Plainview Train Wreck
Postcard with postmark from Plainview Nebraska, May 13, 1912
Thank you to Owen for sending the image
(Image links to larger image)

Nebraska Train Wrecks and Accidents
Page One


Several people have been so kind as to share obituaries and stories of train wrecks in Nebraska. I have included them, or links to them, on this page. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed, and would like to urge anyone else with stories and information about train wrecks in Nebraska to contribute to this page. Thanks everyone!

Links to items about Railroad accidents on other sites:

  • Cass County accident involving a brakeman, James Love, from Lincoln.
    On the Cass County NEGenWeb Project site.

Kaylynn Loveland, NEGenWeb County Coordinator for Hall County, Nebraska, has submitted the following information on train wrecks in Hall County from July 8, 1866 to January 1, 1890. The information is from "Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Hall County," pub. 1890 by Goodspeed Publishing, Chicago, Ill. Thank You, Kaylynn!

To enumerate all the accidents which occurred here (Hall County, Nebr.) even from July 8, 1866, when the road was completed as far as Grand Island, to January 1,(1890, would indeed be a difficult task. From 1870, when the first newspaper (other than the old Mormon magazine, of Wood River) was established, there is a partial record, and from the files the following memoranda are taken:

The first accident recorded is that of John Hamann, who was killed prior to 1876, while riding his wagon across the railroad. Charles E. Van Pelt, a brakeman on the Union Pacific, was killed near Shelton, in November, 1876. During the work of repairing the railroad bridge over the Platte, in March, 1884, some timbers gave way and engine, derrick and pile-driver fell into the river. James Dennon was killed and two men injured. Eleven of the 180 horses belonging to Palmer & Talmage, which broke through the corral just north of the city, in September, 1885, were killed by the Denver Union Pacific train, and several animals injured. John C. W. Longnecker, of Steelton, Pa., was killed by a St. Joseph & Grand Island train, in September, 1885. Dick Hughes and George Donaldson, brakemen on this road, were killed in November. D. B. Thompson, of the Union Pacific, was killed March 27, 1886. The Union Pacific passenger, No. 1, was wrecked at Grand Island in September, 1886. An unknown man was run over and killed by a Union Pacific locomotive (No. 743) at the coal house, April 7, 1887. Other deaths on the rail are referred to, but the dates have not been ascertained. Trains have been ditched in many instances, and snow-bound inside the lines of this county more than once.

The following two newspaper articles, both relating to the same accident, were submitted by Jo Newkirk-Hornecker. Thank You, Jo, for submitting the first articles for this part of our Nebraska GenWeb Railroad Pages.

From the Nebraska State Journal, October 5, 1920:

Two Killed at Greenwood - Burlington Train Hits Car on Grade Crossing - Mr. and Mrs. Kelly of Lincoln Meet Instant Death When Auto Stops on Track

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kelly of Lincoln were instantly killed Monday afternoon, near 3 o'clock when hit by Burlington train No. 2 eastbound at a crossing near Greenwood. The remains were brought to Lincoln late Monday afternoon.

Mr. Kelly was a brother of Mrs. O.E. Rector and of Mrs. John Fitzgerald. The accident happened east of Greenwood near the elevator. Mr. Kelly drove up on the eastbound track and stopped to let a freight train go by, never noticing the approaching fast passenger train. The car was demolished and the occupants were instantly killed.

Mr. and Mrs. Kelly left Lincoln Monday morning on business. Mr. Kelly is a retired farmer and the circumstances of the accident indicate that he was driving to their farm near Greenwood when the train struck them. Mr. Kelly was about sixty years old and Mrs. Kelly about fifty-five.

Word was received Monday evening that Mrs. John Fitzgerald, sister of Mr. Kelly, would arrive Tuesday from Evergreen Col. where she is now living. Edward, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, will arrive sometime Tuesday from Notre Dame university where he is a student.

The remains of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly are being held at Roberts' Parlors pending funeral arrangements.

From the Greenwood Gazette, October 7, 1920:

Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Kelly Meet Death

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Kelly met instant death Monday afternoon when struck by Burlington train No. 2 at the crossing near the stockyards. No one knows the exact cause of the accident, but many think the victims were watching a freight train coming from the east and failed to see the approaching fast passenger train. The car was demolished and Mr. and Mrs. Kelly almost instantly killed, the bodies being taken to Lincoln on No. 7.

Mr. and Mrs. Kelly lived on their farm near here until two years ago when they retired and went to Lincoln to live. They leave two children - Edward, who is attending Notre Dame College and Mrs. Mayme White, who resides in Texas.

The accident has cast a gloom over this community where Mr. and Mrs. Kelly made a host of friends during their long residence in this vicinity.

A Thank You To Our State Coordinator, Connie Snyder, For Providing Us With this Article:

This accident happened in Aurora, Nebraska on December 16, 1903. This article was published in a Pike County, Illinois newspaper.

Mrs. Alex. Wilson, Former Pike
County Woman, Killed by a
Train Near Her Home at
Aurora, Nebraska.

