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The Story of the Hatfield Train Wreck of 1900

Source: The Lansdale Reporter, 6 September 1900

Railroad Wreck
Frightful Rear-End Collision at Hatfield
Atlantic City Excursion Train from Bethlehem Crashes Into a Milk Train With Frightful Results -- Thirteen Meet Almost Instant Death and a Half Hundred More are Bruised and Wounded in a Fog in the Early Morning

13 Killed, 45 Wounded

Thirteen people were crushed to death and forty-five others were injured, some fatally, in a rear end collision that occurred on the Philadelphia and Reading Railway at Hatfield, near Lansdale, at 6:55 Sunday morning. The first section of an Atlantic Excursion train from Bethlehem, on which there are supposed to have been in the neighborhood of five hundred people, plowed its way through a milk train which was being loaded for Philadelphia.

Of the five cars, the latter three were reduced to kindling wood and bent iron. The next car was smashed beyond repair, while the forward car and engine practically escaped injury. The engine on the Atlantic City excursion section was totally wrecked, thrown across to the northbound track, with the cowcatcher pointing in the direction in which it had come.

The first two cars of eleven composing the excursion train were splintered and several following were wrecked. The track was torn up for an eighth of a mile, and the wreckage was piled up by the force of the collision to a height of twenty feet, and it extended for a couple hundred yards south of the station. The wreck is one of the worst with which the railroad has had to contend in years. Instructions disobeyed seem to have caused the disaster.

News of the appalling disaster quickly spread and the work of rescue was begun by residents of Hatfield and uninjured passengers on the excursion train. Word was sent to Lansdale, Souderton, Bethlehem and Norristown, and special trains carrying physicians and nurses were sent to Hatfield with all possible speed. Crowds came from all directions to view the dreadful scene. Lansdale, two miles away, rendered every assistance possible. All day Sunday the work of caring for the dead and wounded continued, and it was night before the tracks were clear and railroad travel resumed.

Coroner McGlathery is investigating the case to learn if possible who is responsible for the fearful blunder that led to the collision. The crews of the wrecked trains, eye witnesses and Reading officials have been subpoenaed to meet at an inquest to be held in Freed's Hall, Lansdale, to-morrow (Thursday) at 9:30 a.m. His jury will consist of Burgess J.J. White, H. B. Weachter and Frank Pownall, of Lansdale; Jos. B. Anders and John Kindig, of Hatfield; J.C. Johnson of Norristown, reporter for the Herald. The proceedings are likely to be protracted, and will no doubt attract crowds of people, and it may be several days before the jury can hear all the testimony and fix guilt upon the one who is responsible for the collision which resulted in such terrible loss to life and property.


BLACKBURN, WILLIAM C., Proprietor of the Hotel Ambler, of Ambler
DAY, THOMAS, aged 26, of Allentown
LANDIS, HARVEY, a farmer, aged 37 years, of Hatfield
MC GONIGLE, CHARLES, aged 23 years, of Allentown
SHERRY, MISS ANNIE, aged 21 years, of Elm Street, South Bethlehem; crushed between two seats
KALEN, MAMIE, aged about 9 years, of Telford; cut to pieces
KALEN, GOTFRIED, aged 47, of Telford
EHRET, WILLIAM, aged 22, of Vine Street, South Bethlehem; killed instantly
ERHET, IRA, aged 20 years, brother of William; killed instantly
MORDUANT, JOSEPH, of Second Street, South Bethlehem; died on the train on the way to the hospital
MILLER, ROBERT, aged 21, of Wyandotte Street, South Bethlehem; killed instantly
BACHMAN, RICHARD, aged 40 years, of Walnut Street, South Bethlehem; killed instantly
WALDSPURGER, FLORIAN, a farmer, aged 55 years, of Tylersport. Head torn off and body horribly mangled.


