News: Marshfield - (Huge Train Wreck - 30 May 1894)

Contact: Ken Wood

Surnames: Morris, Hubbard, Gerhardt, Bigelow, Arnold, Russell, Tunica, Ryan, Jack, Clivert, Weigel, Weissenborn, Bozley

----Source: Marshfield News (Marshfield, WI) 05/31/1894

The worst wreck in the history of the Wis. Central lines occurred at Mannville switch, just west of the city at 1:15 yesterday morning, the fated train being the limited passenger, which arrives here going south at 1:03. It carried, besides the engine, a baggage car, smoking car, day coach, three sleepers and the business car of the road, the sole occupant of the latter being Howard Morris, the company receiver. The train was twenty minutes late out of Abbotsford adn was bowling along at a high rate of speed when the crash came, killing six people and injuring a dozen or more. The directs cause of the accident was a missing bolt which had in some manner been removed from the connecting rod of the switch opening, the latter sufficiently to part the rails, turn the engine from its course and let it down upon the ties. Wreck and ruin carrying with it death in its most horrifying form followed sadly in its wake. Once free from the rails the engine struggled to maintain its position, but it was only for a moment, when it plunged over a five foot embankment, taking with it the engineer and fireman, and bringing startled passengers and trainmen face to face with death. The engine was thrown on its side in the ditch, the tender tweisted about, the baggage car piling up on top of it, while the smoking car in which there was seated five passengers, the conductor and brakeman, plunged forward, telescoping the baggage car. The day coach and two sleepers followed, throwing all into a confusing mass, from which the passengers who were not killed outright were with difficulty extracted. It was truly a terrifying ordeal. The smoking car was completely stripped, while the day coach in which there were eight or nine passengers was also badly wrecked. Crash followed on crash, splintered beams and boards flew in every direction and the appalling sight was augmented by the mass of ruins catching fired from the overturned stoves. The shouts and cries of terror stricken passengers, mingling with the groans of the injured and dying broke the stillness of the night, while the lurid flames, leaping and lapping, threw a ghastly horror over all.

With a suddenness born of desperation the passengers struggled to free themselves and those not pinioned under the seats or by falling timber soon made their way out through the mass of ruins about them. Those of the passengers who escaped commenced at once the work of rescuing their fellows. There was little time to be lost as the flames spread with lightning rapidity and some of the rescued were slightly singed. When the engine was reached, it was found that Engineer James Hubbard was alive but had sustained sjuch injuries that he only survived two hours. Fireman Geo. Gerhardt was just breathing his last when he was pulled out from the cab. He had his arms and legs broken and badly scalded, as was also the engineer. Brakeman Judson Bigelow was another of the unfortunates. He was in hind end of the smoking car when the accident occurred, and it is said by a passenger, was knocked down by the brake when the cars telescoped and that the stove also fell on him. His body was found in the ruins. Mrs. Arnold, an elderly woman, who took the train at Butternut, was also found in the ruins. She occupied a seat in the front end of the smoker and was struck down when the crash came. The fifth body found is supposed to be that of Wm. B. Russell of Milwaukee, a civil engineer, who has been missing.

The list of the killed are:
• James Hubbard, engineer, Stevens Point.
• Geo. Gerhardt, fireman, Stevens Point.
• Mrs. Arnold, Butternut.
• Wm. B. Russell, civil engineer, Milwaukee.
• News Agent Bozley, Stevens Point, died on the train carrying him home.

The injured, as far as can be ascertained, are:
• Will Hogan, Butternut, leg and hips bruised.
• Arthur Tunica, Chicago, cut across head, both ankles sprained.
• Wm. Rayon, Sturgeon Bay, rib broken, cut over right eye.
• Ferdinand Jack, Bessemer, Mich., slightly injured.
• Henry Clivert, Marshfield, shoulder blade broken and back injured.
• Dr. Weigel, Glenwood, slightly injured.
• Mr. Weissenborn, Chippewa Falls, slight injuries.

Six others were injured, though not so seriously as to prevent them from continuing their journey.

Will Hogan, one of the injured passengers, was taken to the Mansion House. He states that he was sitting in the day coach when the engine left the track. He realized at once what had happened, but before he could collect himself to act, the crash of the coaches occurred and he was thrown several feet down the aisle. He was partially stunned but came to in time to struggle out from under the wreckage which had fallen on him. The flames were leaping and crackling about him, the heat growing more and more intense, singing the hair on his face just as he extricated himself from his dangerous position.

Arthur Tunica was on his way from Minneapolis to Chicago. He is a faro dealing in a State St. gambling house and tells his experience in the vernacular of the gambling room. He says that he was curled up in the end seat in fore part of the smoking car with his back to the engine, his feet sticking in the iron frame of the seat. When the cars came together he was pitched forward into the center of the aisle, striking on his head and also spraining both ankles and falling in such a way as to stun him and also injured his left wrist. How eh got up he doesn't know, the roof and sides of the car were swept away and he crawled to the south side of the car and dropped off. There were two bodies in the car when he left, one being Mrs. Arnold and the other, the brakeman Bigelow. After reaching the ground he tried to walk but sank down every step he took. He got about twenty feet away when assistance came to him. He is now at Park House. Wm. Ryan, another of the injured, is also at the Park House. He was on his way to Sturgeon Bay where he was looking for work. He suffers intensely from a broken rib and has a slight wound over the eye.

Henry Clivert was taken to his home here. He is suffering a great deal from the fracture of his collar bone, bruises and the internal injuries he received and his condition is more precarious than any of those injured. He was curled up in a seat and was thrown forward over several seats. He attempted to release himself, and after struggling, gave up in despair. The fire was crawling slowly upon him and in desperation he made another strong effort. The seat which wedged him, gave away and he was free, but the effort broke his collar bone.

Report has been received here that the news agent, O.W. Bozley, died yesterday afternoon from his injuries.

One of the narrowest escapes was that of the baggage man. He was alone in the baggage car when the accident occurred and the pitching of the cars to one side unfastened the catch of the side door which slid back and afforded him an opportunity to jump. Two tramps also occupied a dangerous position on the head end of the baggage car. Both jumped in time to save themselves.

John Fess, a farmer near Mannville, discovered the wreck soon after it occurred and immediately started for Guckenerger's, where a wedding festival was being held. He notified the people there and Gus Helm, who was just starting for town, turned his team and drove rapidly toward the scene. Just before reaching there he was accosted by the baggage man and newsboy on their way to this city to secure medical aid. He returned to town and Dr. Lathrop, the company physician, was notified and he directed that all the other physicians of the city be summoned, which was done, the entire corps of physicians was soon on the ground.

The entire day was spent in clearing up the wreck and trains are again running over the main line.

(Follow on article in June 1, 1894 Marshfield News)

Unquestionable the worst accident met with occurred at Mannville, a deserted station four miles north of this city, at about 1:30 o'clock Wednesday morning. No. 4, "the limited" due here at 1:03 a.m., left Abbotsford late on that morning, in charge of Conductor Gavin and Engineer Hubbard. The train was making up of baggage, express, smoker, coach, three sleepers and Receiver Howard Morris private car, and was running at a high rate of speed when passing through Mannville, where sidings are located and also the spur track to McMillan, the engine struck the north end of the east side switch and was derailed, the engine, Baggage car and sleepers, the Neenah and Fond du Lac, piled up in the ditch and were soon on fire.

As soon as the accident happened, men were started in hot haste for this city, as no telegraph office is located at Mannville, and on arrival, the Physicians of the city and others hurried to the depot and as No. 3 from Chicago, due here at 2:38 came up, were rushed forward to the scene of the wreck. During the time help was being summoned, the trainmen and passengers who were uninjured, were doing all they could to extricate those in the wreck, while the fire was making rapid progress.

The engineer and fireman had not time to jump and were killed, the fireman outright and the engineer expiring within an hour. It is supposed that about 50 souls were on board, five of whom are dead and many injured. The baggage express, smoking car, day coach and two sleepers were destroyed by the fire, one sleeper and the business car remaining on the raisl were pushed back out of danger of the flames.

This city was all excitement when the news reached here and everything was done for the sufferers that could be. The list of the dead are:

• James Hubbard, engineer, Stevens Point.
• Geo. Gerhardt, fireman, Stevens Point.
• Jud. Bigelow, head brakeman, Stevens Point.
• Mrs. Wagner, Butternut.
• Wm. B. Russell, civil engineer, Milwaukee.

The injured, as far as can be ascertained, are:

• Will Hogan, Butternut, Leg and hips bruised.
• News Agent Bozly, Stevens Point, injured internally.
• Arthur Tunica, Chicago, cut across head, both ankles sprained.
• Wm. Ryan, Sturgeon Bay, rib broken and cut over right eye.
• Ferdinand Jack, Bessemer, Mich., on his way to Berlin to attend his father's funeral on that morning, injured internally.
• Henry Cliver, Marshfield, shoulder blade broken and spine injured.
• Dr. Weigel, Glidden, injured internally.
• Fanny Burtle, Springdale, Ill., hand badly cut.
• E.A. Twitchell, attorney, Minneapolis, cut on head.

Supt. Horn, who happened to be on No. 3 going north, did all he could to help the sufferers and care for the dead. He caused a special to be made up here and sent the uninjured on to Stevens Point, and at daylight was at the wreck, with wrecking cars and crews of men to clear it up. During the early morning hours and even up to nearly night, hundreds from this city visited the scene of the accident, and many stories of its awful consequences were told by the survivors. There seems to be but on conclusion as to the cause of the accident. The switch, which, which is known as the split switch, through some cause not known, became at "half open," by the loosening of a bolt that holds the crossbar in position and the flanges of the wheels rode the rail until they struck the ties and the velocity of the heavy train telescoped the forward cars when the engine left the tracks.


When brakeman Bigelow's charred remains were taken out, his lantern was on his arm and his watch in his hand.

Mr. jacks is a friend of Theo. Roessler of this city, having worked in the same tailor shop with him.

E.T. Wheelock of the Medford Star & News was on the train, but escaped uninjured.

Lawyer Cady of this city was at Colby and intended to get a team and go to Abbotsford to take the train and come home, but someone talked him sleepy and he went to bed. Lucky Frank.

Engineer Hubbard, before expiring, asked who was to blame and what caused the accident. Poor fellow, he never knew that it was no fault of his.

(Receiver Morris' Statement)

In regard to the wreck, Mr. Morris said: "My car was on the rear of the train so I did not feel the jolt from the accident. I was, however, awakened by the stopping of the cars and at once went forward. The three day coaches and the baggage car had left the track with the engine, while the forward trucks of the first sleeper were also on the ground. By the time I reached the wreck it was on fire, and the work of the uninjured passengers and the farmers who who had come to our assistance, after removing the injured was to detach the rear sleeper and my car, which was the official car, from the main train and push them back away from the fire. The rear sleeper was at once set apart for the reception of the injured, while the ladies and children on the train were given the shelter in the official car. All of the people who were killed in the wreck were, with the exception of the woman, employees of the company. From all that I can learn, both Russell and the brakeman were in the smoking car. The woman was undoubtedly in the first day coach. From the position of the bodies when they were found, I think that all of them met an instant death, and that none of them suffered from the fire.

"To my mind there is no doubt that the switch was tampered with. At a house a little distance from where the accident occurred, a wedding feast was in progress. As soon as the guests learned of the accident, they came to the scene, and they rendered valuable assistance in the care of the injured."



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