30 April 2015

Newspaper Account #2 of Railroad Accident that Killed Henry Martin Walker, Sr.

From the The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) newspaper · Thursday, Mar 16, 1865 · Page 1 (click on image to enlarge):
The Great Accident. 
     The following well written account of the terrible accident to the 33rd Illinois vet. volunteers, will be read with great interest in this county.  It is from the N.O. Times of March 3d.
     One of the most terrible railroad accidents that has occurred in this or any other country, took place yesterday on the New Orleans and Opelousas railroad.  Fully fifty human beings were more or less injured, nine or ten have since died.
     The particulars are as follows:
     The train of conductor William Creigler left Brashear City yesterday morning at 8 o'clock, and consisted of some nine or ten freight (box and flat bottomed) cars, with a baggage and two passenger cars in the rear of all, the first passenger car being exclusively for the use of negroes. 
(Click on image to enlarge)
The Thirty-Third Illinois. 
     In the passenger car were fifteen or twenty citizens and about as many officers.  Among the latter were Col. C.E. Lippencott, of the 33d Illinois Infantry, Lieut. Col. Elliot, Major Pope, and the line officers of that regiment, and last, but not least, was Doctors Geo. P. Rex, and H.T. Antis.
     The 33d has for some time past guarded the road for a distance of fifty miles from Brashear City, but was recently ordered to report to New Orleans, and a negro regiment assigned to the duty which this gallant regiment has so long [   ] faithfully performed.  As the train stopped at the different stations, the various members of this regiment, who had previously been on guard in this neighborhood, scrambled on the cars, full of life and joy at rejoining their fellow comrades, and of the prospect of an early visit to New Orleans. 
How the Accident Occurred. 
     The train had been running very slowly nearly the whole distance from Brashear to Bayou des Almonde, and so difficult was it to get steam up that it was only after leaving the latter place that the speed could be increased to from between twelve to fifteen miles an hour.  When about three miles from Boutte Station a mule and a horse were discovered near the track, and as the train approached they galloped [   ] still keeping some distance from the track.  The country at the point was open, and there appeared to be little or no danger of the horses running up on the track, as a few yards ahead was a crossing which it was supposed they would take.  The mule did take this path but the horse turned suddenly, sprang upon the track in front of the engine, and before it could be reversed or a signal of alarm sounded, the locomotive, [  ], and first car had passed over it.  The next instant, the car following (a box car) sheered crossways from the track, the coupling broke, the other cars crowded upon it, and in this manner the accident occurred. 
The Scene in the Passenger Car. 
     Before entering upon an explanation of the scene of this wreck, and the poor mangled human beings who were buried beneath, I will describe the shock in the passenger car.  Almost ever passenger was thrown from his or her seat, then the car moved on a few feet, was [   ] again, but not so violently as before. moved a few feet again, was [   ] a third time, and remained stationery.  It was all over in sixteen seconds, and thank God not a passenger received the slightest injury. 
The Scene on the Train -- Human Suffering. 
     Several of the male passengers, including the officers, at once sprang to the doors of the car and started for the center of the train, or rather for the heap of broken cars which had crushed and ground against each other, forming a terribly pyramid, one above the other, several yards in height; and fifty human beings lay beneath them [   ] more or less crushed, bruised or injured by springing to the ground in time to escape the second and third crash, by having the presence of mind to take the warning of the first and jump for dear life from the crashing cars.  The moans and the groans of the wounded and dying appealed to the sympathies of those who had escaped injury, and like true men each rushed to the rescue, citizen and soldier, black and white. 
