[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Train hits car, kills 3, injures 2 -- 1917


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 10/12/2020 at 21:49:24

"The Fairfield Daily Journal"
Wednesday, March 28, 1917
Page 2, Columns 2, 3, and 4,
continued on Page 3, Column 2


The most appalling accident that has happened in Fairfield in years occurred at 12:20 this afternoon at the Burlington railroad crossing at the Eighth street crossing in front of the plant of the Hawkeye Pump Co. The ford car driven by Del HOWELL was struck, and three of the occupants instantly killed and two injured. They are:


Earl HODGENS (sic - HODGEN).


Clayton HODGENS (sic), condition serious.
D. D. HOWELL, bruised; not seriously.

The car was struck by the engine of Burlington train No. 157, east bound, which was pulling into Fairfield, where it is due at 12:22 p.m. The men were going north on Eighth street between the pump factory and the wagon works where the view of the track is limited.

Two freight cars were standing on the siding at the pump works and further cut off the view of the track toward the west, so that as Mr. HOWELL stated, the first view of the approaching train was through the space between the building and the cars.

The occupants of the car were all thrown along the right of way east of the crossing. One passenger on the train tells of looking out of the windw (sic) when he felt the brakes of the train set and seeing the bodies of two of the victims flying through the air, one, which was that of Earl HODGENS, higher than the roof of the shed along the tracks. The boy was thrown a distance of eighty feet from the crossing, and Mr. CARL almost as far. Mr. WOLETT was thrown about thirty feet and C. W. HODGEN and Del HOWELL a shorter distance.

Del HOWELL's Account.

I went up to HODGEN's home at the corner of Fifth and Washington street and got them in and we started at 12:18. We started north and then went west on Depot street and turned north at the corner by the Turney Wagon Works. The road was somewhat chopped and so we couldn't have been going very fast. As we came up to the crossing I looked for trains as I always do. There were two box cars standing right out at the edge of the road on the west side, just north of the pump factory. I could neither hear nor see any sign of a train.

I heard no sound of a whistle whatever. As we got up closer I could see around the corner of the building and between it and the box cars and it was then that I saw the moving coaches of the passenger train. I could not yet see or hear the engine but put on all brakes and the car slid. The trainmen said afterwards that they saw that the car was sliding with brakes set.

Engine Struck Front Wheel.

The engine struck the front wheel and the car turned to the east. We were all thrown out. When I came to myself I was beside the ditch on the west side of the street. Not far from me and right beside the car was Clayton HODGENS. I went to him and said: "Are you hurt, Clayt?" He said, "No, I guess not much," but just then he began to get faint and sick. On farther up the track were the bodies of the two other men; I don't know which ones. I remember one rolling over and over past us. Farthest away was the little by (sic), Earl HODGENS. The other two men never seemed to move.

Building House at Packwood.

Mr. HODGENS and his carpenters are building a new house on the Mitchell place at Packwood. The footing forms were already in and this morning was allowed for the forms to set. This noon the men were going out to take out the forms and proceed with the building.

Barker Reached Boy First.

Elbert Barker, a member of Company M, resides at 800 West Kirkwood street and was called by his wife to learn of the accident. He hurried to the track and went to the lad, Earl HODGEN. "The boy was still breathing, and being familiar with first aid work I hastened to him. But it was no use. He was soon gone." "I should say that the little fellow was thrown from 60 to 80 feet."

Earl HODGENS was a bright young lad about thirteen years old. At first reports it was said that his younger brother, Roy, had been injured, but it developed that the latter was not with the party.

Fractures of the Skull.

All three of the victims for whom the accident resulted fatally suffered from great fractures of the skull. The boy, Earl HODGEN, had the least noticable injury, the scalp not being cut. A fracture extended from above the forehead over the left eye, entirely across the head.

The back portion of Mr. CARL's head was fractured. From the right eye backward the entire side of Mr. WOLETT's head was crushed. There were almost no bruises elsewhere upon the bodies.

Mr. HODGEN's Condition.

While nothing can be said as to later developments, it is stated that Clayton HODGEN is resting very well at the Jefferson County Hospital and apparently improving. His back is severly injured and he has body bruises, but it is hoped that his recovery will be rapid.

Other members of the HODGEN family had planned to go to Ottumwa this afternoon with the delegation of Yeomen, when the pall of death ended pleasant outing plans.


