Monmouth, IL Train Wreck, Oct 1891

Four Killed In The Wreck

Sad Accident Resulting From A Partly-Open Switch.

Galesburg, Ill., Oct. 21.-The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy fast passenger train No. 5 which left here at 10:30 o’clock last night, met with a terrible accident at the pottery switch near Monmouth, sixteen miles west of here, twenty-five minutes later. The train was running at a high rate of speed. The switch was partly open and the locomotive left the main track and started on the side track. Some of the cars behind kept on the main track. As a result, the whole train of seven cars save the sleeper was derailed and turned over on its side, the cars being scattered around in great confusion. There was no telescoping.

There were on the engine Engineer A. A. Emery and Fireman Nels Anderson of this city and George Courtney, the traveling engineer, who went out on the trip to see how the new locomotive worked. Anderson was blown from the cab by the steam. Emery and Courtney had no chance to escape, and their bodies were found close to the locomotive. The baggage and express men were thrown across their cars, but escaped injury. A young man named FRANK S. JOHNSON of Avon, who, with W.R. Hardy of Abingdon, was standing on the steps of the smoking car, attempted to jump off and was thrown under the wheels and killed. Hardy jumped and escaped injury. The baggage car caught fire, but the flames were promptly extinguished by Baggageman John Dore. Oscar Zimmerman was pitched through a window of the smoking car, but was unhurt. He hurried back to stop two incoming trains.

The saddest casualty happened in the first chair car, just back of the smoker. In one seat in the middle of the car sat Mr. George Allen, his wife and baby. She was next to the window, and as the car tipped over, her head was driven through the window and she was instantly killed. The baby was hurled across the car, and, save a cut on the head, was uninjured. Mr. Allen received only bruises. He found his baby first, then groped his way from the car for a lantern, and, returning, found his wife dead.

The scene after the wreck is said to have been heartrending and panicky. The imprisoned passengers beat out the windows of the cars to effect their escape. A large force of surgeons and railroad officials went from here and Burlington. In addition to the four killed, eighteen were injured, but the injuries were some were so slight that they left on the next train. Great surprise is expressed that the list of fatalities was not larger. Those killed are:

MRS. GEORGE ALLEN, Lamont, Iowa.
F.S. JOHNSON, Avon, Ill.
GEORGE COURTNEY, Galesburg, Ill.
A.A. EMERY, Galesburg, Ill.

The most seriously injured are:

Elizabeth J. Mcdonald, South Melford, Iowa, arm broken.
T.J. Kirby, Lennox, Iowa, left arm mashed.
John Burner, Forreston, Ill., left arm torn off.
Gussman, Wiggers, Rock Island, Ill., hip hurt.
Fireman Nels Anderson, Galesburg, Ill., scalded, may recover.
Frank K. Valtershall, Chicago, cut about the head.
S.W. Cooper, Coming, Iowa, scalp wound and hand injured.
Agnes Miller, Brookfield, Ohio, cut over left eye.
F.S. Mcdonald, South Milford, Ind., clavicle fractured.
Forest Rowe, head hurt.
Jeremiah Canty, Glenline, Penn., shoulder and head cut.
Nate Peters, Chicago, shoulder bruised.
Oscar Zimmerman, Monmouth, Ill., hand cut.
L.S. Bricher, High Creek, Iowa, scalp wound.
Mrs. A.C. Swope, Harrisburg, Penn., bruised.
George Allen, Lamont, Iowa, slightly bruised.
E. Evans, Genesee, Wis., shoulder injured.
James Farrell, New London, Iowa, slight cut in head.
James Scarborough, Monmouth, Ill., slight cut.

F.C. Rice, Superintendent of the Illinois Lines of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, expressed the opinion that the switch had been tampered with. After the wreck the switch was found half turned, with the pin hanging down and the switch locked. A switch engine had been working on the side track during the afternoon, but subsequently seven trains passed over the switch in safety. Just a year ago the fast mail ran off the same switch and several were injured. It is a standard split switch and was regarded as perfectly safe.

The New York Times, New York, NY 22 Oct 1891