I’ve written about my great-grandfather in the past but I continue to research the stories about his life and try to see if there is any existing evidence to support some of the details of his life. There are still many questions I have but today would have been his 125th birthday and I wanted to document one of those stories.
On June 12, 1910, in Powersville, Missouri, Leo Steven Bucher was helping his soon-to-be adopted father R.T. Bucher wash their horses and buggy. They led the horses into the pond, wherein one of the horses laid down and got tangled up in the harness and eventually both horses drowned.
From his 1910 diary:
Drowned tow horses [two horses?] (Black) (One Horse & one mare). Drove in pond to wash wheels, horse laid down and pulled mare over him, got tangled in harness.
The next day, they buried the team of horses:
Amazingly, this story was picked up by the local newspaper, the Unionville Republican, and even ran as 10-years-ago item in 1920.
R.T. Bucher had the misfortune to have his team drowned Sunday. He had driven them into the pond to wash off his buggy when one of them laid down and became tangled in the harness, throwing the other one, and before they could be loosened, both were drowned.
In 1910, this was a very serious problem as a horse was the main mode of transportation and work. It was equivalent to losing both your cars and your tractor on the same day. In a time before insurance, it could be very expensive to replace two horses.
For some time, this story was told as an origin story – that R.T. and Alice Bucher had another son who drowned in a pond with some horses. The reality is much different. Leo Bucher was already living with the family by that point and might have even contributed to the drowning of the horses (since he states in his diary “Drowned two horses)). In fact, I can find no evidence that RT and Alice Bucher ever had any other children besides Leo, whom they adopted when he was 21 years old. It’s likely that they took him in because they were unable to have children of their own.