Earl HODGEN was an especially likable lad of ten years. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. HODGEN, there being two other boys, Roy and Clayton, Jr.

The family came here three years ago from Goodland, Kansas, and since then Mr. HODGEN has developed a good business as a contractor and builder. Mr. HODGEN is a native of this county, having lived near Brighton as a boy.


C. C. CARL was born north of Fairfield 48 years ago, and has lived here all his life. He was well known in manufacturing circles and has been identified with numerous manufacturing enterprises here for a number of years.

For a long time he had a wagon and repair shop in New Chicago. He was married to Miss Nevada SIMMONS, and with her four children survive him. They are Mrs. Birdie HESTON, of this city; Bert CARL of Indianapolis, Ind., and Hershel and Ercel CARL, who live here.

No funeral arrangements have been made as yet.


David C. WOLETT was born in Huntington County, Pa., April 6, 1854. He was married on December 12, 1880, to Amanda CONOVER. They came to Jefferson county in 1907, living north of town, and six years ago moved to Fairfield.

His death leaves his wife and two children, Mrs. Albert ARMSTRONG of this city, and Harry WOLETT, of Chariton, Iowa, to mourn his death.

The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made.

The Inquest.

Because of the condition of Mr. HODGEN, Dr. L. D. James, coroner, decided not to hold the inquest at three o'clock this afternoon, as a first suggested. The inquest will be held at the office of County Attorney R. C. Leggett tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. The trainmen are expected to be present at that time.


"The Fairfield Daily Journal"
Thursday, March 29, 1917
Page 2, Column 3


The funeral services for C. C. CARL will be held Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from the English Lutheran church in charge of Rev. Anspach. Interment will be made in Evergreen cemetery.

The funeral services for D. C. WOLETT will be held tomorrow afternoon at two o'clock from the Baptist church in charge of Rev. Toothacre and the remains will be laid to rest in Evergreen cemetery.


"Jefferson County Republican"
Thursday, March 29, 1917
Front Page, Columns 1 and 2

Burlington Passenger No. 178 Hit Auto at 8th Street Crossing; Inpuest (sic) Held Today

C. C. CARL, D. C. WOLETT and Earl HODGEN were instantly killed and Clayton HODGEN and D. D. HOWELL injured Wednesday noon when Burlington east bound passenger No. 178 hit the Ford automobile in which they were riding at the Eighth street crossing. The car was entirely demolished.

The men were going north on Eighth street and the view of the railway to the west was obstructed by the factory building of the Hawk-Eye Pump works, two freight cars that were standing on the factory siding making the discovery all the more difficult. D. D. HOWELL was driving the car and as soon as he discovered the on-coming train applied the brakes. The car slid forward so that the engine of the train hit the front wheel of the auto, knocking the men along the right of way as far as eighty feet. Passengers on the train asserted that it was not going faster than ten miles an hour at the time the accident occurred. The train stopped and back up to the scene of the accident.

Earl HODGENS, the twelve year old son of Clayton HODGENS, was thrown a distance of eighty feet and was still breathing when Elbert Barker reached him. First aid methods failed to restore him to consciousness and he passed away in a few minutes. The skull was fractured but the wound was less noticeable than those of Mr. CARL and Wr. (sic) WOLETT whose skulls were also fractured.

Mr. HODGEN's back was injured but was not broken as first reports had it. He was taken to the hospital at once and his recovery was expected. Mr. HOWELL, although badly bruised and scratched up, was the least severely injured of the five.

Mr. HODGENS, who is a contractor, was building a house on the Mitchell place at Packwood and he and his carpenters were on their way to work when the accident occurred.

Owing to Mr. HODGEN's injuries the holding of the inquest was postponed until this morning at 9 o'clock, when the trainmen are expected to be present.


Mr. CARL was forty-eight years of age and a native of this county. He operated a wagon and repair shop on North Fourth St. for a number of years and has also been connected with various manufacturing industries of Fairfield.

He was united in marriage with Miss Nevada SIMMONS and she with four children survive him. The children are: Mrs. Birdie HESTON of this city, Bert, of Indianapolis, Ind., and Hershel and Ercel at home.


