Laurens, SC - Train accident - 30 May 1917

Two Sad Deaths in Laurens Company
Roy Rickman and William Gwaltney Dead
Gwaltney killed by passing train
Two Men were Popular Members of the Company now Encamped at Spartanburg. Bodies Laid to Rest Here Sunday with Military Honors.

The company roll of the Traynham Guards, the local military company now stationed at Spartanburg doing guard duty, was twice reduced Saturday by the death of valuable members of the company. About noon Saturday Private Roy Rickman, who had been critically ill for about ten days, passed away at the Steedly Hospital in Spartanburg and jus a few hours later Private William Gwaltney died in the Good Samaritan Hospital as the result of injuries received during the morning when he was struck by a swiftly moving freight train on the Southern Railway near Lawson’s Ford trestle. The death of the two men cast a gloom over the camp, both being popular member of the company and these being the first losses by death since the company was mustered into federal service before the Mexican trouble. The news was received in Laurens Saturday evening and caused general sorrow. Both men had been in the service sine before the Mexican trouble last summer and had seen service on the border. Rickman was a cheery, light-hearted fellow, always in a good humor and possessing happy qualities of comradeship and congeniality. Gwaltney was a quieter and more serious minded man, bent upon his duty and obligations, yet, like his other comrade, popular in camp and wherever known. Both were known as good soldiers, prompt and obedient in the discharge of their duties.
Private Rickman was not in the best of health when the call came to be mustered into the federal service last month. About ten days ago his condition became such that it was thought best to send him to the hospital, though no uneasiness was felt about his condition. About the middle of the last week he became worse and by Friday, was in a precarious state, his relative being sent for to be at his bedside. Saturday morning he rallied and it was thought that the worst had passed, but about noon he had a relapse and shortly afterwards passed away. The body was brought to Laurens on the early morning train Sunday an escort from the company under Capt. Arthur Lee accompanying the body home. The funeral party was met at the train by a detail from the Butler Guards, under Capt. Workman, and a number of people who had become aware of its expected arrival.
The body was carried to the Laurens cemetery under military escort and laid to rest with military honors, services being conducted by Rev. J. L. McLin.
The death of Private Gwaltney came about in a way that is not entirely known. He had just been relieved from his post guarding the Lawson’s Fork trestle and was conversing with Private Mage McAbee who had just relieved him. It appears that Gwaltney was sitting on a cross-tie when the freight train rushed up at a high rate of speed. McAbee turned his head to avoid the dust and cinders and took for granted that Gwaltney arose to avoid the train. Whether he succeeded in arising or not is not known and it is one theory that the train struck him before he was able to get up. However as the trainmen on the engine would most probably have seem him and stopped had the engine hit him, it is more generally believed that he succeeded in getting on his feet and was standing by the side of the train shielding his head from the dust when a swinging door or loose piece of lumber of some kind struck him. When McAbee discovered him he was lying on the ground obviously injured. Assistance was immediately gotten and he was rushed to the hospital where it was found that his skull was fractured, one foot badly mangled and other lee injuries received. He was given every attention possible, but he only lingered a part of the day, passing away late in the afternoon just as arrangement for the funeral of Private Rickman had been completed. The body was brought to Laurens on the afternoon train Sunday and met by the escort which had accompanied Private Ricman’s body and the detail from the Butler Guards under Capt. Workman. The body was carried to the Watts Mills cemetery and after services in the church conducted by the Rev. J. A. Brock was interred in the cemetery with military honors.
Pall bearers at both funerals were me from the Traynham Guards and the Butler Guards. {The Laurens Advertiser}

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