A Berrien County Ghost Story

Haints of Berrien County

Just in time for Halloween, another Berrien County ghost story. This one comes from Dr. James Rountree Folsom, father of Montgomery M. Folsom. James R. Folsom, who was a teacher in Berrien County, and later, Postmaster at Cecil, GA, wrote occasionally of Berrien County oddities.  Folsom was a member of Salem Methodist Church; The Church cemetery holds the marked graves of many of the Folsom family connection, among them the grave of Dr. James Rountree Folsom.

Tifton Gazette
December 1, 1893

Berrien County Ghost Story

       Dr. J. R. Folsom, of Cecil, in a letter to the Atlanta Journal under a date of November 26, [1893] recalls a strange story the scene of which is partly laid in Tifton. The facts were true as stated; the editor did not visit the house, but an attachee of the Gazette did and said it was absolutely true, and he was entirely unable to account for it. We do not know whether the disturbing element followed Mr. Bradler away from Tifton, but the same dwelling is now occupied and the ghost has not been heard there since the present occupant moved into it: ” A ghost story of chronic type is and has been going on for some time a short notice of which appeared in the Tifton Gazette some months ago is fresh “on the tap” this morning.
       As related by a gentleman who spent some time trying to unravel the mystery, the story is as follows:
During the first part of the year – in February or March – various noises began to be heard at the house of Mr. Rufus Bradler an engineer working for the Needham Lumber company, near Lenox, a small station on the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad in Berrien county.
      The sounds made at intervals, were like knocks on the floor and wall, rattling chains, and other sounds. Search was diligently made by the Bradler family and later on for the cause, without however, learning anything in regard to it. On one occasion, when the knocking seemed to be done by some one under the floor. Mr. Gillis attempted to shoot where the blows falling against the floor, but his efforts seemed at first to be of no avail. After having snapped several times with his revolver, it fired, but the ball scarcely penetrated the floor, and the knocking continued.
     These noises seem to be always near Mr. Bradler’s little twelve-year old daughter, and her health beginning to decline from the constant annoyance, strong effort were made to solve the mystery. Fires were built in a circle around the house at night the premises repeatedly searched but all to no avail, when Mr. Bradler gave up his job and moved to Tifton, where the annoying sounds followed him.
     After living there some time and the child’s health seeming to be still failing, he again moved to Valdosta.
    “Has the trouble stopped? We would like to know. Mr. Bradler, as said, is a locomotive engineer, and of a class not easily frightened. What can the matter be?

♦♦♦

Tifton Gazette
December 22, 1893
The burning of Prof. Hendricks’ residence, corner of Eight street and Central avenue, recalls the Bradley ghost story. It was the house where that ghost made such wonderful displays of power, and had become known as the “haunted house.” As the house has gone the way of “smoke and ashes” it may not be amiss to enquire what became of the ghost?

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Narcissus Rouse and Bryant Miley

Bryant Miley and Narcissus Rouse

Narcissus Rouse and Bryant Luther Miley of Hahira, GA

Narcissus Rouse and Bryant Luther Miley of Hahira, GA

Narcissus Rouse came to Wiregrass Georgia when she was a little girl. Her father was Joshua W. Rouse and her mother was Sarah Monroe, the Monroe name being a pioneer family of the Tar Heel State. When she was six years old she came with her family from Wilmington, North Carolina by boat to Savannah, Georgia, then by train to Valdosta, GA, and by ox-drawn wagon to the area of Hahira, GA where they settled in the Bethany Community.

Narcissus Rouse married Bryant Miley on December 26, 1901 in Lowndes County, GA.  The groom was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and black hair.

Marriage certificate of Bryant L. Miley and Narcissus Rouse, Lowndes County, GA

Marriage certificate of Bryant L. Miley and Narcissus Rouse, Lowndes County, GA

Bryant Miley was a farmer and merchant of Hahira. He was born April 22, 1881, a son of James B. Miley and Laura Etta A. Webb.  His father was a prominent farmer and mill man in the Hahira District; the James B. Miley place was six miles above Hahira. His brother, Lucius Miley, was an agent for the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad who in 1896 disappeared for a week in an apparent abduction. Another brother, Grover Cleveland Miley, was a proprietor of the Hahira Drug Company and secretary to the Board of Education.

In 1910, Bryant L. Miley and his brothers were working  in Hahira. Bryant was a hardware salesman.   James R. Miley was a grocery salesman. Cleveland Miley was managing his drug store.  Lucius Miley was working as a lumber inspector in Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). Bryant’s uncle, Remer Young Miley, was a house carpenter in Hahira.

In 1918, Bryant L. Miley was employed as a mail carrier on a rural free delivery route for the U. S. Government. His brother, James “Jimmie” Miley, was constable of Hahira.

By 1920, Bryant L. Miley went into  business for himself, opening his own store in Hahira.

Children of Narcissus Rouse (1882–1979) and Bryant Luther Miley (1881-1940):

  1. Reba Miley (1902–1974)
  2. Berry James Miley (1904–1989)
  3. John David Miley (1906–1993)
  4. Genesta Miley (1908–1996)
  5. Henry Frederick Miley (1910–1998)
Bryant Miley, Narcissus Miley and Genesta Miley in their Hahira, GA store

Bryant Miley, Narcissus Miley and Genesta Miley in their Hahira, GA store

In the 1930s B. L. Miley’s health declined from hypertension and kidney failure. In June of 1940 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died at 5:00am on June 17, 1940. He was buried  at Shiloh Church, Hahira, GA. The burial was performed on June 19, 1940 by the Hahira Hardware Company.

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Jim Crow Cars on the Georgia & Florida Railroad

The opening of the Georgia and Florida Railroad on October 1, 1908 was a big day for Ray City, GA. For African-Americans, the passenger cars which ran on the Georgia & Florida railroad during the first half of the 20th century reflected the pervasiveness of segregation under  Jim Crow laws.    “Jim Crow legislation extended throughout the South to schools, hotels, restaurants, streetcars, buses, theaters, hospitals, parks, courthouses, and even cemeteries.” Jim Crow laws had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the  Plessy v. Ferguson ruling against a black man who had been arrested for riding a whites-only streetcar in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Georgia & Florida combine car No. 653

Georgia & Florida combine car No. 653 provided segregated riding space for white and black passengers.

