Hamlet, NC Train Wreck, Jul 1906




Seaboard Air Line Passenger Train No. 44 and an Extra Freight Train Come Together With an Awful Crash in a Deep Cut One Mile From Hamlet-Engineer LEWIS, His Fireman and the Fireman of the Freight Instantly Killed and Death is as Swift to a Score or More of the Passengers in Colored Coach-Dead and Injured to be Removed to Rockingham on a Special-Wreckage Piled High on Tracks and Traffic is Completely Blocked-The Wreck Probably Due to a Misundertanding [sic] of Orders or a Lap Order-The Ill-Fated Passenger Train Left Charlotte at 5 O'clock Yesterday Afternoon and Was Running 40 Miles an Hour When It Plunged Headlong Into the Freight-Details Hard to Obtain.

Special to The Observer.

Hamlet, July 22.-Twenty or more were killed and twenty-three badly injured in a head-on collision between a Seaboard Air Line passenger train and an extra freight one mile from here to-night. Nearly all those killed were colored passengers.

The known dead are:

ENGINEER F. B. LEWIS, of the passenger train.

H. S. BYRD, Baggagemaster.

FIREMAN TOM HILL, colored, of the passenger train.


Probably 25 others unidentified.

Railroad men, citizens and the passengers who escaped injury, are working heroically to recover the dead and injured imprisoned in the wreckage.

Both the second and first class coaches were overturned and it is feared that the death list will be sadly augmented before the work of the rescuers is completed.

The rescuers can see a number of lifeless forms by the fitful light of lanterns and these they are striving manfully to reach. Fortunately the lamps in the coaches were extinguished in the crash and fire was not added to the horror of the catastrophe.

Thus far the list of the seriously injured reaches twenty-three-five white and eighteen colored. Others may be imprisoned in the overturned coaches.

The engineer and fireman of the freight train jumped and escaped with a few bruises. The coach for colored people was completely demolished and nearly everyone in it met death. Both locomotives were demolished and the baggage cars and coaches jumbled together in an unsightly mass. The tracks are piled high with wreckage and will be blocked for hours.

The wreck occurred about 7:30 o'clock. The passenger train, which left Charlotte at 5 o'clock, was without orders and was moving at the rate of forty miles an hour. Without warning the freight, an extra fruit train, west bound, dashed around the curve in the deep cut one mile from Hamlet, and the two trains came together with an awful crash and roar. Engineer LEWIS and his firemen were instantly killed and death was almost as swift to the passengers in the colored coach. The destruction was complete and rendered more horrible by the cries and groans of the dying.

The dead and injured will be conveyed to Rockingham as soon as a special can be made up and the track cleared sufficiently. Messages have been sent to every physician in Hamlet and Rockingham, as well as in the county.

It is impossible at this time to ascertain the names of the dead and injured owing to the confusion incident to the catastrophe. Not all the dead have been identified, but it is stated that the list will reach 29. The chief dispatcher of the Seaboard at Raleigh has ordered 18 coffins from the undertaker at Rockingham.

The blame for the wreck has not been placed. The passenger train, it is said, had no orders to meet the freight, and it is the presumption that the freight overlooked its orders. One report ascribes the cause of the wreck to have been a lap order, stating that the passenger train had orders to meet the freight at Hamlet, while the freight's orders were to meet the passenger train at Rockingham.

Charlotte Daily Observer, Charlotte, NC 23 Jul 1906

Capt. FRANK B. LEWIS, who was at the throttle of the passenger train, was killed outright. H. S. BYRD, baggagemaster, was the only other white person killed.

Capt. J. D. BOWEN was in charge of the passenger train and he is the only one of the crew of his train that was not killed. He escaped with a few bruises about the hip.

Engineer J. O. BUNDY and Capt. W. H. HUNT were in charge of the freight train. Mr. BUNDY jumped and was not seriously injured.

Charlotte Daily Observer, Charlotte, NC 23 Jul 1906

Eighteen bodies were taken from the wreckage last night, and two others this morning. Two others died in the hospital here.

Among the dead are:

Engineer FRANK B. LEWIS, Hamlet; Fireman THOMAS HILL, colored; Baggagemaster H. S. BYRD; JOHHN GREG_AN, of Wadesboro; TOM JONES, of Rockingham; GILBERT MCFADREN, of Hamlet; HATTIE CHAPELL, of Laurinburg; HANNIBAL MCNAIR, of Laurinsburg; MATTIE MCNALL, of Laurinburg; MARY BELL of Rockingham; ETHER DUPREE of Bennettsville; JANE RUSSELL, of Hoffman; MARY LAND, of Bennettsville.

All of the above are colored except LEWIS and BIRD.

Among the injured are:

C. S. SANFORD, of Rockingham; E. A. BODEN, in charge of the passenger train; E. S. SANFORD, of Rockingham; E. A. CARTER, of Rockingham; F. L. LEA, of Rockingham; JOHN BIRMINGHAM, of Rockingham, all white.

The Columbus Enquirer-Sun, Columbus, GA 24 Jul 1906