Saturday, April 9, 2011

Samuel W. Williams P&R Fireman On Engine 303 Tragically Killed on The Railroad

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While checking out Civil War graves at the Odd Fellow Cemetery in Pottsville I came across this interesting tombstone for Samuel W. Williams.

Yesterday while I was at the Historical Society Of Schuylkill County I found out what happened to Mr. Williams.


Pottsville Republican
August 25 1900

Fireman Samuel W. Williams of Pottsville, Instantly Killed.

Passengers Injured, Shaken Up and Scared!

Reading: August 25-Over 150 people made a marvelous escape from death here this morning. The Pottsville Express on the Phila & Reading R.W. due here at 8 a.m. left the rails two miles north of this city, and ran into an embankment. It was making 50 miles an hour, and passengers were thrown from their seats in promiscuous confusion. The entire train excepting the engine was derailed and the four cars were thrown against the embankment and were badly damaged. The supposition is that a coupling dropped from the tank and derailed the train.

Killed And Injured

Fireman Samuel Williams of Pottsville was caught between the cars and literally cut into pieces. Portions of his body were buried nearby.

These passengers were slightly hurt:
Solomon G. Siegelman, Tamaqua.
Mrs. William Shollenberger, Auburn
P.H. Hadesty, Tamaqua
Edward M. Shepp Tamaqua
Miss McFall, Wilkes Barre

Train No. 2 which leaves Pottsville at 7:05 o’clock in the morning was wrecked at Lightheisers Crossing about two miles this side of Reading. The tank left the main track and ran a distance of about 200 feet before the engine was stopped. Fireman Samuel W. Williams, of Pottsville was instantly killed his body being strewn along the track for a distance of 50 feet. The engineer W. I. Leiby also of Pottsville was un injured. The passengers although badly shaken up escaped uninjured excepting a woman and child from Auburn who’s names could not be learned.
After the train came to a halt Mr. Schrader walked up the track to where the tank lay. Scattered along the road portions of a man’s body were found and were unrecognizable. The engineer greatly overcome by the dreadful occurrence identified the body as that of his fireman. Mr. Schrader thinks the accident was caused by spreading rails. The rails for several hundred feet were torn up and the ties snapped of like pipe stems. He transacted his business at Reading and then returned home.
The same train was the one wrecked at Shoemakersville at the time of that terrible disaster caused by the train running over a high embankment. John White was the engineer on the train, and was instantly killed. The train is known as No. 2 while on its trip to Philadelphia and No. 7 on the return. He was on the return trip that the Shoemakersville wreck occurred.
Fireman Williams who is single was born in Pottsville 28 years ago. He is the son of Thomas Williams, the well known conductor on the Fr4ackville and Tamaqua branches of the P&R road and resides at 313 W. Arch St. After receiving a thorough education in the public schools of town he went into railroading... About 2 years ago he was made a fireman and was considered as one of the best men on the road. When the flyer was first put on he was made its fireman but later transferred to No 2. With William Lewis as the engineer. This morning as was the custom he arose early and went Palo Alto and fixed the fire in his engine, returning home for breakfast before starting on his run. He was very popular in town and had a wide circle of friends. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Firemen and also the Good Intent Fire Co. His body was taken to Reading to be viewed by the Coroner.


Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

Thanks for sharing the story of the tragic death of this young railroad fireman. My great-great-grandfather, an engineer, also perished in a rail accident near Cressona in 1892. You can read the details at Riding the rails: the life and death of William Cowhey, November 1892: PA train explosion makes NYC headlines , The 1892 Pottsville train explosion: How & why?, and Reading engine no. 563: the lone survivor? .

Railroading was certainly not without risks a century ago. It is good to see that, though they died tragically, the memories of these men will live on.

Smallest Leaf

Anonymous said...

Hello Stuart,
I have read your book, Early Coal Mining, with great interest.I have a few specific questions about coal mining and mules. Would you have time and be willing to give me some feedback?
Best, Steve

Anonymous said...

Hello Stuart,
Did you get most of the photos for your book from the Schuylkill County Historical Society?
u can visit my website and contact me there if you like-