While working on a query from a researcher, I came across this fascinating story and thought I would share it with you…

From the Wabash Record Bulletin of March of 1921 comes this lovely marriage announcement:

17 – The marriage of Miss Ruth Muehlmeier and Mr. Allen Dale Eby has been announced. The wedding occurred on New Year’s Day at Plymouth, Wisconsin.

During the war, while training as an aerial observer at Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Mr. Eby fell in an airplane from a height of 2,500 feet to the ground. The pilot was killed, and Mr. Eby, whose skull was fractured and body severely injured, was not expected to live.  That he did rally was due, as much as anything, to the devoted care of Miss Muehlmeier, an army nurse.

Note: photo as an example of  planes from this era  and the view from above, neither of these are Eby’s plane.

The acquaintance which began between Lieutenant Eby and Miss Muehlmeier when the former’s life seemed to be hanging in the balance grew into a friendship that later became the romance that was made known by the announcement of their marriage. Mr. Eby is a practicing attorney at Princeton, Indiana.

 What a great story! Digging a little further brought this story from the Indianapolis Star of the mid-sixties, “…on that day (June 26, 1918) 47 years ago, Lt. Eby was flying on an artillery observer training mission at 2,200 feet when the plane went out of control over Selfridge Field, just north of Detroit, Michigan and crashed. The pilot was killed. Lt. Eby, although suffering a fractured skull and other injuries, survived but was hospitalized 16 weeks.”

The two pieces have a discrepancy on the height of the fall either 2,200 or 2,500 – still either is a mighty long way to drop. In just a quick bit of research I found that there were many deaths among the early pilots. Lt. Eby was unbelievably lucky to survive such a drop though he clearly had excellent care to have survived such catastrophic injuries.  He lived a long and healthy life as a husband, lawyer, prosecuting attorney and then judge.

In 1919 Eby was licensed to practice law and in 1932 ran for the post of judge on the same ticket as FDR. He was elected six times to six year terms, often as the only Democrat on the ticket. In 1965 he received the Wabash Alumni Award of Merit. 

Mr. Eby died the following year, a widely respected judge who lived almost 50 years longer than he might have done.

What a story!

Beth Swift
Wabash College