First Jim Crow Railroad Cars

Segregated “Jim Crow” railroad cars predated the Civil War.

“The term “Jim Crow” originated in 1832 as the name of a character in a song and dance written by Thomas D. Rice, a well-known minstrel of the time. Minstrel shows were popular before the Civil War and featured white performers in black face portraying “musical, lazy, childlike blacks.”  In the 1830s, “Jim Crow Cars” referred to segregated cars on some northern railroad lines. “

When the Boston and Providence Railroad opened its route to New York, the company’s president  stated that “an appreciable number of the despised race demanded transportation. Scenes of riot and violence took place, and in the then existing state of opinion, it seemed to me that the difficulty could best be met by assigning a special car to our colored citizens.”  Massachusetts newspapers in 1838 reported frequent incidents of Negroes refusing to sit in Jim Crow sections and being forcibly removed from the train. Negroes also sought relief through the legislature and white abolitionists encouraged boycotts. As a result, a joint legislative committee recommended a bill to halt discrimination. Negative reaction followed. Fearing increased integration, one state senator declared that “such legislation would not stop at forcing the mixture of Negroes and whites in railroad cars, but would subsequently be applied to hotels, religious societies, and through all ramifications of society.” The act failed to pass. By 1841, intense efforts to end Jim Crow cars began. Black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass refused to move to the Jim Crow car and did so only after being physically removed from their seats.15 In 1842, the black abolitionist Charles Lenox Redmond went before a committee in the Massachusetts legislature to protest his segregation in a “special railway car for negroes.” Touching upon the right to equality and inherent inferiority without it, Redmond stated that “the wrongs inflicted and injuries received on railroads by person of color . . . do not end with the termination of the route, but in effect, tend to discourage, disparage, and depress this class of citizens.” Protests, changing public opinion, and threats of legislative action caused rail companies in Massachusetts to abandon segregation practices in 1843. 

First Jim Crow Laws

The first Jim Crow laws are those of Florida and Mississippi in 1865 and Texas in 1866. The laws of Florida provided: “That if any negro, mulatto or other person of color shall intrude himself into…any railroad car or other public vehicle set apart for the exclusive accommodation of white people, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be sentence to stand in pillory for one hour, or be whipped, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes, or both at the discretion of the jury, nor shall it be lawful for any white person to intrude himself into any railroad car or other public vehicle set apart for the exclusive accommodation of persons of color, under the same penalties” [Laws of Florida, 1865, p. 25].

The law of Mississippi was: “That it shall be unlawful for any officer, station agent, conductor, or employee on any railroad in this State, to allow any freedman, negro or mulatto, to ride in any first-class passenger cars, set apart, or used by, and for white persons; and any person offending against the provisions of this section, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor…shall be fined not less than fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars; and shall be imprisoned in the county jail until such fine, and costs of prosecution are paid; Provided that this section, of this act, shall not apply, in the case of negroes or mulattoes, traveling with their mistresses, in the capacity of nurses” [Laws of Mississippi, 1865, pp. 231-232]

Texas simply provided that “every railroad company shall be required to attach to each passenger train run by said company one car for the special accommodation of Freedmen” [Laws of Texas, 1866, p. 97].
-The Separation of the Races in Public Conveyances

In Georgia, however,  following the 1868 rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the expulsion of elected African-American assemblymen from the Georgia legislature, the Camilla Massacre, and rejection of the Fifteenth Amendment, the state remained under military rule imposed by the U.S. Congress.

The African-American legislators were re-seated by the federal government, and briefly led an agenda concentrated on political and civil rights.  “In 1870, the Georgia legislature enacted a statute requiring the railroads in the state to furnish equal accommodations to all, without regard to race, color or previous condition, provided the same fare was charged.” (Georgia railroads had previously only charged half-fare for transportation of slaves.) Subsequently, similar civil rights legislation emerged in the Reconstruction legislatures in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and in some northern states.   But in Georgia, this early civil rights movement  was crushed by the end of 1870 as conservatives used terror, intimidation, and the Ku Klux Klan to “redeem” the state. One quarter of the black legislators were killed, threatened, beaten, or jailed. – New Georgia Encyclopedia

Despite prevailing conditions in Georgia, Jim Crow railroad laws seemed to be at an early end  when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 stating, “That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.”  Many northern states enacted their own civil rights legislation, adopting or adapting the language of the federal act. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Civil Rights Cases (1883) that the public accommodation sections of the act were unconstitutional.

With little or no effective legislation regulating civil rights in public transportation, the railroads made their own rules for providing white-only transportation, and segregating African-Americans in “Negro cars” or Jim Crow cars.

By the 1890s,  many southern states enacted legislation called Separate Coach Laws specifically mandating the segregation of railroad cars, although the legislation “did scarcely more than legalize an existing and widespread custom.”  An 1888 photograph of the wreck of the Savannah, Florida & Western Fast Mail Train appears to depict a Jim Crow Combine Car among the wreckage. Although the newspaper accounts of the wreck only mention the engine, tender, baggage car and smoker, one coach, the Pullman sleeper, and the private car of railroad president E. P. Wilbur, it seems unlikely that a Georgia train of this era would not include a “negro car” or Jim Crow car, especially since eight unidentified African-American men were among the victims of the wreck.

The SF&W route ran from Savannah through Valdosta, GA to Bainbridge, with connections to all points. The September 10, 1892 Albany Weekly Herald complimented the Savannah, Florida & Western Railroad for its segregated arrangement of cars:

The S.F.& W.  passenger is one of the best arranged trains in the State. First comes the mail and express car, then the Negroes’ car, then the baggage car and smoker, and last of all the first class coach. All trains would do well to adopt this arrangement with a car between the Negro and white coaches.

White passengers usually rode in the sections furthest from the smoke and coal ash of the steam engine.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the legality of  the railroad “Jim Crow” laws and entrenched the discriminatory principle of “ separate but equal” accommodations for whites and blacks.

