Jenison, MI Interurban Car And Auto Collide, June 1920


Grand Rapids, Mich., June 7. -- Five persons, including the husband, wife and their young son and daughter, and a neighbor's boy, were instantly killed early last evening when a southbound Michigan railway limited interurban car struck the automobile in which they were riding at a crossing one mile south of Jenison, west of Grand Rapids.
The dead are:
MR. and MRS. JOHN D. POLZIN, both 34 years old.
JOSEPH POLZIN, 13, a son.
AGNES, 6, a daughter.
ULRIE HOAT, 13, a neighbor's boy.
All were residents of Grand Rapids.
The bodies were mangled beyond recognition and it was several hours after the accident that they were identified. The accident is believed to have been caused by heavy foliage of trees obscuring the vision of the oncoming interurban car.

The Decatur Daily Review Illinois 1920-06-07


Polzin family

Both these articles contain inaccuracies. These were my great grandparents and two of their children, as well as a neighbor boy. Their names were: Martin J. Polzin and Martha Polzin (husband and wife), Agnes and Joseph Polzin (their children), and their neighbor Ulric (possibly (Ulrich) Host. Their ages were:
Martin, 47
Martha, 48
Agnes, 6
Joseph, 13
Ulrich, 13

Martin had a brother named John B Polzin, which may have caused the confusion.

Article from local paper

Zeeland Record, 11 June 1920, Friday Morning, Zeeland, Michigan

Interurban Kill Five Near Jenison Sunday - Bodies So Badly Mangled That Recognition Was Impossible. License Clue to Identity.

Ottawa county was the scene at 6:24 Sunday evening of one of the most horrifying accidents which has yet occurred in this vicinity. The victims of the accident, in which five people lost their lives, were all Grand Rapids residents, and four of them were members of one family. For nearly two hours following the accident the bodies lay beside the track. They were too badly mangled for identification. At last the remains were taken to a Grand Rapids morgue and through a Grand Rapids license bureau, it was learned that the car which was wrecked belonged to John B. Polzin of Grand Rapids, a tailor employed in the Wurzburg store in Grand Rapids.
The victims of the wreck were finally identified as John B. Polzin, 54, Mrs. John Polzin, his wife, 54; Joe Polzin, aged 13, a son; Agnes Polzin, aged 6, a daughter and Ulric Host, aged 13, a neighbor lad who was riding in the car with the Polzin family.
The Ford car in which the party was riding was driven by Joe Polzin. As the motor car approached the crossing of the Holland Interurban line a mile south of Jenison, and near the farm of Cornelius Andre, former sheriff of Ottawa county, a limited train bound for Saugatuck over the Holland Interurban tracks bore down at the rate of 55 miles an hour. Aside from the motorman of the Interurban, Alex Wilson, no one is left alive to tell just what happened. Motorman Wilson, near collapse over the terrible affair, could state only that the car flashed into sight on the crossing but an instant before the collision.
He put on his brakes, but there was not time to save the motor party. Officials of the road declare the motorman made a remarkable stop, bringing the heavy car to a stop within 300 feet of the place where the motor car was hit.
The auto was dragged under the front tracks of the heavy steel interurban car for a distance of 240 feet south of the crossing before the interurban could be brought to a stop.
An investigation of the ground is said to have shown that the brakes were applied to the motor car, within 30 feet of the crossing. The automobile skidded ahead that distance and stopped directly on the track in the path of the swiftly moving interurban car.
Mrs. John De Winter, living near the crossing heard the Interurban car whistle for the crossing and saw the Ford car pass along the road. She did not witness the collision however. She stated that a boy of about 15 was driving the car at that time. "He'll never be able to beat the interurban to that crossing" she commented to herself as the car passed.
Justice of the Peace William Brusse of Holland was summoned to act as coroner in the case, and he empaneled a jury of men living in the neighborhood of the accident as follows:
Harry Huizenga, Lucius Lane, Ben Doremus, Boyce Edgerly, Cornelius Andre and Jacob Beukema. After efforts at identification failed, the acting coroner ordered the removal of the bodies.
He called the inquest for noon on Monday at the farm house of Cornelius Andre, within a very short distance of the fatal accident.
No blame was charged to any one by the jury.