Saving Life. 
     Col Lippencott, collected around him, for a moment al who were able to render any assistance, and the next moment they were at work under the direction of Mr. Creigler, the conductor, and the officers of the regiment when the noble work of saving life commenced with an earnestness [   ] will highly commendable to all parties engaged.  The wreck was [   ] cleared to allow the men to work and in a few moments twenty of the injured lay around.  The majority had received internal injury, or complained of a terrible pain in the back or head.  [   ] fellows many were crushed and broken and nine have died.  Legs and arms broken, cuts in the head, and torn and mangled bodies could be seen in every direction, but in an incredibly short time every man was taken from the ruins. 
The Surgeons. 
     As I have stated before there was fortunately on board the train Dr. Rex and his assistant Dr. Antis.  Both these gentlemen commenced operating upon the injured, and in three hours every man had received surgical aid.  One poor fellow had both his feet amputated at the ankles, while several others were compelled to submit to the severing of an arm or a leg if the broken limb was too badly injured to set.  One by one the wounded were transferred to a house near by, according to the extent of their injuries, and soon all were there and attended to as the urgency of their case demanded.  The surgeons deserve the highest praise. 
The Injured on Their Way to New Orleans. 
     The news of this terrible accident was telegraphed to New Orleans from Boutte [   ] in about half an hour Conductor Mile's train arrived, and returned to Boutte with the news.  It then came back to the scene of the accident, took on board the injured, as well as passengers of the other train, and waited the arrival of the special train from Algiers, which left the city at 2:45pm.
     About half past four this train arrived, having on board Mr. E.K. Johnson, master of transportation, and other officers belonging to the road.  The Superintendent, Cap. Morse was unable to leave as he was confined in New Orleans by sickness. 
Arrival of the Train in Algiers. 
     Nothing worthy of not occurred until the arrival at Algiers, except that the train was compelled to come almost to a "standstill" three or four times, on account of the number of horses, mules, and cattle which appeared determined to remain upon the track to be run over.  On one occasion a horse and mule were so obstinate in remaining upon the track that, although the whistle was repeatedly sounded, they were only compelled to evacuate by the appearance of the fireman at the head of the engine, throwing pieces of wood at them.
     It was easy to perceive that the news of the accident had preceded our arrival, for there were hundreds of soldiers and citizens assembled and patiently waiting for us.  There was a string of eight or ten ambulances too, for the purpose of transferring the wounded to the hospital in this city, Dr. Rex, having telegraphed ahead to Dr. Alexander, the medical director, to have ambulances ready for "forty badly wounded men."
     This with the following list of the dead and injured, closes the account of one of the most heart-rendering accidents of railroad traveling on record.  The Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, several of the private soldiers, and Conductor Creiger, who witnessed the accident, exonerated the engineer and the fireman from all blame and consider it unavoidable.  The train was running twelve or thirteen miles an hour when the accident occurred.
The editors of The Pantagraph say this article first appeared in the N.O. Times on March 3.  Not quite.  I pulled it and will be posting it to this blog next.  It was on March 4, and is only vaguely similarly written.  Maybe I am wrong, but I couldn't find a different edition.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

