August 21, 1907
DANIEL FOREST COBB, TEXAS LANDS
Falling through the elevator shaft from the fourth floor of the Fidelity Trust building, Daniel Forest Cobb, president of the firm of Dan F. Cobb & Co., was instantly killed at 7:30 o'clock last night. The body was found at the bottom of the shaft in a badly bruised condition by Tom Avery, a janitor in the building, whose inexperience at handling elevators, it is alleged, was indirectly responsible for Mr. Cobb's death.
When announcement of the accident was conveyed to the bereaved family at their home, 3411 Troost avenue, little Cecil Cobb, the 10-year-old daughter, became frantic and rushed to an open window. She exclaimed she no longer cared to live. Opportunely Mr. Cobb's brother was present and restrained the girl from harming herself.
Mr. Cobb's offices were on the fourth floor of the Fidelity Trust building. He was one of the most extensive dealers in Northwest Texas lands in the country. Last night he was waiting in his office for a party of tourists he was to take to Texas today. The elevators had stopped running and the only employe remaining in the building was Tom Avery, a janitor. According to Avery, Mr. Cobb requested him to operate the elevator, as the regular operators had gone home and he was expecting some friends there soon from out of town.
Avery, who was the only witness, made the following statement to the coroner:
"Mr. Cobb rang the bell several times and finally I took the elevator up to the fourth floor, where his offices were. He said to me, 'Tom, you must be asleep! Why didn't you come up sooner.' "
I told him I was not an elevator man; that they had all gone home and that I was not supposed to operate the cars. He then said he was expecting some friends there and that he wanted me to get them to his office.
"Then I went back down to the first floor to my work. Shortly he began ringing the bell again, and I went up to the fourth floor. Not thoroughly understanding how to run an elevator I did not stop the car just at the landing, but went on up about four feet. When I came down the bottom of the car caught one of Mr. Cobb's feet, crushing it to the floor.
"He cried with pain and throwing up the reverse lever I quickly shot the car upward again, thinking it would release his foot. That was the last I saw of poor Mr. Cobb. He had fallen into the shaft and dropped to the bottom."
Avery is an elderly man, and his frame shook with grief while he related the sad details.
"God help me," he cried. "Mr. Cobb was such a good man and so kind to me. What can I do, what can I do. I thought I was trying to help him, but see what I have done."
The grief stricken janitor was led away by Henry C. Brent, vice-president of the Fidelity Trust Company, who was one of the first persons to reach the body after it had reached the bottom of the shaft. Mr. Brent spoke high words of Avery's services, telling Coroner Thompson that he had been a trusty employe of the company for many years.
Walking cheerfully into the lobby of the building shortly after the coroner had arrived, enroute to Mr. Cobb's office, were Luther Cobb, a brother, who has offices in the Ridge building, and Jay M. Jackson, president of the Jackson Land Company, in the Gibralter building, a former business associate and close friend of the deceased. When they saw the dead body of a man lying on a stretcher near the elevator entrance Luther Cobb asked a newspaper reporter standing nearby the cause of the excitement and whose body was lying on the stretcher.
Not knowing that the man was a brother he told that Daniel F. Cobb, a real estate man with offices upstairs, had fallen through the elevator shaft and been killed.
The brother became colorless, gasped for breath, rushed to the remains and, throwing aside the covering, looked into the face of the dead man. He gave a shriek and fell into the arms of Mr. Jackson and nearly collapsed. Quickly recovering himself, the brother's first words were in the interest of the surviving members of the family.
"His poor wife and children; they will never be able to stand this awful blow. But I must tell them; no one else can do it but me."
Mr. Jackson's horse and buggy were outside the building and taking it the brother and Mr. Jackson drove quickly to the home of the bereaved family. They were met at the door by Mrs. Cobb and the three daughters, Cecil, 10, Doris, 8, and Louis, 6 years old, respectively. The news of the death of the husband and father was broken by Mr. Cobb. The wife and mother was stricken dumb for a moment and the eyes of the little children opened wide with a mixture of horror and unbelief.
"Yes, he was killed a few minutes ago," replied her uncle. Then he told them the details of the tragedy.
Mrs. Cobb became hysterical, the two smaller children seemed to fail to grasp the true meaning of the word death, but with a heart-rending cry of intense anguish Cecil darted up the stairway crying that she would also kill herself so she "could be in Heaven with her father." Luther Cobb reached the child just as she was about to plunge through the open window.
S. P. Cobb, a brother of the dead man, is a guest at the Midland hotel. With a party of friends he spent the evening at a theater and did not hear of the accident until he went to the desk for his room key. Several times the hotel clerk had sent a bellboy about the hotel calling for Mr. Cobb to answer urgent calls by telephone, but he could not be located.
It was nearly midnight when Mr. Cobb entered the hotel and went to the desk for his key. A yellow slip of paper bearing a telephone number was handed out with the key.
"Who could be calling for me at this time of night?" mused Mr. Cobb as he studied the slip.
"It's your brother's house," volunteered the clerk. "I fear they have some bad news there for you."
Mechanically the man took down the receiver. The telephone girls, the cashier, clerks and bellboys grouped about the desk watching, but none dared break the news to him.
The telephone girl gave Mr. Cobb immediate connection with his number and in an instant his face clouded then turned crimson.
"Which one?" he asked. Someone at the other end of the wire were telling him of his brother's death. There were two brothers at home and in good health when Mr. Cobb had departed for the theater.
Hanging up the receiver, Mr. Cobb beckoned to a friend and the two hastened to a carriage. He had received the message and was going to his brother's family.
Daniel Forest Cobb was born 43 years ago in Owen county, Ky. After reaching manhood he went East and engaged in the brokerage business in New York and Philadelphia. Later he was sent to Topeka, where he held the position of state manager for the Equitable Life Assurance society. Six years ago he came to Kansas City and opened offices in the Fidelity Trust building. He dealed exclusively in Northwest Texas lands and was said to be one of the largest individual operators in the West. According to Jay M. Jackson, Mr. Cobb carried fully $50,000 in insurance, $2,500 of which was accident.
Mr. Cobb is survived by a father, who lives in Owen county, Ky., the widow, formerly Miss Ada Thompson of St. Louis; the three daughters, and two brothers, S. P. Cobb, of Wellington, Kas., and Luther Cobb, of Kansas City.
No funeral arrangements have been made at this time.