OBITUARY: Samuel Smith. Freeport
Weekly Journal; Wednesday, 20 November, 1878, Pg 8, C 3. (Freeport,
Stephenson Co., Illinois)
The Sudden and Violent Death of One of
Stephenson County's Oldest Settlers.
Yesterday morning the
eastward bound 10 o'clock passenger train, three miles east of this
city, struck Samuel Smith, of Lancaster, injuring him so severely that
he died in half an hour.
He had been engaged for some time in chopping posts
near the rail road, and left his work to drive away a colt that had
strayed upon the track. It was while performing this act that the
train came rushing upon him, and before he could get entirely out of the
way, was struck on the head by the baggage car. The left side of
the skull was crushed and his hip severely bruised. He never spoke
after the accident and it is probable did not know what caused his
death. The train was stopped, the remains placed on board, and
after being carried a short distance, conveyed to his home.
Samuel Smith was born May 26, 1799, in Rockingham
County, Virginia. He became a settler of Lancaster Township,
Stephenson county, in 1847, when Freeport was represented by a few poor
houses. His age was 79 years, 5 months, 23 days. The family and
relatives of the deceased have the sympathy of the entire community.
OBITUARY: Freeport Weekly Bulletin, Thursday, November 21, 1878,
Pg 8, C 4. (Freeport, Stephenson Co., Illinois)
Fatal Accident. Resulting in the Death of an Old Citizen.
Tuesday morning about 10 o'cl'k, Mr. Samuel Smith,
better known as "Salty" Smith, was killed on the Northwestern
road about forty rods from his house, and a mile and a half from the
depot. The particulars of the accident are as follows:
Mr. Smith, who is about eighty years old and slightly
deaf, was crossing the track carrying some poles just as the 10 o'clock
passenger train was going by. It is a down grade, but the engineer
and fireman discovered the old man while approaching him, and endeavored
to warn him by ringing the bell and making as much noise as they
possibly could. Before the train could be stopped he was struck on
the fore part of the head by the tender. He was carried into the
house, but died in a few minutes.
Mr. Smith was the owner of a fine farm along the line
of the road about a mile and a half from town, and was well known and
universally respected. As stated above, he was about eighty years
of age, and one of the very oldest settlers in this county, having come
here about 1837. He leaves, we understand, seven grown up
children, three sons and four daughters.
Tuesday afternoon about a quarter to four the
Coroner's jury went to the scene of Mr. Samuel Smith's death in a coach
provided for the occasion by Station Agent Holder. The
residence of deceased is situated a mile and a half from the depot
and is within forty rods of the railroad. Immediately upon
arriving the jury was organized by the appointment of John Dewalt as
foreman and Charles Sheetz as clerk, and proceeded with the inquest.
Three witnesses were examined, Mr. Kanke, a
son-in-law of Mr. Smith, and another of his relatives and Mrs. Kanke.
Only the first of these, however, saw the whole occurrence. The
facts elicited are substantially as follows: Mr. Smith was
chopping some posts, and threw down his axe and stepped upon the
railroad with the evident intention of going to the house. He had
walked up a few rods when the train appeared around the curve, the bell
ringing. The old man turned his head and stepped off the track on
the north side, but not far enough. The engine reached him, but
just what happened at that time was obscured by the letting off of
steam. However, the witness ran to the spot and saw his
father-in-law lying with his head down the declivity. The train
which had passed on backed up, and the employees assisted in placing his
body in a wagon. He was living at the time; but soon after
reaching the house ceased to breathe. He must have been
killed by the mail car, which struck his breast at the floor and his
forehead about twelve inches higher up, as indicated by the marks on the
The face of the corpse was then uncovered and seemed
to be very much swollen. There was a deep gash on his forehead and
a small stream of blood had flowed out of his mouth. His breast
was also cut. Dr. Buckley said that death was caused by the
fracture of the skull.
One of Mr. Smith's daughters testified that her
father has been very deaf for many years, which accounts for his not
hearing the approach of the train. His son-in-law also testified
that he was born in Virginia, in May, 1799, and was accordingly very
close upon his eightieth year. He came to this county forty years
The inquest was then adjourned, to meet at the Co.
court room yesterday afternoon at half-past three, in order to obtain
the trainmen's evidence.
The jury met yesterday afternoon, and after
hearing the testimony of the engineer, conductor and fireman, returned a
verdict exonerating the railroad company from all blame in the matter.
Submitted by: Kay