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Golva, North Dakota: Killer Green Beans Family Graves

Anna Zimmer ate all of her green beans, and made sure her three kids did, too. All of them died.

St. Mary's Cemetery

10 Terrell Ave., Golva, ND
St. Mary's Cemetery. West edge of town. From ND-16 turn west onto Terrell Ave. and drive until its ends at the cemetery. Look for the Zimmer Family headstone; the green beans victims died in June 1930.
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Killer Green Beans Family Graves

Last summer, we didn't have enough time to detour and check out this tip from Deanne Keller from the North Dakota Tourism Bureau (we asked for help on new oddities): "I just got the scoop on a family that died of 'botulism' in the 1930s because of uncooked green beans." The grave markers are in St. Mary's cemetery in Golva, North Dakota, just a few miles south of Beach.

"Matt and Anna Zimmer had a family of eight. The father and two older boys went to South Dakota to attend their oldest son's wedding. The mother stayed behind with the three younger kids (daughters Volaria and Francis, 7 and 9 yrs old; son Morris, 4 yrs old). Anna made a casserole and added the canned green beans to it with out cooking the green beans. She had the children sit down and instructed them to eat everything off their plate. The neighbor kids, Cecilia (9 years old) and her brother Ben (16 years), came over to pick the kids up to take them into CCD. Anna invited Cecilia and Ben to the table. Ben said they had just eaten but she had Cecilia sit at the table and dished her some casserole. Cecilia -- was full and didn't like green beans, so she pushed the beans off the plate and pushed her food around to look like she was eating.

"Later that night -- the mother died. That was June 23, 1930; Francis died on June 25th; Volaria and Morris died on June 26th, 1930.

"Francis was to be confirmed on that Sunday. The son that got married brought his wife to the farm to meet his mother and was then told about the deaths.

"Cecilia is still alive and is 82 and has felt blessed everyday that she didn't eat the green beans."

[ Team, 06/06/2004]

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