Wheeling, WV Street Car Accident, Jan 1876


Mary Nicholson, aged 13, was killed by a Wheeling street car, Jan. 2.

Pomeroy's Democrat, Chicago, IL, 8 Jan 1876


A Little Girl Run Over and Killed by a Street Car Last Night.

About quarter after seven o'clock last night Mary, a daughter of William Nicholson, a peddler, aged thirteen years, while attempting to cross Chapline street, at the corner of Twenty-eighth, was knocked down by the horses attached to Street Car No. 7, in charge of Conductor Saml.Vance, and run over and instantly killed. A crowd immediately congregated around the body of the child and in a few minutes the corpse was conveyed into the house of its parents close by.

Squire Bellville and Dr. Hally McCoy were soon summoned. The Squire at once empanneled a jury to hold an inquest over the body of the child and ascertain the facts as to the cause of her death. The following named gentlemen were at once sworn in as a jury:

Wm. Travis, Jacob Hughes, Wm. Truax, Wilson Johnson, Michael Noon, Thos. Finagan, Wm. Devlin, Wm. Conner, L. Murphy, A. Newman, Louis Asmans, James Cunningham.

Dr. McCoy was then requested to examine the body, and stated to the jury that her right collar bone was crushed and loosened from its connections. The left hand was mashed and the bones broken, and the left wrist and arm above the elbow were broken. The left collar bone was fractured, and the spinal column broken close to the neck, which would have occasioned her death instantly if she had not sustained any other injuries. The body showed other indications of internal injuries, such as bleeding at the mouth and nose. After the Doctor's examination of the body, Witnesses were sworn and the following facts ilicited:

Wm. Murphy, a boy about 17 years old, said he saw the girl run across the street with her sister, who had a hold of her hand. He ran forward, seized the sister and saved her. One of the horses' knees struck the girl and knocked her upward nearly four feet. He thought the horses were going at a fast trot; hollowed, and the conductor pulled the bell to stop; he heard the bones crack as the wheels run over the body; heard the driver cry whoa.

Officer Baumberger was sent after Samuel Vance, the conductor, and Robt. Cromwell, the driver of the car, who were sworn. Cromwell testified that he saw the girl a few feet ahead of the car; she crossed the track, turned, and attempted to recross itl it was then the tongue of the car struck her, stopped the car as soon as possible, but the lines got tangled in the handle of the break, which prevented the working of the break to advantage. The car went nearly fifty yards before it was chocked up. He said if his lines had not caught in the break he could not have stopped the car in time to save her. He had been in the employ of the company five weeks. He had never driven any before his connection with the street cars. He stated he had seven minutes to make switches and was about one minute behind time. He said he did not know how fast he was allowed to run and that he never had any instructions to that effect.

Vance, the conductor, testified that he was on the rear end of the car when the accident happened. He distinctly heard the car run over something, and pulled the bell to stop. He ran up to where the child was run over; saw some man pick her up; he inquired who she was, but no one knew her; he then returned to his car and continued on. He asserted that he never permitted his car to go faster than a trot; that a conductor and driver were always on the car at this point, except at meal times. He said he could walk the switches in seven minutes; he thought that at times the speed of the horses were too fast for safety. At the time of the accident he did not think he was going faster than a trot.

Other evidence was taken, but somewhat of a conflicting nature. The evidence being all taken, the witnesses were discharged, and the jury, after considerable deliberation, rendered the following verdict:

From the evidence before them they believe that the said Mary Nicholson came to her death through being accidentally struck, knocked down and run over by Street Car No. 7, Conductor Samuel Vance and driver Robert Cornwell, at the corner of Chapline and Twenty-eighth streets, in the Sixth ward, city of Wheeling.

The jury also believe that the street car company are culpable for permitting undue rates of speed on their line, and employing incompent [sic] drivers , and the paraimonious policy of the company in running cars at times with but one man.

During the examination it was frequently stated that the drivers frequently permitted their horses to run after passing Echles' switch.

This is a very sad affair, and some prompt measures should be taken by the company to guard all in their power against accidents in the future.

The Wheeling Daily Register, Wheeling, WV, 3 Jan 1876

The Citizens' Street Railway Company has been sued by Patrick Nicholson, the father of the girl that was killed by a car last Sunday. The damages are put at $10,000. J. H. Good, Esq., is the plaintiff's attorney.

The Wheeling Daily Register, Wheeling, WV, 5 Jan 1876

In our report of the evidence of Conductor Vance before the coroner's jury when holding an inquest on the cause of the death of Mary Nicholson, killed by the street cars, it stated that he said the speed of the horses was too fast at times for safety. This is incorrect. It was the driver who made the statement.

The Wheeling Daily Register, Wheeling, W, 6 Jan 1876