Last October, I got the chance to take a genealogy research trip to Kansas to look for information about my mother’s family. The highlights of the trip include visiting with family on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family. My mom’s uncle, Raymond, was just shy of 90 when we visited. He told us so many great stories about the Mitchell family. We spent an afternoon driving around Topeka, Kansas seeing the family sites when Raymond pointed to a street corner and said “That is where Aunt Laura’s house blew up.”
Of course, my mom and I immediately wanted to hear more. This is a retelling of the story we heard that afternoon from Uncle Raymond with a little of my research added in.
Aunt Laura is Laura P. Mitchell. She is one of Dudley Moses Mitchell’s older sisters. She was born about 1868 in Jackson County, Kansas. At the time of this story she was living in Topeka, Kansas.
One day Laura smelled gas in her house so she called the gas company. They came out to the house and let her know that they did not smell anything and she was fine. Later in the day, Laura still smelled gas and called the gas company again. She apologized for being any trouble but let them know about the continuing gas smell. The gas company again sent a man out to her house. Laura went into the basement with the gas man. When he turned on his flashlight, the gas in the room ignited. The house split into two the explosion was so large. They both somehow miraculously survived with little injuries. Uncle Raymond continued that if Aunt Laura had been lying in her cot as usual, she would have gone through the roof becaues that is exactly what happened to the cot! Laura received a settlement from the gas company. She moved to Downey, California sometime after the explosion happened. She lived in California the rest of her life.