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
The case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which supplied the occasion for the court’s landmark decision, had its origins in Louisiana. In 1890, Louisiana passed a law calling for “equal but separate” accommodations on railroads for “whites” and “coloreds.” Protesting this law was a group of Creoles and blacks who formed the Citizens Committee to Test the Constitutionality of the Separate Car Law. This group arranged a test case along with the railroad that opposed the law  due to the expense of supplying another car.  An “exceedingly light-skinned Negro” named Homer Plessy agreed to test the law. Plessy was subsequently arrested for sitting in the white car.  In his defense, Plessy contended that the Louisiana statute requiring segregation was unconstitutional. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Plessy’s attorneys argued that if the segregation law was upheld, states could “require separate cars for people with different colors of hair, aliens, or Catholics or Protestants or to require colored people to walk on one side of the street and white people on the other side, or to demand that white men’s homes be painted white and black men’s homes black.”

In 1896, the Supreme Court decided against Plessy. Justice Henry Billings Brown writing for the majority concluded that legislative bodies were “powerless to eradicate racial instincts,” and that “if one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them on the same plane.” Equal rights did not necessitate the “enforced commingling of the two races.”  In his lone and now famous dissent, Justice John Harlan offered that “Our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”  Thus the notion of “separate but equal” had been judicially sanctioned by the nation’s highest court and Jim Crow had been given a new birth–a new license to “jump up and down.”  State laws mandating racial segregation quickly followed the Plessy ruling ensuring a Jim Crow system in the South. The  most blacks could aspire for was equal accommodations.  – NPS National Historic Landmarks Program

The New Georgia Encyclopedia observes, “These facilities were usually ‘equal’ in name only—in all the states with Jim Crow laws, the facilities that served blacks were almost always inferior to the facilities that served whites.”

Plessy v. Ferguson is widely regarded as one of the worst decisions in U.S. Supreme Court history.[3] – Wikipedia

During the Segregation Era, southern railroads operated segregated trains and depots.

Segregated Train Stations <br /> Signs above the doors at a Georgia railroad station in 1938, read "Colored Men" and "Colored Waiting Room." Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

Segregated Train Stations
Signs above the doors at a Georgia railroad station in 1938, read “Colored Men” and “Colored Waiting Room.” Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

Railroads built “combine” cars with segregated sections. The Georgia & Florida combine car pictured at the top of the post had a central baggage section separating the car into two passenger sections, one for black passengers and one for whites. In typical combine cars, each passenger section had a cast iron stove and a bathroom. Waste from the bathrooms was deposited directly on the rails. On some rail lines white drunks would be placed in the black car instead of one of those reserved for whites.

In a typical segregated railroad car, there were no luggage racks in the “colored” section, requiring travelers to cram their suitcases around their feet, and the “colored” bathroom was smaller and lacked the amenities of the “whites” bathroom.  “There are all these subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that ‘you are not as good as the people in the other section,’” says Spencer Crew, curator for the National Museum for African American Culture and History.

The story of travel segregation was not limited to trains and if you traveled by bus or boat or even airlines, such divisions were strictly enforced.

Pullman porters and coach attendants were key figures in the African-American community. “These were very well-traveled individuals, so they had a lot of experience and perspective to share with people they talked to as they were traveling across the country,” says Crew. “Their prominence and importance is an important part of the story.”

The following letter submitted to a House committee holding hearings in 1954 on legislation to end segregated travel attested to the substandard condition of railroad cars for African-Americans. It describes conditions in a combine car  travelling from Savannah, GA in which half of the car was used for baggage and the other half for African-American passengers.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE,
BRANCH OF THE ORANGES AND MAPLEWOOD, N. J.,
East Orange, N. J., May 10, 1954.

Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON,
House of Congress, Washington, DC

The following matters were referred to the director of the Washington Bureau NAACP, Mr. Clarence Mitchell, who advised me that hearing would begin in the House very soon and that you are chairman of the committee covering such matters.

On or about April 22, 1954, Mrs. A. Cherry who lives at 251 Halsted Street, East Orange, N. J., and Mrs. Gertrude Williams who lives at 17 Winthrop Terrace, East Orange, N. J., traveled to Savannah, Ga., on train named Champion of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co. Not knowing their return date no reservations were made for returning.

At the railroad station in Savannah, reservation were made for returning on April 28, 1954, on train named Champion of the Coast Line, car No. 39, seats Nos. 13 and 14.

After getting in this car they found it to be completely segregated, no heat, no water, dirty, being half baggage and a large sign reading “Colored,” which sign was still on the car when they left the train in Newark, N. J.

This we believe to be in violation of Federal laws and we are sure are in violation of the laws of the sovereign State of New Jersey.

Names and addresses of witnesses gladly furnished on request.

Sincerely,

DAVID T. DEGRAFFENREID.

P. S. This letter may be used in evidence if desired. D.T.D

A restored Jim Crow car is now on exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The car belonged to the Southern Railway, parent company of the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad which ran from Macon through Valdosta, GA to Palatka, FL.

Despite the institutionalized racism of the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling,

the decision itself was never explicitly overruled.[4] However, a series of subsequent decisions, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, severely weakened it to the point that it is usually considered to have been de facto overruled.[1] In Brown, the Supreme Court ruled that Plessys “separate but equal” doctrine was unconstitutional in the context of schools and educational facilities.

Students protest segregation at the state capitol building in Atlanta on February 1, 1962. The passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 ended legal segregation across the nation. - New Georgia Encyclopedia

Students protest segregation at the state capitol building in Atlanta on February 1, 1962. The passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 ended legal segregation across the nation. – New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Connie Moore and the Fargo Convict Camp

Convict labor and guards in South Georgia

Convict labor and guards in South Georgia

Connie J. Moore was born about 1881 in North Carolina. It appears that his father died while he was a young child, and his mother was remarried in 1885 to Charlie Fawcett, also of North Carolina.

Some time before 1900, perhaps as early as 1885,  Charlie Fawcett moved his family to Georgia. In the census of 1900 Connie and his mother, his step-father, and half-brother, Elijah Fawcett, were enumerated in Mud Creek, Clinch County, GA. Charlie Fawcett rented a farm there, and Connie assisted his step-father with the farm labor. Shortly after that, Connie J. Moore relocated with his family from Clinch County to Rays Mill, GA.

