Alden Croll Accident

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Beardstown, Illinois, Friday, June 16, 1911 - (Croll Obituary)


Frightful Thunder Storm Raging at Time Party Was on the Crossing and the Noise of the Wagon and Crash of Thunder Deadens Sound of the Approaching Engine.

An awful accident occurred here Saturday evening. A switch engine crashed into a hayrack wagon loaded with twenty-one young people at the Fourth street crossing at about 8:30 o'clock.

Alden Croll, aged about 18 years, son of Rev. P. C. Croll, pastor of the Fourth Street Lutheran church was fatally injured and died in the depot near where the accident occurred at 9:55, a little more than an hour after he was struck by the engine.

Miss Inez Hierman, one of the party was maimed for life, having received a compound fracture of the right fore arm, the bone being badly crushed, half of the right food cut off, and two fingers cut off the left hand, also many other bruises about the head and body.

Paul Croll, brother of Alden, has left shoulder dislocated and is badly bruised on body.

It was what is known as a hayrack party and was given in honor of Miss Clara Magison of Chicago, who was a guest at the Croll home on West Fourth Street in this city.

Soon after they left Clear Lake on their return home, a frightful thunder storm arose and they were hurrying homeward as rapidly as possible. They had driven several blocks on the pavement on East Fourth street and were approaching the point where the Burlington railroad crosses Fourth street when the storm broke in great fury, the lightning and thunder being terrific and frightful.

Switch engine No. 1327 was working in the yards and moving rapidly north and nearing the crossing. The west gate on the crossing, many who were eyewitnesses to the awful calamity assert, was closed. The same people assert that the east gate was not closed. The hayrack party was going rapidly west in the rain and confusion of the storm.

In the blinding flashes of lightning, the roar of the thunder and the rattle of the wheels on the paved street the driver heard no warning signal, saw no signal light or closed gate, and drove onto the track in front of the swiftly approaching switch engine.

The four horse team had barely gotten across the track when the driver, seeing the gate ahead of him closed, sung on the lines with all his might, seeking to escape the oncoming engine by bringing the wagon and team beyond the rails and parallel with the track.

He was too late, however, as only the front wheels of the wagon got west of the rails when the engine struck the wagon, hurling the young people in every direction. The impact of the engine drove the wagon about fifty feet northward up the track.

While the storm was still raging, the awful news spread about the city and mothers and fathers and other relatives of the members of the hayrack party were on every corner, almost frantic with fear and grief.

The officials and employees of the Burlington and many others were soon on the ground and lending all assistance in their power.

The young people who were injured were quickly taken up and carried to a place of safety and shelter. Physicians were called. Dr. T. J. Schweer, Dr. Chas. E. Soule, Dr. Palmer and Dr. R. H. Garm all rendered assistance.

Young Croll, whose death occurred soon after, was carried into the passenger depot. He was conscious and spoke several times to those about him. He called for his father and mother, and said, "tell them I love them. I know I cannot live. I wish I could see them once more." These were among his last words.

Miss Inez Hierman was taken into the Liendell hotel where her injuries were treated. She was later removed to Dr. Schweer's office.

Paul Croll was taken to Dr. Soule's office where he was treated.

As above stated, it was switch engine No. 1327 that struck the hayrack wagon and caused the terrible accident. The engine crew were Chas. Johnson, engineer; R. E. Henderson, fireman. The switchmen were H. E. Gorsage, foreman; McCune and Meisenheimer, switchmen. The gatekeeper was Henry Steve.

Following are the names of the members of the party:

Miss Clara Magison, of Chicago, who was the guest of honor of the hayrack picnic party, and who is a guest at the Croll home on West Fourth Street; Amie Croll, Alden Croll, Paul Cross, Hilda Croll, Alfred Reller, Elmer Ellrick, Inez Hierman, Freda Knippenberg, Harry Knippenberg, Albert Blazer, Julius Wessel, Walter Giles, Walter Phelps, Irwin Pilger, Dora Wessel, Erma Ellrick, Glenn Foster, Mildred Greve, Elda Greve, Roy Frazier.

Submitted by Sheila Neuenfeldt