‘Shot in peculiar manner’

It was a beautiful September day. The Zinks and Dickersons were returning from an enjoyable afternoon at the La Plata County Fair, heading back home to Animas City along Main Avenue in their horse-drawn, two-bench-seated, covered carriage.

Suddenly, Anna Dickerson “threw up her hands and screamed,” according to a newspaper account from September 30, 1910.[1]

“Blood simply poured in a stream from her face,” the story said of Anna, age 53. “Her scream and the sight of the blood awoke the other occupants of the carriage to the realization that she had been accidentally shot.”

Several others were in the carriage at the time: Anna’s husband, Albert Dickerson, 74; Anna’s daughter, Ida Dickerson Zink, 30 (referred to in the account as Mrs. John J. Zink); Sarah Zink, 71 (John’s mother); and an undisclosed number of John and Ida’s children. Leonard, 6, Zelma, 3, Ruth, 2, and Albert, 1 month, all were born by then.

Family lore says Anna, who with husband Albert was visiting from Litchfield, Nebraska, was not inclined to attend the fair that day. It was a Sunday (September 25, if so), and Sundays were supposed to be reserved for church and religious observances. But she went anyway. Well, somebody learned a lesson that day, right?

From the gallery

The source of the sudden wound was a bullet from the shooting gallery, located inside the fairgrounds behind the grandstands. During the afternoon, men had been shooting at targets using a .22-caliber rifle. Just as the carriage reached a point on Main avenue directly behind the shooting gallery, Anna Dickerson screamed.

The shot was supposedly fired by Earl Ogdon, a young man residing on Fourth avenue in Durango. “In the opinion of all it was one of the most remarkable accidents that has ever occurred in this section of the country,” the paper said.

“The supposed bullet which struck Mrs. Dickerson sped into the bulls-eye on the target, through a plank two inches in thickness, then into space again until it reached the high board fence enclosing the fair ground. It then passed through the one-inch board, into space again, striking Mrs. Dickerson, who was seated in the buggy.”

The bullet entered Anna’s right cheek about an inch below the eye, passing through her face and emerging at the lower outside corner of her left eye. The magic bullet also struck Leonard and left him with a permanent scar over one eye. Fragments also went into Ida’s eyes.[2]

Matt Harrington, president of the fair association, was “mortified” at what had just occurred, and sprung into action:

“Without waiting to get out of the grounds by the gate route, he nimbly mounted the high board fence and rushed to the injured lady’s assistance. … Jumping into the front seat of the carriage, he drove rapidly to Mercy hospital, where Dr. Haggart attended to the injuries.”

Meanwhile, Earl Ogdon, the man who fired the shot, was taken into custody. He was soon released and absolved of blame.

“At the hospital Mrs. Dickerson was rushed into the operating room immediately and her injuries were attended to. The nature of them were such that in the opinion of Dr. Haggart the unfortunate lady will probably lose the sight of her left eye. No other serious consequences are anticipated from the accident.”

Harrington, immediately after returning from the hospital, “closed up the shooting gallery and today there will be no more accidents of a similar character.”

John J. Zink, 44, incidentally, was a race judge at the fair. When told of the incident he immediately left his post and headed to the hospital.

It took Anna Dickerson a while to recover. Three weeks later the newspaper reported that she was “still confined to the home of her son-in-law, John Zink in Animas City. The injury has practically healed but the sight of her left eye has about been destroyed. She will remain at the Zink home for some time yet.” [3]

“She always said God was punishing her for going to the fair on Sunday afternoon,” Ruth Zink Duncan later wrote.[4]

Anna and Albert eventually returned to Litchfield, where he lived another decade and she lived another fifteen years, apparently with one working eye. She died October 15, 1927, age 70. By then a widow, she was discovered by son George dead on her bed on that Saturday evening; the death certificate speculated heart failure.

And finally, here’s more from the Sherman County Times in its obituary of Anna Elizabeth Glick Dickerson.[5]

“She was loved and respected by all and the sincere sympathy of the entire community goes out to the relatives in this sad hour of their great bereavement.

“She departed from this life Oct. the 15, 1927 having lived 70 years, 11 months and 22 days. She came to Nebraska with her parents when but a child, and in the year 1876, Nov. 2nd, she was married to Albert Dickerson. This union was blessed with eight children, two girls and six boys.”



[1] Durango Weekly Democrat, September 30, 1910.

[2] Ruth Zink Duncan’s family history, written for brother Howard Zink in 1992.

[3] Durango Democrat, October 20, 1910.

[4] Ruth Zink Duncan’s family history.

[5] Sherman County (Nebraska) Times, October 21, 1927, accessed via findagrave.com.