By 1903, Moore had given up farm labor and was working as a convict guard for the the Baxter & Company’s convict camp at Fargo, GA. The G. S. Baxter & Company sawmill at Fargo was the largest in Clinch County, and the State Prison System of Georgia had leased more than 1,000 convicts to the firm under the convict lease system.  It was at the Fargo Convict Camp where James Thomas Biggles, of Rays Mill, served his sentence for the murder of Madison Pearson.

The G. S. Baxter & Company sawmill was located at Fargo on the route of the Georgia, Southern, and Florida Railroad. The GS&F opened about 1900 and ran from Macon via Valdosta to Jacksonville, FL.

According to Folks Huxford’s History of Clinch County, GA:

The building of this road opened up a new section of the county hitherto undeveloped. Almost simultaneously with the completion of the road to Jacksonville, a big saw-mill was built by Eastern capitalists on the new road where it crosses the Suwannee River. The town which grew up here was named “Fargo.” The partners in this enterprise were George S. Baxter, E. P. Long and Walton Ferguson.

The town of Fargo was laid out on the banks of the Suwannee River, and is to-day one of the most flourishing towns in the county. It has several stores, a large hotel and other establishments. The mills which are owned by G. S. Baxter & Company, are about the largest in the county.

Around Christmas of 1903, Connie Moore planned to return to his home at Rays Mill but failed to arrive in Valdosta as expected. No trace of his wherabouts could be found. In early January 1904, Francis Marion Shaw and his step-son John Levi Allen, both of Rays Mill, went searching for the missing man, travelling to Fargo, GA and retracing the route back to Valdosta. Connie’s half-brother, Elijah Fawcett worked for John L. Allen, according to later records.

CONVICT GUARD MISSING

Family and Friends of Connie Moore Fear Young Man Has Been Murdered or Accidentally Killed. He Had Money with Him.

Valdosta, Ga. January 8. -(Special.)- The family and friends of Connie J. Moore, a young man whose home is near Hay’s Mill [sic], in Berrien County are greatly distressed over his mysterious disappearance, and fear that he has either met with a fatal accident or been murdered.

The young man was employed as a convict guard at Baxter & Company’s camp at Fargo, Ga., for several months, and wrote to his parents about December 20 that he expected to return home to spend Christmas, and requesting that they have a conveyance meet him in this city. The conveyance was sent on the day appointed, but the young man failed to meet it, and a prolonged search since then has failed to find any trace of his whereabouts. Enquiry at Fargo disclosed the fact that he disappeared from there about the date on which he wrote his parents he would start for home, but no clue was obtained of the direction which he went.

Young Moore is about 22 years old and unmarried. He is a young man of exemplary habits and greatly attached to his mother, communicating with her regularly up to the date of his disappearance. He informed his employers that he would return to his duties after the holidays, and as evidence of the fact that he expected to go back to Fargo left nearly a month’s wages uncollected. It is understood that he had a considerable sum of money when he left there.

F.M. Shaw and J.L. Allen, of Berrien county, were in the city today on their return from Fargo, where they had been in an effort to secure a trace of the missing man.

What ever became of Connie J. Moore is not known.  His Fawcett family continued to live in Ray City, GA through the 1930s.

Bones of Gypsy the Elephant

A small note in the December 6, 1952 edition of The Billboard, entertainment industry trade magazine, unceremoniously observed the 50th anniversary of  the circus tragedy in which Gypsy the elephant killed her trainer at Valdosta, GA rampaged through the town, and was shot dead.  The article read:

Charlie Campbell, ahead of Don Robinson Circus, reports a resident of Ray City, Ga., has some large bones reputed to be from an elephant, Gypsy, executed there while with the Harris Nickel Plate Circus in 1901.

The Billboard, December 6, 1952 clipping reported bones of Gypsy the elephant at Ray City, GA

The Billboard, December 6, 1952 clipping reported bones of Gypsy the elephant at Ray City, GA

Gypsy the elephant was actually killed in Lowndes County near Cherry Creek in 1902, after trampling her trainer and escaping from the Harris Nickel Plate Circus. She was shot by Valdosta Police Chief Calvin Dampier.  In the ensuing days more than 3000 people came to see the dead elephant.

Virtually from the instant of her execution, there was talk of preserving Gypsy’s skeleton. Eyewitnesses  reported that some visitors took trophies and souvenirs from the body of the  slain pachyderm, before the 12,000 pound carcass was finally hacked apart and burned.

Did the bones of Gypsy the elephant eventually make their way to Ray City, GA?

Valdosta Police Chief Dampier used a borrowed Mauser rifle to bring down the rampaging elephant, Gypsy, in November 1902.

Valdosta Police Chief  Calvin Dampier used a borrowed Mauser rifle to bring down the rampaging elephant, Gypsy, in November 1902.

The tragic events that occurred at Valdosta, the trampling death of James O’Rourke and the execution of the beast he trained were almost inevitable given the bloody history of Gypsy the Elephant. Even the circus train’s travel to Valdosta, GA, foreshadowed the impending doom awaiting them at their final destination.  On October 28, 1902 two cars of the Harris tNickel Plate Circus train were derailed at Dothan, AL  According a a lawsuit filed by the circus owner, the two derailed circus rail cars were broken to pieces, the circus wagons loaded on the rail cars were broken and smashed as were the tent poles, seasts and canvas. The wagon known as the “bank wagon” and the “lion den” was turned over and demolished. One of the lions died from injuries and another was crippled. As a result of the accident, the circus was forced to cancel its engagement at Bainbridge, GA but was able to resume travel to its show in Valdosta. As the circus and menagerie were in route the Harris Nickel Plate Circus train was wrecked at Tifton, GA in a collision with another train.  Several of the show people were injured. Another show wagon was demolished, one of the largest and heaviest in the troupe. One of the show’s finest ring horses was crippled and had to be put down.

Surely the show people were relieved to reach Valdosta, which was to be their season finale’. After the Valdosta performance, the show people would winter over in the town before resuming their exhibition circuit in the spring.

The circus disaster that occurred in Valdosta was first reported in the Valdosta Times with a printing that came to be known as “the Elephant Edition,” and quickly  swept across the nation:

The Valdosta Times
Tuesday, November 25, 1902

ELEPHANT GYPSY GOES WILD AND IS KILLED NEAR HERE.

