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Monday, November 18, 2013

"Terrific Explosion! Another Reading Locomotive Blown Up", November 14, 1892

News traveled fast in 1892 of the train engine explosion that killed my great-grandfather. By the next day, details of the accident were published in the New York Times and various other city newspapers throughout the country. Yet, the most detailed coverage can be found within the local paper: the Pottsville Daily Republican.

Last week on the 121st anniversary of this horrible accident, I published an article describing the event and sharing details of my great-great-grandfather William Cowhey's funeral, which was fit for a hero. Within this article and an upcoming one next week, I would like to share with Small-leaved Shamrock readers the two articles that appeared within the Pottsville Daily Republican two consecutive days after the accident. I have transcribed them for easier reading. This first article appeared on page 1 of the paper on Monday, November 14.

The Pottsville Daily Republican ran this article on page 1 the day of the accident, Monday, November 14, 1892. The three scans above overlap slightly, but by enlarging them you can read the text of the full article which I've also transcribed below.

Another Reading Locomotive Blown Up. 
Another Fatally Injured - Gathering Up the Mutilated Remains - Sketch of the Victims - A Big Loss Entailed Upon the Company - Details of the Occurrence. 
It is our sad duty today to chronicle another explosion of a locomotive of the Philadelphia and Reading railroad company, which occurred this morning near Conner's Crossing, about three miles south of this place in which five strong able bodied men were blown into eternity, and one seriously if not fatally scalded. 
The ill fated engine was known as one of the L class and was No. 563. 
The killed are the following: 
HENRY C. ALLISON, of Palo Alto, aged 44 years; married, leaving a widow and a married daughter; engineer of the ill-fated engine. 
CHARLES J. C. MACKEY, of Port Carbon, aged 28 years; married, leaving a widow and one small child; fireman of the ill-fated engine. 
CHARLES H. KENDRICK, of Port Carbon, aged 32 years; married, leaving a widow and four small children; conductor. 
WILLIAM COWHEY, of Mt. Carbon, aged 59 years; married, leaving a widow and twelve children. Engineer of locomotive No. 73. 
WILLIAM H. MOYER, of Palo Alto, aged 26 years; married, leaving a widow and two small children; fireman of engine No. 73. 
The injured man is: 
of Mt. Carbon, single. Badly scalded, and unconscious. 
The ill-fated engine, with a large draught of empty cars and manned by Engineer Allison and Fireman Mackey, were on their way from Port Richmond for Palo Alto, and after arriving near the overhead bridge of the Lehigh and Schuylkill Valley R.R., a short distance this side of Conner's Crossing, the locomotive exploded with the above horrifying results. 
It is difficult, yes, impossible, at this time, if it ever can be done, to give the true cause of this very disastrous explosion. Michael Dobbins, the only surviving witness up to noon, lay suffering and unconscious at the residence of his parents at Pinedale or East Mt. Carbon. The attending physician regards his condition so critical that he has placed the patient under chloroform to alleviate his sufferings and has refused any to see him excepting those in attendance upon him.  
Persons who were in close proximity, however, say that the train stood still at the time because the engine had run out of steam. The blower had been put on to accelerate her steaming up and it was during this process that the boiler exploded. Dobbins alighted prior thereto and evidently it was to this cause that he escaped being hurled into the future, as were the rest of his more unfortunate companions.  
Cowhey and his fireman, Moyer, had just returned from a trip from Reading, for which place they left about 10 o'clock yesterday morning. They had, shortly prior to the accident, taken their engine, No. 73, and placed it into the round-house at Cressona. After their return trip, and, as was their custom, they went to the office at Schuylkill Haven to board the first engine north bound, so that they could ride to their respective homes, which they, however, never reached alive. Their bodies, with the other victims, now lie cold in death, with the bereaved widows and orphans gathered about their biers, whose only support and heads of families have gone forever. The scene is heartrending. 

