Tiffin, OH Train Wreck, Jan 1887 - The B & O Horror



Baggage-Master W. S. PIERCE, of This City, and JOSEPH POSTLEWAITE and Two Sons, of Wetzel County, Killed.

The news of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad horror, occurring at Tiffin early yesterday morning, created great excitement in this city, and all day the disaster was the leading topic of conversation about town. It was known that several railroad-men from this city were upon the train, and the rumor was also persistant that one or more business men had embarked upon it Monday evening, bound for Chicago, and there was great anxiety up to quite a late hour last evening to learn the details and to scan the list of killed and wounded. Fortunately, the report that Wheeling people were on board the train as passengers, was untrue, but several gentlemen had intended embarking upon it, and were only prevented from leaving for the West Monday evening by unavoidable delays. Nine passengers, however, boarded the train at the B. & O. depot in this city, which connects with the limited at Benwood, booked for through passage to Chicago and the West. They were Mr. JOSEPH POSTLETHWAIT, wife and five children, of West, Wetzel county, and JAMES SHARP and HARVEY CLARK, of Washington, Pa. The POSTLETHWAIT family were bound for Chilicothe, Missouri, where they intended to settle on a farm. They came to this city from Bellton, Marshall county, Monday afternoon, and remained about the depot until the train left for Benwood to catch the limited. Two of the boys were aged about twelve and sixteen respectively, and the other children were very small, one being an infant. Messrs. SHARP and CLARK, who had been spending the holidays with their parents in Washington, were en route back to Chicago, where they are in business together. They both escaped, but lost their baggage. Of the Postlethwait family, the father and the two oldest boys were killed.

The Chicago limited left Benwood at 7:50 Monday evening, in charge of Conductor THOMAS J. HESKETT. W. S. PIERCE was in the express car as messenger, and WILLIAM GATES was baggage master. The postal car was dropped off at Newark, only through mail pouches being carried from that point to Chicago. The engineer and fireman were changed at Newark, that being the end of the first trans-Ohio division so the men from this city who run the engine that far are all safe. Conductor HESKETT came out of the wreck all right, and promptly telegraphed his safety to his wife and the B. & O. officials in this city.

Express Messenger PIERCE was not so fortunate, he being killed, and his body was so roasted in the fire which broke out immediately after the collision that his remains, last evening, were unrecognizable, in common with a number of others. Poor PIERCE left the express office at the depot in this city, Monday evening, with a cheerry "Well, good bye, boys, till I see you again," on his lips. In twelve hours all that was left of him was a mangled and blackened corpse. He was but twenty-five years of age, and leaves a young wife, on Eighteenth street, to mourn his terrible and untimely end. PIERCE came to this city from Grafton, and was in high repute among B. & O. men along the line as a steady, reliable genial gentleman. His body will probably be sent home to-day.

The Chicago express, which usually arrives in this city at 6:20 p. m., did not reach here last night until after eleven o'clock-five hours late. On board of it was Conductor HESKETT, who had charge of the wrecked limited. He was warmly congratulated by the officers and employes about the depot, and was plied with questions as to the number killed and wounded and his own narrow escape. He hung his train cap up in the baggage room, donned an old cap and hurried off home to the Island, refusing to answer any but the most general inquiries. He spoke, however, of the unavailing efforts to rescue Mr. Brady, of Washington City, he being the "labor leader" mentioned in the dispatches.

From others on board the train, was it learned that WILLIAM GATES, the baggage master, was badly hurt and had been brought in as far as Newark, where he was left last evening. GATES and PIERCE were sitting together when the accident occurred, the latter having his feet up on the seat and his knees on a level with his chin, while GATES' feet were resting on the floor. When the shock came, GATES was hurled upward, and escaped with serious wounds, but PIERCE fell downward and was wedged in among the timbers and crushed to death, his body being afterwards consumed.

It was also said last night that the list of casualties would not be as large as first reports had it, people on the train saying that but eleven passengers were killed and three badly wounded, the casualties to train men not being included in this. The lanterns which hung in the baggage and express cars on the wrecked train were also brought in last night and left at the baggage room at the depot. They were pretty well banged up and are not fit for much further service.

Conductor ROBERT MOORE, who brought the east bound express into Wheeling yestrday morning, reports that he passed Conductor HESKETT's train at Tiffin, yesterday morning, about half an hour before the accident. Everything was in good shape at that time, and Captain MOORE did not learn of the accident until he arrived at this end of his run.

There was much anxiety in Bellaire last night over the fate of WILLIAM SIMPSON, a nailer, who was on board the ill-fated train. Mr. SIMPSON's home is in Bellaire, but he has been at work in Milwaukee, and was at home during the holidays. He boarded the limited at Bellaire Monday night.

This is the worst accident the B. & O. ever had, and it is to be hoped a repetition of the disaster will never occur. The blame seems to rest entirely upon the engineer of the freight train, who is alleged to have been under the influence of liquor. The details of the wreck will be found in our telegraphic columns.

The Wheeling Register, Wheeling, WV 5 Jan 1887