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: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10962571&Type=Marriage : 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, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ ” 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, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ ” accessed 22 Jan­u­ary 2011); cit­ing NARA micro­film pub­li­ca­tion T625, roll 1950.

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