The Charles and Mary McFalls family of 501 Woodside Avenue were no strangers to tragedy. Though their fifth child was born in June of 1882, they had already lost one infant just six months prior. Twins, a boy and a girl, born in 1888 would live just 14 days. And a four-month-old daughter and two boys aged 3 and 9 would pass away in Park City before 1891.
But one June 1887 evening the whole family was nearly wiped out. One Dr. Gregor determined that the family had been poisoned. But who would do such a thing? Mary was not often seen outside the home and would not have procured any enemies. Charles was a miner who, according to his obituary in the Park Record, “was an honest man and a good citizen. His acquaintances in this camp numbered nearly every resident, and he was respected by all of them.” They went on to note that his death “caused universal regret.”
After some investigating the family discovered that the culprit was none other than a strawberry jam they had eaten as part of a Sunday meal. The Deseret Evening News reported that “no doubt the jam had been canned for years and a deadly poison emanated from the strawberry acids corroding the tin.”
Mary and most of the children were able to recover fairly quickly, but four-year-old son Kiesel “was, for a time quite critical,” though “his agonizing convulsions were checked without any fear of serious results.” Luckily, the whole family survived this incident.
501 Woodside will be featured on this year’s Historic Home Tour, put on by the Park City Museum. On Saturday, June 15 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., twelve gracious Park City homeowners will welcome us inside their private homes. Tickets are available online at www.parkcityhistory.org, at the Park City Museum, 528 Main Street or on the day of the tour at the Headquarters on the Town Lift Plaza, 825 Main Street.