Wellsville Daily Reporter - Thursday, June 8, 1882

(Submitted by Mary Rhodes)



The large dwelling house of Nelson Budd at Petrolia was burned this morning between one and two o’clock , the aged owner being burned to death.

Mr. Budd was about 69 years old and had been for several years so crippled by a sort of paralysis as to be able to walk about only with great difficulty.  The family of Ed. Hotchkiss lived in the house with him and had the care of the decrepit man.  Mr. Budd occupied a room by himself, in close proximity to other occupants of the house, and as he was in the habit of needing some attentions throughout the night, a lamp was usually left burning on a table in his room.  During last night Mr. Hotchkiss awakened and discovered the house to be on fire.  Running to the old man’s room, it was evident that the flames had started there, as it was completely enveloped and it had not spread to other portions.  Through the flames it could be seen that the bed upon which the man lay had already dropped to the floor and that he had fallen with it, and was even then dead.  Efforts were made to reach him, but in vain, and the spreading flames compelled the occupants to turn their attention to saving themselves.

Mr. Hotchkiss saved about half of his household goods from the other part of the house.  A boarder in the second story who waited to save some effects was compelled to jump from the window to escape.

The origin of the fire cannot be certainly known.  It is however thought that it was set by the victim himself.  When discovered, the flames appeared to center more especially around the bed, and not near where the lamp stood on a table near the door.  Considering the condition that the old man was in, it would have been hardly possible for him to have reached the lamp, or knocked it to the floor, and equally impossible for him to have again reached the position in which he was found on the bed.  In this connection, it is remembered by several that he had been heard to say that he wished the house would be burned up and himself in it.  So weather from accident or design, he has been granted the cruel end desired.  It has been noticed of late, that in addition to his other afflictions, the deceased had shown occasional symptoms of apparent insanity and it was no doubt in a state of this sort, brought on by his helpless condition, that he chose and carried out the horrible manner of his death.

The deceased was an old and well known resident of this section, having been here fully forty years.  He formerly resided on the farm on the hill just west of the village, still known as the Budd place.  He was actively engaged in the lumber business and a good many years ago moved to Alma and built the Budd & Lindsley mill at Petrolia, now owned by his nephew E. E. Lindsley.

The house that was burned was a large one, built a few years ago at a cost of $2,000.  There was no insurance on building or contents.