A Terrible Rail Road Accident!  Two Passenger Trains Wrecked!  Seven Persons Killed!  40 Persons Wounded!  HORRIBLE SCENES

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Records

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A Terrible Rail Road Accident!  Two Passenger Trains Wrecked!  Seven Persons Killed!  40 Persons Wounded!  HORRIBLE SCENES

Source:  BELLVILLE DOLLAR WEEKLY:  13 September 1872, Vol. 1, No. 29


Submitted by Amy


** Note:  The village of Butler was at one point known as Independence **

On Thursday evening last (Sept. 5th.), just after we had gone to press with the Dollar Weekly, reports were circulated through our village of a horrible accident on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad a few miles below town.  An engine arrived and conveyed to the scene what physicians could be found in the village, but as to the extent of the disaster nothing definite could be heard;  the telegraph wires were full of other messages and nothing could be obtained through the train hands.  On the street numerous hushed and low conversations were being held, and a general gloomy feeling prevailed, but nothing positive could be learned.

At 9 o'clock surgeons from Mansfield passed through.  Several of our citizens started on foot for the scene;  others (we among the number) went in private conveyance.  We had expected to see something horrible to behold, and when we arrived our expectations were more than realized, as a sickening sight met our gaze;  that of human forms mangled and devoid of life.  We found that the second section of No. 9 going south, Mr. Daugherty conductor, containing one baggage and thirteen passenger cars, carrying perhaps twelve hundred persons from the State Fair, had been run into by the Chicago Express going north, Dan. Fitzpatrick conductor.  The collision took place about eighty rods this side of Independence station on the sharpest point of the curve, where it was impossible for either engineer to see ahead farther than two telegraph poles (440 feet), on account of the high bank and some bushes on the inside of the curve.

Around this, the worst point of the road between here and that station, thundered the express under a full head of steam;  and scarcely had the engineers thrown their levers and jumped from their engines, when the trains came together with a crash which was heard three miles, making perfect wrecks and causing irreparable misery.  When the engines collided, their fronts raised into the air from three to five feet, and then settled back;  however, the express engine rested on the front of the other, raised two or three feet from the front trucks, their pilots being torn to pieces and the timber across the front was crushed to fine splinters.  The smokestacks were uninjured and stood erect within a few inches of each other.  On both trains but two or three trucks were thrown from the track, and the rails remained firm.  The express engine was forced back four feet, her baggage car was a complete wreck, as the coach attached was forced two-thirds the length of it.  The only person it contained, the baggage master, who was in the act of setting the brake, was thrown forward with the end of the next car resting against his breast and his back against the trunk, and strange to say, he crawled out uninjured.  There was also a boy from the car behind lodged within two feet of him, also uninjured.  There were but few hurt on the express train.

The engine of the excursion train was heavy and stood firm to the track.  Her lever was thrown back, indicating that she had been reversed.  The coal from the tender was thrown forward against the furnace door.  The steam kept up a hissing noise for some hours after the accident, showing that there was some life left.  The fireman, who was in the tender, knew nothing of the approaching train until thrown forward against the furnace door.  The baggage car had the platforms smashed, but being a strong car stood the pressure remarkably well.  There were a few passengers in it, among whom was Mr. Samson Zent and wife of Fredericktown.  Mr. Zent was badly hurt in the spine, and some fears of his recovery are entertained by his friends.  

Between this car and the next was crushed the body of Mr. Beach Harris (instantly killed) which remained there until 5 o'clock the next morning, when the cars were drawn apart by the help of an engine.  This was the most sickening sight that has ever been our lot to behold.

The second car was much injured.  The third and fourth cars had telescoped the floor of the fourth car passing in over that of the third over half way, producing death and destruction.  This was the most perfect wreck of the whole disaster.  Language is inadequate to describe the condition;  splinters, any quantity of broken seats, broken stove, coal box, pieces of everything, pell-mell altogether.  Two boys were taken out from between the floors of the two cars with only their legs broken.  Several others were killed by telescoping process.

