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Posted By: cheryl moonen (email)
Date: 12/15/2017 at 18:33:19

Cascade Pioneer, April 15, 1892, page 8, column 4


Horribly Mutilated by a Handcar on the Narrow Gauge, on Monday Night

On Tuesday morning, our citizens were greatly shocked when a messenger from Fillmore announced that John Keegan of South Whitewater, had been found dead on the trestle work of railroad bridge number 892, on the Folliard farm west of Fillmore. The body was first discovered by Michael Folliard and Frank Gill while on their way to work in a neighboring field. Coroner Hoffman was notified, but being unable to come, requested Justice Cooley of Cascade to hold the inquest, which he did by taking charge of the corpse and empaneling a jury consisting of John Rogers, Alva Gordon and J. M. Howard.

When discovered the body was lying about ten feet from the west end of the bridge. A great gash extending from behind the left ear to the interior part of the chin and deep enough to sever the carodit [sic s/b carotid] artery and jugular veins, was the most conspicuous wound visible. Subsequent examination of the body showed a bruise below the knee cap of the right leg and the left leg broken above the knee, and the left arm broken in two places, the top of the skull was also broken, and there were also bruises on the left side of the body. On the clothing there were marks of a dark greasy substance like unto tar, a dark spot of the same was found on the left temple and also in the wound in the neck.

The farm of Mr. Keegan is about a mile and a half southwest of Fillmore, and the railroad runs through the northwest part of it. On Monday afternoon, the deceased went to the field with his team evidently for the purpose of doing some work. However, he tied up his team and walked down to Fillmore. The evidence before the coroner’s jury shows that he left Fillmore at 6 o’clock in the evening, crossing the railroad bridge that spans the Whitewater, left the track and turned and went down the left bank of the river and probably laid down and took a nap. Later on, say between the hour of 8 and 9 o’clock, he woke up and took the railroad track, and while crossing railroad bridge 892 was run down and killed by a hand car. This theory of the disaster is based on the fact, that the people residing near the railroad track heard a hand car running on the rails between the hour of 8 and 9 o’clock. Further, that the car suddenly stopped either on the bridge or immediate vicinity of the same. This is testified to by several different persons. The car came from the west, from Cascade, because no hand car passed through Fillmore at that or any hour during the night, for several families who reside within a couple rods of the track and who were up until 10:30 p.m. heard no car pass prior to that time. There is no question as to the hand car. The dark greasy substance found on the clothing, face and in the wound on the neck, came from the gear wheels of the car. There is further reason to believe that Keegan was walking on the bridge when struck by the car, from the fact that the car struck and broke his leg, and pitched him backward, breaking his skull and the gear wheels or levers cut his throat; this is confirmed by the fact that there were two great pools of blood below the bridge, one immediately beneath where he was found in the morning and another some four or five feet west east, where he must have first fallen. The car evidently ran across and beyond the bridge some fifty or sixty feet, for blood spots were found on the ties and track. It is further evident that the parties having charge of the car, stopped and went back, lifted the form of Keegan up – found that he was dead and then laid him over in the position he was found, which accounts for the two pools of blood beneath the bridge. Further when they discovered the horrible tragedy, which evidently as an accident, they were alarmed and instead of being manly and at once giving information of the disaster, they sneaked the car back over the dead man and returned to Cascade and gave no sign. Even now they should come forward and make a clean breast of it. A chain of circumstantial evidence has already been woven as to who the parties were, and it is not yet too late to explain the actual circumstances under which the accident occurred. The coroner’s jury returned the following verdict:

STATE OF IOWA, Dubuque County, Whitewater township
An inquisition held at the house of Robert Kean in Whitewater township on the 12th day of April 1892, before James Cooley, J.P., of said township, on the body of John Keegan, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oath say that the said John Keegan came to his death by being run over with a hand car in the hands of persons unknown to the jury, in the township of Whitewater, county of Dubuque, state of Iowa. In testimony whereof the said jurors have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.

The wildest kind of rumors and speculation prevailed and were set abroad. While it was an appalling and grievous accident, yet it was not a red-handed, brutal murder.
The deceased was the youngest son of Kerin Keegan of Cascade and resided on the old Keegan homestead in South Whitewater. He was a young man, industrious, and a successful farmer, who had hosts of friends who regret his death. He leaves a wife and several children. The tragic manner of his death is a terrible blow to his wife and aged parents, who have the sympathy of the community. The funeral took place at St. Martin’s church on Thursday morning, the Rev. Father Roche officiating, and was largely attended.

Sheriff Phillips was here yesterday, and looked the situation over, and there will be further and more thorough investigation of the primary cause of poor Keegan’s death. All suspicions as to the supposed parties who had the hand car out on that fatal nigh will be investigated, and no work will be left undone toward finding the person who must sooner or later reveal the details of that terrible tragedy.

Cascade Pioneer, September 23, 1892, page 5, column 4
A reward of Four Hundred Dollars will be paid for the detection and conviction of the party or parties who ran over and killed the late John Keegan.
Kerrin Keegan
Cascade, Ia., Aug. 12, 1892

Joseph Cahill


Dubuque Obituaries maintained by Constance Diamond.
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