The following persons injured in the wreck were taken to St. Luke's Hospital, at South Bethlehem.
DAVIS, JOHN, engineer of the excursion train; aged 28 years, of 2337 Bancroft Street, Philadelphia, may die
WAGNER, ALBERT M., fireman of the excursion train, aged 31 years, of 215 North Warnock Street, Philadelphia, fractured skull, may die
CROSSLAND, WILSON, baggage master of milk train, aged 50, of South Bethlehem; fractured leg and scalp lacerated; condition serious
GORMAN, JOHN, aged 21, of South Bethlehem, crushed foot
TRANSUE, ABRAHAM JR., aged 24, of South Bethlehem, fractured leg and internal injuries, condition serious
TIGHE, MICHAEL J., aged 34, of Allentown; legs crushed and burned; condition serious
MC HUGH, JOHN, a constable, aged 27 of South Bethlehem; badly bruised and injured internally, but will recover
REESE, EDWARD, aged 26, a carpenter of 820 Cedar Street, Allentown, injured internally; serious
BACHMAN, MISS CARRIE, aged 18, of South Bethlehem; fractured collarbone, fractured nose and contused ankle. She is the daughter of Richard Bachman, who was killed.
FLICKINGER, WALTER, clerk in the Lehigh Railroad Valley Office, South Bethlehem; dislocated wrist and severe bruises.
SCHANTZ, FRED, aged 35, of Allentown; left arm broken and left hip crushed
SCHANTZ, FRANK, aged 30; brother of Fred; left leg crushed and chest injured
MR. BRESLEY, of Easton, fractured ankle, removed to his home
BACHMAN, MISS GERTRUDE, of South Bethlehem, fractured skull, may die
HARTZOG, I.T., aged 45, of Wyandotte Street, south Bethlehem; leg crushed
EDWARDS, MISS ANNIE, aged 19, of New Street; leg broken
STRAUSS, CLINTON J., of Allentown, wounded about the head
MC MAHON, P.J., aged 27, former assistant postmaster of South Bethlehem; right leg crushed
FAHS, JOHN, fruit dealer, of South Bethlehem; hurt about the shoulders
MILLER, ROBERT, of South Bethlehem; hurt about the shoulders and legs; his wife was also hurt
WIERBACH, MISS, of Walnut Street, South Bethlehem; badly hurt
MC GOWAN, THOMAS, of Pawnee Street, South Bethlehem; bruised and burned about the head
LAFAW, MR. AND MRS. CHARLES, of West Bethlehem; both slightly hurt
CONRAD, GUS, artist, of South Bethlehem; scalp wound
REICHLEY, JOHN, aged 20, of New Street, South Bethlehem; both legs crushed
CONLIN, JOHN, aged 24, of Fifth Street, South Bethlehem; both legs crushed
HARRISON, MRS. JENNIE, aged 25, of Hillside Avenue, South Bethlehem
DAVIS, MISS MARY, aged 20, of Third Street, South Bethlehem; internal injuries
DAVIS, MISS JOSEPHINE, aged 18, sister of the above; internal injuries
SHAFFER, MISS JENNIE, aged 21, of Allentown; leg broken
RENTZ, CHARLES, aged 20, of Wood Street, South Bethlehem; badly cut about head and eye seriously injured
SCHLOTT, HARRY, aged 18, of Fifth Street, South Bethlehem; left leg crushed
ROGERS, EDWARD, aged 23, clerk, of Easton, scalp wounds
UHLMANN, MRS. HOWARD, of Union Street, Bethlehem; slight body wounds
KNECHT, WILLIAM, aged 35, of New Street, South Bethlehem; right leg crushed
SMOYER, MISS ALICE, aged 30, of Bethlehem; body bruised
BULGE, MISS MABEL, aged 19, of 116 Linden Street, Bethlehem; foot crushed
KRAUSS, JOHN, aged 35, of South Bethlehem; slightly bruised

Others injured taken direct to their homes from the scene of the accident were:
ROSENBERRY, WELLINGTON, State Representative, of Lansdale; deep cut under the chin, breast bruised and back injured
BURKHARDT, MISS GERTRUDE, aged 18, of South Bethlehem; legs crushed
STRAUS, CHARLES L., of South Bethlehem; badly bruised and injured internally
KEYSER, BENJAMIN, proprietor of Cross Keys hotel, of Allentown; internally injured and bruised about the body.
BEST, P. PALMER, of South Bethlehem; legs crushed and body bruised
ROSENBERGER, A.H. a farmer, of Hatfield; cut about the head and body bruised
LUCKENBACH, G.A., of Bethlehem; milk agent on the train; body and leg bruised


The milk train, known as the 416, left South Bethlehem on schedule time at 5:20 a.m. It consisted of engine 248, drawing two milk cars and two day coaches. It was due at Hatfield at 6:54. Ira K. Knaufl, the conductor, says it arrived there at 6:56, and stopped, as usual, to take on milk.

