appeared in Acton Free Press (Acton, ON), 30 Sep 1909, p. 2, column 2
- Full Text
DROWNED IN A SWOLLEN RIVER
Ben Nellis Lost His Life While Ford-
ing a Stream in Cuba
AN OBITUARY TRIBUTE BY HIS
Reference was made several weeks ago to the untimely death by drowning, near Camaguey, Cuba, of Mr. Ben. Nellis, son of Mrs. William Nellis, Nassagaweya. The intimation then received gave very meagre news of the sad event. A second letter has just been received by the family in which details are given.
It seems that in the performance of his duties as foreman of Mr. Frank H. Hall, lumberman, of Camaguey, Cuba, Mr. Nellis was obliged to cross a river on horseback. He took the usual fording place, but the river was much swollen by recent rains, and in crossing the horse and rider went under. Deceased was wearing a raincoat which was unbuttoned and when found the tails of the coat were twisted about his head. In all probability the entanglement of the coat about his head and neck by the force of the rapidly running water, was the cause of his drowning. He was alone when the accident occurred and it was some time before the body was recovered.
The following tribute is paid the deceased by his employer, who was greatly attached to him. In fact arrangements were being made at the time of his sad death to go into partnership with Mr. Hall, for whom he had been working for two and a half years.
The following obituary is from the pen of Mr. Frank R. Hall by whom the deceased was employed:
Camaguey, Cuba, Sept. 8th, 1909.
Sacred to the memory of noble Ben Nellis, who passed to his reward just one month ago to-day.
Ben Nellis was a young man of unusual ability, a most lovable disposition, of consistencey of purpose and devotion to every duty. His life was so useful and so beautiful that it impelled the admiration of all with whom he came into contact. He was taken from his loved ones and admiring friends and earthly duties just when his star was beginning to burn most brightly.
Those friends who gathered with tearful eyes to pay homage to this departed one, could not understand why death's hand should have been placed upon this noble young man, who had always been so true, honest and good, and whom we had all learned to love and honor for his many manly virtues. He always seemed to take upon his broad shoulders and heart the burdens of those with whom he associated, and like the Master he served, he always seemed happiest when he was doing something to lessen the burdens of his fellowmen.
Ben Nellis lived to make others happy and his life is a story of kindly deeds. His kind, noble acts so rounded his character, that here perhaps we find the reason for that final summons to come up higher, to broader fields of usefulness. His work on earth was well done - while others loitered by the way, and in a life-time bring not half so many golden sheaves as did he in evidence of unselfish devotion to those whom he met on life's pathway.
He was the soul of honor and always stuck to truth and principle. He came to me a few days after arriving in Cuba, to help me for only a short time, and there soon arose such a mutual attachment between us that he remained with me up to the day of his death, making in all nearly two and one-half years.
No man friend did I ever have that I loved like I loved Ben Nellis, and no one in life ever proved their devotion to me as he did. Only a few weeks before his sad ending he said to me: "I expect to stay with you as long as I live." He was true to his word, but little did I think then that his stay would be so short.
I was away from home when he was drowned and just about the same date of the very sad accident that closed his earthly mission, I visited his dear mother near Acton in Canada. Being at Toronto on business I thought it my duty to go and see his mother and tell her what a noble boy she had raised. While there I met also all his brothers and sisters and when out riding with one of his brothers I gathered a few leaves from trees on the old farm of his childhood thinking it would please Ben to receive them. Little did I think that they were mementos of love to be placed upon his grave.
He was laid to rest in the newly-opened cemetery at Bartle, Cuba, and his funeral was attended by almost the entire inhabitants of the town. His memory will remain forever with all those that knew him. This is one of the times I can truly weep with those who mourn and realise that the noblest and best one of us all is gone on before us to welcome our arrival.
I have tried to write these lines as a last tribute to this noble boy for some time, but I have been too over-powered by grief to do it, and I now tender it to those who were nearest and dearest to Ben Nellis, as issues of a stricken heart. It is the most painful duty I ever performed.
I am all alone in my chamber now
And the midnight hour is near
The cricket's chirp and the clock's dull tick
Are the only sounds I hear,
And over my soul in solitude,
Deep feelings of sadness glide,
And my heart and my eyes are full,
When I think of our noble boy that died.
Dedicated to the memory of BEN NELLES by his devoted friend FRANK R. HALL.
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- 30 Sep 1909
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