Posts Tagged ‘Deaderick A. Collins’

The Minor Children of Deaderick Collins 

October 31, 2017

I’ve been reading old newspapers online: newspapers.com, Chronicling America at the Library of Congress website, and most recently GenealogyBank.

Of course, there are still lots of newspapers that aren’t available online, and you have to go Old School with reels of microfilm and a microfilm reader.

This latest obsession started when my new DNA cousin Nick found that my 2x great-grandfather Deaderick Collins was killed when the train, on which he was a fireman, derailed. I found a newspaper account on microfilm.

Then I found online several more accounts of the same event, and then I found other accounts where 2 of Deaderick’s brothers, Hiram and Landon, were also killed in train accidents, and his cousin Richard, who was an engineer, was killed when the train’s boiler exploded. The more sensational the story, the more likely to be published. I had only heard of Deaderick and Landon Collins before I learned about the others by reading the newspapers.

It has been quite amazing to find these forgotten people.

*****

There’s a good bit of unexplainable detail surrounding Deaderick’s wife, the former Ruth Gamble. I can’t explain why she had 4 children after Deaderick died in 1871, for a total of 7 children: Henrietta, Maude, Charles, William, Birdie, Ivy, and Joe. She sued the railroad and had been awarded $6000 in a court case that went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. A little bit of money can certainly make one more attractive.

Just how attractive? I asked the Internet to convert $6000 in 1874 to modern dollars. Here’s a screenshot.


That’s pretty darn attractive.

I wondered, though, what was Ruth’s mental state after her husband was crushed to death by a train car? She had 3 little children, the youngest under a year. How was she supposed to support a family? I would be numb. I was numb when my then-husband left in 2002. There was a new house payment, a car payment, a child in private college, and a child in high school. And attorney’s fees. I remember thinking, “What will become of us?” And I thought if he hadn’t left, if he had died, at least I could hide the truth of what a scoundrel he was.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the facts of the two cases are the same, but the despair had to be similar.

Ruth was ill in 1913. I knew this from some old letters. I asked Chronicling America who supported this family story.



She died not long after the last newspaper account, but I can’t find an obituary.

*****

I suddenly realized that I hadn’t checked GenealogyBank for news about Ruth and Deaderick. I had been using the free 7 day trial subscription for about 24 hours when this revelation hit me. Surely there would be confirmation of the train wreck or Ruth’s death.
There was nothing on Ruth, but Deaderick?


From the Knoxville Press and Messenger, February 3, 1875:

QUORUM COURT

Qurum Court proceedings — Justice Jno. L Moses in the Chair:

M. D. Swan was appointed guardian of Henrietta, Isabella, Maud, Mag and Charles Deaderick Collins, minor children of Deaderick A. Collins. 

Y’all? Who are Isabella and Mag?

An 1871 Map of Knoxville 

October 18, 2017

Recently I learned that my 2xgreat-grandfather, Deaderick A. Collins, was living on Depot Street in Knoxville, Tennessee, when he was killed in a train wreck near Sweetwater. 

And I thought, now wouldn’t that just be the best thing ever if I could find a map of 1871 Knoxville?

So I asked the big internet, and she delivered. 

From the Library of Congress, a map of 1871 Knoxville, looking northwest…

Chicago citation style: Ruger, A, and Merchant’S Lithographing Company. Bird’s eye view of the city of Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee 1871. [Chicago, Merchants Lith Co, 1871] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/73694529/. (Accessed October 18, 2017.)


I added the magnifier tool to highlight where Depot Street was. It must have been hot and noisy and dirty living on Depot Street where the trains came and went. 

If you would like to look at this excellent map on the Library of Congress site, just ask the internet. 

Tracking Deaderick A. Collins

September 24, 2017

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

img_2206

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.

img_2300

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?

The Curious Court Case of Ruth A. Collins vs. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Company: The Death of Deaderick Collins

September 16, 2017

I first learned about Ruth Collins in 1999. I had decided to learn more about my genealogy, but all I knew on my maternal side was that my great-grandmother was named Henrietta Collins Webb. I found her as a child on the 1880 Blount County, Tennessee, census. Her mother was Ruth Collins. I was sure I had the right family when I saw that the mother’s name was Ruth. You might think the same if you were named for your grandmother, and she was perhaps named for HER grandmother, so it stood to reason that this must be my family.

Ruth Collins was listed as a widow. My BigBroBob was also researching this family, and he had seen a message on the ancestry message boards from a man named Harry who was searching for his grandmother Ivy’s father Deaderick Collins. But Ivy was born in 1881, so this didn’t seem like the same family even though Ivy’s mother was named Ruth. I suppose that we could have stretched the imagination by reasoning that Ivy was born in early 1881, and that Deaderick had died right before the census was taken. That seemed possible, except that Ivy had a younger brother Joseph born about 1883. Surely this was not the same family.

There’s also an 1870 census for Knoxville Tennessee which showed Henrietta and her little sister Maude living with their parents Ruth and D. A. Collins, and D. A. is a railroad hand. So let’s guess that the 1870 family is definitely mine.

That was it. I never found anything more that D. A. was Deaderick.

*****

Fast forward 18 years, and I’ve taken a DNA test. In April 2017 I matched a man named Nick. He was descended through my Henrietta’s sister Maude, but didn’t have any info on Ruth or Deaderick or their life together.

*****

About 2 weeks ago, I received a message from Nick with a link to a google book search. It was about a case that was reported in a book “Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Volume 56”.  Nick used the search term “Deaderick A. Collins”.

