Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thirteen Year Old Wagon Driver Hit By Train

Tuesday's Tombstone photo was the headstone for James Thomas "Tommy" Taylor, son of Josiah Love Taylor and Mary Alice Kirby. When I first saw Tommy's headstone and noticed his birth and death dates, I wondered what caused his death at age 13 but assumed the cause was some long since curable medical condition. When I checked for his obituary, I didn't expect to find the story of a tragic accident. 

From Mt. Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky.

20 Jan 1905: Killed. - Tommy Taylor, age 13, the boy who drove J. Fish's delivery wagon, was struck by a freight train at the crossing north of the depot Monday morning, from the effects of which he died about midnight Monday night. It is a very dangerous crossing especially with a wagon, as the noise of the wagon will counteract that of the train and with trains coming from the south all view is cut off by reason of the hotel and section house until they are right on the crossings. Several persons saw the terrible accident and in the wagon with Tommy, was one of Rev. T. D. Mullins' little boys who saved himself only by jumping and he says the engine was nearly to the tool house, when they started over the track, which would be only a few feet away and while the engineer put on his air in the emergency and stopped as soon as it was possible, yet wagon, horse and driver had been hit some three or four times and knocked some fifteen or twenty feet up the track. The wagon was completely demolished, the horse so bruised up that he will doubtless ever recover and the faithful driver bruised, mangled and unconscious, living only a few hours. Whether the boy saw the train and was trying to beat it across or whether he failed to see the train until it was right on him is a question but from what we have been able to gather, it seems that it was one of those sad accidents which often comes, almost inexplainable and for which one is wholly to blame.

20 Jan 1905: The sad accident of last Monday, in which Tommy Taylor lost his life calls forth a statement, which should mean much to the parents of the younger boys and even some of the small girls. Hardly a day passes that some of the little folks do not run across the track in front of the passenger trains and should they happen to fall in nine cases our of ten, would be caught before they could get out of the way. This is only one of the many wreckless things done, which if fully realized by the parents would cause a more careful watch.
[Tommy's headstone lists his date of death as his 13th birthday, 15 Jan 1905, but that day was a Sunday. The newspaper doesn't give the actual date but mentions three times that it occurred on a Monday. Tommy was driving a delivery wagon for Fish's store and it's unlikely the store was open on a Sunday so the date of his death was more likely the 16th and possibly even the 17th since he died "about midnight."]


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