Obituary Details

Maxwell "Max" Keith Bell

(07/15/1900 - 06/13/1931)
Courtesy of Lusk Free Lance, 06/18/1931

Maxwell Keith Bell

Maxwell Keith Bell was born at the Node Ranch, near Node, Wyo., on July 15, 1900, and died in an automobile accident seven miles west of Van Tassell, Wyo., Saturday, June 13, 1931, at the age of 30 years, 10 months and 28 days.

Lusk Free Lance
June 18, 1931
Max Bell, Van Tassell Ranch Foreman, Meets Instant Death When Car Hits Bank Saturday

Max Bell, aged 30, foreman of the Van Tassell Ranch, near Van Tassell, met probable instant death last Saturday afternoon, when, on his way home from Lusk, accompanied by Harleigh Swain, an employee at the ranch, the car in which they were riding went over a small bank, turned a somersault and landed on its side. Both men had apparently been thrown from the car when it left its course. The accident occurred about seven miles east of Van Tassell on the old Highway No. 20 route.

So far as can be learned, the smash-up occurred in the early afternoon, presumable about 2:00 o'clock, but it was almost four hours later before the wreckage was discovered by a party of young ladies, who were coming from the O. H. Burnham place, some distance from the scene of the tragedy. It was early in the afternoon when the car was first seen from the Burnham home, but the folks there thought it was merely some tourists stopped for a rest or because of car trouble.

As soon as they saw the wreckage, they summoned aid and found that Mr. Bell was dead. Swain was sitting on the bank about fifteen feet from the car, in a dazed condition. Coroner George Earl Peet was immediately notified and he took charge of the body. Swain was taken to the Burnham home and Dr. G. D. Murphy of this city attended him. He was later brought to the Lusk hospital, where he was given treatment, and was able to return home the following afternoon.

Mr. Bell's skull had been crushed so badly that death must have been instantaneous, according to County Coroner Peet. The remains were removed from the scene to the undertaking parlors of the Peet Mortuary.

Stories conflict as to whether Bell's body was underneath the car when found, but it is believed that he was not, and that his injuries were received while inside the car.

The belief that the car somersaulted is formed because the top on the inside shows marks of battery acid having eaten on the lining, and which could hardly have happened unless the car did turn completely over. The car, however, was not seriously damaged and was driven to Lusk under its own power.

Mr. Bell was driving the car at the time of the wreck, according to Swain, and it is not known whether or not the brakes were applied too suddenly or for some other reason that the car made the dash from the road. Actions of Swain when he was placed in a car to be brought to town lead to the theory that he might have applied the emergency, seeing something ahead in the road, or believing the car from under control. Twice in the car in which he was being brought to Lusk did he apply the emergency brake, so tight, in fact, that some time was required in releasing it.

Max is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bell, the former of Kissimmee and Mrs. Bell of this city, both of whom are well-known in this vicinity and who are among the early pioneers of Wyoming. Mrs. Bell was visiting friends in Douglas when news of the accident reached her.

This death is the third in the family, all of which were of violent and untimely nature. One brother, Tom, Jr., was dragged to death by a horse, and Floyd, next older than Max, succumbed to the effects of a bite by a poison spider in Florida, several years ago.

Besides his parents, the deceased is survived by a brother, Lionel, of Kissimmee, Fla., and one sister, Miss Irene Bell, assistant secretary to U. S. Senator Robt. D. Carey, who was at Careyhurst when the tragedy occurred.

Max had been foreman of the Van Tassell Ranch for the past three years, and was considered one of the best ranch managers in this section of the state. His knowledge of cattle and horses came as second nature to him, and it was a part of his daily life for many years.

He was born on the Node Ranch, eight miles east of Lusk on July 15, 1900. He attended the schools of this county and was a graduate of the Lusk high school in the class of '20. He had a large following of friends, all of who admired and respected him.

Funeral services under the direction of the Peet Mortuary were conducted from the First Baptist church Monday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock. Rev. Jesse Richels, of Torrington, Baptist colporter missionary for this district, officiated. Burial was made in the Lusk cemetery.

The esteem in which he was held was shown by the large number of friends who attended the last rites Monday afternoon. It was a solemn tribute paid by those to whom he had given a genuine friendship, where silence is more emphatic than words.

Images & Attachments

Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project

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