Chatsworth, IL Train Wreck, Aug 1887
The news was sent to the adjoining towns as soon as possible. It was a dreadful wait before any assistance came, but I suppose in reality it was only a few minutes. We were a little better off then, for their provisions were altogether inadequate for the great work in hand. Physicians were soon summoned from all the neighboring towns and by 3 o'clock in the morning the officials of the road were on their way from Springfield, with all the doctors they could muster. Two hours after the wreck, and, to add still more suffering to its horrors, the rain began to pour in torrents and for several hours drenched the dead and the dying. But the horror might have been worse had not the burning culvert been extinguished when it was. The debris would have burned, causing a dreadful holocaust, in which hundreds who either escaped from the wreck uninjured or wounded would have been burned to death. Not a soul in the forward ten cars could have survived. But the engineer of the leading engine returned to the scene of the wreck and gave us what water he had and after that gave out we extinguished the flames with dirt thrown upon the burning timbers. Thank goodness that only one-fourth of the train load were hurt. I don't see now in the world any of us were saved."
Back in the little city, after the dead had been cleared from the floor of the school house, the weary Samaritans were arranging for watches during the night at the bedsides. The coroner's inquest was begun. The superintendent of the road and his assistant were sworn, but before any of the material facts were reached, adjournment was taken until to-day.
ROBBING THE DEAD.
For one of the worst features of the affair no excuse is possible. There were vandals at work at the wreck. In one instance a wounded man called the passerby to help him; instead of so doing the villain reached down and took the watch from the injured man's pocket and fled. In another instance, the dead body of a woman was robbed of jewelry, rings, etc., on her person.
A noble girl named GANNY BREBNER, of Farmington, Ills., was one of the notable heroines of the wreck. She went through the disaster unhurt and hour after hour, from that on acted as nurse for dying victims. So great were her services that the physicians finally placed under her exclusive charge two injured boys from Peoria and a photographer from Burlington, Ia. They were all badly hurt and if they recover eventually they will owe it almost wholly to her ministrations. It was she and a score of others like her who redeemed confidence in human nature after a sight of the vandals of the wreck. The actions of men there were so bad in certain cases that a rumor started to-night that the wreck was not an accident, but had been wrought solely for robbery.
NARRATIVE OF A PASSENGER.
CHICAGO, Ill., August 12.
The times Galesburg, Ill., special says: "A number of Galesburg people who were on the excursion train returned to-night. W. GUCKER and wife were in the rear end of a chair car. The shock came about 10 minutes to 12; I was roused, said MR GUCKER, "by the smashing of glass and breaking of car timbers and by shrieks of pain and cries for help. Our car had been telescoped and was standing nearly on end, our ending being twenty-five foot in the air. I broke a car window and managed to slide down the side. Others of our party did the same. The car was a sight; the top parted, the sides crushed in. At the time of the accident there were thirty in the car. Six of us got out alive. It was horrible. There were hardly any lights to be be had. There was no water. The cars caught fire. Willow switches and earth were used to put out the flames with. I saw most pathetic sights, parents carrying dead children in their arms, children clamoring for their parents, wounded persons crawling painfully into the adjacent cornfields, and cries for water and for help prevailing on all sides. A woman sitting in front of me had her head taken off. Six young men from Canton in the front car were saved by being thrown by the shock through the parted roof. I heard that one man who had lost his wife and child committed suicide. The bridge was a wooden concern, no iron or stone, and looked to me like a weak structure for a double header. The hot rails spread about the time the locomotives were fairly on the bridge, the two locomotives ran into the embankment and rolled down its side. The cars went in every direction, piled up in a huge mass."
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