Chatsworth, IL Train Wreck, Aug 1887
A WEAK BRIDGE
The Cause of Yesterday's Terrible Railroad Accident.
Horrible Scenes in the Vicinity of the Wreck --- Parents Parted from Children and Whole Families Killed --- The Doctors Working Hard, but Without Any Facilities --- Touching Stories Told by Passengers of the Ill Fated Train --- Testimony Taken at the Coroner's Inquest. A Growing Belief that the Disaster Was Caused by Robbers --- The Losses Likely to Bankrupt the Company.
CHATSWORTH, Ill., August 12.
Very few people here closed their eyes last night, and lights which shone through the windows of nearly every house in the place told their own story of the faithful ministrations of the villagers to the injured and dying. Scores of residents and strangers stood all night at the street corners and on the depot platform, and talked over the horrible event of the past twenty-four hours with bated breath. At the depot a couple of men were busy in closing the remains of the recognized dead in rude pine boxes, and the noise of hammers beat upon the cars and mingled with the groans of wounded who were being cared for in the little Town Hall, only a few feet away across the track. Here the scene was such as to melt the stoutest heart. On nearly two score mattresses some resting on chairs and others on the floor were men, women and children in various degrees of suffering and torture. On one cot, side by side, with their arms resting across each other, were ROBERT ZIMMERMAN and his wife, of Peoria. The sufferings of both were excruciating and ZIMMERMAN'S faithful brother, who had hurried to the scene to do the best he could to relieve their agony, was forced every few moments to seek the open air to relieve his own pent up emotion. Near by was little 5 year old, flaxen haired, doll faced JOSIE BLANDING, of Harker's Corners, near Peoria, who was brought here in a carriage by her father from Piper City at 4 o'clock in the morning. She was suffering from internal injuries as well as contusions of the lower limbs, but never a whimper came from her lips and she smiled sweetly as the nurse whispered her words of encouragement. "She's the brick of 'em all," said the Doctor.
Upon the platform, were the local solons[sic] are went to hold forth, pretty LILLIE VALDEJO, of Peoria, lay in what DR. BALLARD, who bent over her for hours, thought were her last agonies. She was perfectly conscious, and between gasps for breath told how she had travelled[sic] all over Europe in safety only to come face to face with death a few miles from her home. Her mother lay dead across the street, but despite her earnest pleading for news no one had the heart to tell her the dreadful truth. MRS. JOSIE BLANDING was en route to Canada to visit her mother, taking her two little girls with her. She had just gone to the rear car to get them a drink of water when the crash came. She has not seen her children since, and is nearly wild with anxiety about them, notwithstanding her own terrible injuries and the intense pain she suffers. She was taken out of the wreck crushed almost shapeless. JOSIE, one of her children, was found wedged between the timbers. The other child escaped without even a bruise.
The United Press correspondent went from Forrest to Chatsworth at 2 o'clock this morning on a special train of caboose and frieght[sic] cars filled with coffins. H. A. McCLURE, of Keithsburg, was one of the passengers. His wife and child had parted with him twenty-four hours before and were going to New York. He reached Chatsworth to find the couple stretched upon the floor of the school house. Kind hands had placed the 1 year old baby boy in his mother's arms. Their faces had escaped injury and looked placid, as though asleep. Near by was the crushed sachel[sic] containing the baby's wardrobe and toilet articles. The father spied the powder box and baby puff before the coverings had been removed from their dead faces, and with a groan he sank on his knees throwing himself prostrate on the bodies cried aloud.
Close by, wrapped in a white sheet, is another baby, not yet identified. Half a score of bodies of full grown men and women lay around on the pine floor. The school house is turned into a morgue and affords a temporary abiding place for another score, while down at the depot the correspondents have to pick their way through a double row of bodies to the telegraph office. In the baggage room the floor is piled high with satchels, hand bags, hats, bonnets, feathers, shoes and innumerable other articles of attire which have been brought up from the wreck. Among those are grouped the relatives of the dead, seeking such personal effects as may have been saved and which may help the coroner to make final identification in some way.
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