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Capt. Irenaeus L. Smith (1835-1908)


Posted By: Dorian Myhre (email)
Date: 3/16/2017 at 23:35:36

From Nevada Representative October 21, 1908



Funeral Here This Afternoon--All the Family Present--Further Report of the Accident

The body of the late Capt. I. L. Smith was brought home to Nevada Tuesday forenoon, the funeral party having left Kansas City late on Monday evening. Accompanying the body were Mrs. Smith, Chas. E. Smith and wife and three daughters and John Henry Smith. Marcellus K. Smith and wife had come over from Ames the night before to open the home here, and Will Smith arrived from Kansas City. The wife and son of the last named arrived last evening from Chicago, and they with the two children of M. K. of Ames, a son and a daughter, complete the family attendance at the funeral. Allen R. Smith, the remaining son of the family, died in 1898.

The funeral is held at the home here at two o'clock this afternoon, Rev. R. E. Shaw of the Methodist church officiating, and the services being in charge of the Masonic lodge of this city, assisted by the Grand Army post. The honorary pall-bearers will be, Wm. Gates, J. A. Fitchpatrick, W. P. Payne, Jay A. King, F. A. McLain, Dan McCarthy, Parley Sheldon, W. M. Greeley, F. C. Tilden, and W. P. Zwilling, and he active pall-bearers will be U. S. Alderman, J. A. Mills, W. P. Fitchpatrick, C. P. Hartman, C. M. Soper, J. M. Bricker, F. C. McCall and O. L. Dunkelbarger.

Iraneus L. Smith was born at Berlin, Somerset county, Pennsylvania, January 11, 1835, and was killed in a street-car wreck at Kansas City, Missouri, October 19, 1908, aged 73 years, 9 months and 5 days. He grew up there and as a young man went to Lexington in the same county to clerk in a store. There he in due time married the proprietor's daughter, Miss Harriet King, on September 9, 1857. He enlisted in the summer of 1861 in Company C of the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry and served the full term of three years, for a large part of the time as captain of his company. His service was in great part in the Shenandoah valley, and it was a very active service. The most famous battles in that valley did not come until after the expiration of his term of enlistment, but for three years there was much chasing up and down the valley and about as much persistent fighting as in any war, excepting of course the main route from Washington to Richmond. After retiring from the service in 1864 Capt. Smith returned to his Pennsylvania home, and the next year he moved with his family westward, the first settlement being at Heyworth, McLean county, Illinois. He remained there for four years and in 1869 came to Story county, locating at Ames. In 1875 he was appointed by J. A. Fitchpatrick deputy clerk of the courts, and the next year he was nominated and elected to the clerkship, his family coming over from Ames in the spring of 1877. He served as county clerk with great acceptability for ten years, and in the fall of 1886 he engaged with his son Chas. E. in the abstract business under the firm name of Smith & Son. Chas. E. later went to Kansas City and sold his interest here to J. M. Bricker, but Capt. Smith continued in the business actively until the time of his death nearly twenty-two years later. He was appointed in 1896 a member of the Public Library board and continued on that board until his death. Similarly he was appointed a member of the soldier's relief commission of the county at the time of its creation in 1888 and continued thereon until his death. He was in the enjoyment of excellent health, and his years did not weigh upon him very heavily. He took life serenely, had an income ample for his needs, and was troubled by very few worries. He took an occasional vacation, generally going to at Grand Army encampment of to see the boys at Kansas City. On one of the latter trips he was caught in the one chance out of several million, and his life was snuffed out in an instant.

In all his walks of life Capt. Smith was a man of exceptional worth. He had positive convictions, but his views were tolerantly expressed, and we are sure that he was as universally like as any man if similar strength in the community. He was one of the most representative citizens of the city and of the county, and to all his obligations personal and political, he was notably faithful. The mourning at his sad and sudden end is not be overstated.

