Maine Genealogy Network

Chris, Do you have any source, family lore or other, that your ancestor, Lemuel Dunham, Jr., may have been involved in a RR accident, 1 Aug 1871?  This occurred when an unscheduled train traveling north just above Bryant's Pond struck a RR workers' handcart with 5 men on it.  David Robbins was killed and Gaius (or Gains) Swan was badly injured.  I'm trying to find out who the other 3 men were.  I've just found a hint in Libby that two of them may have been William Day and Lemuel Dunham.  Do you know anything about this?

Views: 56

Comment by Chris Dunham on August 9, 2013 at 4:49pm

I haven't run across any evidence that Lemuel was among the men. I don't remember him mentioning it in any of his Oxford Democrat columns. There was a court case in which the railroad company was held liable for Robbins' death, but I don't find any mention of the survivors.

I suppose that it is possible that Lemuel was involved, but for some reason never wrote about it (perhaps out of consideration for Robbins' widow, who would be among his closest neighbors on Rowe Hill). In 1870 he was living in Lincoln, Penobscot County, working as a "station man" on the railroad. I'm not sure when the family moved back to Bryant Pond. What was Libby's hint?

Comment by Franz Martin on August 9, 2013 at 10:49pm

Thanks for that link to the ME State Archives court records.  I had never seen the actual court documents, just reports about them and I, like you and almost everyone, also thought that the RR was found guilty of negligence in this incident.  Well, yes and no.  If one battles through page after page of repetitive legalese, the outcome was: RR indicted for negligence, carelessness and lack of reasonable care in Sep 1871.  Case went directly to trial and a few days later the RR was found guilty.  RR lawyers appealed.  Two years later, in Sep 1873, the verdict was overturned.  The papers give no clue as to the court's thinking so we don't know if the reversal was on a technicality or something more substantial, such as shared negligence by the victims.  I suspect that there's more to this story than the bare court documents tell.

Lemuel Dunham told HJ Libby that he moved to Bryant's Pond in 1864 and lived there until he moved to Greenwood in 1875.  I can't explain his appearance in Lincoln, ME at the 1870 census, living next door to his half-brother and stepmother.  I'm guessing that it was a short-term job assignment; both brothers worked for the RR.  It was probably so brief that Lemuel overlooked it in later retelling of his life.

The "hint" about the RR accident is this.  As you know, Libby relied heavily on news clippings to fill his Notebooks.  Most are unsigned and some are even undated.  I will copy the following exactly:

"Greenwood 1910.  Again we looked upon death, the deceased this time being Wm. Day, whose obituary sketch has already been given.  Were well acquainted with nearly the whole Day family 40 years ago, worked for 4 of them on their farms or railroads, and were with Wm. when we lost our hand car by being run into, an account of which was given several years ago."

This is almost certainly NOT the voice of HJ Libby.  Who is the author of this clipping, datelined "Greenwood 1910"?  The most likely author, I believe, is Lemuel Dunham.  The literary tone also seems like his, don't you think?  The dates fit Lemuel's life story.  And what other hand car accident could it be?  It says that an account of this accident was given earlier.  I don't have access to his newspaper columns (sure wish I did).  It might be worth looking through them again, to see if this accident account could be found.

Comment by Chris Dunham on August 9, 2013 at 11:10pm

That does indeed sound like Lemuel. I'm sure I would remember reading about the handcar accident, so I must never have run across it. I have a scrapbook that he kept of his columns, but it is in no way complete. A cousin on the Swan/Whitman side of the family has a similar, earlier scrapbook.

Lemuel mentions in one his columns that he was living in Lincoln in August of 1870, so he was there at least through the summer:

My 40th birthday is still fresh in my mind, as I was at work on the railroad in Lincoln and went to Bangor to have my photograph taken, which still hangs up against the wall, looking somewhat different from the old, white-haired man of to-day.

He was also living in Lincoln when he applied for a patent for an "Improvement in Cooking-Stoves," granted in Feb. 1871.

Comment

You need to be a member of Maine Genealogy Network to add comments!

Join Maine Genealogy Network

Ancestry.com

Fold3.com

Search Fold3 Records

© 2014   Created by Chris Dunham.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service