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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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