Archive for September 24th, 2017

Because Trains Are On My Mind

September 24, 2017

Now imagine the engine and the next 2 cars hitting a cow on the tracks and then derailing. Smoke, fire, twisted metals, the screams of the passengers, the smashing of the cars, all coming to a grinding halt, with one man’s body under the wreckage…

Tracking Deaderick A. Collins

September 24, 2017

Recently I learned that my 2xgreat-grandfather Deaderick A. Collins was killed in a train accident.

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DNA cousin Nick found this on google books.

Then I found a newspaper account of the accident at the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville. The following clipping is from the Knoxville Chronicle.

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Yesterday afternoon the down passenger train ran over a cow, a mile east of Sweetwater, which threw the engine and express car from the track, badly wrecking both and causing the death of the fireman, D. A. Collins. The express messenger, J. J. Tibbs, was injured slightly, but beyond these no one else was hurt.

Mr. Collins’ death is universally regretted by his friends. He leaves a wife and three children. His remains were expected to arrive this morning, and will probably be interred this afternoon.

 

Then when I searched the internet again, I found that the Knoxville Chronicle was online at newspapersDOTcom. Of course. Why wouldn’t a historical newspaper be there. I had used a free trial last year, but found nothing that helped my searches. This was surely the year to find *something*. Anything.

So I signed up for 6 months, thinking that this is surely a big enough window.

I found the initial story that I first published, the one from the Knoxville Chronicle. And then found another from The Sweetwater Enterprise, October 5, 1871, Thursday, Page 3.

I also learned that you can “clip” an article from any paper and save it to your computer in the form of a PDF, which you will find below. I’ll transcribe it for your viewing pleasure.

Deaderick_A__Collins__10_2_1871__death_in_railroad_accident

TERRIBLE ACCIDENT.

*****

Train Thrown from the Track.

*****

The Fireman Instantly Killed.

*****

Express Messenger Injured.

*****

A terrible accident occurred to the

westward bound train on the E. T. Va.,

& Ga., Railroad on Monday evening last,

while rounding a curve about a half a

mile East of Sweetwater. The accident

took place about 3:25, and at a point

of the road where the best cattle belong-

ing to Mr. Wm. Cleveland, cross it every

morning and evening.

The train ran over two of the cattle

which upset the engine, tender, baggage

and express car, tearing up the track for

some distance, and wrecking the engine

and cars in a manner beyond description.

Mr. D. A. Collins, the fireman, jumped

from the engine, and before he could get

out of the way, the tender upset, fell up-

on him, mangling him in a most horrible

manner, killing him instantly. The en-

gineer, Mr. Wiley Wright, miraculously

escaped injury. The Express Messenger,

Mr. Tibbs, was slightly injured.

The scene of the disaster was terrible.

The right side of Mr. Collins, from his

hip down, crushed to pieces, his jaw bone

broken and his body bruised almost all

over. His body was taken from under

the debris in about two hours from the

time the accident occurred, was washed,

dressed, placed in a box and brought here

to the depot.

The track was cleared at about 11

o’clock, allowing all the night trains to

pass on time.

The body of the deceased was conveyed

to Knoxville, on the night train where

lives his family, consisting of a wife, three

small children and a sister who were sole-

ly dependent upon him for support.

Now, I’m not a doctor or a coroner, but I *have* watched a few crime shows. (Don’t laugh – y’all have, too.) If he was killed instantly, how did bruises have time to form over his whole body? Doesn’t the bruising mean that he was still alive while trapped under the wreckage?

Then Nick found another account in another paper in Chronicling America. I found this on NewspapersDOTcom and clipped it and downloaded it. This is from a Jonesborough, Tennessee, newspaper called the Herald and Tribune, and the article is from October 5, 1871, Thursday, page 2.

Deaderick_Collins__death__1871__reported_in_newspaper_in_Jonesborough__Tennessee_

Railroad Accident.

We take the following from the Knox-

ville Press and Herald, of Tuesday last:

Quite a serious accident occured to the

westward bound train on the E. T.,Va.&

Ga. Railroad, which left this city at 1:17

p. m., yesterday, while rounding a curve

about a quarter of a mile east of Sweet-

water, and forty-two miles west of Knox-

ville. The accident took place at 3:25

p. m., and at a point of the Road where

the cows of the village cross it every morn-

ing and evening in going to and returning

from pasturage.

The train ran over a cow and the mis-

hap upset the engine, tender and express

car, instantly killing the fireman, Mr. D.

A. Collins, who was caught under the

tender and crushed to death. His body

was still under the debris at eight o’clock

last night. The engineer, Mr. Wiley

Wright, escaped injury. The Express

Messenger, Mr Tibbs, was slightly hurt.

The engine, tender and express car were

badly smashed up.

Mr. Collins, the fireman, leaves a wife

and three children, who reside in this city,

on Depot street, between Broad and

Crozier streets. He was about thirty-

eight years of age.

*****

So where was the accident: 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, or 1 mile east of Sweetwater?

Who is Deaderick’s sister who depends on him for sole support?

Was it one cow on the tracks? Or two?

If the accident occurred at 3:25PM, was the body removed about 2 hours later from under the wreckage, putting that about 5:25ish, or was the body still under the wreckage at 8PM like the last story states?

AND WHERE IS THIS MAN BURIED? Somewhere in Knoxville, we trust, but where? The oldest church in Knoxville reports that he is not buried there, but they are using the headstones, which have been surveyed and recorded, as reference, and apparently do not have paper records from 1871.

And was he really 38 years old? Because some records say he would be 30ish.

Really, I’m so glad to know that he is not a mystery person any more, and that he was a real flesh-and-blood man.

Most of all, I’d like to know why there wasn’t a cowcatcher?