Friday, September 25, 2020

Railroad Collision During the Civil War Killed Soldiers, LA 1862

In searching for the military service record of Arnold Jasper Smith I discovered he had been killed in a “Collision of Cars” while on a train with his regiment. This seemed unusual and I guessed that a train disaster would have been reported in the newspapers. I checked Louisiana newspapers because the collision happened there and Mississippi newspapers because the regiment originated there. I found that newspapers in both states reported the incident.

In late February 1862 the 7thMS Regiment boarded a special 12-car passenger train. The soldiers had been in service for four or five months. Our family’s cousin, Arnold Jasper Smith, 21 years old, was onboard. A freight train carrying lumber to build gunboats was rushing in the opposite direction. That freight train smashed into the passenger train, hitting the car with the Dahlgren Rifles, of which A. J. Smith was a member. The engineer of the lumber train ran off into the woods. Many soldiers, relaxing on the train before going into battle, were killed or wounded. The following newspaper articles give details of the disaster.

Two of Arnold Jasper Smith’s brothers, Newton Oscar Smith and William J. M. Smith also served in Co. H of the 7thMS Regiment and must have been on the same train. They continued on with the regiment. Before the year ended, both were killed; William was killed at the Battle of Shiloh on 6 April 1862; and Newton died of typhoid fever on 4 May 1862. I cannot image the grief Wyatt and Euseba felt following the deaths of three of their sons.

Arnold Jasper Smith
 c 1841 – 1862 LA
Son of Wyatt Smith & Euseba Fortenberry 
Civil War Soldier, Co H, 7thMS Infantry

My 3rdGreat Uncle

Historic Sign relates the tale of the Train Wreck. From:

Newspaper Article #1: This report from a New Orleans newspaper gives the earliest report of the accident that I could find. It is a bit confused. At first it tells us the conductor ran from the scene and later it says the engineer ran away. 

The Accident of the Jackson Railroad – The first account of the casualties resulting from the collision of the trains on Jackson Railroad, yesterday morning, turns out to have been greatly exaggerated. Mr. Bruce, one of the attach├ęs of the road, reports that the number of ascertained to have been killed was only twenty-eight, and twenty-two wounded. 

The accident was occasioned by the lumber train’s being run out of time, and without the knowledge of the conductor of the passenger train. The conductor of the lumber train, on the occurrence of the collision, made for the woods, and at last accounts had not been heard from.

Superintendent Williams, accompanied surgical assistance, repaired at once to the scene of the disaster.

The up train which met with that accident left the city at 4 o’clock, yesterday morning, with the 7thMississippi regiment, Col. Goode, which arrived here the day before on their way to Corinth. This regiment was formed of the following companies:

The Bogue Chitto Guards, Dahlgren Rifles, Franklin Beauregards, Franklin Rifles, Covington Rangers, Marion Men, Quitman Rifles, Jeff Davis Sharpshooters, Goode Rifles.

The Dahlgren Rifles, the Quitman Rifles and the Franklin Beauregards, were in the cars smashed by the down train, and of course the number of victims was most considerable among them. Here, so far as we could ascertain, the names of the killed and wounded:

Dahlgren Guards – Dead – Joseph Adams, Wm. Boyd, Thomas Boyd, Peter Donaway, Peter Felder, Daniel Kean, David Roberts, George Sartin, Frank Coglin, Stephen Keeves. Badly wounded – Wyatt Thornhill, Lieut. James Wallace, Capt. T. B. Williams, Lieut. J. B. Williams, Smith Felder, Jerry Donaway, George Toms, Isiah Green, John Magallin, John Davis, Isiah Boyd, Michael Ready, J. B. VInces, Silas M. Ewing. Slightly wounded – H. C. Hope.

Of the Quitman Rifles, eighteen were killed and several wounded. Lieut. Wilson, in command, was killed; so were Marion Freeman, two of the Whittingtons, and four others whose names are not known.

Four of the Franklin Beauregards, whose names are not known, were also among the killed.

Quitman Rifles – wounded – J. A. Bright, lost his right foot. Franklin Beauregards – wounded – Sergt. J. L. L. Beavers.

There were eight more who were so badly wounded that they could not get their names and they were sent to the C. S. Hospital on Common street.

Wm. White, fireman of the up-town train, was slightly wounded. Andrew Fitzpatrick, conductor of the same train, has his arm broken and his hip dislocated. Many others were slightly wounded and have gone on with their command.

Foster, the engineer of the down train, made his escape through the woods.

Some of the wounded were brought to this city yesterday afternoon and sent to the C. S. Hospital on Common street. They presented a most heart-rending sight. Three of them died on their way from the place of accident, and some others are past all recovery.

Source: The Accident of the Jackson Railroad (New Orleans, LA: The Times Picayune, 28 Feb 1862) 2; digital image, accessed Aug 2020.

Newspaper Article #2: This Jackson, MS newspaper wrote two articles on the same day. These reports are clearer than the Louisiana news.

