Since our last issue four more victims of the Sulphur Springs disaster have died. They were Mrs. A.J. Adsit of Hoopeston, Ill., age 29 years; Mrs. Hulda Hayslip of Chenoa, Ill., aged 52; Miss Lottie L. Still, Hornelisville, N.Y., aged 26 years; L. S. Coleman, PawPaw, Mich., aged 24 years. It is supposed that Coleman was traveling on the freight train. Messages were received from his father and his remains were shipped to Michigan.

Robert Densmore, the oldest conductor on the Alton, who had charge of the train, spent Friday and Saturday in Slater, and has recovered from the slight bruises received. He says the exact time of the wreck was 7:30 but it was more than an hour before the relief train arrived. In the mean time heroic work was done to get out of those under the wreck. In all (dead and wounded) twelve persons were taken from the debris. The smoking car in which Densmore was riding was thrown down the embankment with such force as to reverse the ends of the car. For a moment it stood on end, then fell back, right side up.

"Frank Brigg, poor fellow," said Densmore, "his last act, in the face of death was to try to save the train and its passengers, when possibly he might have saved his life by jumping. He was one of the best engineers on the road and I have had the utmost confidence that hs part would be well done whenever he was at the throttle. I felt the air go on and the next instant came the crash."

Fireman John Varndell, the only survivor of the two engine crews, was very fortunate. He saw the freight train when only a few yards away and jumped. Before he struck the ground the engines came together. How he ever escaped with only a sprained hip and ankle cannot be accounted for.


The wreck train with a steam derrick and complete equipment were sent over from Bloomington to assist in cleaning up the wreckage. Nine car loads of it were brought to Slater Saturday and six more cars were gathered up this week. The two boilers were stripped of everything and loaded in cars to themselves. The head of the larger engine was knocked in farther than the passenger train. But both were badly shattered. One of the strange features of the wreck was, the track was not torn up a particle. A few ties had to be placed under the rails to replace those burned under the coaches. With this exception little work was needed on the track.


Mr. Starr, Supt. of the Western division, says: "The fault of the wreck rested entirely with the conductor and engineer of the stock train. The orders given them allowed no opportunity for a misunderstanding. No fault whatsoever attaches to the train dispatchers or the men of the passenger train. The exact nature of the mistake made by the freight men will never be known. There is a slight possibility that they might have mistaken the St. Louis train, which was two hours late, for the first section of the Chicago train, but I scarcely think they did."


Miss Sarah McAnna, of Pittston, Pa., arrived here last Friday for the remains of her brother, Conductor McAnna. The remains left Slater Friday night, and were accompanied to Pittston by Conductor S.J. Mead, Miss Julia Sullivan, and Miss Mary Schreiber. Miss Schreiber and the deceased were engaged to be married next September. She formerly lived in Slater, but for the past year has been in Kansas City.


The funeral of F.A. Briggs took place at the Baptist Church Friday afternoon and was attended by a large concourse of friends. After the service at the church, the Mason’s of Cambridge Lodge No. 63 A.F. and A.M. took charge of the remains and conducted the services at the grave. The pallbearers were composed of six Masons, three of them being members of the B. of L.E. Missouri Commandery No. 36, of which he was also a member, sent a beautiful floral offering, a passion cross. The other beautiful and appropriate offerings were as follows: The order of the Eastern Star; The Ladies Auxiliary to the B. of L.E., a cross and a crown; Cambridge Lodge No. 63, A.F. and A.M., a square and compass encircling the letter G.; B. of L.E.. a wreath; C.H. Johnston and wife, bouquet of cut flowers; James Day and wife, bouquet of cut flowers.

Among those who attended his funeral from a distance were Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery of Blue Springs, uncle and aunt of Mrs. Briggs, Mrs. H. Arnold, of Roodhouse, Lafe Briggs, of Muskegan, Mich., brother of the deceased, Mrs. R.B. Miller, of Blue Springs; Miss Zadie Cope, of Rockford, Mich.; Mrs. Lucy Jones, of Blue Springs; Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Day, of Kansas City, and Homer Pulliam, of Pittsburg, Kansas.

The funeral of David J. Anderson took place at the Christian church, Saturday morning at 9:30 o’clock. The services were conducted by Elder R.L. Wilson, assisted by Revs. Russell and Alton. After the services at the church, the members of Samaritan Lodge No. 390, took charge of the remains, which were interred at the City Cemetery, with the solemn ceremonies of that benevolent order. It is a matter of regret by the friends and relatives of the deceased that the floral offerings which were ordered from Kansas City, failed to arrive until Sunday morning. Mr. Anderson began his railroading in Slater. He formerly lived in Clay Township, and many of his friends from that county were present to pay the last tribute to his memory.

In respect to the two dead engineers, who had long been citizens of Slater, the business houses were closed during the funeral services.


Friday night another one of the coaches, the smoker, caught fire and burned to ashes. Watchers had been sent to the wreck, but it appears that they went to sleep and awakened to find the coach in flames.

Source: The Slater Rustler, 19 July 1901

Submitter: Conni Braun