27 April 2015

Grace Combs (1803-1892)

"Grace Combs Danvers Illinois"

Another share from my cousin Tony.  Grace was my 3xg-grandaunt, sister to my 3xg-grandmother Jane Hall (nee. Combs, 1814-1874).  Grace and another sister Sarah resided in Danvers with my 3xg-grandparents, including Jeremiah S. Hall (1809-1882).

Grace never married.  She was a devout Methodist and an active member of the American Bible Society.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

26 April 2015

The Rewards of Genealogy - Treasures of Every Type

Genealogy has brought me a lot of reward; Discoveries, self-satisfaction, education.  Even tangible rewards as other historians come into items belonging to my ancestors and find me to give them to.  Emotionally, genealogy has impressed on me the importance of family; My sense of place, not just in my family tree, but in humanity.

Interesting how all that relates to what is perhaps my greatest reward so far -- meeting my second cousin Tony.  My great-aunt Jennie Long (nee. Hall, 1879-1968) was a family historian herself, and she passed all her research and treasures onto her grandson Tony.  Fortunately she also passed on an interest in the hobby, which is also a treasure.  Tony blesses me, continuingly sharing treasures from great-aunt Jennie's files and collections.

Here is another (click on images to enlarge) --

D.S. Leach, Corpral(sic) W. Bishop, Both members of Co. C 33rd Regt Ills Vet. Vol  
Jan the 2nd, 1865 
This is SUPER interesting to me and requires further research.  Great-aunt Jennie's father, my 2xg-grandfather George Hall (1845-1908) was in the 26th Illinois.  He also re-enlisted as a Veteran.  But as faithful readers of this blog know, way over on the other side of my family tree my 2xg-grandfather Henry Martin Walker, Sr. was serving in Co. A of the 33rd Ills.  And this CDV is dated EXACTLY two months before these two soldiers were in the railroad accident that killed my ancestor!

What I do know is this, the 33rd Ills was nicknamed "The Normal Regiment" because most of its members were from the Bloomington-Normal area of Illinois.  GG-grandfather George Hall might have been in the 26th Ills but guess where he was from?  You guessed it, the Bloomington-Normal area.  First guess is these are his friends.  In any case, my intuition tells me there is a lot of back story.

And here we have another thing Genealogy gives me -- excitement, hope, and a sense of anticipation about what new discovery might be right around the corner.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

22 April 2015

Hear the Earth Rumbling? A Brick Wall Falls!

After more than TEN years looking, I have FINALLY found the gravesite of my 2xg-grandfather Henry Martin Walker, Sr.!  He is apparently interred in an unmarked grave at Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans. (The recorder got the initials wrong in the above record book.)

There are a lot more details I need to gather before updating this blog with a proper post; Including calling the cemetery superintendent's office tomorrow to confirm the record.  There is no listing for any of the men from the trainwreck on any public National Park Service database.  Does the NPS not include men in unmarked graves? 

But this news was way too big for me to not shout it to the world! 

Genealogy Happy Dances all-around!

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

Newspaper Account #1 of Railroad Accident that Killed Henry Martin Walker, Sr.

From the The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) newspaper · Mon, Mar 13, 1865 · Page 1 (click on image to enlarge):
between Terrebonne and New Orleans

  The 33d Ill. Vet. thrown off a railroad track.

