also of this city; at Cheyenne. They made their home here for a short while, and later moved to Lance Creek, where they had since resided. For the past three years Earl had been employed in various branches of oil field occupation.

Besides his wife, the deceased is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Gartrell, of Lusk; one brother, Orville J. Gartrell of Chicago, Ill., and other relatives. The latter, accompanied by his wife, arrived here Monday afternoon to attend funeral services, and will remain here until Saturday.

During his residence here and at the oil field, Earl had acquired a vast host of friends, many of whom attended the funeral services to pay their final respects.








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