Jacksonville, FL Train Wreck, May 1860

Rev. George Lawton Bryant

Overview of Accident: A terrible train accident happened on May 16, 1860 on the Florida Atlantic and Gulf Coast Railroad about thirteen miles from Jacksonville, Florida. The train encountered a drove of cattle which threw the train off track. Lumber, logs trunks and passengers were "heaped up in almost inextricable confusion." Nearly every person on board was more or less injured. George Lawton Bryant and two others were killed in the crash. This information is gathered from the George Bryant obituary article written by W. J. Duval. The exact newspaper is unknown. Below is the entire George Bryant Obituary.

Mr. George Lawton Bryant, late Cashier of the Bank of St. John’s, in Jacksonville, Fla., came to his death on the 16th ult., by a terrible accident that occurred on the F. A. and G.C.R. Road. He resided about thirteen miles from Jacksonville, in the immediate vicinity of the road; and it was this custom to avail himself of its facilities, in order to attend to his daily duties in the Bank.

On the morning of the fatal day that terminated his life, he left his pleasant home and happy family with more than his usual buoyancy of spirits. Little Lily was joked about her cotton-seed, and George was admonished to be a good boy; and in a moment, the cars bore away to his daily toil. But he had gone only about four miles from home, when the cars encountered a drove of cattle, by which they were thrown off the track; and lumber, logs, trunks, and passengers were heaped up in almost inextricable confusion.

Nearly everyone on board was more or less injured; but bro. B. and two other were sent to the spirit world with scarcely a moments warning. But while the summons was thus sudden and awful, we have reason to believe it found him ready, perfectly ready. He had “set his house in order” while favored with health and the gracious appliances of the gospel and with this preparation, railroad rapidity could only place him the sooner among the angels of light! Bro. Bryant was about 35 years old. He joined the M.E. Church, South, in Jacksonville about four years since, under the ministry of the Rev. R. McKendree Tydings; and he was licensed to preach only two days before his death. He loved the work to which he had so recently consecrated himself; and often longed for the time to arrive when he should be exclusively employed as a messenger of Jesus. It was only the night before the fatal accident, as we learn from his beloved companion, that he dreamed he was preaching to a large and attentive audience when he awoke, he was much exhausted by his effort. And on the morning he left home he prayed with his beloved family, with more than usual fervor—pouring out his tears with his prayer to the Author of all good. Little did that loving family suppose that that was the last prayer—the last yearning desire for their spiritual welfare; and that the object of their fondest affections, would, in a few brief home be returned to hem a mangled and bleeding corpse! Oh, what a sudden transition! It was our happy privilege to share his confidence and hospitality’ and we can say, with strict propriety that we have seldom found one more kind more courteous, or more devout. In the language of one who knew him well, and would say, “He was a man whose moral status was so lofty, that he was observed and admired of all who knew him. In the prime of life and usefulness, but in the ripeness of Christian virtues, he was cut off in an instant.” A wail of sorrow goes up from our whole community for him, for his death is a loss to all; but of him it may truly be said, “It was blessed to go when so ready to die.” W.J. Duval