Leoni, MI Passenger Train Accident, Apr 1852


An accident occurred on the Central Railroad on Wednesday under the following circumstances:
The passenger train going west, composed of three long first class cars, followed by another train consisting of a locomotive and five freight cars, carrying the baggage belonging to the first train, reached Leoni [which is a flag station] about 10 o'clock. The first train stopped to leave a passenger, and in attempting to start, was compelled to back up about twelve feet to slacken its couplings. In doing this, the baggage train overtook and ran into the rearmost passenger car, the locomotive passing into it, and crushing its way to within ten feet of the foremost end, making a complete wreck of it, leaving little but the walls standing. This car contained about twenty persons, chiefly way passengers, and it is a subject of astonishment that the loss of life and injury was not greater.
The only persons seriously injured in this car were two men bound for California whose names are unknown, the first of whom had two ribs fractured, and the other escaped with a sprained ankle. MR. CHURCH an agent of the Ogdensburgh Railroad received a sprained ankle, and had one shoulder dislocated. BACON WHEELER, Esq., of Niles, was in this car, sitting at the rear and was carried in his seat nearly the entire length of the car without receiving serious injury. A small child sleeping upon the seat in this car, was taken up, (strange to relate) from the ground where in had fallen unhurt.
ROBERT JUCKSTER, who was in this car, was severely scalded in the face, shoulder and arm.
The persons injured in this car are all doing well.
H. P. CHURCH, of Ogdensburgh, slightly injured.
No one was injured in either of the two forward passenger cars, but the following persons were hurt in the second class or emigrant cars, which were forward of all those of the first class.
JOHN ASHLEY, an Englishman, who was standing upon the rear platform, had his right arm and two ribs broken, and was injured internally, of which injuries he died at 7 o'clock P.M.
Two brothers (Englishmen) by the name of BIGNELL were bruised on the side and back.
DAVID CHURCH was injured slightly in the back, but was able to proceed.
Three persons, except ASHLEY, are reported by the attending surgeon to be doing well.
GEORGE STANFORD, the engineer of the rearmost train was struck by the smoke-stack of his engine which broke off as it entered the car, and received a severe cut on the head, and was bruised in the back. His injuries are severe, but not dangerous.
The wounded men are at Leoni, under charge of physicians and nurses employed by the company for that purpose and every attention and alleviation of which their situation is capable, will be rendered them at the expense of the Co. The whole of the facts, attending this unfortunate transaction, indicates gross and culpable carelessness on the part of STANFORD the engineer, in running on, when he should have checked up to allow the passenger train time to go forward but as an inquest will doubtless be holden over the body of ASHLEY, we withhold further comment until it shall have taken place.
STANFORD is a perfectly temperate man, of excellent habits, and has been regarded as perfectly careful and competent. He has been long in the employ of the Company, and has been uniformly successful until this time. Before the collision took place, and when it was too late to reverse it, he exclaimed "this is all carelessness, and if I am killed it will serve me right -- I will not jump off." As he is not at present in a situation to explain the occurrence in an intelligible manner, the causes which led to it are left in the main in doubt: although it is difficult to perceive why it could have occurred at all, inasmuch as his train was a very light one, and could be stopped in going twice its length, and as the smoke and steam from the forward locomotive were distinctly visible to him, over the top of the wood piles, which hid the body of the train from his sight.

Marshall Statesman Michigan 1852-04-28