I have never understood the science behind the practice of “thumping” melons to see if they are ripe. I suppose the melon gives off certain “vibes” when it’s ready. Amazing!

I have seen semi truckers, using an iron rod to thump each tire as he goes around his rig. On our travels, one time, we stopped at a rest stop on I-75, and watched a trucker go through this routine. My wife asked, “How does he know when they’re ripe?” Good question.

All this brings us to the following court case regarding thumping, of a sort.


     ALICE P. WARE, Admin’trx of TILDEN H. WARE, Deceased

          vs. ITHACA STREET RAILWAY COMPANY, Appellant

This case involves the practice of “thumping” as a means of determining if a steam boiler is safe or not. Of all things, thumping a boiler?

Tilden WARE, worked as assistant engineer and fireman in the aforementioned company’s power station, in the City of Ithaca, NY.

This occupation required the frequent inspection of the huge steam boiler to  determine the safety of the unit .

Proper procedures for this purpose involves applying water pressure to the boiler to the same pressure as the steam would rise to.

If all seams held, the unit was safe to use. If a seam burst, of course the unit was shut down and repaired. No explosion would have taken place.

Mr. Tilden WARE, as a matter of practice, elected to use a hammer, walk around the boiler, striking it in several places, to determine if the unit was safe.

On the 22nd day if January, 1902, while WARE and his helper, John Considine, were on duty, the boiler burst, killing WARE, and injuring his helper.

Ware’s wife, Alice, filed suit vs. the power company, seeking compensation for the death of her husband.


The initial court came down in her favor, however, the power company applied for, and was granted a new trial, based on facts not opened in the original hearing.


The company showed evidence that the boiler should have been tested by the hydraulic method, as the unit was too large to be tested with a  hammer.


They also ascertained through other rulings, that occupational hazards are a fact of life when working around steam power plants, yet Mr. WARE elected to stay with the position, therefore accepting the hazards involved.

They further demonstrated that a simple turning of selected valves would have accomplished the hydraulic test, thereby avoiding the burst boiler, and the fatal injuries that occurred. Mr. WARE elected not to use the safer method.


The appellant court agreed with the company, overturning the lower court decision.


New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division

V 125, pg 323


Court cases can be interesting, but, what do we know about Tilden Ware?

We know how and when he died. How old was he?

We know he was married, and most likely had children.

Who were his parents, and did he have siblings?

Could he be found in the 1900 census?

Just something to chew on during TV commercials.






  1. I expect that my mind may wander back to Tilden during this current election cycle.]

    Thanks for the interesting diversion

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