Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label Oak Park River Forest Historical Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oak Park River Forest Historical Society. Show all posts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Sequel

Nathan Cobb, date unknown

In two earlier posts [Death on the Railroad Tracks part 1 and part 2], I wrote about the death of Nathan Cobb on the Northwestern RR tracks in Oak Park, Illinois on 24 June 1892.  I focused on the fact that the train tracks were not elevated and right down the middle of the street -- very easy to be hit by a train.

Lake and Marion in 1903.
 One can only imagine how easy it was for accidents to occur.

At the time, I was amazed how many people had accidents involving either trains or "grip cars" in one day in one article in the Chicago Tribune, but I focused in the blog posts on Nathan Cobb.

I took the time to expand the blog posts into a full article about Nathan Cobb and about the other folks mentioned in the article -- some were in another accident or were helping out someone who had been injured.  I included information on grip cars.  I ended with an obituary that I wrote for Nathan Cobb -- his life deserved more acknowledgement beyond an elderly man suffering from dementia walking in front of a train.  I can only hope the people named in the article will help someone else who is searching for a "missing" relative that seems to have vanished without any death certificate.

The article is in the Illinois State Genealogy Society Quarterly, volume 47, number 3, Fall 2015, pages 133 - 139.

When the ISGS Journal arrived, I was surprised to see that the photo of South Blvd and Harlem Ave. from the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society was featured on the cover.
Such a nice surprise.

The link to this post is
©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 2

These are the articles that I found on my GGG'grandfather's death that I recently wrote about in Part 1 of Death on the Railroad Tracks:

I found this article years ago, then last  year, I saw the rest of the 2nd article which my GG'grandfather had neglected to glue into his scrapbook.  Like other articles of the day, the title only refers to the content of the first paragraph and the rest of the article might not be part of the same story.

Paragraph #2: "Robert Martin, 83  years old, and employed as a laborer at Garfield Park race track, was stabbed in the head ..."

Paragraph #3:

Paragraph #4:

Paragraph #5: "Fred Fihlicht and Cornelius Kearns, aged 13 and 9 ... were drowned..."

Paragraph #6:

Quite informative: Nathan wasn't only person who died on tracks in that day.  In five paragraphs, we have five different stories of tragedy.  Three people died from injuries that day received on train tracks!

• Frail, elderly Nathan Cobb suffering from dementia, wandered onto the Chicago Northwestern tracks [see part 1].
• The unfortunate Willis Wheeler, who came to town and, as a "colored man," was asked "to move on"-- he got scared and "accidentally" ran into a grip-car.  [The other peoples' race wasn't mentioned in their stories.  Was race an important part of why Wheeler's accident  happened?]
Nicholas Rickard was killed driving his buggy across the train tracks and was struck by a train and killed instantly.  [Rickard seems to have misjudged how fast the train was coming.]

As a reminder of why so many people were easily injured in the 1890s by the trains and grip-cars, take a look at the corner of Lake and Marion in 1907.  The train tracks are right down the middle of the street.  Can you better understand why Nathan Cobb, Willis Wheeler and Nicholas Rickard all died on 24 June 1892?
1903 photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
Lake Street and Marion, Oak Park IL

Today there is an elevated train on Lake Street.  These tracks weren't elevated at all in 1892!

© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012
The link for this page is

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 1

When looking through my GG'grandfather Robert S Worthington's scrapbook, I found many family obituaries along with other articles and obits of interest to him.

Two of the articles/obituaries were the announcement of his father-in-law's death, Nathan Cobb on 24 June 1892.

So sad, an elderly gentleman, aged 85, walking with two canes and probably suffering from dementia is killed by a train.  The family clearly was caring for him at home and he slipped out of the house unnoticed.

How did he end up on the train tracks?  It wasn't far.  Looking at an earlier map of Oak Park from the 1870s (available at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society), I noticed he lived a block and a half away.

Ironically, looking at the map close up

There is a picture of a Chicago Northwestern train right where Nathan was hit about 20 years later!

As someone who grew up in towns with trains running through them, the crossings all had signals, the tracks were a bit elevated and would be difficult to easily wander up to if walking with a couple of canes. BUT....

That is not how it was in 1892 in Oak Park.  Frank Lipo at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society pointed out to me that the trains ran right down the middle of the road, no elevation at all.

Here is a picture of the Chicago Northwestern tracks at Harlem Ave (a few blocks away from where Nathan was hit):

photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
The corner of Harlem Ave and South Blvd

There is no challenge for someone walking with two canes to get onto these tracks!

Today those same tracks are up a full flight of stairs with North Blvd on one side and South Blvd on the other!

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012.
The link to this post is: