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Delaware County, NY Genealogy and History Site


Newspaper article submitted by Alan Malz

A HORRIBLE CATASTROPHE ON THE ONTARIO & WESTERN

A Broken Rail Causes the Death of Four Brave and Useful Men

A DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCIDENT - THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS - A LIST OF THE JURORS AND ALL THE DETAILS OF THE AWFUL AFFAIR

On Tuesday night the awful news was telegraphed - along the lines of the Ontario & Western that another wreck even more terrible than the recent Liberty disaster, has occurred at Fish's Eddy, a small town about five miles south of Hancock and four miles from East Branch. Train No. 30 which was late left Walton about 4:40 and reached Hancock station at 6 o'clock where their water was exhausted. The train was a "double header", consisting of the regular freight with Ezra Smith as conductor and an extra with Conductor Howard Raymond in charge. At Hancock, the engines left the train and ran to East Branch after water and after procuring same returned, and while coupling the cars Raymond was scalded by escaping steam and taken into the rear caboose instead of his own which was in the middle of the train. The train then started again without any warning of the awful disaster that was soon to occur. At about 10 o'clock when the train was nearing Fish's Eddy and the rear about 200 feet from the north end of the bridge, a broken rail derailed the caboose and caused it to go bumping along the ties until the car which was ahed ran off the track and striking the bridge, knocked the span off the abutment and, with a tremendous crash, precipitated two cars and one span of the bridge about 150 feet in length, into the river , and threw the caboose to one side of the abutment from which it jumped, a distance of 40 feet into the river bed, landing bottom side up and immediately taking fire. The names of the imprisoned men within the caboose will be given elsewhere. The remainder of the train ran on to the East Branch before they discovered that the cars were missing. They started back and at Fish's Eddy depot met the station agent who was pale and blanched face told them of the accident, and said that unless the missing men were on the train they were lost in the wreck.

The first man to reach the scene of the accident was Peter Bojo who lives near the bridge. He ran at once to the cabooose and knocking in the windows tried to find out if the occupants were alive, but hearing no answer started to get pails with which to throw water on the fire. He was joined by Frank Lewis and C. E. Bush, who did all in their power to subdue the flames, and soon were reinforced by the now excited villagers, who also lent their assistance by prying with levers and crowbars the barring mass off of the bodies of the victims.

The bodies when brought to light revealed only a charred and burned mass of flesh, which was tenderly taken up and laid in the freight house for the time being. Meanwhile the cabooose had been almost reduced to ashes and the content of the other two cars, one loaded with bales of hay and the other with butter, hammers, and goods from the Walton Novelty works lay under the wreck with goods scattered on the ground. A car loaded with feed narrowly escaped the same fate, having one end torn off and scattering its contents as it bumped along on the ties.

THE VICTIMS

Of this awful disaster are Conductor W. Howard Raymond of Walton, who leaves a wife and a little son about 12 years old to mourn his loss. He was one of the companies most reliable and respected employees. Mr. Raymond was only 36 years old and just in the prime of life. He was insured for $5,000. in different companies. His funeral was held in Walton on Saturday March 6th, in Christ church. A special from Middletown was run so that all employees who were able to attend could do so. He was buried with Masonic honors and his funeral was the largest ever held in Walton.

Conductor Ezra S. Smith of Middletown leaves a wife and five children, and was insured in the Knights of Pythias, but we are unable to ascertain the amount. He was an old and trusted employee of the road and was also one of the best conductors on the line. Mr. Smith's funeral was held in Middletown on Friday afternoon. His death is sincerely regretted by all who knew him.

Brakeman Emmet J. Johnson of Summitville was a single man, but leaves a sister and widowed mother. He was not known to be insured in any company. His funeral was held in Summitville on Saturday morning.

Brakeman A. D. Ember of Middletown was also a single man and not known to have any insurance on his life. His funeral were held at his house in Middletown on Friday morning.

THE UNDERTAKERS

who hd charge of the bodies were: Nelson Knapp of W. H. Knapp & Son of Middletown who had, had charge of the bodies at the recent Liberty disaster, and E. P. Berray of Berray, Shepard & White of Walton. Knapp took charge of the bodies of Smith, Johnson and Embler and Berray of Raymond body, which was brought home Wednesday.

