My 2nd great-grandfather, James Franklin Straughen, had many occupations during his lifetime from fisherman to carpenter and more. In 1903, he was working as a gunpowder tester at the DuPont munitions factory at Carney’s Point, New Jersey. In 1903, Frank was 39 years old and had four children, who ranged in age from 13 years to 1 month old.
On October 7, 1903, a man arrived at the factory with a gunpowder that he claimed to have just invented. Telling the employees that he did not have equipment to test the powder himself, he asked them to test it for him. Frank prepared two shells with the powder and loaded them, not the wisest decision he would make that day.
The gun exploded in Frank’s hands and a piece of the shell casting lodged in his arm. The paper reports only that he was “painfully but not dangerously injured”. However, my mother says the family story goes that Frank was out of work for months while he recovered from the injury.
Of course, the wacky inventor didn’t stick around to answer for his creation, he made off with the remaining shell!