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Kingsland, Indiana

Interurban Train Wreck

September 21, 1910


Motorman Deliberately Violated Orders and Forty Perished in Resultant Crash.

FORT WAYNE, Ind., Sept. 22.
-- The authorities of Wells county and officials of the traction company today are making a rigid investigation to attach responsibility for the collision of two traction cars on the Bluffton line of the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction company yesterday, in which forty persons were killed and eight injured.

Today Frank I. HARDY, superintendent of transportation of the traction company, stated that disregard of orders caused the wreck and that B. T. CORKWELL, motorman of the southbound train, probably is the one to blame.

The disaster, rated as the worst in all interurban history, occurred at a sharp curve, near Kingsland, six miles from Bluffton. The line is operated under a block system and until the railway makes public the orders issued the crews, it will not be definitely known which motorman was negligent.

The southbound car, the one going to Bluffton, was manned by Conductor DEL WILSON, of Ossian, and Motorman B. T. CORKWELL, of Fort Wayne. The northbound car, which was crowded to the steps with sightseers, was in charge of Conductor E. A. SPILLER and Motorman CHARLES VAN DINE, both of Bluffton. The four trainmen were injured, but all will probably recover.

It is said that CORKWELL was to wait at Greensboro, a station between Kingsland and Ossian, for the northbound train, but that, instead of doing this, he tried to meet the other car at Kingsland.

The crash came soon after the northbound car had left Kingsland. The cars were telescoped almost their entire length.

Out of forty-five or fifty passengers, but one man has so far been discovered who escaped entirely unhurt. Most of the deaths were instantaneous.

The spot where the wreck occurred is isolated and it was an hour and a half after the collision that physicians arrived on the scene from Bluffton and Fort Wayne and the actual relief work began. The dead were laid in rows in a grove nearby. The bodies were horribly mangled. Legs and arms were severed and heads in some cases nearly cut from bodies.

Relatives of the dead arriving at the grove were hysterical, making the work of the doctors doubly difficult.

Conductor SPILLER, of the Bluffton local, was not seriously injured and his presence of mind averted another accident. When SPILLER saw the extent of the catastrophe he ran back toward Kinsgland and stopped the Indianapolis limited, which was coming at full speed. Had it not been stopped it would have crashed into the struggling and dying mass of humanity left in the wake of the crash.

JOHN R. BOYD, of Marion, Ind., was probably the only passenger aboard the ill-fated car who escaped without any injury. BOYD owes his life to the fact that he was compelled to hang on to the rear step of the north bound car, unable to get in a place on the platform owing to the crowd. As the car was taking the curve, BOYD says he got a long look ahead and saw the southbound car coming head on. He jumped from the car.

“There was a splintering crash,” he said today, “a dull, grinding as wood and iron resolved themselves into a mass of wreckage and mingled with human blood and flesh and bones. The big limited car seemed to climb upon the frailer and heavier loaded car and from its pilot to within six feet of the rear swept over the crowded coach making it almost clean. That anything alive could have survived that terrible sweep of splintered wood and twisted steel is a miracle. Following the crash, there was a period of appalling stillness and then the shrieks and gorans of the wounded and dying rose upon the air.”

Bluffton's Burden of Grief.
BLUFFTON, Ind., Sept. 22. -
- Bluffton awoke this morning to a fuller realization to the horror of yesterday's tragedy on the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley traction line, when two cars collided, killing forty persons and injuring eight others. All of the dead were brought here last night. Nineteen Bluffton people were killed and the bodies of these were removed to their homes. Other bodies are in the morgue. The town is in mourning and business is practically at a standstill. There is hardly a home here that is not affected, either through the loss of members of the family or dear friends.
Bluffton yesterday afternoon saw two score and more laughing people, home folks and visitors in the town, depart on one of the big swift-going cars of the traction company for a day of pleasure at the Fort Wayne fair. A few hours later two funeral cars, heavily freighted with forty broken, mangled bodies – came slowly back and with them came hysterical crying men and women, weeping for lost ones. Bluffton today is bearing a heavy burden of grief.

Among the dead are citizens who played a prominent part in Bluffton's affairs. The Bluffton dead are:

SEYMOUR ROBINSON, democratic candidate for auditor of Weil [sic] county.
H. D. COOK, grocer.
FRED TAM, liveryman.
O. P. ZIMMER, hardware merchant.
J. W. TRIBOLET, real estate.
W. D. BURGEN, real estate.
L. C. LUSTUS, general manager Bluffton, Geneva & Celina Traction line.
LLOYD BROWN, newspaper man.
WILLIAM BEERS, policeman.
JOE _________, Greek piano publisher.

F. A. PARKHURST, MISS MARGARET TREBOLT, whose father was killed, and MRS. W. D. BURGEN whose husband was instantly killed, are in hospitals at Fort Wayne. PARKHURST and MISS TRIBOLET are dying. No arrangements yet have been made for the funerals of the victims.

Lincoln Evening News Nebraska 1910-09-22

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


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