Giffords Station, Staten Island, NY Train - Wagon Wreck, Oct 1891


Tragedy at a Masked Crossing On Staten Island.

Four Persons Mangled by a Swift Train.

Crook's Crossing, near Giffords Station, Staten Island, N. Y., fulfilled its destiny a few days ago and hurled three souls into eternity, while sending a fourth one to the very gate of death.
The notorious old railroad crossing, masked by dense woods and parsimoniously unguarded, where more than once there has been a hair raising escape from manslaughter, missed the escape at last, and a woman, in the bloom of life, with her year old daughter and her brother, were mowed down by the iron horse in a manner too frightful for description. Following is the list of victims:
ANDREW BRANDNER, aged fourteen, of Erastina, S. I., employed as a fish and clam peddler by John Jones. Fatally injured internally.
MRS. ELIZABETH EDWARDS, aged twenty-seven, of Giffords, wife of Captain JAKE EDWARDS, of the oyster sloop Trusty, of Great Kills. Skull crushed; died within twenty minutes.
BLANCHE EDWARDS, infant child of the latter. Skull crushed; died within one and one-half hours. JOHN JONES, aged twenty-four, of Erastina, fish and oyster peddler, brother of MRS. EDWARDS. Top of head crushed in; killed instantly.
The above named party was riding in JONE'S covered butcher wagon on their way to Giffords at ten minutes past eight. They were on the Amboy road, the chief highway upon Staten Island, and had come from Erastina, where MRS. EDWARDS and her child had been visiting her brother. As they neared the railroad track they looked out for the locomotive, but neither saw nor heard any sign of one. The crossing is notorious. The highway passes over the railroad tracks at an acute angle, and between the two, upon the easterly side, the angle is filled in with a dense grove of trees. The railroad itself curves sharply just beyond the crossing and the only possible warning for a team bound south is too whistle ordered by a signal post three hundred yards up the track.
As the wagon approached the crossing, train No. 1, with engineer JACOB KOUGLE in the cab and Conductor JOHN SULLIVAN in charge, was dashing around the curve at a forty mile pace. Engineer KOUGLE says that he whistled four times. Residents in the vicinity say that they doubt it, as some of the engineers are very slovenly about whistling. The signal, if any was given, was certainly not heard by JOHN JONES, the driver, for the old horse trotted down the track just as the engine was upon it.
With a tremendous crash the great iron horse struck the butcher wagon and the sharp pilot went through it like a giant cleaver. Showers of splinters fell off to left and right, and with them the boy, MRS. EDWARDS and her baby; but they had been borne 300 feet from the crossing before they landed – young BRAUDNER on his back and the woman on her face. JONES still lay upon the pilot when the train was brought to a standstill, a thousand feet down the track. The whole top of his head was crushed in and his body was terribly mangled. There was nothing to do but bundle his mangled clay in his own horse blanket and await the coming of the coroner.
MRS. EDWARDS and her baby were both unconscious. There were marks upon the left side of the head of each, which showed the nature of their injures. The woman breathed her last on the level ballast of the roadway. Then the suffering babe and boy, the latter of whom had retained consciousness long enough to give his name, were tenderly picked up and taken to the Baldwin House, where the former soon ceased to suffer. The boy was taken to the Smith Infirmary on a train, while Coroner MARTIN HUGHES transferred the three bodies to his undertaking establishment at Clifton.
The railroad company made haste to obliterate the visible signs of the disaster, but the tracks were strewn with splinters from the wagon for many a yard. The largest fragments left of the wrecked vehicle were the tires of the broken wheels. Strange to say, although the wagon was turned to matchwood the horse which drew it was uninjured. One shoe was torn from its hind feet, but the horse trotted unconcernedly into the big farm of MR. CROOK, after whom the crossing is named, who easily made him prisoner. The thilis (?) had been cut off as if by a knife.
MRS. EDWARDS, the slaughtered wife and mother, was a handsome woman, the niece of old Captain TOM CALM, one of the best known residents of the Great Kills. She had been married five years, and little BLANCHE was her only child. Captain JAKE was out in his oyster sloop when his little family was wiped out of existence.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1891-10-09