                Nine Men Killed and 72 Wounded
(Special Correspondence of the Pantagraph.)
Algiers, La., (Opposite New Orleans)
                                         March 3d 1864(sic)
     ED. PANTAGRAPH: -- A terrible railroad accident occurred yesterday on the U.S. military railroad leading from this place to Brashear City, by which a large number of men of the 33d Illinois regiment were killed or severely injured.  Bloomington being the original headquarters of this regiment, and three of the companies having been chiefly raised in McLean County (Cos. A, Capt. Dutton, formerly Capt. Potter; C, Capt. Lewis, formerly Capt. Roe; and G, Capt. Russell, formerly Capt. Moore,) I embrace the earliest leisure to send you and account of the sad affair;
     The 33d has been, as your readers know, for several months guarding stations on this railroad.  Having been relieved and ordered to join A.J. Smith's corps, near New Orleans, they were loaded in the regular train yesterday morning, and came on eastward without accident, until a point was reached twenty-seven miles west of this place.  Here a horse which had been for some distance running ahead of the engine near the track, suddenly attempted to cross, and was [ ] run over and torn to pieces.  The engine, tender and first two (flat) cars passed over the obstruction and remained on the track; but half a dozen or more of the following cars (box and flat) loaded with troops, were thrown off and piled together in a horrible mass of fragments; beams, trucks, baggage, guns and equipments in inextricable confusion, intermingled with crushed, dead, and dying men.  Several of the rear cars, with the passenger cars containing most of the officers and the citizen passengers, remained on the track and no one was injured on them except by jumping off.  This was the case with Cos. C, Capt. Lewis; F, Capt. Gray, formerly Capt. Roberts; I, Capt. Lyon, formerly Capt. Lawton; and K, Capt. Higgins, formerly Capt. Lippincott.  Co. B, Capt. Gill, formerly Capt. Morgan, was on the two forward cars and suffered but little.  The chief injury was sustained by Cos. A, Capt. Dutton, formerly Capt. Potter; D, Capt. Rosengrant, commissioned but not yet mustered, formerly Capt. Pope;  E, Capt. Pratt, formerly Capt. Elliott; G, Capt. Russel, formerly Capt. Moore.  The company (H, Capt. Smith, formerly Capt. McKenzie) st Boutte station, was not on the train, the accident having occured(sic) three miles west of that place.
     The moment the train stopped, the officers and all the men who were not completely disabled, rushed to the rescue, and began laboring with Herculean energy to extricate their mangled comrades.  After an hour's work in the wreck, all the dead and wounded were got out and the most severely injured were conveyed to a neighboring house, where Drs. Rex and Antis, the regimental surgeons, performed the needful operations and dressed the wounds.  The train from [ ] city having means while arrived, the regiment, with the surviving wounded were loaded on a boat and transferred to the hospital.  The accident appears to have been one of those unavoidable ones for which no blame can be properly attach to the officer of the train, and certainly after its concurrence all was done that could be, and in the promptest manner, to remedy the effects.
     Orderly Sergt. Spillman F. Willis, of Co. A, was instantly killed and crushed out of all sembance of humanity.  Five or six others were taken out dead; and others died within a few minutes after being carried to the house.  Charles Howell, of A, with severe internal injuries, died on the train on the way to the city.  Nine were dead when I made up the list last night, and I shall probably have others to add before closing this.
     I append a list of the dead and wounded, made up by a careful and thorough canvass of the train by myself, and by conference with company commanders after our arrival here.  I think my old readers know my accuracy in my old trade as reporter, well enough to accept this list as reliable.  It includes a few or none who are not for the present disabled for duty, although many will be able again in a few days.  Scores were more or less bruised, jarred and sprained, who are not on the list.  Of Cos. A and D, scarcely a man escaped unhurt.  With these preliminary remarks, I submit the list to the anxious eyes of the hundreds of your readers who had near and dear friends killed on the train.
Spillman F. Willis, .......1st Sergeant, Company.......A
Charles G. Howell.........Private.............."...............A
Charles Greening...........Recruit.............."..............A
H. M. Walker...................."..................."...............A
Jerome Wolfe......................"..................."..............A
John B. Melvin..............Private..............."..............D
Joseph Waldon..................."..................."..............D
Walter Webster..............Recruit.............."..............D
Robert Barkley......... .....Private..............."........ ....[ ]
[  ]
     March 3d., 10 A.M -- I have just heard from the hospital.  Maj. Pope has visited the wounded boys this morning, and reports all are doing well.  He did not, however, find Zuraf of A, who was one of the severely wounded.  This young man lay for nearly an hour under a pile of heavy trucks and rubbish, with as large force of men working at him who could get to him, before he was extricated.  Although thus held down, and considerably cut and bruised, he seemed much less hurt when taken out than was suspected, and no bones appeared to be broken.  In his case as in others, however, some days may pass before the full extent of his injuries will be manifested. 
     Every one speaks with astonishment of the courage and cheerful endurance of Pettibone of Co. D, a recruit of only a few days standing, both legs amputated below the knee.  He bears his mutilation like a hero, and will have all the chances of recovery that a strong spirit can give him, but the result is of course doubtful at best.  Adam Willis of D, has a frightfully extensive laceration in the flesh in the region of the hips, and is in great danger.  Several others of the severely injured may yet die; but I am glad to report that up to this hour no additional deaths are reported.
     It is not impossible that this accident may delay the departure of our regiment to the front.  -  Respectfully [ ], 
                                                   Edward J. Lewis

As a reminder, Henry Martin Walker, Sr. was my 2xg-grandfather, and the Capt. Dutton named above was my 2xg-granduncle, and brother in law to Henry.

This is the first in a series of three or four newspaper articles I will be posting on the railroad accident.  I am sorry for the omissions illustrated with the empty brackets, but the bottom half of the scan is very poor, and the smaller the font the more impossible to read.