Harry C. Allison, the engineer of No. 563, was a native of Panther Valley, a short distance west of Cressona, where he was born about 44 years ago. He early went to railroading, and was one of the most careful of the many engineers in the employ of the company. He was a Union soldier during the Rebellion, and was a member of Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R., and Seneca Tribe No. 41, I.O.R.M. He leaves a widow and a married daughter, the wife of Bert Nimbleton, to mourn his loss. His only son was buried a little over a week ago. His funeral will take place on Thursday afternoon from his late residence, 606 Bacon Street, Palo Alto. 
Charles J.C. Mackey, fireman, resided at Port Carbon. He was about 28 years of age, and leaves a widow and one small child. He was a prominent and active member of the following organizations: W.C, No. 134, P.O.S. of A; Grant Commandery, No. 36, P.O.S. of A; Golden Rule Castle, K. of P.; Schuylkill Lodge, I.O.O.F., No. 27, and of the Port Carbon Band. He was the efficient secretary of the latter organization. 
Charles H. Kendrick was also a resident of Port Carbon, and was about 32 years of age. He, too, leaves a widow and four small children to mourn his loss. He was the conductor of the ill-fated train.  
William Cowhey resided at Mt. Carbon, and was in his 59th year. He was twice married. Four grown up children blessed by that union survive him. His second wife he leaves a widow, with eight small children ranging from 14 years to an infant of but a few months old to mourn his sudden death. The deceased was a soldier on the Union side in the late rebellion, and a prominent member of Gowen Post No. 23, G.A.R. 
William H. Moyer is a native of Summit Station, on the S. and S. R.R., where he was born about twenty-six years ago. He engaged as a railroader about five years ago and removed to Palo Alto three years after accepting the employment as fireman. He leaves a widow and two small boys, aged 4 years and 19 months respectively. His funeral will take place on Wednesday. Interment will be made at Summer Mountain cemetery. He was a member of the Summit Station Lodge of the I.O. of O.F. 
The explosion occurred immediately under the overhead bridge of the L. and S. V. railroad. The engine 563 was of the L class, which are used to draw freight. Although she was running north the force was so great that she was lifted completely from her frame and turned southward, in the opposite direction. Everything about her has been shivered to pieces and she was, to use a "railroaders" term, "turned completely inside out." The railroad track for a short distance was also torn up. It is truly wonderful when the wrecked condition of the engine is taken into consideration that the bodies of the victims were not more badly mutilated. Excepting Cowhey and Moyer, whose bodies and faces were somewhat battered, the others were not so badly mangled or defaced. 
At four o'clock this morning, Deputy Coroner, Dr. H.G. Weist, of Schuylkill Haven, was aroused and immediately summoned a jury. The Coroner B.C. Gulgin, also appeared as early as possible and they with the jury viewed the scene of the accident. No testimony will be taken for a day or so to await the condition of the injured man, Michael Dobbins. 
The jury consists of Messrs. Hock, Fry, Greisinger, Jones, Brown and Brennan.  
The steam crane which is used to remove debris and other material in the event of a collision or any other accident on the railroad, was broken a few days ago, and the wreck crew was therefore very much hampered in removing the wreck. The wreckers under Yardmaster Wm. Sabold worked very faithfully notwithstanding their great drawback. 
The Reading railroad has been very unfortunate during the past year, with the number of explosions of locomotives which have occurred. One old railroader this morning assigned the following as the prime cause why these engines have exploded. He said in substance the crews are compelled to run their engines at a very high pressure to draw the very heavy trains which are put behind them for the past year. That to keep up the great pressure of steam and the quantity used the fires are forced and the exterior of the boilers are burned out, and something must give way, he added.

This article has been posted in honor of the 121st anniversary of William Cowhey's death on November 14, 1892. I have also shared it as part of Amanuensis Monday, a Geneabloggers Daily Prompt dedicated to the transcription of important documents such as this newspaper article detailing the accident that took William Cowhey's life.

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