Railroad Collision!!
Disasters in Col. E. J. Goode’s (7thMississippi) Regiment!!!
List of the Killed and Wounded!

A collision took place on the N. O. J. & Great Northern Railroad, near Tangipaho, between a wood train and a special train containing the 7thMississippi Regiment, (Col. Goode) on Thursday evening with disastrous results. The following is the list of the killed and wounded as far as know in this city.

Quitman Rifles – Killed – Lieut. Wilson, Thos. Edwards, Denny Whittington, P. Whittington, Marion Freeman and four others, names unknown. – Wounded – J. A. Bright, McRae and E. J. Foreman.

Capt. Farley’s Company – Four killed, names unknown. – Wounded – Sergeant J. S. Beaver; a servant of Lieut. Ferrell; besides eight soldiers so badly wounded they could not speak. They were sent with the rest of the wounded to the Army Hospital on Common street.

Dalgren Rifles – Killed – W. N. Boyd, Thos. Boyd, Joe Adams, Geo. Sartin, Peter Filder, Jesse Crawford, Jas. Smith, Stephen Reeves, Frank M. Coglin, Daniel Keene, Parley Dienaway, Daniel Roberts. – Wounded – Capt. Williams, leg broken, ribs fractured; Lt. J. B. Williams, leg fractured; J. B. Wallace, leg fractured and amputated; Wyatt Thornhill, leg and arm fractured; H. C. Hope, dislocation in knee and wounded in bowls; Jesse Vine, both legs broken; Jesse Dunaway, fracture clavicle; Geo. Toms cut and bruised.

Source: Railroad Collision (Jackson, MS: The Weekly Mississippian, 5 March 1862) 2; digital image, accessed Aug 2020.

Newspaper Article #3: There were more newspapers than these three but no new information was included in the other reports.

The Disaster on the Jackson R. Road

Elsewhere we insert the list of the casualties produced by the heart-rending disaster on the Jackson Road, near Tchoupatoulas, on Thursday last. The up-train, we learn from the Delta, consisted of a locomotive, tender and twelve passenger cars, carrying the entire 7thMississippi Regiment, Col. Goode; and the down-train was of lumber, for gunboats now being built in New Orleans.

It seems that the down-train was running out of time, and the engineer, Foster, was notified of the danger of collision. As soon as the disaster occurred, Foster took to the woods and made his escape. These facts furnish very good evidence of his intentional guilt. His case must be investigated, and if he is ever caught, and it appears that the terrible disaster was attributable to either intention or carelessness, he should be swing higher than Haman.

These brave men have been in the service four or five months, ready and anxious to peril their lives in defense of the country and it is an unpardonable outrage to make them the passive victims of the carelessness of Rail Road employees. It is sad to think that a considerable portion of them should be mangled just at a time when they were slated at the prospect of reaching the scene of actual battle.

Besides the wounded mentioned there were between fifty and sixty, who were so badly injured as to be unfit for military duty, but who had their wounds dressed and kept on with the regiment. Dr. Bowie, surgeon of the regiment, came down to the city with the wounded.

Dr. G. W. Deveron, Superintendent of the Army Hospital on Common street, happened to be on the down train, and rendered the most valuable services to the wounded men by his surgical skill.

Source: The Disaster on the Jackson R. Road (Jackson, MS: The Weekly Mississippian, 5 March 1862) 3; digital image, accessed Aug 2020.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Forget Me Not: James Calvin Fortenberry, 1937 MS

This obituary offers the genealogist very little information. There are no names of family members included. Fortunately, I have information from other sources to fill in the missing information.

James Calvin Fortenberry

2 November 1871 – 7 July 1937 MS
Son of Burrell Franklin Fortenberry & Mary O. Bilbo
Husband of Ella Blackwell

My 2nd cousin, 3x removed

Fortenberry Rites Today. Retired Farmer Dies. At Home in Magnolia Wednesday. Magnolia – July 8. J. C. Fortenberry, 63, well known retired farmer, died at his residence here at 3:00 p. m. yesterday afternoon.

Funeral services have been set for 3:00 p. m. today (July 8) and will be held from the Magnolia Baptist church with the pastor, the Rev. A. E. Pardue, officiating. Interment will be in the Magnolia cemetery.

Mr. Fortenberry is a member of a well known and widely connected family. He was a man esteemed by a host of friends.

Several years ago his wife died, and survivors include two daughters, one son, two brothers, two sisters, his mother, and one grandchild.

The J. N. Davis Funeral Home of McComb is in charge of funeral arrangemetns.

Source: Fortenberry Rites Today. (McComb, MS, Enterprise-Journal, 8 Jul 1937) 3; digital image, accessed August 2020).

