Dessie Elizabeth Hayter, daughter of Oren & Orpha (Brashers) Hayter, married George Monroe Leaming on September 16, 1934. George was a great, great grandson of Judah Leaming and Thankful Tuttle. This article by Carrie Taylor describes an heroic event in Dessie's life.
A flash from the past? One could hardly think so listening to Dessie Leaming recount her tale fifty-four years ago (1933). Pride fills her voice as her razor-sharp memory engages and she relays details of the experience as if it were yesterday.
I'm sure there are many Lockwood citizens who remember this amazing event, but for the some of those who have been here less than fifty years, read on—the tale of a true heroine.
Dessie was your average 28 year old bookkeeper, who, on this particular day in April, was walking with her five year old niece to the train depot to mail a letter. What began as a beautiful spring day was destined to end in tragedy. As Dessie and her niece made their way toward their destination, the child took a notion to run ahead and pick some pansies. Dessie was busy at the depot window when she heard the train whistle. Her sixth sense beckoned her to turn from the window; as she did, she saw her niece on the tracks in the path on the oncoming train.
Instinct and adrenaline guided Dessie from that moment on. She jumped from the platform and got to her niece just in time to push her free from the train's path. The child was safe. Dessie, however, was not as fortunate. Her right foot was caught under the wheel of the train and she was dragged along the tracks for about 60 yards. Her toes and most of her foot were crushed, her wrist was smashed, several bones broken, severe scalp lacerations sustained and her shoulder was badly damaged. As she lay beside the tracks, bewildered and barely conscious, she remembers the porter from the train looking over her and saying, "I thought you'd be dead."
Dessie was rushed to a Springfield hospital where Dr. Pinkston and Dr. Hovebone tended to her injuries, and eventually, performed a partial amputation of her right leg. Five weeks and five days later, Dessie returned to her home where her fiancée, George Leaming, was waiting to wed this courageous young woman, and they did—immediately following her discharge from the hospital.
News of such a valiant rescue travels fast. The limelight was Dessie's for the next few months. Calls from lawyers and reporters were abundant; but the call Dessie least expected came from a representative of the Carnegie Foundation in Philadelphia. The agent was from a special department of the Foundation called the Carnegie Hero Commission. Several agents from the Commission came to Lockwood and interviewed Dessie, her family and several townspeople.
Following the investigation, Dessie Leaming was awarded the "Carnegie Bronze Medal" to honor this extraordinary act of bravery. She also received a $500.00 cash award, which was specifically limited for personal use. Dessie used the money to help make the down-payment on her home. The medal occupies a dresser drawer at home and serves to commemorate the "awful and wonderful" day in Dessie Leaming's life.
Thank you, Dessie, for an inspiring piece of history made by a remarkable woman.
If you wish to exchange family information,
please e-mail Sam Behling.
Read about the emigrant, Christopher Leaming
Read about Jeremiah Leaming
Read about Matthias Leaming
Read about Judah Leaming
Read about Judah Leaming, the 2nd
Read the Diary Kept by Aaron Leaming
Read the Autobiography of Lydia Leaming Miller
Read the Autobiography of Martha (Mattie) Caroline Rogers Leaming
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