The excursion train was the first of three sections, bound for Philadelphia, where the passengers were to be transferred to a special for Atlantic City. It was drawn by engine 249 and carried ten cars, each jammed to the platforms. It pulled out of South Bethlehem at 6.05. Conductor John Shelby was in charge, with Engineer John Davis and Fireman A.M. Wagner on the engine. Shelby says he was told he would have a clear track at far as Lansdale, where the milk train was to be sidetracked to let him by. Lansdale is two and one-half miles south of Hatfield.

Hardly had the milk train halted at Hatfield when the excursion train plunged into it. Davis' engine struck the rear coach squarely in the middle, splitting it from end to end as neatly as a carpenter would cleave a board with an ax. The sides of the car were flung to the right and left and two persons seated in it were killed. They were William C. Blackburn, of Ambler, and Mamie Kalen, of Telford. Continuing its course the excursion train ripped its way through the second day coach of the milk truck and telescoped it with the first milk car ahead.

The the whole whirling mass, impelled by its own momentum, plunged its way down the southbound track for a distance of 350 feet, where it suddenly reared high in the air, swerved to the left and turned completely over, tearing up the northbound track and twisting the rails into fantastic shapes.

The cab of the engine, from which Engineer Davis had been hurled, was demolished; and the smokestack, the jacket, the bell and sandbox were stripped completely off. There was nothing left of the engine, in fact, but the boiler, fireboxes, and two wheels.


When the crash came the tender of the engine was driven through the forward end of the first coach of the excursion train. Gertrude Burkhard, of South Bethlehem, who was in one of the front seats, was caught beneath the tender and pinned down. When found, she was still conscious, although badly hurt. Across her was lying the dead body of Richard Bachman. On the opposite side of the aisle, those who released Miss Burkhard found an unidentified man pinned to the floor beneath the seat. He was badly crushed, and begged to be taken out. A force of men went to work immediately to release him, but he died before he could be removed from the car.

Five other cars of the excursion train immediately following the one next to the engine were derailed and thrown zigzag across both tracks. Two of them were turned on their side, while the other three remained in an upright position. The platforms of all were smashed, and the sides and windows of the cars twisted and broken.


Few of the passengers had time to leap and all were thrown violently forward in a confused mass when the train struck. Women and children shrieked for help and struggled vainly with the hundreds of men, many of whom fought their way through the doors and windows. They trampled over the weaker passengers or thrust them aside. To the credit to many aboard the train, however, it can be said that they went quickly to work to help their injured fellow passengers.

Physicians took charge of the victims, directing the dressing of wounds and sending the injured to St. Luke's Hospital in South Bethlehem with little delay. Most of those had first been taken to the homes of George Snyder and Frank Reaser, near the station at Hatfield. The dead were removed to the warehouse of Jonas Moyer, which was turned into a temporary morgue, and taken charge of by Coroner McGlathery, who had come from Norristown.


Officials of the railroad and friends of John Davis, the engineer of 249, are inclined to place the blame on W.B. Grove, the train dispatcher in charge at the Reading Terminal. They declare that Davis and Conductor Shelby, of the excursion train, were given definitely to understand that they were to have a clear track from Bethlehem to Lansdale, and that Grove had been asked to see that these instructions were complied with.

If this is true Grove should have notified the operator at Souderton, two miles north of Hatfield, that the milk truck was in the way, so that the red signal board could have been turned, notifying Davis that the tack was obstructed.

D. B. Biedler, the operator at Souderton, declares that he had no orders concerning the excursion train, and consequently did not notify, although he knew, when it passed his station, that the milk train was immediately ahead, and that it always stopped at Hatfield to load milk. That he had ample time to warn the train of that fact is clear, for the reason that the track north of Souderton is perfectly straight, giving an unobstructed view for nearly a mile. Beidler says, however, that the fog was dense, and that he knew nothing of the approach of the excursion train until it was close to his station.

James Benner, the crossing flagman at Souderton, says he has instructions to place a red flag between rails behind each passing train to warn those following, and that it is his custom to leave the flag in that position for five minutes. All engine and train men, he adds, understand this rule.


According to Benner, he placed his flag between the rails when the milk train had passed Souderton, and it was standing there in full view of the approaching train when Davis, running at a high rate of speed, came down the long grade leading into Souderton. That Davis saw the signal Benner is sure, for he insists that the engineer leaned out and distinctly waved his hand four times to have the flag removed.

Benner says he realized that the engineer did not intend to check the speed of his train, and as some risk to himself he sprang into the middle of the track and took the flag out of the way. In doing so he narrowly escaped being struck by the flying engine, and as the train passed him he was so close to the track that the suction of the flying cars nearly drew him under the wheels.


