Nebraska Man, Leo Amen, Cuts Off Own Finger To Free Self From Plow (1936)

In the spring of 1936, Leo Marcus Amen (1912-1994), a Nebraskan farmer, was faced with the unenviable task of using a jackknife to amputate his left pinky finger that had become caught in the gang plow he was operating. Despite the gruesome injury, Leo recovered quickly and appeared to work several more decades as a farmer.

Leo is my 3rd cousin 2x removed. I discovered his story after connecting with another cousin from the sprawling Irish branches of my family tree.

Leo and I share the common ancestors from Ireland of Padraig Hanley (1785-1875) and Catherine Lynch (1798-1872). They are Leo’s 2nd great grandparents and my 4th great grandparents. I wrote about Padraig here: Blind Man Marries Wife, Sight Unseen: Padraig Hanley - 4th Great Grandfather.

Here is a screenshot of Leo’s section of the family tree. You will see him in the lower left corner. Padraig and Catherine are at the top. I am far to the right (outside of the frame) as I descend from a different son of Padraig and Catherine, John Jack Hanley (b. 1826).

Leo Amen family tree

Here is the more precise chart describing my relationship to Leo.


Here are a few other details about Leo in the newspapers.

In 1943 Leo was fined one dollar and costs for an “illegal U-turn and no driver’s license”.

Despite this minor brush with the law Leo appeared to remain a productive and upstanding farmer in the community. He was a member of the Pioneer Livestock Club in Denton, Nebraska.

Also a 1956 newspaper article indicates that Leo had two sons, Darrel and Jerry, who helped him farm wheat on 1200 acres of land. Leo’s injured hand is tucked behind his waist in the picture below.

I have not yet connected with any descendants of Leo’s but I imagine there is much more to learn about his story. I am looking forward to the search.

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