 The Monster Brute of the Harris Nickel-Plate Shows Tramples  Her Keeper to Death  and Runs Amuck —

After Terrorizing the Business Portion of the City,  she Dashes out to Pine Park and was Shot Down Six Miles Above the City Sunday Morning.

 Valdosta experienced a sensation Saturday night such as no other city in the country has ever witnessed.
     It was a chase by scores of people after a monster five ton elephant, which had trampled its keeper to death and was standing in defiance of all who should come within reach.
      After a chase lasting all night long and far into Sunday  morning, the big brute was killed by Chief of Police Dampier, six miles above the city, with a single shot from a Krag-Jorgensen rifle.  The anima had been shot dozens of times  in the past, and this is said to have been the first animal of the kind ever killed with a rifle ball in this country.
       The elephant belonged to the Harris Nickel Plate Shows, which gave two performances here Saturday and which broke tents that night to go into winter quarters at Pine Park.  The animal was named “Gypsy” and she had been seen many times in this city.  She was one of the largest elephants in the world.  The show was here for two weeks during the State Fair and gave two performances daily, the acts by “Gypsy” being features of the performances.
      The show went from here to Lake City for two performances and then visited Macon, Cordele, Tifton, and  other places along the Georgia Southern road, returning here Saturday morning for the last two performances of the season.

Elephant under perfect control.

The big beast was in charge of James O’Rourke, who seemed to have her under perfect control.  She was an exceedingly intelligent anima and her acts in the circus ring were the cleverest ever witnessed here.   Among them was the blowing of a harmonica.  Gypsy being the only elephant in the word which had been trained to blow a wind instrument of any kind.
      All day Saturday, O’Rourke, the elephant’s trainer, complained of being sick and that afternoon he began to take quinine and whiskey in pretty liberal doses.   He was seen to take a drink of whiskey just before mounting the elephant to go to the park and one of the showmen spoke to him and suggested that he had “better cut that out.”
      At O’Rourke’s command, the elephant kneeled down and he crawled up on her head and then he gave the signal for her to move on.  The great beast started off from the show grounds east of the city hall, toward Patterson street and thence to the Georgia Southern passenger depot where O’Rourke expected to get a change of clothing to put on. He remained at the circus cars a short while and started back up town along Patterson street, turning at Hill avenue toward the show grounds, but turning again at Ashley street toward Central avenue.  The showmen say that the elephant expected to go  in the car at the depot and when she was brought back  up town it angered her.

      Turned Down Wrong Street 

      The turn at Ashley street was made and Gypsy ambled along toward Central avenue, where a turn was made to the left, leading toward Patterson street, but crossing that street and continuing the slow pace toward Toombs street.  A number of parties on the street called out to O’Rourke and told him that he was going the wrong way, but he paid no attention to them.  Chief Dampier was sitting at his stable when the elephant passed there and he called O’Rourke’s attention to the fact he was on the wrong street, but a mumbled answer came from the man on the elephant’s head, and the chief supposed that he wanted to go a side street to get out of the way of the vehicles and street cars on Patterson street.
      Two young men, Smith and Christian, followed the elephant from Patterson street to Toombs and were close to her when O’Rourke fell off of her head.  They stated that the elephant stopped a moment as if to wait for him to resume his position, but a moment later she kneeled down over him and crushed every bone in his body, rolling the limp body along with her trunk and tusks for probably fifty yards.

Her Keepers’ Death Reported.

      She then turned toward the side of the street and began grazing on the grass there as if nothing had happened.  Chief Dampier heard her crushing O’Rourke and ran over close enough to see that he could do nothing for the man.  He then went to the circus and informed the managers of what had taken place.  In a short while the entire circus force was on the ground trying to control the animal, while Manager Wilson and Sheriff Passmore were trying to get the crowds to stand back.
One of the clowns ,  Barney Shea, who was formerly her keeper, undertook to lead her toward the depot and place her on the cars there and it was believed that he would succeed, as the animal knew his voice and followed him nearly to the Plant System depot.  In the meantime, a large crowd had gathered and excitement was running high. A train was stopped on the crossing where the elephant was to pass and this, together with the excited crowds, seemed to rattle her.
      She turned back toward the Christian church, from which some of the members of the circus were calling to her in “elephant talk,” but it was apparent that she was getting thoroughly aroused.  She grabbed an electric  light pole with her trunk and shook it until the lights flew out all along the street.  Then, she began to hurl bricks and pieces of timber through the air.

Elephant Thoroughly Aroused.

      Billy  Mincer, another of the clowns in the circus, was hemmed in a rear door of the new Christian church but was pulled out and hurled some distance of the angry animal.   She started to renew her attack upon him but he was pulled out of the way by some parties  who were near by.  He was in an unconscious condition and was carried to the Valdes Hotel for medical.  In the meantime Barney Shea and Clem Kerr, the latter being  the advance agent  of the circus, were in the new Christian church calling to “Gypsy” and trying to get her under control.  Shea fired at her with a pistol several times,  but the bullets did no harm except to make her mad.
      For a couple of hours the elephant was master of the situation in that section of the city.   She seemed to pay very little attention to home folks , but a number of times indicated a very keen desire to get hold of some of the circus crowd. They seemed to fear her more than anyone else, probably because they knew her better and they were careful to keep out of her way.  Especially is this true of Barney Shea, her former manager, who stated that she had old grudges against him that she would never forget.
      After an hour or two spent in promenading up and down the side walk in front of the Valdes Hotel and the new Christian church, Gypsy turned up Toombs street in a full gallop and as far as the eye could reach under the swinging electric lights  her huge form swayed along with the alertness of a rabbit.  Her steps by actual measurement were eight or nine feet each.  She followed Toombs street to the vacant lot beyond the residence Mr. B. H. Jones when she cut across to Patterson street and went on to the park.

The Big Brute at Pine Park.

