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,
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.