From the description of the location, I used Google Earth and I think I have a good idea where it occurred.  More to follow on that subject.

My search for my 2xg-grandfather's grave continues.  I am going to search where the remains of those killed with him are interred.  He might also be there.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

14 April 2015

A Lot of Hard Work for Little Reward? : The Essential Need for "Hope" in Genealogy

Presented here is the marriage record for my 4xg-grandparents Sylvanus Smith and Roxa Rich.  It is impossible for me to express the difficulty in locating it!  Note the groom is in the bride's place, and the bride is in the groom's place.  Note that Sylvanus's name has been made into a nickname and Roxa's first name is completely different.  Ugh!

And then, when I finally find the card, after all the hard searching, what is my reward -- all the treasured boxes are blank. :-(  Double Ugh.

But wait!  I did get a date, and from that I can search periodicals and local records.  I can research the name of the minister and find out his church, and look for records there.  Finally, I now also have alternative names for my ancestors to research with, especially Roxa's alternative name of Constant.

"Glass half full," you might say rolling your eyes.  Perhaps.  But I see potential and possibility!  "Hope" is essential to the hobby of genealogy.  It is a treasure hunt where we hope for the next big find, and are rewarded with little nuggets as we follow the trails.  Without hope there is no heart, and without heart, the only people willing (literally from human "will") to play the game would be paid professionals.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

13 April 2015

Brothers Israel W. Hall (1799-1865) and Jeremiah S. Hall (1809-1888)

From page 11 of Danvers, Illinois community history, 1987 (Danvers, IL: Danvers Historical Society, 1987) (click on the images to enlarge) -- 

    Israel W. Hall was born February 5, 1799 in Salem, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph and Hester Woodbury Hall, both of English descent.  Israel was a shoemaker by trade.  he came to Illinois in 1834 by way of Detroit, Michigan settling where Danvers now exists.  In 1836 he and Matthew Robb laid off the town of Concord which later became Danvers.  He was a justice of the peace and also the first postmaster of the village.  He was a member of the Methodist Church, his home being used as a church for fifteen years.
    Mr. Hall married Polly Stickney in Salem, New Hampshire on April 27, 1834.  There were three children, Alice, wife of Jacob McClure, Otis W. Hall, and Cynthia H., widow of Thomas C. Dodge, then wife of John R. Morrison.
    Mr. and Mrs. Israel Hall are buried in Stouts Grove Cemetery, Mr. Hall dying in 1865 and Mrs. Hall in 1888. 
    Jeremiah S. Hall, a brother of Israel Hall was born April 21, 1809 in Salem, New Hampshire.  When seventeen he went to Boston to learn the brick layers trade.  He worked in various towns in New England before bringing his family into Illinois in 1834.
    Jeremiah was married in 1832 to Miss Jane Combs of  Nashua, New Hampshire.  They were the parents of five children.
    Jeremiah was among the first to successfully establish a prairie farm in the Danvers area rather than from timber land.
    Jeremiah's wife died in 1874 and he died in 1888.  Both are buries in Stouts Grove Cemetery.
Jeremiah Smith Hall was my 3xg-grandfather and his brother Israel was quite obviously my 3xg-granduncle.  In terms of Danvers history, Israel is considered a "founder" and Jeremiah an "early settler."

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

09 April 2015


As I have previously documented my 2xg-granduncle Harvey Dutton was a genuine hero at the Battle of Cache River also known as the Battle for Cotton Plant.  I found this picture of the historical marker on the web --

I burst with pride whenever I read those words "Thirty-Third Illinois."  At last count I have found four relatives who fought in the 33rd Illinois.  Two behind my mother served in Company "C," and two behind my father served in Company "A."  Remarkable when you consider my Mom was born in Arizona and my Dad in Nebraska, and they were married in California.  Not much there to point to Illinois.  Except a lot of research.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker