The Woodville Train Wreck, 1906Accounts of the November 12, 1906 Woodville, Indiana, train wreck . . . .
One of the most
newsworthy and tragic events ever to take place in Porter County, Indiana,
occurred in the early morning of November 12, 1906. During a significant
snowstorm, a major train wreck took place on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
approximately 200 yards west of Woodville. The wreck involved the head-on
collision of a freight train and passenger train, both traveling at full speed.
Newspaper reports at that time indicated that between 47 and 100 individuals
perished in the train wreck, although the final number was placed between 55 and
61. The majority of those who died were immigrants traveling west. Many of the
individuals that perished in this wreck were buried in St. Patrick Cemetery in
Chesterton, Indiana, although no marker exists today to identify these
The following articles represent contemporary newspaper accounts of the wreck from around the United States; they have been transcribed exactly as they were written.
WOODVILLE'S AWFUL HORROR SHOCKS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY
Woodville, three miles south of Chesterton, was the scene of a horrible wreck Monday morning, Nov. 12, at 3:06 o'clock. A westbound passenger train on the B. & O. railway ran into an eastbound freight train when both were under full rate of speed, at a point about two hundred yards west of the Woodville milk stand. The passenger train carried 167 paid passengers, besides the children under five years old, and the employees and dead heads. These passengers were principally emigrants from Italy, Poland, Austria, Servia Russia and other countries of southeastern Europe.
The train that carried these poor people, was running at a speed of more than fifty miles an hour, and going down grade. The passenger train was made up of five of the emigrant class of coaches and a baggage and a mail car. At Babcock eastbound freight No. 98 had sidetracked to await the passing of the westbound passenger train No. 47, and the crew of the freight did not know that this train was running in two sections. The first section, which was the regular Baltimore train, passed the Babcock siding and the freight crew, supposing that the track was clear, pulled out of the siding and when Woodville was reached was under full headway.
The two trains came together on a sharp curve, and neither engineer knew of impending danger until an instant before the crash. What followed beggars description. The passenger cars were crushed as though they were egg shells. The sleeping passengers who did not meet death instantly, fought to get out of the death trap they found themselves in. Almost instantly after the crash flames shot up out of the debris, and continued the work of destruction. Many of the injured victims were pinioned under heavy timbers, and were slowly burned to death. No one knows how many died in that wreck. Coroner Carson says that the number will reach between sixty and seventy. Twelve bodies were brought to Chesterton by Undertaker Lundberg. Ten of these were simply charred carcasses and beyond identification.
But one member of the train crews was killed, the victim being R. E. Collars, the fireman on the ill-fated passenger train. Anthony Burke, of Garrett, the engineer of the freight train, was scalded, but his injuries did not prevent him from joining the work of rescue, and the work of the train crews and those who lived in and around Woodville, saved the lives of many, who but for timely help would have been burned to death. The store of David Linderman was turned into a temporary hospital, as were the homes of those who live in the village. Soon doctors were on the scene from all neighboring towns. Fr. Juraschek, of Chesterton, and Fr. Berg, of Whiting, were among the earliest on the scene. Fr. Berg happened to be in Chesterton visiting Fr. Juraschek. They ministered to the spiritual wants of nine of the injured, and both being able to speak the language of the victims, were able to minister unto them. It is believed that all, or nearly all of the victims were members of the Catholic church.
Heroic work was done by these clergymen and the medical profession, but the efforts of all were handicapped by the surroundings. Woodville is only a little hamlet, with two stores and a few houses, and it is not fitted to care for such a catastrophe. But the people there gave shelter to the injured until the railroad company could get its tracks rebuilt and a train to carry off the survivors to Chicago. It was not until twelve hours after the accident that the train finally left the station, and started to Chicago.
One of the victims, a young woman in the twenties, who had been taken from the flames alive, lived until she could make her confession, and was anointed, and died at one of the houses in Woodville. Her remains were brought to Chesterton, and the funeral held Wednesday, from St. Patrick's church. Requiem high mass was sung, and the highest honors paid the memory of the deceased.
Another victim, a man, was also found who died with his prayer book and his beads in his hands. His body was given christian burial at the same time. The highest honors were given the dead by the church. The rest of the dead were buried in the Catholic cemetery. As all evidence of their faith was destroyed with them, there were no services over the remains.
Coroner Carson, of Valparaiso, arrived on the scene early in the day, and has been working on the case ever since. No inquest has been held, but evidence is being gathered as fast as possible. He expects that it will require a week to make the preliminary examination, and that it will be necessary for him to go to Chicago Thursday of this week, to take evidence. Many of the survivors are there, and they could not be held in this county under the distressing circumstances long enough to be examined. At present the coroner is trying to fix the responsibility of the wreck. Trainmen on the freight are credited with saying that the first section of No. 47 passed them without signal lights indicating that a second section was following, and that the engineer did not blow the whistle, as is customary. Coroner Carson obtained an affidavit signed by Mr. Reglein, a Chesterton boy, who was in charge of the tower at Indiana Harbor, which says that the first section of the passenger train passed Indiana Harbor with lights properly lighted. Somebody made an awful mistake, but who?
The scenes in Chicago as described by the Chicago papers, when the survivors reached the city, are pathetic. Heartrending scenes were enacted at the Grand Central station, where hundreds of relatives and friends had gathered to meet the survivors.
Here at Woodville, the one thing that stood out above it all, was the calm resigned attitude of the sufferers. They bore their misfortunes with a surprising fortitude, and no complaints escaped them. There were many heroes among them. These people had to come to America to better their condition, and settle on farms in the northwest, and hope was burning bright in their hearts. In the wink of an eyelid, everything was changed. Families were wiped out, or hopelessly broken up. Strong men were made cripples for life. Mothers were torn from their babes, and wives from their husbands. The elements were at their worst. A fierce snow storm was raging, and fire was eating its way through the wreck, and completing the awful work. The flames lit up the sky, and the screams of the burning victims pierced the air. Then all was still. Death soon ended the awful sufferings, and the work of clearing the debris began.
The money loss to the B. & O. company will be enormous. The claim agents of the company have been busy ever since the disaster, and what it will cost the company to settle the injured can only be a mere conjecture.
BURIAL OF THE DEAD
Undertaker Lundberg, of Chesterton, had charge of the burial of the dead. At 11 o'clock Monday forenoon he received a message from Coroner Carson, calling him to Woodville to take charge of the remains of the dead. He immediately obeyed the summons and with his assistant, H. A. Flynn, gathered up all of the remains that had not been reduced to ashes.
Meiso Apolonia, a young woman about 15 years old, was taken from the wreck alive, and after receiving the last sacraments of the church from the hands of Father Juraschek, of Chesterton, died.
Apekschesis Jursis, a young man in the twenties, was taken from the wreck alive, but died immediately after. On his person was found a Catholic prayer book and scapular. The bodies of these two were taken to Chesterton and Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock solemn requiem high mass was sung over their remains in St. Patrick's church, and the remains buried in the Catholic cemetery.
Undertaker Lundberg gathered up every fragment of human flesh about the wreck, waiting to complete the work until after all the debris was cleared up, and these charred remains constituted what he thought were ten human beings. These were placed in a large coffin and buried in the Catholic cemetery in Chesterton. Fr. Juraschek gave the victims the benefit of the doubt, and assumed they were Catholics, but all Catholics can understand why services could not be held over these remains.
The story that has been circulated that a trench was dug on the right of way at the scene of the wreck, and the bodies dumped into it, is false. The bodies of all the rest of the victims were reduced to ashes and were mixed with the ashes of the wreck, making it entirely impossible to collect them. The burning of the train destroyed an unknown number of human beings, and reduced their remains to ashes, leaving no trace to guide anyone in collecting them. Both Coroner Carson and Undertaker Lundberg did everything in human power to handle this awful case in a Christian like manner, and they have the full sanction of Fr. Juraschek, of this parish, who cooperated with them, and who was one of the first men, with Fr. Berg, of Whiting, who was visiting him, to reach the scene, and render last aid to the dying and injured. Those who have been aroused by the Chicago press, can verify this by writing Fr. Juraschek, of Chesterton.
Undertaker Lundberg caused a photograph to be taken of the two who were taken out of the wreck, and has to aid in their identification. In case of identification, the remains can be taken up and shipped to any point desired, as they are properly cared for.
Frank C. Butchelder, superintendent of the Chicago division of the Baltimore & Ohio, said Tuesday night:
"We have not yet succeeded in locating positively the responsibility for the wreck. One of two things is certain: Either the crew of the freight train, No. 98, on the side track at Babcock failed to see the green signal lights on the engine of the first section of No. 47, indicating that another section of the train was following, or else the signal lights on the engine hauling the first section of No. 47 were extinguished by the heavy storm of wind and snow which was raging."
"The engineer and conductor of train No. 98 say they saw No. 47 pass them at Babcock, and no signal lights showed so they proceeded to move east. Three miles away, at Woodville, on a slight curve on an embankment about twenty feet high, the engines crashed together at 3:05 a. m. On account of the curve and the snowstorm the engineers could not see each other's train in time to avert the accident."
CREW DISOBEYED ORDERS
"No. 98 was a fast freight train, loaded with meat and provisions. It left the stockyards here at midnight. It had orders to take the side track at Babcock to allow train No. 47 to pass. Of course, it should have waited until the second section of No. 47 passed, but did not, the crew claiming they saw no signals indicating that a second section of No. 47 was coming. That train was composed of an express car and five coaches, occupied mostly by immigrants bound for Chicago, who were brought to Baltimore by the steamship Bremen of North German Lloyd line. They left Baltimore on the two sections of train No. 47, the first section leaving at 3:30 o'clock Sunday morning and the second section leaving ten minutes later. The first section came through to Chicago without incident. The second section had the right of way over the fast freight train with which it collided at Woodville."
"If the green signal lights were burning properly on the engine of the first section of No. 47, the fast freight train, No. 98 should not have left the siding at Babcock until the second section passed there, but if the signals were extinguished they could not know that there were two sections of No. 47. As soon as we learn the facts regarding the signal lights on the engine of the first section of No. 47 we will be able to locate the responsibility for the wreck."
The force of the collision was so great that the engines were telescoped, and with the six coaches that made up the passenger train and several cars of the freight train, rolled down the twenty feet embankment into the ditch where they took fire and were consumed.
The dead and those pinioned down by the wreckage were incinerated, while as many as possible of the wounded were carried beyond the reach of the flames and given temporary aid until a relief train arrived, when they were brought to Chicago and taken to Mercy hospital.
Source: The Chesterton Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; November 15, 1906; Volume 23, Number 33, Page 1, Columns 3-6
A Head-On Collision on the B. & O. Railway Destroys a Passenger Train Filled with Immigrants.
The Death List Unknown, but Estimated Between 60 and 70.
All but Twelve of the Bodies of the Victims Cremated by the Fire that Followed the Collision.
Number on Train . . . . 187
Number of Dead Estimated by Coroner between 60 and 70
Seriously Injured . . . . 33
Slightly Injured . . . . 44
LIST OF THE SUPPOSED DEAD.
Following is a list of the supposed dead, made up in part by those known beyond doubt to have been on the train, and not otherwise accounted for:
Miza Aeloni, 18 years old, bound from Vienna to South Chicago.
Bertha Baandweiner, 20 years old, bound from Vienna to South Chicago.
Albert Cullers, 25 years old, fireman of passenger train; crushed to death under engine; body taken to home at Garrett, Ind.
Annie Feldmann, 34 years old.
Schmil Feldmann, 11 years old.
Mojeske Feldmann, 6 years old.
Turaj Gensic, 16 years old.
Tosas Gevallantzkas, 28 years old.
Barflormicj Girlicki, 25 years old.
Moische Guttmann, 22 years old.
Josef Herdesocker, 17 years old.
Mrs. S. Ingreed and two children.
Detschel Kaleff, 30 years old.
Elzbita Kammiska, 15 years old.
Karoliomo Kania, 17 years old.
Atonita Kowal, 18 years old.
Apolonia Mieso, 15 years old.
Alexander Musk, 5 years old. Utica, N. Y.
Anna Musk, 5 months old.
Mrs. Catherine Musk, 48 years old. Utica, N. Y.
Katerina Naruschewicz, 33 years old.
Anna Naruschewicz, 8 months old.
Aaron Rabifaelkeka, 9 years.
Mrs. Cura Rabifanikeka.
Jova Rabifanikeka, 2 years.
Mrs. R. Rabinovitch, ticketed from Russia to 469 Morgan street from Kels, Poland; killed in wreck with four children; husband and fifth child escaped unhurt..
Sildel Rabifanikeka, 5 years.
Wolf Rabinfanikeka, 3 years.
Lehloima Rubinowitcz, 5 years.
Wolfe Rubinowitcz, 3 years.
Laube Rubinowitcz, 3 years.
Karolina Sowinski, 18 years old.
Josef Strauka, 31 years.
Wiktorya Strademska, 25 years.
Katereyna Strademska, 5 years old.
Franciszek Strademska, 1 1/2 years old.
Maria Subanska, 42 years.
Jan Takewig, 22 years.
Stefan Tunsic, 29 years.
Eva Vanjulute, 19 years.
Jan Vetuba, 35 years.
Jackim Vladyslay, 23 years.
Magdelena Walamite, 19 years old.
Mrs. Anton Zejrowski, burned to death in second car.
LIST OF THE INJURED.
The list of those most seriously injured, who because of their condition were taken first to Woodville and cared for by physicians, sent to the scene of the wreck and later brought to Chicago, is as follows:
Fanzi, Ermont, 27 Damen street, Chicago.
Karmilowicz, Josefa, 147 McHenry street, Chicago, and boy, Ellik Moski, traveling with lady.
Braczanos, Casimer, 631 South Canal street, Chicago.
Zielinski, Francis, 8425 Superior street, Chicago.
Beldowitz, Wacklaw, 531 Noble street, Chicago.
Brownstein, Lijke, and two children, 1041 N. California avenue, Chicago.
Machajtis, Josef, 758 One Hundred and Twenty-third street, West Pullman, Ill.
Rieb, Jacob, St. Francis, Neb.
Duzing, Mathias, St. Paul, Minn.
Raiter, Johan, wife and child, 11,351 Roseland avenue, West Pullman, Ill.
Martisfage, Josef, 130 Lincoln street, Chicago.
Farnolic, Will, wife and six children, Goodrich, N. D.
Filipowitz, Jura, Chicago address lost.
Cinjrosz, -----, wife and two children, Dickerson, N. D.
Lubanina, Marie, 1397 Twenty-first street Chicago.
Aicak, Mary, 13 Lessing street, Chicago.
Gudman, Mojse, Chicago address lost.
Swoboda, Karl, 1292 Clifton Park avenue, Chicago.
Janieczeke, Johan, 1119 Jung place, Milwaukee.
Lange, Albert, 3245 Wentworth avenue, Chicago.
Czenry, John, 1314 Twenty-first street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Tugman, Tolentz, 272 Twentieth street, Chicago.
Bostadinoff, Ratchie. The above ten names were given as destined to 115 West Bulgaria street, Chicago. There is no such street.
Kramer, Robert and Agnus, South Germantown, Wis.
THOSE LESS SERIOUSLY HURT.
Those whose injuries did not demand immediate attention and who were brought to Chicago directly from the scene of the wreck, and the extent of their injuries as determined on the train or after their arrival, follow:
Sobolewski, Jacob, 4434 Wood street, Chicago, scalp wound, foot fractured.
Dizgpier, Michael, 8929 Front street, South Chicago, broken nose.
Pasgkowski, -----, 168 West Eighteenty street, Chicago, scalp wound back of head, foot broken.
Klatman, Henry, 631 South Canal street, Chicago, face, hands and wrist cut, left foot fractured.
Pelze, John, 631 South Canal street, Chicago, scalp wound, face cut.
Labus, John, 1017 Twenty-sixth street, Chicago, scalp wound back of head.
Scholder, Moses, 91 Johnson street, Chicago, right thigh injured.
Konteio, Wid., 272 Nwetieth street, Chicago, scalp wound, face cut.
Szales, Francis, box 277 Indiana Harbor, right cheek cut, third finger on left hand cut off.
Eddelstein, Boni, 128 Newberry avenue, Chicago, hip injured.
Tracourty, Wasyl, 12,409 Union avenue, West Pullman, complains of internal injuries, ankles cut.
Lewin, Musie, Fannie and Jake, 66 Hastings street, Chicago, heads bruised.
Westowoski, Wojciech, 3208 Morgan street, Chicago, back and shoulder sprained.
Sowinski, Wlodyslaw, 1219 North Lincoln st., Chicago, head and legs bruised.
Forz, M., Chicago address lost, back sprained, head injured; had child named Audrey with him.
Macajtis, Josef, 758 One Hundred and Twenty-third street, West Pullman, legs injured.
Rewolinkski, Leon, 617 Alabama avenue, Sheboygan, Wis., both hands scalded, right foot injured.
Winlaraski, John, 822 West Eighteenth st., Chicago, head and cheeks cut.
Pratop, Jonas, box 101 Grant Works, Cook county, Ill., cut across forehead.
Tomezak, Stanislaw, 155 Huron street, Chicago, forehead and foot cut.
Zachzek, Szyman, 47 Sixteenth street, Chicago, nose fractured and foot injured.
Brazozowski, Roman, 132 Wabansia avenue, Chicago, collar bone broken, left foot broken.
Muszkiewicz, Stanislaw, 871 Thirty-second street, Chicago, head and left foot injured.
Wysocki, Nikoden, 1222 Fifty-fourth street, Chicago, wound in head.
Jackin, Wylodyslaw, 348 Carpenter street, Chicago, head, nose, lips and feet bruised.
Rander, John, 201 North avenue, Chicago, right hand elbow and right foot injured.
Jesse, Edward, 3222 South Center avenue, Chicago, right foot bruised.
Wojnerowicz, Antone, 25 Clark street, Milwaukee, right foot bruised.
Hertil, Bertha, 110 Main street, Streator, Ill., forehead cut.
Source: The Chesterton Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; November 15, 1906; Volume 23, Number 33, Page 1, Columns 4 and 5
FIFTY IMMIGRANTS KILLED IN WRECK
Disastrous Head-On Collision Occurs Near
Woodville, Ind. -- Victims Trapped in Cars and Burned to Death.
Valparaiso, Ind. -- Fifty persons are known to have been trapped and burned to death and 80 others seriously injured in a head-on collision early Monday near Woodville, Ind., 48 miles from Chicago, in which a Baltimore & Ohio immigrant train was smashed by a fast freight train.
In addition to the 41 burned to death seven persons were killed outright in the crash of metal and timbers, and two died later from their injuries.
Wreck Caused by a Blunder.
The accident was caused by the freight crew failing to observe signals on the first section of the immigrant train that another section was following. the immigrant train caught fire and was entirely consumed. There were 167 passengers on the train, and 117 of the party have been accounted for.
All the injured were taken to the Mercy hospital at Chicago on a special train after their injuries had been attended to by a corps of physicians from the city. All of the train crew of both trains escaped except the fireman on the immigrant train, who was killed. A wrecking crew was immediately sent from Chicago to the scene of the accident to clear away the wreckage.
The immigrants consisted of Russian Jews, Servians and Poles, and were in route by way of Chicago to the northwest.
Killed While Asleep.
The immigrant train was the second section of the regular express, and the first section did not carry any signal to indicate that the second section was following. The freight train pulled out on the main track and met the immigrant train on a curve. Engineers and firemen saved themselves by jumping, though the engineer on the passenger was badly scalded by escaping steam. The passengers were asleep when the accident occurred, and many were killed why they slept. The scenes that followed were heartrending, for the cars took fire at once, and many were caught in the wreckage and were unable to release themselves before the flames reached them and were consumed. Cries of the dying filled the air and those who were not badly hurt tried to save others, but they were not very successful, as the flames drove them back.
Cars Burn Like Tinder.
The train that met disaster was running a second section and had left Baltimore 24 hours before. It consisted of a locomotive, an express car, and five ordinary coaches, which were easily smashed up and burned like tinder.
There were 167 passengers in these cars -- chiefly immigrants from Poland and Russia, Croatia, Lithuania, Servia, Bohemia, and Hungary. Few were naturalized citizens of the United States, but these likewise were from those European countries and had gone back to accompany relatives over.
The wreck occurred at 3 a. m. An earlier section of the same immigrant train had just passed on toward Chicago and a freight train had left its siding and proceeded eastward, its crew in ignorance that the second section westward bound was bearing down upon it. The collision occurred, carrying disaster with it, and the early hours of the day were taken up with the immediate work of the rescue.
Allege Doors Were Locked.
Then came up the question of blame. The railroad dismissed the matter by asserting that the accident resulted from a distinct violation of rules on the part of employes. The crew of the first section of the immigrant train were held to blame for not displaying the proper signals to show that another train was following closely.
Another matter which Coroner Carson is investigating is a report that the doors of several coaches on the immigrant special were locked securely and that this condition prevented the occupants of the cars from escaping after the derailment occurred.
Road officials denied this story. Assistant Trainmaster Spencer said the doors could not have been barred, inasmuch as the rules of the company strictly forbid such a thing.
Panic Amid the Wreck.
Fire added to the horrors of the wreck, as there was considerable delay in rescuing the victims.
The train with six coaches filled with foreigners who expected to make their home in the West, was on its way from Baltimore.
When the crash came there was a terrible panic. Men and women fought in the darkness to reach the ground. Babies were snatched up by their screaming mothers, and doors and windows were broken to make avenues of escape. Flames burst from the baggage coach, but the fire enabled the immigrants who escaped to help the more seriously injured.
Some of the passengers were found pinned between the seats. Their companions worked furiously to save them from death in the flames.
There were many heroic deeds, when men suffering from injuries themselves risked their lives to help women and children.
Source: The Chesterton Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; November 15, 1906; Volume 23, Number 33, Page 2, Columns 5 and 6
WRECK VICTIMS NUMBER 59.
Official List of Dead in B. & O. Disaster Given Out.
Chicago. -- The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad company has given out an official list of the killed in the wreck at Woodville, Ind., last Monday and places the number at 59 persons. In all previous statements the dead were declared at to number 47.
Much criticism was heard, because of the action of railroad claim agents who visited Mercy hospital and settled claims of two of the victims for $150 each. The claim agents declare they were requested to visit the hospital by friends of the two men who, they say, wished to leave the city and continue on their journey to the northwest. Both men, it is said, suffered only slight cuts about the face and hands and were satisfied with the settlement.
On account of the heavy death roll of the wreck the Indiana state railroad commission has decided to take action, and representatives will be sent to Woodville to make an investigation. The commission will probe the charges that the cars of the wrecked train were not up to the standard or equipped with air brakes. The railroad officials deny that the train was without air brakes.
Wreck Vivtims Number 63.
Valparaiso. -- G. C. Batchelder, superintendent of the Chicago division of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, held a consultation with the coroner. It was decided to begin the investigation of the Woodville wreck Tuesday next. Portions of three bodies were found and taken to Chesterton. Mr. Batchelder is quoted as saying the number of dead is 63.
ENGINEER GANAUER HELD.
Breaks Down and Weeps Like a Child when Coroner Carson Announces His Decision.
Conductor Moste and Head Brakeman Woodward, of the Freight Train, Also Held for Manslaughter.
All Three Immediately Furnish Bonds.
At the examination of the train crews mixed up in the Woodville wreck Coroner Carson Wednesday afternoon recommended that Engineer Galnauer, of the first section of train 47, together with Conductor Moste and Head Brakeman Woodward, of the freight train that was in collision with the second section of train 47, be arrested on the charge of manslaughter. The men were arrested by Sheriff Green, and they immediately furnished bond, Galnauer in the sum of $1000 and Moste and Woodward in the sum of $500 each, and were released.
Engineer Galnauer went on the witness stand at 11 o'clock and testified that he gave the proper signal to the freight train on the siding at Babcock, but received no response. He then whistled again but did not stop to find out why his signals were not answered. At McCool, without knowing why, he stopped his train and found that the signal lights were out. He admitted that the rules compelled him to stop at Babcock when the freight engineer did not answer his signals.
At this point the engineer broke down and sobbed like a child, and it was several minutes before he was able to resume the examination.
Galnauer's testimony is partly corraborated by Brakeman Woodward. He declared the engineer of the first 47 gave three short blasts instead of the customary long one and two short ones blasts. He said: "I went to the engine and had a long talk with the engineer about the matter, but we were unable to make out the meaning of the signal, and after some discussion we decided to pull out on the main line."
Tuesday afternoon Coroner Carson began the inquest over the remains of the victims of the Woodville wreck. The hearing is being conducted in the little court room in the court house in Valparaiso. The coroner has the deputy prosecuting attorney, F. B. Parks, as his legal advisor. A number of Chicago attorneys attended the investigation. Coroner Hoffman, of Chicago, brought the jury from Cook county to Woodville to inspect the wreck and listen to the testimony taken by the Porter county authorities. All victims who were injured in the wreck, and died in Cook county, are under the jurisdiction of the Illinois authorities. The Indiana Railway Commission, with Union B. Hunt at the head, are also in attendance at the hearing. While this body has no jurisdiction in the matter, they want to make a report to the legislature, with a view of obtaining additional legislation.
At the opening of the inquest all members alive of the railway crews belonging to the trains involved in the wreck were present to testify. After the inquest, it is expected that all witnesses heard will be summoned to appear before the grand jury, and that this body will return indictments against those found blameable.
The following witnesses were present Tuesday: F. C. Batchelder, superintendent western division; F. W. Barrett, train dispatcher; J. D. Porter, Frank Galnauer, V. H. Shafer, W. H. Brooks, Frank Renneman, J. H. Clemens, John Snyder, S. J. Moste, D. C. Woodward, C. C. Baughman, C. D. Clark, W. N. Norman, R. E. Hardy, Floyd Wilhelm, Charles Boos, N. D. Baum, C. C. Otto.
Attorney J. H. Smietanka, representing the Polish Alliance of Chicago, with several other members of the society, was present.
Monday a part of another body was found buried under some debris, and Undertaker Lundberg interred it with the rest of the remains.
Fr. Juraschek went to Chicago last Thursday afternoon, and personally reported to the clergy and the press what disposition had been made of the bodies buried here, and his report greatly comforted the relatives of the victims.
NOTES FROM THE WRECKAGE.
Supt. Batchelder, Claim Agent Williams and Coroner Carson were on the scene last Friday. Agent Williams settled all claims at this place.
The wrecker finished its work Friday and several carloads of cinders covered nearly all traces of the wreck.
Nearly at the same place about four years ago a rear end collision of two freight trains occurred, piling up 17 cars of coke, caused by the two sections running too close together.
Passenger engine No. 1459 seemed to be laboring under a hoodoo, as this is her fourth wreck, killing one of two each time. Engineer Renahem's brother met his death on the same engine last winter.
Among the thousands of people that visited the scene on Monday were hundreds of curio seekers, who held nothing sacred, but plied their quest amid a stench and sights that were ghastly, as bodies were still burning. Some of these were worse than downright ghouls. The company seemed powerless, or was it indifference?
BLAMES ROAD FOR WRECK.
Coroner at Woodville, Ind., Censures Baltimore & Ohio.
That the Woodville wreck, in which sixty-one persons lost their lives, was caused by Frank Galnauer, engineer of the first section of the immigrant train; Samuel J. Moste, conductor of the freight train, and Daniel Woodward, head brakeman of the freight train which collided with the second section of the immigrant train, was the decision of Coroner Carson in a verdict rendered in Valparaiso.
While the railroad was not officially censured, Coroner Carson said: "I further believe that the Baltimore & Ohio railroad system is operated entirely too loosely and should have more stringent regulations or force its employes to stricter accountability to the rules and regulations now in force."
After enumerating the names of the sixty-one victims of the wreck the coroner's official report says:
"After having examined the bodies and hearing the evidence, I find that the deceased came to their death by being crushed and incinerated, occasioned by the head end collision of first section No. 98 freight train east bound with second section No. 47 passenger train west bound on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, about 100 rods west of the milk station at Woodville, Porter county, in the state of Indiana, at about 3 a. m., November 12, 1906 which collision caused the wrecking and complete destruction by fire of all inflammable material of said passenger train No. 47, together with three freight cars of No. 98, resulting in the death of the aforesaid persons."
"I therefore find from the evidence that said collision was due to criminal carelessness on the part of Frank Galnauer, engineer of the first section of No. 47 westbound, for not giving, observing and obeying the signals at Babcock, county of Porter and state of Indiana, on approaching the passing No. 97, which was on the side track at the above mentioned place in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations for the security, protection and safeguarding of life and property. I have therefore ordered the retention of said Frank Galnauer to be held for manslaughter pending the action of the grand jury and have also recommended the holding of Samuel J. Moste, conductor, and Daniel E. Woodward, head brakeman of first section No. 98 freight train, on like charges until some of the conflicting statements can be fully removed and they may be able to establish their innocence. I further believe that the Baltimore & Ohio railroad system is operated entirely too loosely and should have more stringent regulations or force its employes to a more strict accountability of the rules and regulations the company has in force."
47 KILLED BY COLLISION OF TRAINS 38 HURT
Only 80 Out of 165 Baltimore and Ohio Passengers Escaped Unhurt.
BODIES OF THE KILLED CREMATED IN WRECKAGE
Disaster Was Caused by Blunder of Some Employee of Railroad, but Blame Has Not Been Fixed. The Collision Occurred Near Chicago.
Chicago, Ills., November 12. – More than one-half the passengers on an immigrant train on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad were killed and injured In a collision today between the passenger train and a freight near Woodville, Ind.
One hundred end sixty-five passengers were on the train, and of these forty-seven were either killed outright or were burned to death lot the fire which broke out in the wreckage immediately after the collision. The names of all the dead will probably never be known, as forty-five of the dead bodies were consumed in the flames or were so badly burned that Identification will be out of the question.
Thirty-eight people were injured and several of these will die. Eighty others escaped unhurt, but lost nearly all their baggage and clothing.
Disaster Caused by Blunder.
The disaster was caused by a blunder of some employee of the railroad company, but just where the blame lies has not as yet been determined. The passenger train which was loaded with Russian Jews, Servians and Poles, all of them recent arrivals in this country, are bound for Chicago or places in the northwest, was the second section of a through train from Baltimore.
The engineer of the freight train, No. 56, on instructions received at McCool, Indiana, waited at a siding at Babcock, Ind., to allow the immigrant train to pass. One report is that the engineer of the freight train had not been informed that the passenger train wan running in two sections: the other is that the first section of the passenger train carried no lights or signals of any kind indicating that a second section was close behind.
As soon as the first section of the immigrant train had passed the switch at Babcock, the freight train in charge of Engineer Burke and Conductor Moste started eastward. A light snow was falling, which increased the darkness in the early morning, and as the freight was rounding a sharp curve just west of Woodville the second section of the immigrant train came in sight a short distance away, tearing toward Chicago at the rate of 40 miles an hour. The two trains came together with unslackened speed, and in the crash six passenger coaches and several freight cars were knocked into kindling wood, and together with the locomotives, went rolling down the 10-foot embankment.
Victims Burned to Death.
Fire broke out almost immediately in the wreckage, and, although a number of the injured were saved by the desperate efforts of the train crew and surviving passengers, the greater part of those who were pinned down in the debris were burned to death. The flames spread through the wreckage so rapidly that it was impossible to save a number of people who were but slightly hurt, but were held fast by timbers that weighted them down. These were burned in plain sight of the throng which stood around the scene of the disaster utterly unable to lend assistance in any way. The fire continued until all the shattered cars were entirely consumed, and of the forty-seven persons whose death followed the collision, 45 were burned to ashes.
Harrowing Scenes at Station.
A large number of the relatives of passengers on the ill-fated train were in Chicago awaiting the arrival and when the report was received that many had been killed and injured in a wreck the scenes around the Baltimore and Ohio station were harrowing. Men were there who had come to this country to escape the massacres in Russia and who after months of hard work had saved enough to pay the passage of members of their families and their grief when they became aware that possibly all their sacrifice and effort had resulted only in the death of those whom they had sought to bring to them was pitiful.
