I often get asked the question, “What is something strange or bizarre that has happened in Columbus?” My mind will frequently recall the following incident that occurred in Columbus at the turn of the century. Typically, people do not believe me. So, I thought I would back up my tale with proof from an article in the Columbus Weekly Dispatch printed on August 20, 1908.
“Dr. A. C. Halbert, one of the best known citizens of the city, met an awful fate about three o’clock yesterday afternoon, when a weight fell from the clock in the courthouse and struck him on the head, killing him instantly. Dr. Halbert, who had an office in the building, together with a number of other gentlemen, was sitting in the hall immediately beneath the clock tower, when the cable holding one of the weights gave way, and the ponderous mass of metal came crashing through two floors and struck him on the head, maiming his entire body and causing instant death.
Seated in the group with Dr. Halbert were Sheriff W. D. Prowell, Professor S. M. Nash, county superintendent of education, Judge J. L. Williams and several other well known citizens. Prof. Nash was sitting next to Dr. Halbert, and the falling weight grazed his hand, inflicting a mere scratch, while none of the other men sustained so much as a bruise as a result of the accident.
They were so greatly shocked by the falling weight that they were completely stunned, and it was several moments before they realized that one of their number had been killed. When they saw the maimed body of Dr. Halbert laying on the floor, they, even in their grief at the loss of a close friend, felt thankful that they had been spared, and each one involuntarily offered up thanks to God for His mercy from delivering them from death.
Dr. Halbert’s body was picked up by his friends and carried to the lawn in front of the courthouse, where it was laid beneath a tree. Surgical aid was quickly summoned, but when the surgeon arrived he found life extinct, the weight having killed him the instant it came into contact with his head.
The body was taken to the undertaking establishment of Messrs. Gunter Brothers, where it was prepared for burial, and later was taken to the family residence on North Third avenue.
Dr. Halbert, who was about sixty years old, is survived by a widow, four daughters and two sons, and the sympathy of the entire city goes out to the family in their sad bereavement. Deceased was prominent in fraternal and church circles and was a veteran of the civil war.
The courthouse clock was made by a Boston firm, and was purchased five years ago at a cost of $2,000. It was installed by a representative of the company. A local firm had the contract to keep the clock wound up, and it was being wound when the accident occurred, but whether this had anything to do with the breaking is not known.
The funeral will occur at the First Baptist church at four o’clock this afternoon, being participated in by both the Confederate veterans and the Masons.”