February 14, 1907

Fatal Railway Disaster.

A serious railway accident occurred at Mahone on Saturday by which three persons lost their lives. A train composed of an engine and nineteen cars of lumber was proceeding toward Mahone. In descending the grade, which is about a mile and a half in length the driver lost control of his engine. The passenger train from Lunenburg for Middleton was standing at Mahone Station. The switch was opened to turn the lumber train upon the siding. The runaway engine, however, jumped the points and dashed into the waiting engine. Willard Phalen, the driver, and Enos Crooks, the fireman, on the regular train were both so injured that they died shortly after. Willis Lowe, section master, was standing on the platform of the freight shed and was instantly killed by lumber and debris from the wrecked cars. Mr. Phalen was taken to Halifax on a special train but died shortly after reaching the hospital.

An inquest was held on the same day. The coroner’s jury say that the special train was overloaded and undermanned and that the accident occurred from causes within the control of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway Company.

Willard M. Phalen, the engine driver who was killed, was the youngest son of William Phalen, Esq., of Milton, Queens County, who formerly carried on a lumbering business at Factorydale in this County. He was a cousin of Rev. John Phalen, of Berwick.

A School of the Olden Time

Mr. Lemuel E. Newcomb, now of Los Gatos, California, in a private letter recently written, gives some reminiscences of his school days in Nova Scotia, which will be of interest to many of our readers.

"The other day I came across a notice of George Mage’s death, cut out of The Register a year ago. The sight of it set memory at work. The last time I saw him he was at work at Uncle John Newcomb’s, getting lumber ready for the new house – now an old one, for it was fifty-two years ago. I think Mr. Magee was the eldest of Mr. Sommerville’s pupils. He, redheaded Sam Condon, Joe Buckley, a Webster, a Burgess, a Porter, and a Cogswell were in a Euclid class in advance of the one of which James Morton, James Cogswell, and myself were members. Probably there were two of three other boys in our class but their names I cannot recall. Then, too young for Euclid, were Jonathan Newcomb, rotund in body, freckled in face, red and curly as to his hair, and overflowing with animal spirits; John Sommerville, a younger sister, and I think, two little boys, who were John’s brothers and were in school only and hour or so each day. I can see now in memory the little school room; the blackboard, just in front of the teacher’s desk; and the first class in Euclid, extending clear across the room, all standing while one enunciates or proves a proposition. Magee, tallest an slimmest, at the head; Burgess, the biggest; Buckley, the youngest and smallest; all there without fail; all, except possibly Buckley and Burgess, who, I think, wore store clothes, clad in neat fitting homespun; and Mr. Sommerville at his desk, alert to detect and correct any errors in the demonstrations. But the blunders occurred mostly in our class. Mr. Sommerville was very considerate and patient with all his pupils and I have always thought particularly so with my short comings. I did not realize then, as I have since, how much my benefactor he was. My reverence, probably, in these years, has waned, but not so my sincere affection for the best teacher I ever had.

But to return to the class left standing before the blackboard: They were all Admirable Crichtons for learning in my eyes then, especially when they began to lay siege to trigonometry, with text books like atlases. As to Mr. Sommerville, I thought there was no limit to his knowledge, till, one day, I heard him say to this class that he, when in college, did not study the calculus, and did not understand it. I had no idea what the calculus might be, except that it marked a limit. If there were any pupils that excelled the others, I considered Webster and Buckley to be the most promising. All the pupils lived in the neighborhood except Webster, who lived over Kentville way, Jimmy Cogswell, in the Gaspereau region, and myself, whom the boys called a Yankee. It was an ideal school. My impressions of the second class, a part of which I was, are not so distinct, I was too busy when we had the floor to photograph the class. There were about twenty-five in all. Whether any, besides Jonathan Newcomb and myself, are living I do not know.