Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1902 Train Death Explains Mysterious Sightings on Bells, Tenn. Railroad Tracks

When I was last in the Genealogy Room at the Elma Ross Library, I took a few minutes to look at some old microfilmed newspapers. An article I ran across, written in 1903, certainly explains all the mysterious sightings people claim to have of a ghost on the train tracks near Bells, Tenn.

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Killed by a TrainUnfortunate Stranger Meets a Horrible Death
Killed by a Train
Unfortunate Stranger Meets a Horrible Death

"The Brownsville States Graphic"
January 1903

On Christmas Day train No. 103 south-bound, due to arrive here at 1:49 p.m. (but one hour late that day) ran over and killed a man who was lying on the track near the water tank at the south fork of the Forked Deer, between Jones and Bells. The train was stopped and the corpse placed in the baggage car and brought to Brownsville.

An investigation of the injuries showed that his skull was crushed on the left side of his head and his right leg cut off just above the shoe top. The party killed is a white man about 25 to 28 years old and about 5 feet 9 inches high; dark complexion; very black hair; weight, about 190 pounds.

Coroner S. H. Clark summoned a jury and held an inquest on the remains Monday evening at 8 o’clock. In the pockets of the dead man were found a stone cutter’s chisel and a rule and a railroad brakeman’s time book. Several names and accounts were written on almost every page, but nothing that would give a clue of the identity of the man.

The names occurring most frequently in the book were W. H. Jordan and L. M. Potts. Among other names were Robert Amos, Joe Workley, S. B. Workley, Susan Payne, Viola Payne and Angie Wallace, the latter’s address being given as 270 Hadden Ave., Memphis.
Elbert Murrell testified that the man got off a freight train at the coal chute early Christmas morning and went into the engine room to warm, telling Murrell that he was so cold he could not go any further. He said that he was a stone cutter, that he had friends in Humboldt and expected to get to work in the marble yards there. After getting thoroughly warm he left the coal chute and went to the depot.

The agent and others saw him hanging around the depot for some time but no one knows how or when he left town.

As there were no indications that he was drunk or had been drinking, the natural supposition is that he boarded the north-bound train which passed here about noon and either fell off or was kicked off and then started to walk, failing unconscious from exhaustion at the point where the passenger train truck him.

The remains were prepared for burial at Undertaker Cox’s establishment and interred in Oakwood cemetery ay 2 o’clock p.m. Tuesday, appropriate services being conducted by Rev. H. B. Johnston in the presence of a goodly number of our sympathetic citizens.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.

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