Catalog of Misfortune: Railway Accident

1910 US Cen­sus, Lawrence Co., OH, Charles W. Clark Household

Freight Con­duc­tor Killed.

At 3:20 o’clock this morn­ing, Chesa­peake and Ohio Freight Con­duc­tor J. B. Lutz stopped his train near Sewell and on the bridge cross­ing the New Riv­er. While stand­ing there a fol­low­ing train ran into the caboose, instant­ly kil­lling Con­duc­tor Lutz and caus­ing seri­ous injury to Rear Brake­man Hugh Rat­cliffe. The approach­ing train was seen by Lutz and Rad­cliffe, [sic] and the lat­ter jumped and land­ed in the riv­er, fifty feet below.

Freight Con­duc­tor Killed,” The Wash­ing­ton Post, March 13, 1907, p. 12.

This was my great great grand­fa­ther, John Bal­lard Lutz. When he died in this acci­dent in 1907, he left a wife (Flo­ra Belle née Fox) and eight chil­dren between 19 years and one month of age.

Three years lat­er, we find Flo­ra Belle mar­ried to Charles W. Clark in Hunt­ing­ton, West Vir­ginia.1 On 3 or 4 May, the house­hold is in Lawrence Coun­ty, Ohio, where they turn up in the US Cen­sus enu­mer­a­tion for that coun­ty.2 Along with the mar­ried cou­ple are his two chil­dren (Lau­ra M. and William A.) as well as her chil­dren (Lola, Har­ry, Alta, John, Mar­garet, and Madeline).

This cen­sus record presents one ques­tion: Where was Con­nie Marie Lutz? She would have been a 12 year old, between Har­ry and Alta in the peck­ing order.… Per­haps the cen­sus tak­er missed her in the wel­ter of the eight chil­dren he was able to record.

In a flash of the col­li­sion of that train, the lives of this fam­i­ly were inex­tri­ca­bly and sud­den­ly changed. Flo­ra Belle, who had been a house­wife, rely­ing on her hus­band’s rail­road income, sud­den­ly had to find an income while rais­ing her chil­dren. By the time of the 1920 cen­sus, Flo­ra Belle is liv­ing in Hunt­ing­ton, West Vir­ginia again, and list­ed as a wid­ow.3 She lat­er took in board­ers and ran a room­ing house. It was a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent life than it would have been because of that wreck on the Sewall Bridge.

1 Reg­is­ter of Mar­riage, Cabell Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia, 13 Feb 1910, mar­riage record of Charles W. Clark and Mrs. Flo­ra B. Lutz, West Vir­ginia Divi­sion of His­to­ry and Cul­ture, West Vir­ginia Archives and His­to­ry, dig­i­tal image: : accessed 22 Jan­u­ary 2011.

2 1910 U.S. Cen­sus, Lawrence Coun­ty, Ohio, pop­u­la­tion sched­ule, Union Town­ship, ED 94, p. 10A, dwelling 197, fam­i­ly 198, Charles W. Clark house­hold; dig­i­tal image, ( ” accessed 22 Jan­u­ary 2011); cit­ing NARA micro­film pub­li­ca­tion T624, roll 1202.

3 1920 U.S. Cen­sus, Cabell Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia, pop­u­la­tion sched­ule, Hunt­ing­ton, Ward 3, ED 22, p. 4A, dwelling 56, fam­i­ly 79, Flo­ra Lutz house­hold; dig­i­tal image, ( ” accessed 22 Jan­u­ary 2011); cit­ing NARA micro­film pub­li­ca­tion T625, roll 1950.

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