.... and the 'rest of the story' written over a century later


Wednesday's Dubuque Herald has a special correspondence from Waukon giving the following particulars of a sad catastrophe at Volney: Waukon, June 7.

One of the most horrible accidents that ever occurred in this county happened at Volney, a little village on Yellow river, in the south part of the county, last Sunday evening. A party of seven young people, four of whom, namely John CAMPBELL, his sister Cassie, Henry DESMER and Miss Olive ADAMS, were in one buggy, and Od. GOSS, Tom CAMPBELL and Tillie GOSS in another buggy. They were on their way to church. John CAMPBELL was driving a spirited span of young colts, and when passing along a narrow portion of roadway near the mill, GOSS undertook to pass him. Both teams got under such headway that the young men were unable to control them and GOSS' buggy ran into CAMPBELL's, tearing off a wheel, upsetting the vehicle and throwing the four occupants heavily to the ground. Miss CAMPBELL was thrown fully fifteen feet her head striking the butt or chopped end of a saw-log, tearing off the scalp and crushing the skull so that her brains issued from the aperture, dislocating a shoulder and injuring her otherwise. She was picked up insensible, but afterwards rallied somewhat and lived for about two hours. The other occupants of the buggy were also seriously injured, John CAMPBELL and Henry DEEMER [transcription note: he was named Henry Desmer at the beginning of the article] very badly, the latter being unconscious for two days and his recovery doubted. Miss ADAMS was badly cut and bruised about the head and face and her left arm was broken. She had come over from West Union only a few days before, for a visit with her friends, Mrs. CROUCH, Miss Jennie ADAMS and Jas. ADAMS; of this city, being relatives of hers. None of those in the other buggy were injured. Miss CAMPBELL, the lady killed, was about 23 years of age, and was not only the idol of her parents, but esteemed and beloved by everybody in that community, and her tragical death was a terrible shock to all. Her funeral took place on monday forenoon, it being impossible to preserve the body longer, and the large attendance and the great grief that prevailed showed how deeply the friends and neighbors felt the loss. Miss Cassie was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alex. CAMPBELL, who only four weeks ago buried a son who died very suddenly. The mother is indelicate health and it is feared the shock that she has sustained in this second sudden bereavement will prove fatal to her. It was indeed a terrible accident and the result of careless and thoughless driving.

- source: Postville Review, June 11, 1887
- contributed by Sharyl Ferrall


The 'Rest of the Story'

..... a closer look at the Terrible & Fatal Runaway at Volney reveals the rest of the story to be as sad as the events of that day in 1887.....

"I am certain that the parties mentioned in the newspaper story are of my "GAST" family. Gast is German, and is pronounced "Goss", as spelled in the article. Tillie and Adolph Gast were a brother and sister of my great-grandmother, Mary Ellen Gast-Erbe. As a child I had heard the story of great-uncle Adolf (identified as Od. Goss in the article) going crazy after this buggy accident, and how the woman he was in love with was killed. It was one of those tragic family stories. A few years ago, I decided to look into it to see what really happened, and here is what I learned.

Adolph was in love with Miss Campbell and intended to ask her to marry him (family lore). Adolph blamed himself for the accident and for her death, and never fully recovered from it. No one has ever been certain if Adolph actually suffered a head-injury or brain-damage as a result of the accident, or if he had a psychological breakdown of some kind. Regardless, he was in and out of the sanitarium at Independence Iowa at least a few times. I was able to get copies of his files from there as enough time had passed to have them released. The records reveal that he was a very tormented man, often didn't eat or sleep and was delusional. He died at the age of 52 in the Instituation at Independence and was buried on the grounds there. At the time, this was very shameful for the family,  no one visited him, and he was not brought back to Allamakee Co, for burial.  Adolph died Dec, 13, 1919.

Many, many years passed before this was ever talked about within the family."

-contributed by Kathy Pike, August 2003

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