Danvers, IL Killed by Interurban, Aug 1915

Interurban Wreck

Peoria Star August 1, 1915
Fatal Accident on Illinois Traction System Near Danvers at 12:05 This Morning.
Two Seventy-Year Old Farmers Instantly Killed While Returning From a Wedding-- Bodied
Taken to Danvers
Two men killed and a third injured early today when a car on the Illinois Traction System
struck a vehicle containing five men at Howell's crossing east of Danvers.
Herman Alwes
Ernest Rossbach
Antone Dirks.
George Alwes and his son were the other two occupants of the vehicle but both escaped by
The men all were said by the dispatcher at Mackinaw junction to be German residents living
near Danvers. The interurban car left Bloomington at 11:37 p.m. bound for Peoria.
It had reached a point near the crossing which is about one mile east of Danvers when the
vehicle loomed suddenly into view.
The car was almost upon the buggy before the motorman saw it. Apparently the occupants
observed the oncoming car about the same time.
Brakes were jammed on suddenly but the car was moving too rapidly to be brought to a
stop. Several passengers were sitting on a seat in front of the smoking apartment. They
looked on horror-stricken.
When the car was within a few yards of the vehicle Alwes and his son tumbled out and
landed on the roadside on the right of way only a few feet from the track.
Almost immediately the crash came and the two death victims and the injured man were
caught in the wreck. The impact apparently killed the two men outright. The buggy
was tossed to one side of the tracks completely demolished.
According to the dispatcher at Mackinaw Junction the crash took place at five minutes after
midnight. The two men killed were each 70 years of age.
A dispatch from Bloomington said the party had been to a wedding and were returning
home when the accident took place. The highway approaching the crossing is built on a
curve and it is practically impossible to see a car until almost upon the track.
Dirks was picked up in an unconscious condition and was placed on a car and rushed to
St.Joseph's hospital in Bloomington. His condition is serious and the probable outcome of his
injuries could not be determined at an early hour this morning.
George Alwes and his son, Louis, had a miraculous escape.
They bore only a few scratches and bruises.
Bodies of Rossbach and Alwes were taken to Danvers. The coroner of McLean county
reached the scene an hour after the accident and set the inquest for today.
George and John Alwes were brothers.
The car was in charge of Conductor Connors and Motorman Hess.
Peoria Star August 2,1915, page 12.
Anton Dirks of Danvers Died at 10 O'clock Sunday Morning at the Brokaw Hospital in
Bloomington. Anton Dirks, who was injured in the same wreck that cost the lives of Herman
Alwes and Ernest Rasbach near Danvers at midnight Saturday night, died at the Brokaw
hospital in Bloomington at 10 o'clock Sunday morning of his injuries.
Dirks was driving the team of horses, which strangely enough, were not injured. The buggy
was a total wreck. The Bloomington Pantagraph gives the following additional details of the
The accident occurred near Hall's crossing, about a mile east of Danvers. The place where
the accident occurred is not a regular interurban stop. It is so situated that it is
difficult to see a car approaching, but George Alwes stated after the accident that the driver
knew of the car coming, but thought that he had plenty of time to cross before the car
would arrive.
The interurban car was in charge of Motorman C.D. Hess, who says that he was not aware
of the carriage being on the track or anywhere near the track. The car was the last to
leave Bloomington Saturday night and was running twenty minutes late.
The inquests over the three men are being held this afternoon at Danvers, Coroner Hare to
be in charge of the hearings.
The five men who were in the carriage had been to the home of John Gehl, who lives east
of Danvers, and who was married only last week. It is said that a number of men went out
to the Gehl home last week to charivari Gehl and his bride, but there was no treat to be
offered and that Gehl invited them to return Saturday night.
George Alwes stated after the accident that he cautioned Anton Dirks to be careful, but
that the driver seemed to be unheedful of the warning and tried to get across the track
before the car arrived.
Herman Alwes was not mangled or bruised to any great extent. He received a blow on the
right temple and on his scalp that in all probability killed him instantly. One large bruise on
the temple and on his forehead told of the force of the car that struck the surrey.
Ernest Rassbach was terribly torn and mangled, His features being unrecognizable, as the
upper left half of his head was cut and mashed into a pulp. His body was bruised and
mashed into an unrecognizable shape. One lower limb was broken in several places and
gashed for nearly the entire length of the leg below the knee. Both arms were
broken, as well as the upper part of his body, which was crushed.
All along the interurban track from the crossing where the accident occurred there are pieces of the buggy, clothes,
hats, cushions, parts of the bodies and wheels. The body of Rassbach was carried on the front of the car for nearly
1,500 feet and was dragged along the south rail and the ties. When taken from the interurban car he was placed upon
some cushions taken from the car. Oswald Alwes, who is about 9 years of age, was in the rear seat with his father,
George Alwes, and escaped injury.Sunday morning Oswald Alwes was met by a Pantagraph reporter and he told of the
accident as follows in his own boyish manner:
"We were riding along, coming from a couple's house that had been married two or three days ago and had been having
a good time, plenty of singing and dancing, and we all enjoyed ourselves and then came back and had hard luck."
When asked what made him jump he stated that his father, George Alwes, had told Dirks not to try to drive across the
track, as they could not make it, but Dirks persisted. When nearly on the tracks Oswald Alwes jumped, and his
father, thinking the boy would be injured after him, probably saving his own life.