Mr. WOLETT and his wife have resided in Jefferson county since 1907, the last six years of which have been spent in Fairfield. He was born in Huntington county, Pa., April 6, 1854 and was united in marriage with Miss Amanda CONOVER in 1880. Besides his wife, two children, Mrs. Albert ARMSTRONG of this county and Harry WOLETT of Chariton, survive him.


Earl HODGEN was the twelve year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Clayton HODGEN. He came here with his parents from Goodland, Kansas, three years ago. Prior to their removal to Kansas they had lived in the vicinity of Brighton, and are well known in the northern part of the county. Besides his parents, he is survived by two brothers, Roy and Clayton, Jr.


"The Fairfield Daily Journal"
Friday, March 30, 1917
Page 2, Columns 2, 3, and 4



We, the jury do find that the said Earl HODGEN came to his death by being thrown from an automobile at or about 12:20 o'clock, p.m., March 28, 1917, the said auto having been struck by a locomotove of the C., B. & Q. passenger train No. 178, as Dalton D. HOWEL (sic), driver of said automobile, was in the act of crossing the tracks of the said C., B. & Q. railroad on Eighth street, in the city of Fairfield, Iowa.

Wm. L. LONG,


The taking of testimony in the inquest held over the victims of Wednesday's auto accident was completed at noon today with the testimony of Clayton HODGEN taken at the hospital.

The jury will probably file its verdict some time this afternoon.

At the adjourned session held last night Fireman Thomas Cook, Conductor A. B. Bly, Agent P. E. Heflin, Earl Miller and Harry Barker testified. P. M. Hayes, the baggagemaster, did not come to testify but sent word that he knew nothing. After consideration it was decided not to continue the hearing another day in order to receive his testimony.

Mr. HODGEN's Testimony.

At the hospital Mr. HODGEN stated that the auto was not going fast; he noticed it slow down. I looked one way and HOWELL always looks his way. He couldn't see for the box car; as we passed it I glimpsed the engine. I knew the brakes were on. When I was thrown I could see the tops of the coaches plainly. Mr. HOWELL is a very careful driver. If we had had 10 feet of clear view and had not slowed down we could have got across. As soon as we cleared the box car the engine was right there.

The concluding testimony yesterday afternoon was:


I always listen. I shut down or "idle" it so as to listen. I would have hit back or center of car if I had not put on the brakes. It seemed to be pretty level, think slid on ground first then slid on planks. I couldn't have put my foot on the wrong pedal, or would have come to a stop. Practially on level when I could see and put on brakes.

Miss Grace Stephens

Miss Grace Stephens was called again and testified as follows:

I don't know what five short blasts mean, I thought may be danger. They were given before the auto was hit. The brakes were on. I cross there three times a day and never saw a "near" accident before. Box cars are not there usually, and if there quite a way farther west. We were right east of Mr. Barker's home. We were south of Depot street when the auto turned, and it was not going very fast.

(Question) Do you consider this an unavoidable accident: (A) I couldn't say whether they knew it or not.

(A.) You wouldn't lay the blame on the railroad men, would you? Was the engineer in any fault? (A.) I don't know.

They must have given the signals when they saw the auto. I could not say.

Iva May VanGordon

I was by Limings' when the car passed the pump factory. I saw the auto hit by the train. Saw the men thrown six or seven feet above the coaches, it seemed. Heard whistle first time, judge it was five minutes before. Next real shrill five little ones just before or just as it was hit. Maybe a second or two before it. I was in front of Barker's house when it hit. I recognized Mr. HODGENS and his son. The boy's body was 12 feet away - it was probably more than that, I guess. They were too close to do anything when the five whistles came. They were not running fast as the (sic) turned the corner. We thought they would get struck; we saw them turn it to the right. We couldn't see the train..

J. F. Bennett

I saw the accident when I was at the Turney Factory. I took my dinner to the shop and had eaten by 12:15. Mrs. Bennett had said that she might be home on the noon train so I thought I would go out to see her as she came along on the train. Went out warehouse but couldn't see the train. At 12:20 or 12:23, I looked down the track as it whistled at the one mile post. I had 21 feet in which to see. The engineer gave two short whistles this side of the factory. I could see plainly as I had on these glasses. All at once there was something in the air and the car upside down. I jumped down and the engine was right beside me as I jumped. The boy was thrown 70 feet. I found that he was dead. I went to the next one; I knew he was dead as I saw his brains oozing out. I began to get sick. I went to HODGEN next and spoke to him. A lady asked, "Are you hurt?" He said, "I think my back is broke.". Then I went back to the boy and took his wrist, but he had no pulse -- he was dead. I saw it all. I was looking and had 21 feet of roadway in view, but I never saw them before it hit.

