East Brookfield, MA Train Collision, June 1853




A frightful collision occurred on the Western Railroad, at East Brookfield station, on Thursday last, which might have been, and but for a seemingly miraculous interposition, would have been as destructive of human life as the melancholy Norwalk Tragedy. In this case as in that, there is not the slightest excuse for the catastrophe. Both were the result of criminal negligence on the part of the servants of the Railroad corporation. The particulars are as follows:
As the New York mail train, which left Springfield at half past 1 o'clock, on Thursday afternoon, was approaching the East Brookfield station, at its usual rate of speed, it was found that a switch had been misplaced which led the approaching train from the main to a side track, encumbered with a train of freight cars. No effort on the part of the engineer could prevent the dreadful consequences. With the speed of lightning, almost, the engine crushed into the freight train, completely destroying one of those cars, demolishing three baggage cars, and destroying four passenger cars filled with human beings.
One of the passengers, A. H. JOHNSON, of Worcester, axe-helve maker, was killed. He was standing on the platform of the first car. He leaves four children, but no wife, and was a worthy and respectable man.
H. L. MOORE, of New York, had his ankle dislocated, and received a bad flesh wound.
The baggage master, LAWRENCE WISE, of Boston, received a severe flesh wound upon the head -- his nose was badly injured, but his physician thinks it is not broken.
MATHEW BYRNE, of Springfield, received a bad wound near the neck, and was insensible; will probably recover.
A fireman named OTIS D. TAYLOR, of Chester, Mass., received a bad flesh wound.
A daughter of Rev. R. H. NEALE was severely injured about the shoulder.
A large number of persons in the forward passenger car were injured.
Among the passengers in the train, who were injured, were: DR. LYMAN BEECHER, REV. RUFUS W. CLARKE, REV. MR. BREWSTER, HON. MR. USHER and family, JULIUS A. PALMER, JOHN WARREN of the firm of Geo. W. Warren & Co., and lady, B. W. WILLIAMS editor of the Life Boat, J. C. CLUER, DR. DIX, JAMES O. BARNEY of the Seamen's Chapel, Providence,
MR. MORWIN, editor of the Connecticut Fountain, and REV. MR. HIGGINS, of Worcester.
A little daughter of MR. USHER was thrown forward ten feet by the concussion, and was unhurt.
A passenger had his watch wrenched out of his picket, and it was picked up at a distance and restored to him.
There were many women and children in the cars, and their screams were terrific. A mother was seen trying to screen her child from injury, regardless of herself -- a beautiful instance of maternal instinct.
It is wonderful that such an accident should occur with so little loss of life, and the passengers have every reason to be thankful that their lives were spared.
The conductor, as soon as he had partially recovered from the shock occasioned by the collision, went to Mr. Flagg, the keeper of the depot, who is also a switchman, and asked him,
"How is this?" He is reported to have replied, "No one is to blame but myself," and immediately ran across the fields.

Barnstable Patriot Massachusetts 1853-06-28