U – UNDERTAKER – Mershell Graham’s Death 1927

Aunt Daisy Turner, Grandmother Jennie Allen Turner, Mother Fannie Turner Graham Mary Virginia, Mershell and Doris. This is about the only photo where Mershell smiles.
Dr. Alexander Turner, 1926

On November 1, 1927 Mershell C. Graham Jr was killed when he was hit by a truck on the way back to school after lunch. He was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, a Catholic Hospital on Detroit’s East side. Dr. Turner was there with him when he died.

The route from the Graham house, to the elementary school and Mercy Hospital. The highways wouldn’t have been there then.

From the back pages of my grandmother Fannie Turner Graham’s Bible
“Our darling little Mershell Jr. was run over by a truck on Tuesday Nov. 1st – ’27 at 12:45 PM. on his way to school from lunch. skull crushed etc. – Neck broken – shoulder fractured- rushed to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital – never regained consciousness – died – same night at 2:10 – Dr Turner at his sid(e) (Fun)eral-Nov 4th … (Lavi)scount offic(iated)  sang….”

Thomas School in the last several years before it burned down.
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Detroit, MI 2200 East Grand Blvd.
Click to enlarge

Something has gone out of our hearts but I get comfort from the following song which I’ve so often heard my mother sing: – as best I remember it:

“Go bury thy sorrow,
Go hide it with care,
‘Go bury it deeply,
The world has it’s share.
Go tell it to Jesus,
He even will hear,
His is the best solace
He always is near.”

God be with us, strengthen and comfort us in these, the saddest hours we’ve ever known, and prepare us to meet our darling boy in heaven. Amen.

8/25/29 We went to cemetery for first time today

9/7/28 – Howard came in place of Mershell, we thot – he was such a beautiful darling – stayed with us 3 1/2 years – then God took him….

Now we go to cemetery weekly.

Mershell Cunningham Graham Jr. – Death Certificate
The Detroit Tribune, May 25, 1957
The undertakers listed on Mershell Graham’s death certificate were Davis and Webster.

22 thoughts on “U – UNDERTAKER – Mershell Graham’s Death 1927

    1. It is the only one I could find with Mershell smiling. Maybe he believed like my oldest son when he was little, that boys didn’t smile with their mouths open. My son thought he was smiling when he wasn’t because of this “rule”.

  1. Oh, how heartbreaking that little Mershell was run over by a truck! In a way, I’m glad he never regained consciousness. He would have been in so much pain.

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider TuiSnider.com – Historic Cemeteries & Symbolism from A to Z

  2. When I was about seven I ran across the road from school to my mother. I can still remember the horrified look of the bus driver who had to screech to a halt to avoid running me over.

    So very sad and the grief of his family …. do you have a picture of the gravestone?

    1. Almost hitting someone is terrifying. Even seeing an almost accident is terrifying to me.

      There is no gravestone. None of the family have a gravestone. I don’t understand it. By the time my cousins and I found out, all the previous generations were gone and the behavior of the cemetery was extremely unhelpful. We cannot believe there were never any stones erected. But we never went when we were growing up.

  3. This is a heartbreaking entry. These sorrows and losses are buried deep, but they are remembered and retold. It must have been so hard for your grandparents to keep a brave face and carry on, but nevertheless I’m sure that their daughters felt not only the loss of their brother and their parents’ sadness.

    1. They did. My mother wrote about finding her mother crying soon after the younger brother died and I meant to include that and also a later journal entry from my grandmother remembering how old Mershell would have been years later when he would have been 19.

    1. I guess my mother must have read it because she had the Bible after my grandmother died. She never mentioned it to me until I was in my 30s, not too long before she died herself. I hope that since I’ve shared it on my blog that it has become such a document.

  4. Two of my daughter’s friends were killed by a car near the school a couple of years ago and it absolutely rocked our entire town. It breaks my heart just thinking about it.
    I’m unclear about Howard, though – they thought he came in place of Mershell, but he was born before Mershell was killed?
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

    1. No, Howard was born 11 months after Mershell was killed. Mershell died November 2, 1927 and Howard was born September 7, 1928.

  5. Wow, so sad — especially the Bible entry and the back-of-the-envelope journal. Heartbreaking that your grandparents lost two children within just a few years. Makes me appreciate the trauma suffered by my own ancestors who lost children young.

  6. A beautiful song –“His is the best solace..”
    It must’ve been so hard to come to terms with such a tragic end to one so young–I guess, it’s faith and words that can help one to cope.

    1. I grew up hearing about Mershell being hit by a car. Several years ago as I began to look for information, and even when I wasn’t looking, I found my grandmother’s notes and then the death certificate, and the information about the undertaker. Then I was looking for information about the Grahams and I found the school they went to and so could see where they were crossing the street after lunch. And where was that hospital? I wanted to fill in my own picture and hence this post. There always seems to be more information. And I wonder how my mother and her sister and my grandparents would have lived a different life if those boys, those sons and brothers, had lived to grow up.

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