The train was not so awful fast; it ran a train length. After it whistled by the tile factory and the washing machine factory (I supposed for the R. I. crossing) it seemed to slow up; at about 9th or 10th street.

Question--Did you hear five short blasts?

A.--It did not blow five short blasts; it only whistled out by the tile factory. I saw the steam before I heard the two blasts.

Clarence W. Barger.

I saw the accident yesterday as I was about one-half block north of the track. I didn't hear any whistles. My companion said, if the auto don't look out it will be hit and before he was through, it was. Don't know if it was going fast or it tried to stop. I saw them hit, but didn't see any of them in the air. I went up and saw them but didn't stay long; I soon left.

Benj. D. Libkie.

I am the tower man on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 in the afternoon, but didn't see the accident, but was there about five seconds after. I was down at the crossing gates at Depot street where there was trouble. No. 178 gave the distance signal. I started up the tracks and about 20 seconds later heard several short blasts, which was a danger signal. About two seconds later I heard the crash. By the time I got to the C., B. & Q. tracks the train had about stopped. They ran about two blocks. The conductor gave the "back-up" signal and I got on the steps and rode back. Got off about seventy feet east of the auto. The boy was breathing. I went on past the others to the auto. Six or eight were there. I asked if anyone had called aid. I ran to Harry Barker's and phoned for Dr. Hague and the hospital for the ambulance.

G. W. Freshwater.

About 12:20 I saw the accident, as I was about in the middle of the block north of the crossing on 8th street. I heard the whistle for town but don't remember any others, It was done so quick I can hardly get it in my mind. I talked with Mr. HODGEN, but didn't go up to the others as they said they were dead. I was with Mr. Barker. I saw the auto at the crossing; I couldn't say whether it was going fast or not. I said, "I believe they are going to be hit." It was done so quick that the words were hardly cold out of my mouth till it was done.

August Kirchner.

I work for the Dexter company, but did not see the accident. I went out on the platform as the train passed it and I saw a man fall and I thought he had fallen off the box car. We went up and saw the smashup. I heard the bell and the whistle between the tile facotry and washing machine factory, but heard no other whistle.

Engineer J. P. Snyder.

I am the engineer of the C., B. & Q. train No. 178 which hit the auto in Fairfield Wednesday. I reside at Galesburg. The signal I gave first was within one mile of Fairfield. It was the station whistle at the station board. At the Fifth street crossing, well, before I got to 9th street, I have the regulatin (sic) street crossing whistle--two long and two short, about at the tile factory. No other whistles were given, but the bell was ringing all the time. The fireman gave no whistle. I am sure that no extra whistles were given.

I was watching all the time on the right side, or south side. My first view of the auto was that were together. It was an instantaneous case. We were there both together. An instantaneous case--it all happened so quick: done in a minute. Between 20 and 25 miles. I was going between twenty and twenty-five miles per hour--twenty comes the nearest. I was practically on time. We were drifting--drifting before I whistled--could do it clear to the station and be about ten miles an hour there. I don't know if Fairfield has any train ordinances. Don't know if any Iowa law covers train speed. We come down on entering any town to moderate speed. I can stop my train in four or five coach lengths. Thos. Cook is my fireman. Baggageman I know, but can't give name. The pilot stopped right on the Rock Island crossing. It happened in a second--he was right on to us. He didn't make any effort to turn his car to the right, as near as I could see. It was going at a terrific speed, I thought. The ground showed the wheels had plowed up the ground. I think I could judge speed. It seemed to me like a shot out of a gun. We were right there together when I saw him.

Digital copyright 2020. IAGenWeb Bylaws PROHIBIT the COPYING AND RE-POSTING OF THIS MATERIAL IN ANY PUBLIC VENUE such as Ancestry or Find A Grave without WRITTEN permission from the poster ~ copyright restrictions apply.
*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.

Note: Chester C. CARL (1869 - 1917) was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Lot 2nd.092, the same lot as David C. WOLETT. Earl William HODGEN (1906 - 1917) was also buried in Evergreen, in Lot SDiv.4-008.


Jefferson Documents maintained by Joey Stark.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]