The following account which appeared in the Aurora, Neb., newspaper, speaks of a former Pike County woman, she and her husband visited in this county last summer. Mrs. Wilson's funeral was held last Sunday from the U.B. church in Aurora, Neb. Miss Wilson, who was injured also, in improving and last Sunday she was reported as being on the road to recovery. Mrs. Wilson's husband is a brother of Andy Wilson.

Thursday at 1:30 p. m., as Mrs. Alex Wilson and her nineteen year old daughter Ethel were driving to Aurora from their home in Hamilton precinct to attend the Woman's Relief Corps and do some shopping, they undertook to cross the Burlington track at the crossing near the stockyards. It is a very dangerous place and as their attention was directed eastward to a freight that was near the crossing, the belated eleven a. m. passenger from the west ran into them, killing Mrs. Wilson, breaking the right leg of the young lady and giving her other injuries, smashing the buggy and killing the horse. The train was brought to a stop within its length and it then had the buggy cover and the hats of the women on the pilot. Mrs. Wilson was thrown out on one side of the track and the girl on the other and the bodies were thrown about ninety to a hundred feet. The mother fell on the south side of the track and the daughter to the north, though the comb of the latter was picked up on the opposite side from where she lay. Indications are that the horse swerved to the east partially turning the buggy or it would seem impossible for the women to be thrown in that way and the animal killed.

The train was stopped and both the injured and the dead were brought down to the station thereon. Mrs. Wilson never spoke and her neck being broken and the skull fractured there is no doubt that death was instantaneous. The body of deceased was taken to the Chapman undertaking parlors and from there to her own home, while Miss Ethel was conveyed to the home of her sister, Mrs. Wm. O'Brien, where she has been receiving the best of care and at this writing seems better.

Mrs. Margaret Wilson was 59 years of age, and was the mother of a large family. Two married sons, James and John, live in the county, two unmarried, William and Robert, are at home. Among the girls are Mrs. Wm. O'Brien, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Sim Moore, Mrs. Myers, Mrs. Chas. Moore of Idaho, Ehtel, and a fifteen year old daughter living at home. Word has been sent to those living and residing in Idaho, and the funeral will be held as soon as they can arrive. This terrible calamity will call attention to the condition of this crossing and if it can in any manner be safeguarded so as to make such occurrenences impossible it should be done. Nothing has happened for years that has given such a shock of horror to the public and all unite in tendering sympathy and assistance to the most estimable family who have sustained the misfortune.

Thanks to Tom Risinger for the following story:

Note: This accident happened Christmas Day 1925. I do not have the name of the paper this appeared in. It was probably the Wisner or Pilger paper. - Tom.


Services to be held from rural church near farm home

Lone survivor is improving

Fred, Jr., is able to answer all questions except those about personal condition-thinks he was hurt in football game.

Funeral services for the five members of the Von Seggern family of Wisner, who were instantly killed Christmas day in a rail crossing tragedy, will be held at 2 o'clock this afternoon from the German Lutheran church, seven miles north of Wisner, of which the family were members.

The Rev. P. O. Spehr, pastor of the church will have charge of the services. Burial will be made in the cemetery near the rural church.

The five bodies, which were placed in the undertaking parlors at Wisner, were taken from that place at 10 o'clock this morning for the procession to the church. Five hearse were in the cortege.

Fred Von Seggern Sr., father; Mrs. Lena Von Seggern, mother; Anna, daughter; Gustave, son, and Louisa, daughter, are the dead.

Survivor is Better

Fred Jr., 19-year old son, the sole survivor of the family, is resting comfortably in a local hospital, according to a report this morning. He rested well Saturday and Sunday night.

He seems to be able to answer clearly all questions asked by the hospital attendants, except those about his personal condition, which is not serious. Yesterday morning the youth was under the impression that he had been injured in a football game. He doesn't know that funeral services are being held for his loved ones today, nor does he know that they are dead.

X-ray pictures reveal that there are no fractures in his skull, although he was injured about the head.

The boy was thrown upon the guards near the crossing when the new Buick sedan was struck broadside. Members of the train crew found him there after the train had stopped.

Bodies Hurled on One Side

All the bodies were hurled to the north side of the tracks. Bodies of the mother and the oldest daughter were found close by the tracks, while the others were more distant from the rails. Gustave was hurled the farthest.

The heads of the father and mother were mangled and crushed, while the bones in the bodies of the others were crushed and their legs horribly smashed.

After the engine had struck the sedan, Engineer R. C. Allen, Norfolk, applied the brakes and stopped the train about a quarter of a mile from the crossing. The train was backed up and the crew picked up the bodies and placed them in the baggage car, and took them to Pilger.

No Inquest Held

No inquest was held by the sheriff of Cuming County, on the grounds that the railway employees were in no way to blame. The Butterfield crossing on which the tragedy took place is located about two and one-half miles from Pilger. Motorist traveling over it can sight an approaching train for a distance of about a mile and one-half from the west and two miles from the east, there being no obstructions to hinder the view.