       Then Chief Dampier and a large posse followed her to the park for the purpose of killing her, as she had proven herself entirely unmanageable and her owner, Mrs. Harris, had stated that she could not rest until she was sure the brute was dead.  Her former keeper Shea got in the stand over the State Fair office and called her to him.  She was in the rear end of the fair grounds but she answered his call.  Chief Dampier and his posse were on top of the ticket office.  The big beast walked up within fifty yards of them and stopped.  The moon was behind the clouds and only a dim outline of her could be gotten.  The chief drew his Krag-Jorgensen rifle  and fired at her two or three times.
      The wounds were evidently painful, but not fatal to her.  She gave one shriek and started on a full fun toward the fence  in the rear of the grounds.  She found a plank off and, with her huge trunk, brushed away a panel or two of the fencing like it was a row of tooth picks.     She took  the cross road toward the Cat Creek road and turned up that to Cherry Creek.  It was then nearly four o’clock Sunday morning.  Chief Dampier and his posse followed her for some distance and then returned to the city get lunches, secure horses and wait for light to  dawn upon the scene.

The Chase Toward Cherry Creek.

      By day light, the chief and his crowd were ready to go on the hunt again.  His posse consisted of his first lieutenant,  Mr. M. A. Briggs and Messrs.  James Gates, D. A. Sinclair, Lawrence Walker, Roy Hightower, Dave Roberts and one or two other  parties.  Mr. Briggs and Chief Dampier were in a buggy, while the other parties were on horse back.  They left the city about five o’clock and followed the big animal out toward Cherry Creek on the Nashville Road.  At several places they saw where the elephant  had stopped in the road and had stood there some time, the impression on the ground looking as if she had lain down.
      The first sight of t.he big mountain of flesh and blood was near Cherry Creek and all came to a halt.  The elephant, blind in one eye, was standing across the road with his good eye turned toward the city evidently watching in that direction.  Her big body was swaying to and fro after the manner that elephants sway themselves when standing still.  When she caught a view of the crowd she turned toward the north and started off in a rapid walk.
      The parties lighted and started in pursuit through the woods.  The elephant finally came to a stop and Chief Dampier ran around to her side, taking a position probably seventy-five yards from her.  The excitement of the chase, together with its fatigue had made him nervous and he was afraid to try and fire at her without taking good aim.  The chief got a good rest for his weapon on a fence and took deliberate aim at her head.  The Krag-Jorgensen rifle cracked with a sharp “ping” and the big brute fell to her knees and then over on her side.  One shot had  done the perfect work of destroying her life and when the parties reached her she was nothing more than a huge bulk of inanimate flesh.

Elephant’s Death Reported.

      Chief Dampier fired one more shot into her head and other members of the party fired two or three times from their Winchesters and pistols.  An examination of the death-wound showed that the bullet entered her temple and went probably three feet deep in her head.  Another shot from the Krag-Jorgensen rifle had gone entirely through her neck.  The Winchester shots had only entered an inch or two and had probably done no more than tickle her.
      Chief Dampier and his posse returned to the city and reported the death of the elephant, and the announcement came as a great relief to the circus people.  They had been uneasy all night long and were really glad to know that the great brute had been killed, even though it was a big financial loss to them.  All day Sunday large crowds went out on the scene of the killing and scarcely anything else was talked about on the streets.  The tragedy of the night before and the excitement incident to the chase after the big animal made it the most sensational event that Valdosta has ever known.

Burial of the Dead Keeper.

      The body of the dead keeper, O’Rourke, was carried to Ulmer’s undertaking rooms and prepared for burial.  It  was found that several of his bones were broken and the body was badly bruised.  It was placed in a very fine casket, bought by Mrs. Harris, owner of the Nickel Plate shows, and was buried in the city cemetery Sunday afternoon at four o’clock,  the services being read by Mr. J. Duffy, of the Catholic church.  The hearse was drawn to the cemetery by six beautiful white horse and all of the circus people, together with many from the city, attended the funeral.
      O’Rourke, it is said, had been with the circus for a number of years and had always managed the elephant.  He came from San Francisco, though his family resides in New Orleans.  It is said that he came near losing his life once or twice under “Gypsy’s” huge form, but was rescued.  It is also said that several times, while he was intoxicated,  the animal had picked him up and placed him in the car, and that on other occasions she has lifted him back on her head when he had fallen off.  The animal was very docile at times, but on other occasions she has been perfectly unmanageable, having been sentenced to death a half dozen times and each time given a lease on life because the means of killing her were so hard to obtain.

Dead Elephant Draws Crowd.

      The body of the elephant was buried a short distance from where she fell dead Sunday morning.  A half dozen horses were used to drag the remains to the grave, but they were unequal to the task and the body was finally cut to pieces with axes and moved a part at a time, four horses being used for the task.
    The dead elephant proved to be a drawing card for hundreds of people from this city, as well as the surrounding country.  It is estimated that fully three thousand people visited the place where she was killed to get a view of her huge carcass, many of these walking six or seven miles to see the sight.
      Mr. T. G. Powers, of the Harris Shows, one of the animal trainers, was formerly in charge of “Gypsy” and knows her history as well as any other living man.  He stated to a TIMES reporter yesterday that the animal was about sixty-five years of age and that  she was among the first elephants ever brought to this country.  She was imported by the O’Brien circus, which travelled through the country in wagons in 1847.   She has been owned by nearly all of the big shows in the country, each one of them disposing of her on account of her temper, though at fabulous prices owing to her wonderful intelligence.

Traits of the Big Animal.

      Mr. Powers stated that she had killed a half a dozen keepers in by-gone years and in each instance she had delivered the death blow only when she had every advantage of her keeper.  Like all other elephants, she never forgot a kindness or an injury.  She would harbor an unkind act for years and then avenge it after the one who did it had forgotten all about it.  Last year, in Chicago, she ran amuck and was conquered by Mrs. Harris, a delicate, frail little woman, who had nerve enough to rush at her with a pitchfork and defy her.  On another occasion she would have killed the same woman had not O’Rourke, who was killed Saturday night, run to her rescue.  Mrs. Harris remembered this act when she gave an order for a fine casket and for the dead man to be given a decent burial.
      Gypsy  is probably the only elephant of her size that has ever been killed by a rifle ball, and her death is a great advertisement for the Krag-Jorgensen army rifles, as well as for Chief Dampier who fired the fatal shot.  Only a could of weeks ago on of the Barnum Elephants was carried twenty miles to sea out of New York, and three or four tug boats were used to hang her and sink her remains into the sea.

The Story Will Live for Years.

