The Ocean County Compendium of  History
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She Died of Laughter

The following newspaper article tells of the strange death of Ann Lake, who died after someone told her a joke and she couldn't stop laughing.  Although she died in Newark, New Jersey, she was a former resident of Ocean County and was buried here in Riverside Cemetery, Toms River.



Laughter Caused Mrs. Lake’s Death
New Jersey Courier
January 17, 1901


Mrs. Ann Lake, wife of William Lake, a shoemaker, of 71 Webster street, Newark, dropped dead last Saturday night from excessive laughter.  A friend, a Mrs. Morehouse, told her a joke on the street, and she entered Henry Westwood’s bakery, at 381 Broad street, convulsed with uncontrollable laughter.  When she got her voice, she said: “Won’t you please give me a glass of water?  I’ve been laughing hard; I’m almost dead.”

Then she fell to laughing again.  Before the water could be handed to her she tottered and fell to the floor a corpse.

This occurred about 9 p.m.  Mrs. Lake had been in the shop before, but the shopkeepers did not know her name or address, and the dead body was taken to the morgue.    Mr. Lake waited for her to come in, and when it got very late, started out with his son to look for her.  It was three o’clock Sunday morning before they found her at the morgue.  An autopsy showed death came from heart failure.  She had for years – long before she left Toms River – been troubled slightly with palpitation of the heart.

The body was brought here for burial on the noon train and the funeral services are being held this afternoon in the M.E. church.  Mrs. Lake had lived here many years.  Her husband kept a shoe shop and confectionery store on the corner now occupied by Charles R. Berrien.  She leaves a daughter, Mrs. Laura Franks, and a son, Chester Lake.  She was also a half sister to Mr. Bernard Hainer of this village.

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