Cecil Burton Leach

Cecil Burton Leach
1876 — Dec. 26, 1900

The Clarksburg Telegram., January 5, 1900


Cecil Leach Asphyxiated by fumes from a gas stove in Pittsburg.

Tuesday evening, December 26, 1899, the sad intelligence came from Pittsburg that Cecil Burton Leach had been found dead in his room that evening, asphyxiation by fumes from a gas stove being assigned as the cause of his death. Dr. Elliott, who was summoned to his room, gave it as his opinion that the stove used in the room permitted a certain amount of incomplete combustion which caused the asphyxiation.

(left side of newspaper over the next several paragraphs was missing, and the best effort was put forth to retype in as close an approximation as possible)

The remains arrived here Thursday evening and were taken to the residence of his uncle, Charles L. Hickman –th Second street, from which the funeral took place Friday afternoon –o’clock, Rev. R. B. McDanel –ng the obsequies. Interment –e in the I.O.O.F. cemetery. –token of the esteem in which —s held by his associates in the Western Union telegraph office at Pittsburgh, in which he held, with –ency, a position of responsibility –perator. A large, handsome floral –s, placed upon the coffin by the Pittsburgh, operators, accompanied the -mainsie- their final resting place. His former associates in the Western Union office here paid their tribute in very handsome wreaths of white roses and lilies.

Wreath of white lilies and roses

Mr. Leach was 23 years of age and the only brother of Miss Ethel Leach, of this city, from whom there is a deep and universal sympathy in this sad bereavement.

The following account of his death appeared in the Pittsburg Despatch

Cecil Burton Leach, a telegraph operator, was found dead in his room, in a lodging house at 8 Congress street shortly after 6 o’clock Tuesday night, December 26. Asphyxiation by fumes from a gas stove is supposed to be the cause of death. Leach roomed with Charles Downey, and worked for the Western Union Telegraph Company.

(left side of newspaper over the next several paragraphs was missing, and the best effort was put forth to retype in as close an approxiamation as possible)

The theory of suicide was at first advanced, but investigation shows no -gros- for the belief.

–h worked late Monday night, –rtly after finishing went home. –s evening, when he did not –n; the other persons in the –became alarmed and decided to –stigate. Mr. Downey, Freeman, –ey and Harry Rice went to his room and knocked. They received no response, and decided to force the door. They noticed the fumes from the stove before they decided to force open the door.

“When they gained an entrance to the room they found Leach lying on the floor dead beside his bed, with an arm extended as if reaching for something on the dresser. The gas in the heating stove was burning full force, and the smell of sulfur fumes almost drove them from the room. Being cold, Leach had closed all the doors and windows before retiring, and the air was stifling. A physician was summoned, who, when he saw that Leach was dead, reported the case to the Coroner.”

“Leach was well known among the operators of the city, and had been employed by the Western Union company since last spring.”

“Another theory as to the cause of his death was advanced by a friend. Leach was affected with heart trouble and would take fainting spells. Monday night he was not feeling well and asked one of his friends to go home with him, as he feared he was going to be attacked with fits of fainting.”

“The stove in the room was an open front, asbestos affair and had no flue connection to carry off the odor of the gas.”

—- Congress Street no longer exists as it was one of numerous streets that were cleared to make way for the Civic Arena in 1957. For more information please read “The Lower Hill before the arena” —-

–Image of Telegraph Operators originally published at Western Union’s enduring history in Denver, Co.

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