Bedford, VA Poisoned Cider Kills Nine at Elks Home, Nov 1923

Poisoned Cider Kills Nine in Elks' Home At Bedford, Va., and Four Others May Die

LYNCHBURG. Va., Nov. 11 - Nine veteran members of the Elks, residents of the Elks National Home at Bedford, Va., died there yesterday and today from what is thought to have been fresh cider, poisoned by a compound used for tree spraying. Seventeen other residents of the home are ill from the poisoning, at least four seriously.

The cider was made especially for the home last Friday by E. M. Richardson of Kelsoe's Mills, a farmer, Superintendent Mosby said. It was served at a luncheon yesterday afternoon. Nearly thirty of those who drank it became violently ill soon afterward and physicians were called. The cases were diagnosed as arsenic poisoning. The barrel in which the product was delivered is believed to have been used last Spring in connection with the spraying of an orchard.

Commonwealth Attorney Burke, while declaring that an investigation would be carried out, asserted that there was no criminal intent on the part of Richardson. He said he would endeavor to establish how the poison originally found a place in the barrel.

Robert A. Scott of Lineton, Ind., of the National Board of the Elks, notified the officials of the home that he would go to Bedford immediately in an effort to ascertain the cause of the deaths.

The dead are:

TUCKER, CHESTER, Lima, Ohio.

SPALDING. ALVIN, Loveland. Cal.

KENNY. JOSEPH A., Marion. Ind.

O'CONNOR, F. B., Dallas, Texas.

MADIGAN, THOMAS, Long Island N. Y.

SLADE, GEORGE W., Saginaw, Mich.

WHITNEY, C. S., Omaha, Neb.

ALLEN, B. F., Portland, Ore.

HUTCHINSON, W. H., Corry, Pa.

The extreme age of those who are ill makes their condition much more precarious, physicians stated and it was said that four or more might die, although hope was still held for their recovery. Some of the patients were able to walk about the home today, but later they were returned to the sick ward and put under treatment.

Bodies of seven of the dead are being sent to their former homes, and lodge officials telegraphed orders here today for wreaths.

Nov. 12, 1923 edition of "The New York Times"