Engineer John Davis, expecting that there would be no obstruction in his way, passed Souderton going at forty miles an hour. There the track curves sharply to the south and there are nearly two miles of straight track to Hatfield, which is the only station between Souderton and Lansdale. There is a heavy down grade all the way.

Davis had no intimation of the danger until he saw the rear end of the milk train loom up through the dense fog. His whistle gave on shrill warning cry of peril and he applied the air brakes immediately, but owing to its tremendous momentum on the heavy downgrade, the flight of the train was scarcely checked at all. David made no attempt to jump, but stuck bravely to his post of duty until he was hurled from the cab of his engine to the ground, where he lay bleeding from an ugly cut in the side of his head.

Ira K. Kuaufl, the conductor of the milk train, says neither he nor his engineer had any orders to get out of the way of the excursion train and the first they knew of the danger was when Davis whistled at the crossing just above Hatfield. They were two minutes behind time, but as Hatfield is a regular stop, they had no reason to suspect that their train was in any peril.

W.S. Grove, train dispatcher at the Reading Terminal, declared that the crew of the excursion train had been notified that the milk train would be ahead of them all the way to Lansdale.


Edwin C. Tomlinson, superintendent of the Bethlehem division, under whose general supervision both trains were, said: "While I have not had time to investigate the cause of the wreck, my impression is that oath the dispatcher at Philadelphia and Engineer Davis were at fault. I understand that the men in charge of the excursion train were given to believe they would have a clear track to Lansdale; but in spite of these instructions, Davis knew that he had not passed the milk train and that he was running dangerously close to her time.

"As it was foggy and his train was very heavy, he should have run slowly into Hatfield, and if he had done thus of course the wreck would have been avoided. As soon as possible a thorough investigation will be made and an official statement given out. Until the matter is thoroughly sifted I do not feel like laying blame on any one man."


There were a number of dairymen at the Hatfield station at the time of the collision. They were there to load milk upon the milk train. These men ran at once to the aid of the injured, and out of the excursion train those who were unhurt came to give help, and Hatfield men and women from all houses roundabout hurried upon the scene.

George Snyder, C.J. Buckley, Frank H. Reaser, John Wagner, James Miller and Chester Knipe threw open their houses, and helpers began to carry the injured there. The telegraph and telephone were soon put in requisition, and there were soon at hand Dr. Titus Albright and Dr. L. L. Cope, of Hatfield, Dr. S. C. Moyer o, Dr. S. P. Scese, Dr. F. G. Bigony, Dr. A. C. Herman, Dr. J. W. Bausman, of Lansdale; Dr. Souder, of Souderton; Dr. Josiah Buaman, of Telford, and doctors from other neighboring towns. A corps of physicians and nurses from Norristown arrived later on a special train over the Stony Creek railroad.

The dead were laid at first on the grass, beside the wreck, and after newspapers and blankets had been spread over them the helpers' attention was given to the wounded. After these had been cared for the dead were carried upon doors and upon car seats to a small framed dwelling about 50 yards from the station, a fence factory, belonging to Jonas S. Moyer. Black cloth was pinned up to the windows of this little one story dead house, which a great crowd surrounded, and the undertakers began to make clean the bodies that lay on the tables, on car seats and on the floor within.


That any one seated in the first three coaches of the excursion train or in the passenger coach of the milk train escaped without injury seems little short of miraculous. A number of men, women and children who were standing on the station platform waiting for the trains or loading milk also had narrow escapes. Jonas Kulp, of Hatfield, was placing milk cans in one of the cars at the time of the crash. He was lost sight of in the wreck and hi friends believed him to have been killed. Much to their astonishment, he crawled from under a lot of debris a moment later, having sustained practically nothing worse than a good shaking and skin abrasions.

Abraham Rosenberger, who was also engaged in loading milk cans, was discovered under the roof of one of the passenger coaches of the excursion train, which had to be jacked up to release him. He was badly hurt and was removed to his home.

Frank Shellenburg, a farm hand, of Hatfield, was standing on the station platform, and, although swept off of his feet, escaped without injury.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cressman, passengers on the milk train, were thrown through the sides or roof and suffered slight injuries.


The death of Joseph Mordaunt, of Bethlehem, was particularly pathetic. He had been crushed beneath a pile of debris in one of the wrecked cars, and when the rescuers came to him he instructed them how to proceed. His chest was crushed, and that in itself would have been fatal. Besides this injury, he suffered from a fractured skull and had other internal injuries. On the way back to Bethlehem he joked with a friend, and declared that he was better than a dozen men. He died just before reaching Bethlehem.


