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Young Bride Dies after Dress Catches Fire

In 1895 Jacksonville, Ore., Sadie Trefren’s parents had just buried their 17-year-old daughter, Mary, who had died of typhoid fever during the town’s epidemic.  So when Sadie fell in love with Albert Perry, they were saddened she would leave the family home, but happy she had made a good match.

As Sadie was planning for her wedding, she told her twin sister, Hattie, and her closest friends that she had a really bad feeling that her wedding gown would be her funeral dress. Two days after the wedding, calamity struck when Sadie was alone, doing the house chores. 

Some paper fell on the coals while she cleaned ashes from the fireplace.  A flash of fire caught her skirt on fire, and Sadie ran out the door in panic, screaming and looking for help. 

When help came, they found Sadie in shock with her clothes completely burned, her body blistered and hair singed.  The nearest doctor, nine miles away, couldn’t save her. 

She was buried the next day, the minister at her wedding conducting the graveside service.  It’s not confirmed she was wearing the wedding dress, but the grave was covered with wedding flowers and her bridal bouquet.

Source: Miller, William M. Silent City on the Hill: Jacksonville Oregon's Historic Cemetery. William Miller, 2004. Print.

Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.