Is Killed at Funeral


Walter White, Farmer, Is Stricken by Lightning


Parents and Others of Family See His Death


Lightning at Moment Body is lowered in Grave Kills One and Throws Others to Ground – Hearse Has Double Errand




Walter White, Farmer, about 21 years of age, standing yesterday afternoon near a newly made grave at Tyner and watching the body of a friend being lowered into the last earthly resting place, was stricken down by a bolt of lightning and instantly hurled into the great unknown whence D. N. Barksdale had preceded him, and in whose memory he was helping to observe the last sad rites.


The funeral gathering, comprising some seventy-five people, already in some excitement by reason of the approaching storm, was thrown into a state of great confusion and alarm by the tragedy of the elements. White’s immediate family, father, mother, four brothers and one sister, were in the group and eye witnesses of his sudden death.


The funeral procession had just reached the cemetery, in rear of the Baptist church, and efforts were being made to complete the ceremonies, without undue haste and yet before the breaking of the impending storm. Just at the moment when the coffin was being lowered into the grave the young man was stricken.  He was subsequently conveyed to the family home in the hearse which had carried the body of Barksdale to the cemetery.


White was knocked to the ground, as were several others standing near, and all present felt in more or less degree the effect of the lightning. All were unscathed, however, as far as permanent effects are concerned, save for the one fatality. The unfortunate man was immediately carried into the church nearby, and Drs. Eblin and Walker did everything in their power to resuscitate him, but to no avail. Subsequent examination disclosed blue streams over the victim’s body. One side of the cap he wore was shredded and his hair singed. The side of his right shoe was ground to pieces.


The victim and the several relatives who accompanied him to the scene of the tragedy comprise a family of humble circumstances. They recently moved from East Chattanooga to their present home, about two miles from Tyner.


Slater, M. Varnell, a resident of Tyner, well know in this city, was among those who rushed to the scene and gave what assistance was possible. He was at home, a short distance away, where he was found by his brother, Chester Varnell, when he hurried from the cemetery to spread the sad news.


Transcribed from The Daily Times: Chattanooga , Tenn. , Monday, July 11, 1910 by Donna White-Dropkin, who is a great-grandniece of Walter White and a great grand-daughter of C. Huston (Hugston) Barksdale, whose funeral was being held that day.  


Transcriber’s comments: In August 1910, Emma Barksdale, daughter of Huston and Ara Woody Barksdale married Silas O. White, the brother of Walter White. Their son, Wallace F. White, was born on May 11, 1911 . This story told in this newspaper article was recounted numerous times by Wallace White to his children, Donna, Susanne and Wally White. His wife, Annetta Hatcher White also remembers him pointing out a scorched area at Tyner Cemetery where he was told the lightning struck his uncle.


Huston (Hugston on his stone) Barksdale is buried at Tyner Cemetery (as is his wife, Ara and daughter Emma Barksdale White) and his stone indicates his date of death as July 10, 1910 . Walter White’s burial site is presumed unmarked.


Coincidentally, Annetta Hatcher White’s grandparents, William Spencer and Dosia Burns Hatcher and several Hatcher aunts and uncles are also buried at Tyner Cemetery .


For more information on these lines, contact 
Donna White-Dropkin