THE INQUEST

Coroners O. H. Bunday of Deposit and Dr. Young of Sidney Centre were telegraphed for immediately after the accident and arrived soon after. At about 2 o'clock the coroners jury viewed the bodies and adjoined to the Valley House where the following witnesses were heard: Peter Bojo, Constant Proskin, O. H. Young, Gilbert Slawson, John Schlitt. Mark Brady, Edward Campbell, Charles Slater and Jos. Swartwout. The testimony was all taken at 6:30 and the jury went out to decide on a verdict, but not being able to agree they adjoined to meet at the Hancock house yesterday at 1:30 p. m.

THE JURORS

The names of the jurors are Foreman M. H. Maynard, Leonard H. Allison, John Houghtaling, Benj. Bundy, Wheeler Hubble, Aristos H. Bonnefond, Frank L. Sprague, N. J. Kinch and Wm. A. White.
Coroner O. H. Bundy of Deposit; coroner's attorney, Timothy Sanderson of Sidney Centre. ________________________________________________________

The Funeral Services of W Howard Raymond

The funeral of W. Howard Raymond was held on Saturday from Christ Church, at 1:30 p. m. The order of Railroad conductors took charge of the remains at the late home of the deceased, and were met at the bridge by the Masonic Fraternity. At 2 o'clock the service in the church began. The church was packed. The office for the burial of the dead was said by the Rector, the musical part being rendered by a selected choir comprised of Miss Harris, Mrs. Randell, Mr. Tobey, and Mr. Colton. Although it is not the general custom of the Episcopal church to deliver a sermons at funerals, yet on this occasion a few remarks were made by the Rector, who pointed out that life was one whole thing and that in this life there came many events, and that one event was what we call death. He also pointed out that death separates us from each other only in the things which are accidental, and not in respect to those things that are real and eternal. That "living and death but one communion make and that our prayers for the departed should be offered just as truly as though they had gone into the next town or county."

After the service in the church were conducted the Masons took charge of the remains. At the grounds, the Masonic ceremonies were conducted by the Right Worshipful Bro. Marvin Wheeler of Hancock, Past District Deputy Grand Master and Worshipful Bro. Mr. Marvin Past Master.

A Masonic choir was present, who, under the direction of Mr. Nathan Marvin, of Hancock, rendered Preyel's Hymn, during the depositing of the evergreens in the grave with fine effect.

A committee of Masons were appointed to draw up resolutions of affections and regrets and to report at the next regular communications. There were present at the funeral more than two hundred Masons in line, representing , as the visitor's book shows, at least fifteen different lodges.

From the time of the accident until after the burial, the attentions of the Masonic Fraternity have been constant and delicate under the care of the Master. L. S. St. John everything that could be done to soften the dreadful blow has been done, and the Masonic Fraternity has shown that this is a body bound together, "by the cement of brotherly love and affection." ___________________________________________________

Notes From the Fish's Eddy Wreck by Our Special Reporter

        The wreck will cost the company about $25,000.
        A Bird of Sidney  flew down and made a short stay.
        The genial face of Dan Lamont was seen at the wreck.
        The piece broken out of the rail was about four feet long.
        "Rusticus" of Middletown was there to see how the Mercury stood.
        A temporary trestle has been erected so that trains passed over Friday night.
        A great many Walton people were there to assist in cleaning up the ruins.
        The CYCLONE was the only paper that had a special photographer photograph the wreck.
        In the illustration the dark spots in front of the group of four men, shows where the remains of the caboose lay.
        Superintendent of Bridges Lampher says that if his opinion has been asked on the subject he would have said 
          that the bridge was strong enough to withstand the shock of an engine.
___________________________________________________

VERDICT OF THE CORONER'S JURY

Our special correspondence delivered to us this morning at 1:45 a. m., the following verdict of the coroner's jury: "That Raymond, Smith, Embler and Johnson came to their deaths by reason of an accident upon the O & W railroad at Fish's Eddy in the town of Hancock Delaware county, NY, that said accident was principally caused by the braking of a rail. And we further say that we attach no blame to the employees of the company." New evidence was brought in, which changed the verdict from that which the majority of the jury favored previously.


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