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

September Anniversary: Gasua & Sarah Fortenberry, 1832 MS

16 July 1805 SC -  21 June 1884 MS
Son of William Jasper Fortenberry & Violette Kennington

Sarah Brown
5 February 1810 GA – 19 July 1883 MS
Daughter of Moses Brown & Sarah Robertson 


29 September 1832, Marion, MS
188 years ago 

Source: Upton, Mrs. Robert Chester. Marriage Records Marion County, Mississippi 1812 - 1860. 1958. 976.221 Marriage G. C. Fortenberry & Sarah Brown 29 Sept 1832

Parents of

Armanda Miranda (Fortenberry) Snell
Narcissa Izela (Fortenberry) Huff
Louisa Ollevia Fortenberry
Benjamin Calvin Fortenberry
William Franklin Fortenberry
Mary Elizabeth Fortenberry
Christianna Euseba (Fortenberry) Schilling
Sarah Jane (Fortenberry) Cutrer
Violette Eliza (Fortenberry) Thornhill

Other September Anniversaries:

10 September1796      Joseph Keck & Catherine Klingensmith         224 years ago
13 September  1912    Myron A. Boreman & Elva Gale Mark            108 years ago
18 September 1856     James W Ellzey & Nancy C. Jane                 164 years ago
18 September 1872     Ira Payne Alford & Mary Hughes Parker         148 years ago
19 September 1799     Aaron Brown & Anna Stanton                        221 years ago
29 September 1920     Ernest S. Creasy & Ella Arline Rupert            100 years ago

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Forget Me Not: Willis F. Fortenberry, 1968, LA

Willis Franklin Fortenberry
Aug 1896 MS – Apr 1968 LA

Son of Jessie Crawford Fortenberry & Susan A. Ryals 
Husband of Annie Laurie Hand

World War I Veteran 

My 2nd cousin, 3x removed

Willis F. Fortenberry Rites Today. Tylertown – Funeral services for Willis Franklin Fortenberry, 71, were held at 2 p. m. today at Ginn Funeral Home Chapel. 

Mr. Fortenberry, a retired farmer, died late Sunday afternoon, in a Bogalusa, La. medical center following a long illness.

He was the son of the late Jesse C. and Susan Ryals Fortenberry, pioneer settlers of this area. A native of Old Pike County, he was a lifelong resident of the Walthall County area and lived in the New Zion community at the time of his death.

He was a veteran of World War I. 

Survivors include his widow, Annie Laurie Hand Fortenberry; two sons, Willis F. Fortenberry, Jr., Greensboro, La., Wyatt Fortenberry, Bogalusa, La.; one daughter, Mrs. Fred Evans, Bossier City, La.; two sisters, Mrs. W. O. Hobgood, McComb, Mrs. Ruby Wood, New Orleans, and eight grandchildren. 

Rev. Truly Reynolds officiated. Burial was in the Fortenberry family cemetery with Ginn Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

Source: Willis F. Fortenberry Rites Today. Tylertown. (McComb, MS: The Enterprise Journal, 15 Apr 1968) 3, digital image, accessed June 2020. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Book Report: Everyday Life in Colonial America From 1607 to 1783

Many branches of my father’s family lived in Colonial America. We may have visions of large families in rustic log cabins living off the land but were the actual details of life before we became the country we are now? How was life different from Maine to Virginia? What did the people eat & wear? This book fills in details that are useful when writing about our Colonial Families.

Everyday Life in Colonial America 
From 1607 to 1783

Written by Dale Taylor
Published: Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 1997

Table of Contents:

1. Almanac
Chesapeake Regional Overview
New England Regional Overview
Middle Colonies Regional Overview
Deep South Regional Overview

2. Everyday Life
Food & Drink
Clothing & Accessories
Marriage & Family

3. Government & War
Government, Law & Politics
Warfare & the Military
Money, Economy, Trade, Travel & Navigation

4. Colonial Society
Arts & Sciences
Farming, Fishing, Trapping & Laborers

This book is filled with details of Colonial life. I find much of it very interesting. For example, the section on Language and Literature said literacy rates “…seem to have been high.” Writing was an essential skill. Letter writing was important to communicate over distances. I had understood the importance of literacy before reading this book but I thought reading and writing skills were not common among early settlers. Mr. Taylor wrote that spelling “was not yet standardized, but phonetic.” That is easy to believe based on the early records I have read. The book includes details on early writing tools. Pens were made from the primary flight feathers of a goose or turkey. Inkwells were made of pottery, glass, brass, pewter or silver. Pencils made of lead and wood were “less common than pens.” 

My criticism of this book is this. It does not always differentiate between life in the various colonies but writes as if life in all areas was the same.  For example Mr. Taylor writes about alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts and Connecticut but what about Virginia and the Carolinas? Were their habits the same?

If your family lived in the colonies there is most likely something in this book of interest to you.


At the top of this blog, click on My Library for many more books that I have found useful for genealogical & historical research.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

10th Blog Anniversary!

Ten years ago I did not know where my blog posts would lead or how long I would keep posting. Today I take a moment in my research to acknowledge 10 years of posts. Thanks to everyone who has taken time to read & comment. Why do I continue? The following quote answers that question.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. 
–Michael J. Fox