      The killing of an elephant in the woods near Valdosta will be a story which will be told to generations yet unborn and it is highly probable that the veracity of many a truthful man will suffer from having repeated the tale.  Even now, it is almost hard to believe, but the bones and white ivory tusks will form relics that will be kept for years by many who desire to keep such trophies to substantiate the fact.
      There has been some talk of saving the skeleton of the big animal and mounting it for exhibition in this city.  If such a thing can be done, the people of Valdosta can afford to pay a good price for it.
      The death of Gypsy has given Valdosta more publicity than anything that has ever happened here, as there is hardly a paper in country that has not printed the story of Saturday night’s chase and its final results.

The Atlanta Constitution published  additional details of Gypsy’s final rampage at Valdosta:

The Atlanta Constitution
November 24, 1902

KEEPER’S LIFE CRUSHED OUT BY ELEPHANT
Infuriated Beast Tramples and Then Rolls on James O’Rourk’s Body.

ANOTHER MAN INJURED BY BLOW FROM TRUNK

Huge Animal Then Becomes Crazed After Shots Fired Into Its Body at Valdosta and Escapes.  Found at Daylight and Killed.

      Valdosta, Ga., November 23. _(Special.) Gipsy, the huge performing elephant of the Harris Nickel Plate Show, became unmanageable after the performance in this city last night and killed her keeper, James O’Rourk. Another member of the show was also injured in endeavoring to capture and chain the infuriated animal.
      The show people lost all control on the elephant and after terrorizing a goodly portion of the people on Toombs street, she made her escape to the country, where she was followed and shot to death near Cherry Creek, 6 miles north of the city, after an all night chase.
      The mad creature’s escapade created intense excitement, and although it occurred after 12 o’clock at night, a large crowd was attracted to the scene.

Gipsy Becomes Unruly.

      The elephant went through her usual performance in the ring in an apparently docile manner, but became unruly before the tents were struck. It was the last performance of the season, the show going into winter quarters at Pane park, near the city. After the show O’Rourk started with the elephant to the park, riding on her head. He is thought to have been under the influence of whisky and is said to have left the show ground scolding and prodding the already maddened creature. Near the Baptist church the keeper fell off the elephant, striking the ground almost in front of her. All the evil in her huge body seemed aroused when the man struck the ground and before he could make a move to save himself she placed her ponderous feet on his body and crushed his life out. She knelt on the body and then rolled the insensible and dying man along with her trunk for 75 yards.

Former Keeper Injured.

       Only a few people witnessed the killing, but a considerable crowd soon gathered. Other members of the show attempted to secure and chain Gypsy, tossed the dead keeper’s body aside and went to eating the grass along the side of the street, A former keeper, to whom the animal once seemed greatly attached, called her name several times and went up to her. With rare cunning she allowed him to approach within arm’s length, when she threw her trunk out with lightning rapidity and knocked him half across the street, afterwards continuing her way out to the northern part of the city.
A crowd followed her out to the park, where an effort was made to kill her.  Several shots from pistols and a mauser rifle were fired into her body, but their first effect only seemed to enrage her, and with vicious lunges she scattered the crowd, and then mashing the park fences made her escape. The pursuit was kept up but the crowd lost sight of the huge creature in the dark. She was easily tracked however, and a number of places were found where she had lain down, the shots from the rifle evidently having begun to take effect. About daylight the crowd came up with the sorely wounded elephant 6 miles from town, and another shot from the mauser rifle in the side of the head rolled her over dead.

With Show Twelve Years.

      O’Rourk, the dead keeper is said to have been from New Orleans, though his people live in San Francisco. He had been with the Harris show for ten or twelve years and had charge of Gipsy for the greater portion of this time.
      The elephant was one of the largest in the country and weight about 12,000 pounds. She had a bad record, having killed ten men previous to her break last night. She was splendidly trained, and notwithstanding her unenviable reputation was a very valuable animal. The Harris show is said to have refused an offer of $6,000 for her.
Mrs. Harris, the owner of the show, begged that Gipsy’s life be spared, but is said to have expressed herself as greatly relieved when informed of the elephant’s death this morning.
      O’Rourk’s body was interred at the city cemetery this afternoon.

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Bloody History of Gypsy the Elephant

Ray City Carnival Photos

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M. W. Henderson and the Wreck of the G & F

Manassah W. Henderson

Manassah W. Henderson, Ray City, GA resident and husband of the evangelist Rebecca J. Henderson ( seeArson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA), was injured in a Valdosta train wreck in the summer of 1910.  He was traveling on the Georgia and Florida train, the new railroad built through Ray City in 1909.

 The train was wrecked when an engine of the Georgia Southern & Florida railroad collided with the passenger car of the Georgia & Florida  (see 1910 Train Wreck in Valdosta, GA).

Many of the injured were taken to the Halcyon Sanitarium. The Halcyon was the second hospital in Valdosta, and was said to have the finest operating facilities.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906.  The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906. The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Valdosta Times
July 2, 1910  Page 2

A  DOZEN PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN A COLLISION ON A CROSSING

A Georgia Southern and Florida  Engine Ran Into a Georgia and Florida Passenger Coach,  Knocking it Fifty Feet and Bruising Up Many Of The Passengers, This Morning

   A serious wreck occurred at the crossing of the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida railroads shortly before eleven o’clock this morning, injuring ten or twelve passengers more or less severely, almost demolishing the rear coach on the Georgia and Florida train which was pulling out for Madison, and badly damaging the front part of a Georgia Southern and Florida locomotive, which ran into the passenger train.

     Among those hurt in the collision were Mrs. F. R. Daniels and her little daughter, Juanita, of this city [Valdosta], Mrs. W. F. Martin, of Madison, Messrs.  J. W. West, W. T. Lane, G. M. Boyd, W. T. Staten, and Dan Thompson, of Valdosta, M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill and Conductor, R. L. Lofton.  There were a few others who were slightly injured but whose names it was impossible to get in the excitement attending the wreck.

   The first news of the collision received up town came in a telephone message from the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Co.’s plant to Ham Brothers’ stables, asking them to send all the carriages in their place to the crossing of the two roads.  It was stated that a wreck had occurred there and that several people had been killed. 

     Intense excitement was created on the streets, the first rumors indicating that the wreck was much more serious than it really was.   A number of physicians were rushed to the scene and a great crowd soon gathered around the overturned coach and the big locomotive which lay with its wheels on one side buried in the earth.

