New Jersey Obituaries - April 20, 1898 - John Barney VanPelt

A Wager Ends In Death

John Barney Van Pelt Drank Whiskey And Died

He Made a Wager That He Could Drink as Much Whiskey as Another Man Could Drink Beer - Won the Wager and Died the Next Day

John Barney VanPelt, a young man who lives near Matawan, made a wager with a friend at the Matawan house last Saturday night which he won, but which resulted in his death the next day. VanPelt was a young man with a number of queer traits. He lived with his father, Jacob VenPelt, in a small house on the Holmdel turnpike, about a mile from Matawan, and near a small hamlet known as Conovertown.

Young VanPelt was a great drinker and on Saturday night he was at the Matawan house with a number of companions. The Matawan house was formerly known as the Farry hotel. The men were drinking and VanPelt offered to bet that he could drink more whiskey than any other man in the hotel could drink beer. One of the young men present accepted the wager and the test to prove who was the champion drinker of the locality began.

Every time VanPelt's opponent put down a glass of beer, VanPelt drank an equally big glass of whiskey. The drinking bout was continued for an hour or more. Van Pelt taking a glass of whiskey every time his opponent took a glass of beer. After about two quarts of beer had been drank by VanPelt's opponent, and an equal amount of whiskey had been swallowed by VanPelt, the man who had the beer end of the wager found that he could not hold another glass and he had to quit. VanPelt took another glass of whiskey to show that he was not full yet and he was declared the winner of the wager. He afterward took a glass of beer to finish off with, as a sort of dessert, as it were. He did not show the effects of the drinking at once, but within half an hour after the wager closed he fell to the floor unconscious.

He was taken home by some of the young men present who had witnessed the wager, and he was laid on the floor at the head of the stairs. He was unconscious at the time he was left on the floor by his companions. On Sunday morning about nine o'clock VanPelt's nephew went to the house and found his uncle lying at the top of the stairs in the same position in which he had been left the night before. He was breathing heavily, but his eyes were open, and his nephew thought he was awake but was stupefied from the effects of his drinking. His nephew placed VanPelt in an easier position, and left him. About noon time he returned and found VanPelt dead.

No inquest was held and the funeral took place yesterday.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, April 20, 1898