The name of the case was Ruth A. Collins v. East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Co.

Here’s a screenshot:


And then the suit names Deaderick AND WHERE AND HOW HE DIED.

 

The defendant appeals in error from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Knox county, upon a verdict of six thousand dollars ($6,000) damages assessed by the jury for killing Deaderick Collins, the husband of the plaintiff. The accident which occasioned the death of said Deaderick Collins, occurred on the 2nd of October, 1871. He was a fireman on the defendant’s train, which, on that day, ran over some cattle, whereby the engine and tender were thrown from the track, and the tender upsetting fell upon said Collins killing him instantly.

The action is brought by the widow, under the Act of 1871, ch. 78, which is in the words following: “Be it enacted, &c., that Section 2291 of the Code of Tennessee, be so amended as to provide that the right of action, which a person, who died from injuries received from another, or whose death is caused b the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another, would have had against the wrongdoer in case death had no ensued, shall not abate or be extinguished by the death; but shall pass to his widow; and, in case there is no widow, to his children or to his personal representative, for the benefit of his widow or next of kin, free from the claims of his creditors.”

This Act took effect and was approved by the Governor on the 14th of December, 1871, two months and twelve days after the death of the said Deaderick Collins.

Sugar weighed in on this topic. Wouldn’t there be, he reasoned, a family story of a train accident in which your ancestor DIED? Wouldn’t there be an oral tradition that there were some children whose father was reported to be Deaderick, but clearly couldn’t be since he was DECEASED? I vote no because I have met my family, and I know how we roll.

It just so happens that I was already planning a trip to East Tennessee to attend the 150th anniversary of the church that I grew up in. I had already requested time off, enough time off that I could view the Lawton collection in Columbia, SC, plus spend the night with a Collins cousin, attend the reunion, visit Mom and Dad at the cemtery, go to the Knox County Archives, and visit with friends. This was a golden opportunity.

Then a hurricane appeared. I was planning on the trip anyway, but the trip might be dicey with a possible evacuation. The hurricane cooperated by moving westward.

At the Knox County Archives, it just so happened that the court case was on microfilm. These are iPhone photos of the microfilm.

img_2289

Ruth A Collins vs The ET Va & Ga RR Co

No 8929 February 14, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also a Jury to wit, JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, JP Ford, John Sayne, WL Kennedy and JW Ventis all good and lawful men citizens of Knox County, who having been tried elected and sworn well and truly to try the issues joined between the parties having heard all the testimony in the cause and a portion of the arguments of counsel from rendering a Verdict are respited until the meeting of court Monday morning next.

img_2291

No 8929 February 16, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came also the jury heretofore Sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventis, who having heard the remainder of the arguments of counsel, from rendering a verdict are again further respited until the meeting of court tomorrow morning.

img_2290

No 8929 February 17, 1874

Came the parties by the attornies and came also the Jury heretofore sworn in this cause to wit JH Mynatt, JA Ogg, Jefferson Jett, Wash Morrow, HC Ogg, JC Chiles, JC Johnson, JR Johnson,  JA Finch, John Sayne, WL Kennedy, and JW Ventes who upon their oaths do say that they find the matter in favor of the plaintiff and assess the Plaintiff damages by reason of the premises in the Declaration mentioned at the Sum of Six thousand dollars. It is therefore considered by the court that the Plaintiff have and recover of the defendant the Said Sum of Six thousand dollars the damages assessed by the jury together with all the costs of this cause for which execution may issue.

 

img_2292

No 8929 February 19, 1874

Came the defendant by attorney and entered a Motion for a new trial of this cause.

img_2293

February 21, 1874

Came the parties by their attornies and came on for hearing the defendants motion for a new trial of this cause which motion having been argued by counsel and considered of and well understood by the Court it is considered by the court that the motion be overruled and a new trial refused.

img_2294

Tuesday March 3rd 1874

Court met pursuant to adjournment

Present and Presiding

The Hon. E.T. Hall Judge &c.

Came the defendant by attorney and (illegible) an appeal in the nature of a writ of (illegible) to the next term of the Supreme Court of Tennessee to be holden at Knoxville on the Second Monday of September next from the actions of the court in refusing to grant a new trial of this cause. And tendered to the Court its bill of exceptions which is signed and sealed by the Court and ordered to be made a part of the record in this cause. And the Defendant having entered into bond with Security as required by law Said appeal is granted.

Here’s a fun fact: Ruth’s Supreme Court case was to be heard on the “Second Monday of September”. I viewed this court case on microfilm on the second Monday of September, after traveling about 500 miles to view it.

The upshot of all this? Ruth and her attorney sued the railroad. There was a jury of men. She won. The railroad wanted an appeal, which was first denied, then granted, and the case went on to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. She won again, although the physical record cannot be located.

If there was a railroad accident, wouldn’t that be in the newspaper? I asked this question at the East Tennessee Historical Society, and spent a good bit of time scrolling through the microfilm.

Microfilm of the Knoxville Chronicle, October 4, 1871

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.

Now I need a map of the Sweetwater area of the ETVGRR in 1871, and I need to find where this man was buried, most probably in Knoxville.

*****

I spent the next night with my long-time friend Susan who lives near Sweetwater. When I headed home the next day for cats and Carolina, I drove over a bridge that crossed the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. I took a quick look east to the direction of the accident.

Ruth went on to have 4 children after Deaderick’s death.

Good night, Deaderick. I’m thinking about you.