Crowds of Russians and Poles waited around the station all day waiting for new from Woodville, and when late in the afternoon a train came in bearing the thirty-eight injured persons, all of whom were taken to Mercy hospital for treatment, it was with the greatest difficulty that the police were able to open a passage way for the wounded. Several of the foreigners became so excited that they attempted to attack station attaches, whole uniforms led them to believe they were employed by the Baltimore and Ohio road.
Husband Meets Blind Wife.
Among the wounded who were brought to the station as Mrs. Anna Chysa, who had came from Warsaw to meet her husband, who has been working here for six months. Mrs. Chyza is blind and her husband recognized her as she was being carried through the crowd by two policemen. Before the officers could stop him he fell across the stretcher, carrying it to the ground, and kissing his wife repeatedly. She recognized his voice a they clung to each other so desperately that it required the efforts of both policemen to force them apart. Chyza struggled so fiercely that it was necessary to place him under arrest. He was released after being taken out of the station. Others whose relatives were among the injured begged to be allowed to take them to their homes, but the police were inexorable and all of the injured were taken to the hospital, where, it is believed they wilt receive better care than their friends may be able to give them.
At the hospital tonight it was said that it would for some time be impossible to predict the result in the cases of several of the injured.
Source: Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia; November 13, 1906; Volume 39, Number 151, Page 1, Column 1
40 DIE IN WRECK
DISASTROUS COLLISION IN INDIANA
Valparaiso, lnd., Nov. 12 – Forty immigrants were burned to death, 35 were injured and 60 escaped unhurt when the second section of a Baltimore & Ohio passenger train, west-bound, collided head-on this morning with an eastbound freight train at Woodville, 10 miles north of here. There were 135 immigrants in the six coaches of the train which caught fire and were destroyed after going down the embankment.
The immigrant train was bound for Chicago. The accident was caused by the freight crew failing to observe signals on the first section of the immigrant train that another section was following.
All the injured were taken to Mercy Hospital, Chicago, on a special train, after their injuries had been attended to by physicians from the city. All of the train crew on both trains escaped, except the fireman on the immigrant train, who was killed.
Source: The Chillicothe Constitution, Chillicothe, Clark County, Ohio; November 13, 1906; Volume 18, Number 21, Page 2, Column 4
MANY EMIGRANTS BURNED
Railroad Accident on the Baltimore & Ohio Results in the Death of 47 Persons --- Some Killed Outright, and Others Burned to Death --- Mostly All Russian" and Polish Emigrants --- Many More Injured Will Surely Die.
CHICAGO, Nov. 12. -- A frightful collision occurred on the Baltimore & Ohio railway yesterday, near Woodville.
A train carrying a great number of emigrants collided at full speed with a passenger train causing great loss of life and serious injury to many.
Woodville is acros the Indiana line, and it was some time before a corps of medical men and nurses could be taken to the scene of the disaster, to help in alleviating the sufferings of the more seriously injured. In the meantime the local physicians, with such aid as they could obtant from volunteer nurses worked heroically to save the lives of many of the injured.
It is officially stated that 47 persons were either killed outright or burned to death in the wreckage, which caught fire immediately after the collision occurred. The names of most of these people will never be known, as there was not a scrap of anything left by which they could be identified after the wreck was consumed.
Several other passengers were fatally injured or burned and the death list will be of much larger proportions before the injured are all out of danger.
Almost all the passengers were Polish and Russian emigrants fleeing from the land of their birth for the brighter prospects of the United States.
All the injured who were in a fit condition to be moved were immediately taken to Chicago, where they are being cared for by the railway company.
An investigation has been set afoot, both on behalf of the government and the state of Indiana to fix responsibility of the disaster.
The engine crews of both trains were killed outright, and there may be some difficulty in fixing the blame.
WOODVILLE, Ind., Nov. 13 -- It is now known that over one-half of the passengers and train crews on the trains which collided here yesterday were either killed outright, injured or burned to death.
Not a vestige of the wreck remains, everything having been burned to a crisp by the fierce fire which raged immediately after the collision.
The town of Woodville is one great hospital, and the staff of doctors and nurses sent from Chicago will remain here as long as they can be of any service to the sufferers.
[Note: The Fairbanks Evening News article states that the crews of both trains were killed in the accident. This is not true. In fact, with the exception of one crew member, both train crews survived the accident.]
Source: Fairbanks Evening News, Fairbanks, Fairbanks County, Alaska; November 13, 1906; Volume 2, Number 185, Page 1, Columns 2-6
Woodville train wreck newspaper items transcribed by Steven R. Shook