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 car.
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 ago.
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.
OBITUARY: Samuel Smith. Freeport Weekly Journal; Wednesday, 20 November, 1878, Pg 8, C 3. (Freeport, Stephenson Co., Illinois)