Often when I go walking in a cemetery, I’ll spot a headstone that grabs my attention. Maybe it is an unusual style, or maybe the name is unique, who knows? I’ll go home and do some quick research on the name to see if there is any mention in local newspapers or genealogy websites. I have found many interesting stories about people who lived in Ogden and died long ago. People whose stories have become lost to time. Some of them turned out to be well-known watchmakers like
Some of them turn out to be famous watchmakers like William Samelius, while others led quiet lives and their stories have been lost to time. One day while taking a stroll around the Ogden City Cemetery I happened to see the grave of Dirk Groen. While not terribly unusual, I found the inscription interesting and noticed he died at a young age and was curious about the cause of death.
I found that Dirk Groen, who often went by Dick, was a 20-year-old man who had recently been discharged from the Army after serving during WWI. He first got a job for the railroad and then was hired by the Globe Milling & Elevator Company as a carpenter.
While working on scaffolding on Saturday, August 30th, 1919 Dirk somehow fell suffering a skull fracture of which he would not recover. He was declared dead at 4 pm, having lived about an hour and a half after the fall.
Groen’s father and step-mother filed a workers compensation claim against the Globe Milling & Elevator company asserting they were dependent on a portion of Dirk’s wages. Workers compensation laws were new at this time in the United States. Utah didn’t pass the Workers Compensation Act until 1917 and the Groen’s claim was one of the first of its kind in Utah. Since Dirk had no dependents his father asserted that they were dependent on a portion of his income.
Initially, the courts agreed and the insurance company awarded his father $2,192. The insurance company appealed to the state supreme court and the award was overturned stating dependency had not been established. Instead of his father receiving any money, $750 would be sent to the state treasury per law.