Havana, IL Train Wreck, Mar 1891

Fire Completed The Ruin

A Fatal Railroad Accident In Illinois.

The Train Strikes A Broken Rail And Becomes A Total Wreck-A Fireman Killed And Several Passengers Seriously Injured.

Jacksonville, Ill., March 8.-A terrible railroad wreck occurred this morning on the Jacksonville Southeastern. Which resulted in the total destruction o f all the cars by fire, the smashing of the engine, the loss of one life outright, and the serious injury of several persons, one or two of whom lie in a precarious condition.

The south bound express due here at 4 A.M. was nearing Havana, when a broken rail was encountered, ditching the entire train, which consisted of a baggage and express car, smoker, chair car, and two sleepers. As soon as the engine “struck” the defective rail it at once careened into the ditch, and the baggage car was piled on top of the tender. Fire from the engine or a stove in the car at once set fire to the former and it was speedily consumed. The baggage man by some means managed to get out without being seriously injured, and he at once began rescuing the others. He found the express messenger pinned fast under a heavy box, and with a superhuman effort extricated him, but the poor fellow had lost his left foot. Others who were not hurt looked after the passengers on the train. The chair car was set on fire by the patent heater, and the flames communicated with the sleepers, all were destroyed.

Fireman JAMES M. SADDLE was caught in the wreck of the baggage car and tender and was burned to a cinder. FRANK BIRKENHEAD, the engineer, was stunned and caught fast in the wreck, but fortunately was found and saved, though his left arm and leg were broken. The others seriously injured are:

MRS. THOMAS MARTIN, Cleveland, Ohio, bruised about the head and shoulders and badly scalded.
C.L. HUGHES of Decatur, bruised about the head and hands.
CHARLES MULHONEY of Streator, badly bruised and scalded; recovery doubtful.
WALTER CONOVER of Manito, left arm torn from socket and badly scalded; will hardly recover.
FRANK P. LEWIS of Peoria, badly bruised and burned.
JOHN BATES, express messenger, left leg broken, otherwise bruised and burned slightly.
J.A. CAMPBELL of St. Louis, left leg badly bruised and otherwise shaken up.
WILLIAM PLOWMAN of Virden, badly bruised on the side and scalded.

A train of surgeons was sent from this place as soon as the news of the wreck was received, and every effort possible was made for the comfort of the sufferers. The wounded who were able to travel without help were sent to their respective homes, and six of the most badly hurt were brought to this place and put in the City Hospital.

The body of MISS ELLEN WOODS, a young woman who had been to Chicago for treatment, and whose remains were being brought here for burial, was consumed in the blazing cars. She had died at the home of her sister, MRS. S.D. OSBORNE, of this city; also MR. and MRS. READ and two children. The party were in the chair car when the accident occurred, and though tossed about somewhat promiscuously, none was seriously hurt. One brakeman was not wounded, and with highly commendable presence of mind he seized an axe and began chopping into the cars, which lay on their sides, and did much to aid the passengers to escape. The loss to the railroad company is $100,000.

The New York Times, New York, NY 9 Mar 1891