Particularly sad was the death of Harvey Landis. He was a farmer and lived near Hatfield with his wife and six children. He had just taken a load of milk to the train.

It was just as he passed over the last can and was standing on the platform that the collision occurred. The man was caught and crushed between the car as it was split and fell on its side and the platform. His body was mangled almost beyond recognition, but he was still alive. He died shortly after being removed.


Gotfried Kahlen was section boss on the road. He lived in Telforn. With his daughter, Mary, a girl of 10, he was going to church, in Lansdale. The two were sitting in the rear of the milk train when the crash came. The father was hurled under the seat. The daughter was found outside the car, and it is thought that she was pitched through the window. She was killed instantly.

Kahlen was unconscious when he was moved, and it was thought that he would die before he was put on the special train. He revived, however, and just before he died, he turned to a nurse and called:

"Mary, Mary. Is Mary, my child, hurt?"

"No," was the reply. "Mary was a little bruised, that's all. She'll be well soon."

"Is it true?" sighed the dying man. "Thank God. Oh, this is awful. I'm dying, but tell Mary to come to me." And he was dead.


James Benner, flagman on the Reading Railroad, at Souderton, three miles above Hatfield, makes the following statement:

"The milk train passed through this station at 6:47 this morning, on time, and I stuck my red flag into the hole in the planking in the middle of the south-bound track, according to regulations. The rule is to keep the red flag flying for five minutes after a train passes.

"Just one minute and three-quarters later, at 6:49, I saw the excursion come down the grade, through the cut at 'flyer' speed. For a moment, I thought it must be an extra or special 'flyer.' I knew the train would crash into the milk train before it reached Lansdale, where the milk train was to side track, unless the excursion stopped.

"I looked at the signal board operated from the tower at the station, and was surprised to see that it was not set up to stop the train. Then I looked toward the station, expecting the operator to come out with a green flag, which would signal the express to go ahead slowly. But he did not appear.

"The excursion came thundering down with the slightest slowing down, and the engineer leaned out of the cab window and waved his hand four timed at me, motioning me to take the flag away.

"But I waited until the train was about on top of me before I snatched the flag away, and the train went by at a speed of fully forty miles an hour. I do not step back so far for way and suburban trains as I do for flyers, and, not appreciating the speed of the excursion, I did not step back far enough and nearly got sucked into the flying train.

"I was horrified at the danger, for here was this train, rushing on to sure destruction, going on a down grade taking a nasty turn right below the flag, an all in a pretty thick fog. I ran over to Biedler, the operator, and asked him why he had not stopped the train. He said he had no orders to show the signal; that the train dispatcher at Philadelphia was running the train, and that, if he had wanted it stopped he would have wired him to do so. I remarked that we would hear from that crazy excursion, and left. Five minutes later we got word of the smash-up.

"I don't see how I can be blamed. I have been here six years and have always obeyed orders. I wish now I had left my flag sticking between the tracks, so that the engine would have to smash the stick. But engineers often, on the down grade, can't stop before reaching the flag, and they motion me to take it away, and come to a stop a few feet further down the track."


D. E. Beidler, operator at Souderton, said: "I can't be held responsible for this wreck. I must obey orders. I might be morally sure that an accident was about to happen and flag a train, and by that very act pile up that train, for the train behind it might crash into it. The only one who is supposed to know is the train dispatcher, at the Reading Terminal. In my effort to prevent a wreck in an unauthorized way, I might cause one.

"So, you see, we operators must do just what we are told to do, and nothing else. I saw that train, and I knew that it was less than two minutes behind the milk train, but my boss, the dispatcher, did not tell me to set the signal. I calculated that he knew what he was about. And, again, the flag was there on the track, so the engineer had his warning."


Another name added to the list of the dead is that of Florian Waldspurger. He was the only one of the killed not identified Sunday. He was a German, aged 55, and lived in Tylersport with his wife and five children. Mary and Ernest, two of the children, came to Lansdale Monday and identified their father in Undertaker Conver's morgue. He had boarded the milk train at Souderton on Sunday morning, and intended spending the day in Philadelphia. The anxious mother and children watched for his return until a late hour. The news of the accident only reached them on Monday morning in their secluded home, some five or six miles from the railroad. The two children hastened to Undertaker Conver's establishment, where their worst fears were realized as they recognized the lifeless form of their father.


