ST. CLAIR ILLINOIS TRAILS PRESENTS

DEATH ON THE RAIL

BELLEVILLE ADVOCATE NEWSPAPER, FRIDAY APRIL 11, 1884

Thursday evening of last week, about eight o'clock, just after the regular issue of the ADVOCATE had left the press, word reached the city of a serious accident on the Louisville and Nashville Railway, by which twenty or more persons had been injured, some of them, in all probability fatally. The accident occurred near the Western Nail Mill, to train No. 54, bound for St. Louis, and which had been thrown from the track and down an embankment, by the carelessness of a brakeman in leaving the switch open. The train had run in on the Y to the depot and was backing out to the main line again, when on reaching the open switch the two rear coaches ran off the ends of the rails and after bumping along on the ties for a short distance, one of them turned over and rolled down the embankment.  The second coach careened but did not go clear over, being held in an almost upright position by the couplings which attaached it to the forward portion of the train.

The coach which turned over was pretty well filled with passengers, mostly emigrants removing from Virginia to Kansas and nearly all of whom sustained more or less injury.   Immediately upon receiving word of the accident, Drs. Perryman, West and Rayhill left at once for the scene and rendered such assistance to the injured passengers as their necessities required.  Those who were but slightly injured went on with the train to St. Louis, while the more seriously hurt were brought into town and given quarters at the Thomas House and Hinckley House.

Mr. John H. Mohler, of Goshen, Rockridge Co., Va. was the worst injured, having sustained a fracture of the skull, causing his death at three o'clock, Friday morning.  His wife and six children were with him and three of the latter were injured---receiving scalp and face wounds.

The others injured were; three children of John Barton, one, an infant in arms, receiving a cut on the temple which bled profusely.  The other two were seriously hurt.  Mrs. Barton, his wife and two more children escaped unhurt.

Anna Coffman, Mt. Jackson, Shenandoah Co., Va., hurt internally but not dangerously has about recovered. J.E. Morris, severe scalp wound. Mrs. D. H. Morris, left shoulder dislocated., Walter, Martha and Sarah J. Morris, all sustained more or less severe bruises and contusions.  Mr. J. H. Cross, West Augusta, Va., cut in the head, left arm and shoulder.  Dr. T. J. McNair, in whose charge the party of emigrants were, had his back sprained.  R.A. Gibbons, Yancey, Rockingham Co., Va. a severe cut upon the head, C.N. Anderson, Goshen, Va., scalp wound., James Cox, wound in head, E. Larkins, hand hurt.

Mr. J. Hamill, the attorney for the Railroad Company, was on hand soon after the accident and saw that the injured passengers received every care and attention.  The officers of the road gave orders that everything should be done that could be to insure the comfort of the injured people, at the expense of the company.

Corner Bader held an inquest upon the body of J. H. Mohler, on Friday and a searching investigation was gone into.  The evidence disclosed that the brakeman, Ed Young, who was left in charge of the switch at the time the train had run onto the Y, had thrown it open again in order to let a freight train pass on the main track.  He then ran across to a neighboring house to get a drink, coming back before the passenger train had backed down from the depot.  He forgot that he had moved the switch and failed to turn it back, and when the train came he gave the signal that everything was all right.

The jury returned the following verdict:

"That John H. Mohler came to his death in consequence of a wound in the head which he received while a passenger in the rear coach of train No. 54 of the L & N railroad, on the evening of the 3rd day of April, 1884, while said train was backing from the depot at Belleville to the main track near the Western Nail Mill in Belleville, in consequence of the upsetting of said coach, which was caused by the failure of the switchman, Ed. Young, to turn the switch as directed.  We, therefore hold said Young responsible for the death of said Mohler, but we also find that said train was backing out faster than was judicious at the time, and we would suggest that said Railroad Company should modify the rate of speed at such locality in the future."

The body of the unfortunate man was placed in a casket and was taken back to his old home at Rockbridge Baths, Rockbridge Co., Va. leaving here Saturday night, accompanied by his widow and her six children and, also by Mr. C. N. Anderson, a neighbor who had accompanied them on their trip to the west.  The officers of the L & N furnished the party with free transportation and also agreed to pay all the expenses consequent upon the accident.


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