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Forever Young: 1915

Forever Young: 1915


Washington Post, March 8, 1916

        Seven-year-old David Purches, of 1718 Corcoran street northwest, son of the superintendent of the Senate office building, was killed yesterday morning by an automobile near Seventeenth and Church streets northwest. Charles Booker, colored, of 1615 Corcoran street northwest, who operated the automobile, is being detained at No. 3 precinct pending an inquest by Coroner Nevitt. Purches left his home to go to a shoe repairing shop. He was crossing the street when, Booker says, he appeared from behind a dirt cart and got in front of the moving auto. Booker picked the boy up and took him to Emergency Hospital.

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "Purches, David E." A yar youngster and his mate at the Harris & Ewing portrait studio, not long before his life seems to have been cut tragically short in a traffic accident. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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My own brother, also named David, died in precisely the same sort of accident 50 years ago, at the same age. No family fully recovers from such a thing. I've often wondered about the poor woman who hit him, too.

The Washington times., March 07, 1916

The article about the accident.


Here is a link to a newspaper that lists the marriage license of this boy's parents...

Also, here is a link to a picture of his grave, along with his mother's...

Wish someone would check to find more information - I let my subscription to it expire!


I had a great-uncle whose car struck and killed a young girl who darted in front of it, evidently in Jacksonville in the 1940s. It was in no way his fault, but the incident haunted him, and he never drove again unless it was an absolute necessity.

Running out from between parked cars

That was what we were told never to do. And if you've ever seen, not even an accident, but a kid running out into the road, oblivious to the deadly flow of traffic, then you know the stomach-turning feeling of imminent danger to a child. Such an angelic look on that little boy's face. This is one of the most moving photos I've seen here.

1718 Corcoran Street

The home from which David embarked on his fatal errand is the former Analostan (later Analoston) Apartments at 1718 Corcoran Street, now an upscale condominium.

Still sad

Even though it's 99 years in the past!

The loss of a child

Nearly 100 years later one still gets a sense of the tragedy of the little boy's death and even the horror that must have been felt by poor Mr. Booker, the driver of the car, who "picked the boy up and took him to Emergency Hospital."


Washington Post, March 9, 1916.


        Charles Booker, colored, 1615 Corcoran street northwest, was exonerated yesterday by the coroner's jury called to investigate the death of David Purches, 7 years old, 1718 Corcoran street northwest, son of the superintendent of the Senate office building, who was struck by an automobile operated by Booker at Seventeenth and Church streets northwest Tuesday morning. The investigation showed that the death of the lad was purely accidental.

The girl is probably David's sister, Mary.


There's a David E. Purches listed in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, born in 1908 and died in 1916.

[Excellent detective work. I had found two news items about the boy's death before I posted, but wasn't sure if this was he, or maybe a brother, because the neighboring plate is from 1920. (The name on the negative label, when the subject is a minor, or when there are multiple subjects but just one name listed, is generally whoever paid for the portrait, in this case the boy's father, also named David Purches.) Then after seeing your comment I decided this could indeed be from before 1920 because the plate two spots away is of "Camden, J.W., Senator," whose Senate career ended in 1915. - Dave]

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