Undertaker Conver has prepared a list of articles found on each body. He says there are many valuable missing, according to the statements made by relatives and friends. Mrs. Harvey Landis, whose husband lost his life while assisting in the loading of milk, says her husband had $50 and a watch on his person when he left home in the morning. Neither the watch nor the money has been found.

Richard Bachman, of South Bethlehem, took a $5000 accident insurance policy before he left home Sunday morning. The policy was found in his jacket, and is in the possession of the undertaker.


General Manager I. A. Sweigard, who was at Atlantic City when the accident occurred, came to Reading Terminal as soon as he heard of the wreck, and on Monday after a brief investigation issued the following statement:

"I wish to state in detail the causes leading up to yesterday's accident, so far as I have been able to learn them this morning, in the absence of interviews with some of the more important witnesses involved. The primary cause was the fog. Had there been no fog, there would have been no accident. The next cause was the telegraph wires, which worked badly. The moisture in the atmosphere made them moist and heavy, rendering it difficult to get the messages through.

"The third cause may be found in the possibility that the dispatcher at the Terminal who had charge of the running of the trains waited too long in sending necessary orders when he knew the condition of the wires. This man is at the Terminal, and has direct charge of running the trains. He has an operator at his side constantly, and, as the trains are reported at the various points, the operator turns the times over to him. The sheet on which the operator marks is marked for all trains from Bethlehem. William S. Groves, the dispatcher, has been handling the trains for five years past. He was with me when I was superintendent. He has held every position - brakeman, conductor, operator - everything that can go to make an all-round, practical railroad man. I have all along considered William S. Groves one of the best men this road has. I had the utmost confidence in him, and when I placed him in charge, I knew that he could be relied upon. I think this man made a mistake - that is, he waited too long.

"Now, of the trains concerned in the accident, one was a milk train, which left Bethlehem at 5.10 a.m. The special left at 6.05 o'clock, showing a space of forty-five minutes between them. All the engineers had duplex orders; each of them had not only his own orders, but also the orders of the other man, so that both knew just how the two trains were moving. When they passed Perkasie, they were 21 minutes apart. At Sellersville, as near as I can remember, where they should have been 17 minutes apart, the interval was 11 minutes. The special was still closing up the space. The was the time they tried to get an order through to hold up the special. But the trains had passed that point. Telford showed an interval of six minutes. Then came Souderton.

"There was where they expected to block the special. At Souderton the two trains were only three minutes apart. Now the rules of every station, the rules printed on the back of all the time tables, tell a man he must hold all trains that are not five minutes apart. I can't tell whether the station agent at Souderton displayed the signal stopping the special. Both the agent and the operator were on duty. They were selling tickets for the second section of the special, which was a pick-up, and was following after. Everyone knew about the special. I have an idea that they put out the stop signal, and that the engineer went on. But he is in the hospital. I have sent a man to him."


The injuries sustained by Representative Wellington H. Rosenberry, of Lansdale, who is a single man and lives with his parents on South Broad street, it was feared for a time would prove fatal, but promise is now given by the physicians that he will recover. He was one of the nine passengers on the milk train, and when taken out from the wreck was unconscious, and bleeding from a deep gash under the chin. His breast was bruised and his back so badly hurt that when he gained his sense he could not bear to lie upon it.

Mr. Rosenberry was elected to the Legislature two years ago on the Democratic ticket and was a candidate for renomination at the county convention held in Norristown on Tuesday.


William C. Blackburn, of Ambler, killed in the wreck, was on his way home from Telford, where he had been spending two days on business. It was by mere chance that he took the ill-fated train, as he intended to return on Saturday. A few minutes before the crash, Harry Walters, also of Ambler, had been talking to Mr. Blackburn. Mr. Walters sustained a slight injury in one of his feet.

Mr. Blackburn was 58 years old, and was a native of Lower Salford Township, Montgomery county. He was a prominent hotelkeeper, and at different times owned the following named hotels: Hartranft House, Farmers' Hotel and Montgomery House, Norristown; Centre Square Hotel, North Wales; and last Hotel Ambler, which he owned and conducted at the time of his death. He was also the proprietor at one time of the old Sorrel Horse Hotel at Fourth and Wine Streets, Philadelphia.

He is survived by a widow; one son, Irvin C., and one sister, Mrs. John Tyson, Norristown.

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Posted 15 December 2003 by Kelley Wood - Davis- last updated 28 March 2011