It is thought the father clutched at the seat cushion when he saw the inevitable, because the cushion was found beside him.

The top of the car was torn from the car and cast upon one side of the road, while the remainder of the machine was on the other side.

Two wheels were ripped from the car, and rolled down the road, stopping several feet from the tracks.

Four Norfolkans on Train

Among the Norfolkans on the train were Don Donisthrope, Nebraska university student; "Bud" Tracy, now located at Des Moines, IA; William E. Schiebe, member of Grand theater orchestra; John Hale. Mr. Fountain, Missouri Valley, IA, who was coming to Norfolk for a visit with the H. K. Demmon family, was also a passenger.

Besides the injured son Fred, the Von Seggerns have a number of relatives; Herman, Emil, Bernard, and Dick, Mrs. George Bruns of Wayne, Mrs. Henry Claussen of Pender and Miss Lena Von Seggern.

Thanks to Denise Birney for the following two newspaper articles:

From the Rogers [Arkansas] Democrat - October 08, 1908

Stover, Clem - C.E. Stover Monday night received a telegram from Lincoln, Neb. stating that his son, Clem Stover, had been killed that day in the railroad yards of that city. The story was confirmed by telegram Tuesday and Mr. Stover left for Lincoln that night to secure the body and bring it here for burial. No particulars as to the manner of the accident was given. The deceased was twenty-four years old and leaves a wife and two children.

He gave up braking last spring and had been back at work only a short time. The sudden death is a great blow to the bereaved parents and they have the deepest sympathy of the entire community. It is not expected that Mr. Stover will get home with the body before Saturday.

From the Rogers Democrat, October 22, 1908

Birney, Clem K. - C. E. Stover arrived Sunday morning from Lincoln, Neb. accompanied by the remains of his step-son, Clem K. Birney, who was killed the first of the week at a small station near that city. Birney, who was a brakeman, missed his footing when he attempted to board the caboose of his freight train and was caught by the wing of a grading machine, attached to the rear of the train, and was instantly killed. Mr. Stover was accompanied by the wife and two small children of the deceased who will visit here at the Stover home for a short time before returning to their home at Dunlap, Iowa. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Kilbourn. A large number of friends and neighbors of Mr. Stover and wife were present at the funeral.

Henry T. Holden Dies Result of Accident

Courtesy of Bud and Charlene Spaulding
My husband's great grandfather obituary and burial permit is as follows:

Burial Permit for Henry T. Folden, Board of Health, City of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
St. Joseph Hospital, 8 Ward.
Male, White, DOB: 1863, age: 40, Widowed, birthplace: Nebraska, name of father: Wm. A. Folden, birthplace: unknown, name of mother: unknown, birthplace: unknown, occupation: Engineer, length of residence in city: 10 months

October 8, 1903
I hereby certify, that I attended the deceased from Oct. 6th, 1903 to Oct 8th, 1903 that I last saw him alive on Oct. 8th, 1903 and that death occurred, on the date stated above, at 11:10 p.m.
THE CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows: Concussion of brain duration 2 days, Contributory Depressed fracture and penetrating wound of brain. ___ Malone, MD, Oct 9th, 1903 address 67 Porter Bldg.

SPECIAL INFORMATION only for Hospitals, Institutions, Transients or Recent Residents.
Former or Usual residence: 313 Georgia Street. How long at Place of Death: 3 days.
DATE OF BURIAL: October 9, 1903
UNDERTAKER: Taylor and Nims, Memphis.

THE WEEKLY WYMOREAN, Wymore, Nebraska, Saturday, October 17, 1903 Vol. 21 No. 14

OBITUARY: Large attendance at Methodist Church where funeral services were held. The remains of H.T. Folden arrived from Memphis, TN last Saturday evening and were taken to the undertaking rooms of Markle Huston Company. The funeral was held Sunday afternoon at the M.E. Church, Rev. L.G. Parker conducting the services. Members of the A.O.U.W. and I.O.O.F. Orders and the railroad boys who were friends of the deceased, met at the Odd Fellows Hall and marched the body to the church. Mr. Folden met his death in a railroad accident in Memphis while on the work train. Some part of the machinery broke (the Johnson bar that connected to the drag wheel) and the flying pieces struck Mr. Folden in the head, crushing his forehead in such a manner that his brains were exposed. The accident occurred Tuesday and the unfortunate man lingered in agony until Thursday. Mr. Bert Rowley accompanied the body to this city, where it is laid to rest beside that of his wife, who died a year ago last July. For many years Mr. Folden was a resident of Wymore, having been an engineer on the Burlington. After his wife's death, he went to Memphis, where he was employed by the Illinois Central. He leaves one married daughter and several small children who will be cared for by relatives.

Thanks to the efforts of a lot of folks, especially Sherri Brakenhoff, the Platte and Colfax County Coordinator, we have added a second page of train accidents and wrecks information.

Go To Second Page.

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