     It is stated that the passenger train on the Georgia and Florida the Valdosta, Moultrie and Western train both reached the crossing about the same time, and both stopped as required by the rules.  The Madison train the pulled across the crossing, all of the train except the last coach —————–overturned ————- passengers in every direction, and was hurled or slided about sixty feet down the track, the coupling to the train then breaking and leaving one end of the coach lying across the Georgia Southern and Florida tracks, while the other end rested on the track of the Georgia and Florida.

     Many of the passengers were thrown through the windows of the overturned coach, while others made their way or were assisted from the ends of the car.  Practically every window and ventilator in the car  was smashed and a shower of flying glass struck the passengers in their faces.

     Many carriages were on the scene in a few minutes, and those passengers who were unable to walk were hastily taken to the carriages and were carried to their homes and to the hospitals for medical attention.

     The passengers sitting on the north side of the car saw the Georgia Southern and Florida engine as it bore down upon the train, and realized that a collision was inevitable, but they had barely time to clutch their seats or to more than move across the car when the impact came.

    Some of the witnesses state that apparently Engineer Burch, in charge of the G. S. and F. engine made every effort to stop, but that he had on sand in his box and that the wheels slid when he threw on the brakes.  The tracks were wet and the locomotive was going down grade, rendering it impossible, according to them, for the locomotive to be stopped in time.  Other persons state that apparently Engineer Burch did not see the train at all and that no effort was made to stop his engine.  As to which of these theories is correct The Times has no way now of knowing.

     There seems to be a wide difference of opinion as to the speed the locomotive was making.  In the opinion of some of those who saw the collision, the locomotive was moving only about six or eight miles an hour, while others think it was moving  at a much faster rate.

     The wreck occurred in an rather dangerous locality, owing to the fact that the shops of the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Company, obstructs from  the view of the trains coming from the north, a view of the tracks around the curve immediately east of the crossing.  Owing to this fact it may be that Engineer Burch did not see the Georgia and Florida train until it was on the crossing.

      The drawhead on the locomotive fastened in the car, and the pull exerted on it by the Madison train, is said to be the cause of the derailment of the engine.  The force of the collision itself was hardly sufficient to have thrown it from the track.  The tracks of both roads for a distance of a hundred feet or more, were torn and twisted, and both lines effectually blocked for several hours.

     Mr. W. T. Staten’s injuries are said to be very serious, but it is impossible at the hour The Times goes to press for the physicians to determine fully their extent.  His shoulder and left side are badly hurt, and it is feared that he has sustained internal injuries.

     Mrs. F. R. Daniel was bruised and severely shocked, while her little daughter’s face was cut and bruised in several places.  Their injuries are not believed to be serious.

     Mrs. F. L. Martin, of Madison, suffered injuries to her side and shoulder, and is suffering from the shock.

     Mr. Andrew Leslie, of Pinetta, Fla., had one bone in his left leg broken.

     Mr. Whittington, of Boston, Ga., had his left ear severely cut and was hurt in the left side.

     Capt. Lofton, Georgia and Florida conductor, was cut in the face and larynx.

     Rev. Mr. Funk of Ohio, shocked and bruised, injuries not serious.

     Mr. M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill, hurt on the head, side and hip.

     Mr. J. W. West, was cut on the face, and severely bruised in the side.

     Mr. G. M. Boyd was severely bruised in one shoulder and side.  His injuries are not thought to be serious.

     Mr. W. T. Lane was cut in the face and neck, and one of his shoulders and hips badly hurt.

     A few of the passengers came out of the overturned car without a scratch, but the experience was one that none of them ———— of Mr. —————-and——————W. Sinclair from instant death was almost miraculous.  They were sitting together on the north side of the train, and started to rise as they saw the locomotive bearing down on them.  Both of them were thrown across the car and through the window to the ground, as the car turned over on them.  Fortunately they fell in an excavation, and this prevented the car from crushing them to death.

      Mr. West lost his pocket book in the wreck, containing some money and many valuable papers, the latter of no value except to himself, however.

      Most of the injured were carried to the Halcyon sanitorium [sic] for treatment,  Dr. Holmes being surgeon at this point for both the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida.

                Freight Wrecked at Chula.

      The Georgia Southern passenger train due here [Valdosta] about five o’clock this morning was delayed about five hours at Chula by the wreck of a freight train, south bound.  It is said that two or three miles of trains were tied up there by the wreck.   The passenger train reached this city about half past ten o’clock and the loose engine which ran into the Georgia and Florida train was on its way to the coal chute, having run back from the depot to the main line and was rolling slowly down the main line towards the coal chute when it struck the Georgia and Florida train on the crossing.

1910 Train Wreck in Valdosta, GA

Manassah W. Henderson

Manassah Henderson of Ray’s  Mill, GA was injured in the 1910 train wreck in Valdosta.  Read additional accounts at http://raycity.pbworks.com/

Atlanta Georgian and News, Jun. 29, 1910 — page 3
MANY ARE INJURED;
ENGINE HURLS REAR
COACH FROM TRACK

Two collide at Right Angle in
Valdosta Railroad
Yards.

PASSENGERS ARE HURT
BY FEARFUL IMPACT

Thrown in Heap Against Sides
of Car — Cut by Flying Glass
and Otherwise
Injured

    Valdosta, GA. June 29 – Ten or twelve passengers were more or less seriously injured in a wreck which occurred in the railroad yard in this city shortly before 11 o’clock today. The rear coach on a Georgia and Florida railroad train was struck at right angle and hurled a distance of 50 feet by a locomotive of the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad at a crossing of the two roads.
The passengers in the coach were thrown in a huddle by the impact, nearly of them being cut by flying glass, while some of them sustained internal injuries.
Among those injured were;
Mrs. Daniels and daughter, of Valdosta.
Mrs. W. F. Martin, of Madison, Fla.
W.T. Staten,
J.W. West,
G.M. Boyd,
W. T. Lane, of Valdosta,
W.M. Henderson, of Rays Mill, Ga.
It is not known yet whether the injuries of any of them will prove fatal.
The wreck appears to have been the fault of the Georgia Southern and Florida engineer.

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