The cars back of this were a god deal injured, the platforms being torn to pieces and otherwise damaged.  Persons riding upon the platforms were more injured than those inside.  One man and woman were killed on the eighth car, and one man on the tenth car, who was on top of the car, sprang from it, and was found 30 feet from the track with his neck broken.  Never having seen such a wreck, we staid upon the ground until the track was cleared, which was effected about sun-rise.

If the express had remained at the station one minute longer, or had started one minute sooner, the accident in all probability would have been avoided.  How strange!

Various rumors are afloat as to the cause of this sad accident, but from what facts we can ascertain, it is clear that the conductor and engineer of the express train are to blame.  The first section of the excursion train carried the two red flags, which according to the Company's rules denote that another train is following having the same right of road as the first or leading train.  The attention of Conductor Fitzpatrick was called to these, and he was informed that the second section was not far in the rear.

The accident surpasses anything ever happening near Bellville.  We learn that Mr. Philip Traxler, who had been at the Fair and returned on the train before, was on his way home, and had just reached the elevated piece of road opposite the spot, where he had a full view of the collision, which he said made his flesh creep.  Other persons were on the road near, and hearing the crash, hastened to the place.  A great many being entangled in the debris, those present worked with a will to relieve them, in which they succeeded to a great extent.  The unfortunate were conveyed to houses near by, and in Independence, where their wounds were properly dressed by the physicians.  The correct list of the dead and wounded, as far as we can learn, is as follows.  They are all of this State:

KILLED -- James H. Shields, Hunt's Station, crushed between two cars and fell out in the reaction;  Beech H. Harris, agent at Louisville, caught between two cars;  Chuzzleworth Scott, Fredericktown;  George Blystone, Independence;  Edward E. White, Independence;  Chas. Martin, Fredericktown;  and a man, name unknown, of Utica. 

DIED OF THEIR WOUNDS -- Wm. Lemley, Independence, legs smashed, died during amputation;  Harry Martin, Fredericktown;  Reuben B. Blackburn, Toledo;  and Mrs. McCluckan and Mrs. McKee of Morrow County;  Edward Emerson, Fredericktown;  O.S. Scott, Fredericktown;  Mrs. Amos Phillips, Fredericktown.

WOUNDED -- Wm. H. Hartfield, Hartford, Licking Co., leg and foot;  (his) wife, foot mashed;  (his) boy, hip injured.  Willard Lanehart, Independence, leg broken and otherwise injured;  Andrew McClellan, Independence, leg broken;  Winfield Kanaga, Independence, leg broken;  J.J. Aungst, Independence, heels crushed;  Isaac Smith, Independence, heel smashed;  Adam Pace, Independence, leg bruised;  Charles Lee, Fredericktown, badly hurt;  H. McClucken and wife, Fredericktown;  Sampson Zent and wife, Fredericktown, ribs broken and badly bruised;  J.S. Stout, Mt. Vernon, leg fractured;  John Scully, Mt. Vernon;  E.W. Randall, Mt. Vernon;  Mr. Phillips and wife, Ankenytown, ribs broken and bruised;  Wm. Jasper and lady, Columbus, badly injured;  Mr. Adams and Joseph Snyder, Pulaskiville;  William Messner and wife, Columbus;  Eliza D. Francis, Bellaire, not at Mansfield, wounded about the head;  Franklin McMorris, Centreville;  Charles Wise, Newark;  E.A. Penny, Newark;  James Rowe, Locke;  J.P. Fidler, Fulton Co.;  Thos. H. Henderson, Lancaster;  J. Adams and D. Hatton, Zanesville;  L.N. Stump, Claypool;  Wm. McLaughlin, Louisville;  John Stockmastee, fireman excursion train, Sandusky, head cut and since crazy;  Jesse Steveson, fireman express, Sandusky.

In a later edition of this newspaper dated 27 September 1872 (Vol. 1, No. 31) the following additional information is reported ...

The report telegraphed of the death of Mrs. Phillips from the effects of her injury in the Independence collision was an error.  She is rapidly recovering, as is also Mr. Zent, who was also reported dead.

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