Buford, GA Train Wreck, Aug 1908

Gave His Life to Save Precious Human Freight

ATLANTA, Aug., 24.---Braver heroism or nobler self-sacrifice has never been shown than in the death of Engineer B. F. Dewberry, of 119 Washington street in the wreck of train No. 38 on the Southern road near Buford yesterday afternoon.

At the cost of his own life Engineer Dewberry, stood at his throttle amid fire and scalding water, stood and suffered and died in order that the scores and suffered and dried in order that the scores of men and women in his keeping might escape. Thereby many human lives were spared and thousands of dollars of property was saved.

And close by the engineer all this while was the negro fireman, Mayson Wadkins, who also died for duty's sake.

Cool and Brave.

When the giant engine sprang from the track, Mr. Dewberry, realizing the danger that was imminent, reversed his lever and pulled on the emergency brakes. Much of the equipment of the handsome train was shattered: the track was torn up for a distance of two hundred yards by the terrible shock, but the passengers all scrambled to their feet without serious injury.

The engine toppled and reeled over on its side, the big drivers still whirring around in reverse motions. And on the engine seat was Engineer Dewberry.

"Are Passengers Safe?"

"How is it with the passengers?" was the first question he asked of those who had come to rescue him.

On being assured that all were safe, a smile of peace settled about his lips.

"Tell my wife I'm hurt, but not so very much." was his next remark.

The flesh was falling from his arms and a great wound was in his back.

Fortunately, Mrs. Dewberry arrived in time to say good-bye to her husband. He could not muster breath enough to speak as she bent over him, weeping, but his eyes lighted a moment as she kissed him through the bandages. Then they closed forever.

None of the passengers on the train were injured, although they were badly shaken up. The engine turned completely over on its side three coaches were badly damaged and the track was torn up for a distance of more than two hundred feet.

Was Train Victim of Wreckers?

The cause of derailment and resulting wreck of the train is unknown, but two theories are advanced. One is that a bolt in the machinery of the locomotive worked loose, and falling to the rail, lifted the wheels of the engine from the track. Another explanation is to the effect that a bolt was placed on the track by some unknown individual, either for malicious or mischievous reasons.

Certain it is that a large bolt played a prominent part in the wrecking of the train, for a badly mashed bolt was found on the track at the point where the wheels of the engine left the rails. This bolt was about four inches long three-quarters of an inch in diameter and had a head about two and one half inches wide.

No effort was made by either Engineer Dewberry or his fireman to jump from the engine. The former had applied the emergency brakes and reversed his engine. They were both found on the floor of the cab of the overturned locomotive a few moments after the wreck and both were in a dying condition from having been scalded by escaping steam.

Did He Have Presentment?

Before leaving Atlanta on his run Sunday Mr. Dewberry called his step-daughter, Miss Ruth Kitchins, and requested her to play for him his favorite hymn, "Nearer, My God to Thee," and joined with her in singing it.

Engineer Dewberry had lived in Atlanta all of his life. For 27 years he had been an engineer in the employ of the Southern Railway. If he had lived until the 30th of the present month he would have been 50 years of age. In addition to being a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers he was a member of the Knights of Pythias.

Mr. Dewberry is survived by his wife, a daughter, Mrs. John Sutton, of 306 DeKalb avenue: and a step-daughter, Miss Ruth Kitchens. The funeral services which will be in charge of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Second Baptist Church and the interment will be at Oakland cemetery.

The Macon Daily Telegraph, Macon, GA 25 Aug 1908


Buford, Ga., Aug. 23.---A mis[ineligible] or some irresponsible person placed and iron bolt on the track of the Southern railway about a mile south of Buford Sunday afternoon, and northbound train No. 38, which left Atlanta at 12:40 for Washington, the finest train operated by the Southern railway, was derailed and the engineer and fireman scalded to death at their posts of duty.

The dead are:

Engineer B. F. DEWBERRY, of Atlanta.

Fireman MAYSON WADKINS, negro, also of Atlanta.

A number of passengers on the train were shaken up, and many were thrown to the floor, but none was seriously hurt.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, Biloxi, MS 25 Aug 1908




Louis Coxey Put Bolt on Southern Railway Track and Engineer Dewberry and His Fireman Were Killed.

Lawrenceville, Ga., Aug. 23.---Louis Coxey, 11 years old, living with his mother, five miles from Buford, Ga., was arrested today charged with wrecking the Southwestern Limited train near Buford, in which Engineer Dewberry and his negro fireman were killed.

The boy admitted placing the bolt on the track but says another boy persuaded him to do it. He said his companion is about 20 years of age and had told him that he had wrecked several trains.

It is said that two more arrests will be made shortly in connection with the wreck.

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL 26 Aug 1908