Contributed by Gigimo
Description: Jonathan WEFF, 83, Burned to Death.Date: June 25 1936
Newspaper published in: Flat River, MO
The remains of Jonathan NEFF, aged Washington County pioneer, were found last Sunday morning in the burned ruins of an old shack near Old Hamilton. The discovery was made by wolf hunters who stopped to investigate the ruins of the fire. Identification was established from belongings which had failed to burn. All were found to have been in possession of the missing man at the time he let the home of his son, George NEFF, on the previous Monday morning.
Although a resident of Washington County for about 55 years, Mr. NEFF had for the past six years made his home with his son, David, and family at Gofftown. About two weeks ago, he went back for a visit with his son, George, at Old Hamilton and his daughter in law Mrs. Clara NEFF, at Anthony Mill. As was his custom, he spent part of his visit at each place. On Monday, June 15, he left his son's place at about five o'clock in the morning to visit at the home of Mrs. NEFF at Anthony Mill, a distance of about 7 miles. Later in the morning he was observed by neighbors to have progressed about half way from Old Hamilton. After that nothing further was heard of him. On Tuesday morning an old shack in the vicinity where he was last seen was observed to have burned but nothing was thought about it and in the meantime, both families felt certain he was safe with the other until they met and found he was at neither place.
The hunters who stopped to investigate the ruins of the shack found the ashes of a skeleton and a few stubs of bones which crumbled when touched. Also, there was with the body $1.47 in change, a double-barreled shot gun from which the stock had been burned, a unique belt buckle, two jack knives, and a small piece of cloth which had not been consumed by the flames. The sheriff at Potosi was immediately notified and an inquest held with the result that a verdict of "death due to unknown cause" was returned. Although the body of the unfortunate man was burned, authorities feel there is a possibility of foul play since it was stretched out on the earth floor and there was no plausible reason for the shack catching on fire. According to his son, Mr. NEFF never carried matches and did not smoke.
Mr. NEFF is known to have money on deposit in the bank at Sullivan, but whether or not he had any quantity on his person at the time he left his son's home is unknown. Chances are that if he had any amount of money in his possession at the time it was in bills in which case robbery could have been a motive for foul play or if death was incidental with the burning of the shack, it would have been consumed in the flames.
What could be assembled of the remains were placed in a casket and funeral services were conducted at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday afternoon in Old Hamilton cemetery by Rev. S. P. Northwitt, Baptist minister at Sullivan.
The deceased was born in Jackson County, Ohio, on October 1, 1853. In 1873 at the age of 21 years he was united in marriage to Miss Sarah WOODS of Portsmouth, Ohio, and shortly afterwards came to Washington County, Mo., where he lived until six years ago when he began making his home with his son at Gofftown. He was the father of seven children, three of whom preceded him in death. Those living are: Daniel of Gofftown, Rose (Mrs. J. T. CALLAHAN) of Leadington, Ida (Mrs. Henry HOFF) of Bliss and George of Old Hamilton. He is also survived by 25 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and two sisters, Mrs. Frank SLATER of Sullivan and the other whose name is unknown resides in New York.