Louis Mesker Injured in a Train Derailment

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     Genealogy Entry for Louis Mesker (1870-1906)

When I was a boy, my grandmother Bianca ("Betty") Smith took me to the Lomita Railroad Museum. In the lobby was a large photograph of a locomotive engine plummeting off the track. "That's how my father died," Grandma said, indicating the photo. "He worked for the railroad and he was on a train that crashed. He never recovered from his injuries, and he died before I was born."

The following news article is from the Buffalo Courier, 17-May-1896. It describes a train wreck involving Louis. I do not know whether the accident described in the article, which occurred ten years before Louis died in 1906, is the one that led to his death.


This is a stock photograph, not a photograph of the incident described in the article.




Bad Head-on Collision at Niagara Falls.

Bureau of the Buffalo Courier,
Room No. 72 Gluck Building,
Niagrara Falls, May 16.

One of the worst railroad catastrophes
that this locality has seen in a long time
occurred between 11 and 12 o'clock to-day
and as a result four men are injured and
railroad property is damaged to a large
extent. The accident took place on the
siding along the Day farm about a mile
east of the yards at the north end of the
city. Switch engine No. 26 was on the
siding collecting some cars and as the
freight train from the east was not ex-
pected for a few minutes the switch was
left open. The crew of the switch engine
was composed of William Kaiser in
charge, John McGraw engineer, Edward
Brown brakeman, and Cornelius Murphy
fireman. They all live here and escaped
without injury. It was different with the
crew of the freight train, which came
rushng along and because of the open
switch ran in on the siding. As it was
impossible to stop after the engineer saw
that the engine had left the main track, a
terrific collision took place. Four men
belonging to the crew of the freight train
were injured, the two brakemen by jump-
ing. There were six cars on the freight
train and they and the two engines are
piled up in a mass that occupies less space
than person would suppose. Roadmaster
Burns informed the Courier correspondent
this afternoon that both machines were
badly dnmaged, the hog-back engine be-
ing tipped over, but that it might be pos-
sible to rehabilitate them. There was
only one car with a full load. Some of the
others had small packages of freight in
them. The loss to the Central Road will
accordingly be quite heavy. There was no
signal to indicate to the engineer of the
freight train that the switch was open.
The engineer was O.T.Kitnberly of No. 511
Third Street. He stuck to his cab and
was not as badly injured as the brake-
men who jumped. After being brought
into the city he is said to have walked to
his residence, but it is understood that
he has some broken ribs and minor in-
juries. Stretchers were secured and the
other men were brought into the city and
taken to the Cleveland Avenue Emergency
Hospital. Dr. O. E. McCarty, one of the
Central surgeons, was then on the Ca-
nadian side of the river, but he was soon
in attendance. At the hospital this after-
noon he informed the Courier correspond-
ent that F. J. Coffee of Albion, one of the
brakemen, had two cuts on his head, left
arm broken, right arm bruised, and a com-
pound fracture of the right leg. Because
of this latter injury, which is the most
serious, Mr. Coffee was taken to a Buffalo
hospital at 2:10 o'clock this afternoon by
Dr. Leo Wolf. Dr. McCarty thinks that
Coffee will live.

Martin O'Brien of Albion, the other
brakeman, had a large scalp wound, an-
other large wound over the left eye, his
nose split in two and right arm broken.
He is being treated by Dr. McCarty at
the Cleveland Avenue Hospital.

Louis Mesker, residing at 627 Jef-
ferson Avenue, fireman on the freight
train, had his spine Injured. He was
taken home. The conductor of the freight
was John J. Mahany. He was not injnred.
The track has been blocked this after-


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