Fairfield Weekly Journal
April 27, 1898
Held Over the Bodies of the Dead, Caused by the Wreck Saturday
SYNOPSIS OF THE EVIDENCE
Conductor CROWDER and Engineer BUCKLEY Much Effected at the Inquest. Entitled to Sympathy.
The coroner’s jury convened this morning at the court house at nine o’clock, Coroner STINSON presided. Below we give a partial synopsis of the evidence given.
Conductor T. N. CROWDER, of the local freight testified in part as follows:
“I was conductor on train 86 on 16 inst. Left Eldon that morning, receiving orders at Eldon to stop at Libertyville; left Eldon at 6:20 a. m. Had orders: One of the orders was for schedule time and meet the train at Libertyville, and the other order read that engine No. 710 would run forty miles an hour, having right of track over train No. 86 to Libertyville. Orders were read to engineer before starting from Eldon. We stopped at County Line for freight and at Libertyville also had freight, after unloading the freight I had bills for agent. He said I ought to have some more freight from Ottumwa and asked me if I did not have some more bills; I told him I thought not but I would look. Agent asked me to look in cars; we opened a car and found nothing and sealed the car up. I gave engineer signal and he started at once. I received no orders at Libertyville. Agent was on duty when we got there. As a general thing we got orders at Eldon, sometimes at Libertyville. I would like to state that it is unusual to meet trains between Eldon and Fairfield on that train—the local. “If you were engineer of local how far could you have seen a train entering the curve?” “I could have seen smoke of extra across the curve.” At the time of the collision the air brakes were set on our train, and the engine was in back action. Think we were probably running ten or twelve miles an hour.”
J. D. BUCKLEY, engineer of No. 86, was next called, and said: “I left Eldon at 6:20 the morning of the 16th coming out of Eldon on No. 86, was on orders. Made first stop at County Line. Stopped at Libertyville loading and unloading freight. Left Libertyville at 7:08, three miles east of Libertyville I was flagged by a farmer. I reversed the engine and applied the brakes. I was personally acquainted with the parties killed in the wreck, and identified them. It is not customary for the company to give the agent at the meeting point an order to hold train. There is not much opportunity for train going west to see a train east bound, at place where wreck occurred. I sounded the whistle when I was flagged. Heard other train sound whistle just as I got off. Do no know whether it was the whistle of the extra or not.”
CHAS. M. MARTIN, conductor of the extra was called and said in substance: “I reside in Eldon, on morning of 16th. I was conductor on west bound freight train, was running on orders. Leaving Rock Island the 15th, on extra west, with engine 710 at 11:20 p. m., received orders at Rock Island to run extra from Rock Island to Eldon. I received orders at Washington at 5:20 a. m. to run 40 miles per hour from Washington to Eldon, with right of track over No. 86, from Washington to Libertyville. Made no stop between Washington and Fairfield; stopped at Fairfield for water. I think we left Fairfield between 7:05 and 7:07, don’t know exactly. Met No. 86 three and one half miles west of Fairfield. Had no warning of approaching train; did not notice it until after the trains had collided. I remember of hearing a whistle at road crossing east of accident. The air breaks[sic] were not applied and I felt no jar until the trains struck. Brakeman WATTERSON was on a car near the front end the last I saw him, which was just out of town. I did not hear the whistle of the local. Do not think I could have heard it on account of the noise of our train.”
MR. and MRS. DESPAIN, who live by the track where the wreck occurred, and who made such a noble effort to prevent the collision, were called to testify before the jury, but their statements did not differ materially from that published in the JOURNAL of Saturday.
The members of the jury were DR. R. C. SAYERS, JOHN MCCLAINE, DAVID BEATTY.
The coroner’s jury rendered their verdict this afternoon about three o’clock. The jury found that the deceased men, CHAS. DIBBLE, engineer; ABE BLOSSER, fireman and WM. WATTERSON, brakeman, came to their death by a collision between train No. 86, east bound, and extra No. 710, west bound; on the morning of April 16, 1898. Said collision was due to the conductor and engineer of train No. * way freight, No. 86, which collided with the extra near this place, Saturday. Both have been on the road for many years; have worked up step by step to the high positions which they hold and have always been considered trusty and competent employees. Their feelings regarding the awful catastrophe are entitled to the sympathy and compassion of all our readers. Either one would gladly change places with the dead, caused by the collision. At the inquest they were much affected. We have known MR. BUCKLEY for a number of years and know him to be sceupulously[sic] honorable and reliable.
*the paper was completely faded, could not make out what was printed.