The Accident

The accident in which Capt. Smith walled was the result of a street-car getting beyond control on one of the many and steep grades that are numerous on the streets of Kansas City. It was a heavily loaded car going toward town and autumn leaves blowing upon the track had the effect of greasing the track, and the car after climbing the most of th hill, began to slip backward. It ran back upon the next car and the two in turn ran back upon a third car. Both the following cars were started backward but there were crashes when the collisions occurred and the worse one when the first car struck the second one. In this second car Capt. Smith and his grand-daughter, Miss Naomi Smith, were going down town. They were near the front of the car, and in common with others when the disaster became imminent, the tried to get off by way of the front platform. Miss Naomi did get off, alighting safely on her feet as the cars crashed together but her grand-father, just behind her and not quite so quick of motion, was caught in the vestibule and crushed to death in an instant. The cars swept on; but Miss Naomi, recognizing the nature of the disaster rushed to the nearest drug store and telephoned her father and uncle at their office that there was a wreck and that her grand-father was killed and telephoned back to the house for her mother and grandmother not to come down town. Chas. and John Henry getting a cab and hurrying to the scene, found their father several blocks below where the crash had occurred. He had been removed from the wreck, was dead, and was about to be put into an ambulance. From the report of the accident in the Kansas City Star we glean the following further information:

"Two runaway street cars, locked together by the force of a collision, sped backward down the Troost avenue hill south of Twelfth street at 9 o'clock this morning. The wrecked mass with its load of screaming, panic stricken passengers fighting to get out, crashed into a third car just south of Fifteenth street. One man dead, at least twenty-eight persons injured, several of them dangerously, and three trolleys wrecked--this is the result of the spectacular smash up.

"It started on the steep grade between Tenth and Ninth streets. A northbound car had almost reached the summit of this hill when it stopped. Then the wheels began to slip and the car slid backward. The motorman tried brakes in vain. The explanation given by the company was that autumn leaves were on the tracks and the oily paste ground out of them made the rails slippery. Near Tenth street the backing runaway approached a car following.

"Back up there and catch us easy," the conductor of the lead car shouted to the motorman of the car behind.

"The man at the lever of car No. 2 promptly reversed the power. But he decided not to take chances on the "easy catch." He sped his car backward as rapidly as it would go to avoid a collision.

"Men of the fire department at Eleventh street and Troost avenue, hearing the roar and the clanging of bells, turned out all three wagons and racing beside the cars threw coats, axes and bars of iron under the wheels of the runaway to check its speed.

"At Twelfth street the cars were not more than a dozen feet apart and going at a terrific speed. The bells of both cars and the fire bells of the three wagons mingling with the roar of the car wheels, made a din that was almost deafening. The wagons and horses and cars crossed Twelfth street in a cloud of dust.

Near the foot of the grade at Thirteenth street they crashed. The impact hurled passengers a dozen feet and heavy iron beams, pieces of tracks, windows and doors and bits of glass flew in all directions.

"But the wreck did not stop with that. The momentum of the two cars was only checked a little by the collision, not stopped. Women were shrieking in hysterics, men were jumping out of the windows and rolling against the curbstones. The pay-as-you-enter doors held the passengers securely in a death trap. At the rear doors too small for more than one person to pass at one time, the passengers were jammed too tightly to move. The broken motors were flashing red and white lights and smoke mingled with the dust cloud.

"The men of the fire department wagons never paused in the work of throwing obstacles under the wheels of the runaway wreck. At Fifteenth street their work was beginning to tell. And at Fifteenth street they found another cool headed man to help them. An upholsterer who ran out with wooden clamps and when the cars passed stuck them under the wheels.

"It was timely aid. Coming up the fill from Sixteenth street was a third Troost avenue car. W. I. Jones, the motorman, looked up to see the roaring, clanging cloud of dust approaching and for a moment stood paralyzed with fear. He reversed the current, but had not time to begin a backward race. The wrecked cars crashed into this third car.

"The middle car was telescoped by the impact from both directions, carrying among its injured a gray haired man who died before he could be lifted from the wrecked car. He was I. L. Smith of Nevada, Ia.

"With the first sliding of the wheels for the runaway car there came fear to the passengers, and with that fear there began a fight for safety that lasted until the three cars were wrecked. Women, men and children screamed with fear, shouted warnings to one another and pleaded. The men, some of them, cursed as they fought their way toward the doors. The women tore at one another's clothing as they struggled to get to a window or a vestibule. The children were crying and being pushed here and there, forgotten by the others who were trying to get to safety.

"Past Eleventh street the two front cars went--at a speed that made jumping without injury impossible. Past Twelfth street they went; and with the noise of the cars, the screaming and shouting of the imprisoned passengers, there came another noise--that of horse's hoofs and heavy wagon wheels--the firemen had come to aid. In aiding they had brought a new danger. With the racing fire wagons beside the runaway cars there was the added danger of death beneath the horses hoofs. It was a race of death--with death as the possible conclusion of a jump for safety, death as a result of remaining in the cars. On and on the cars went, and with each foot of progress the panic within the cars became more pronounced.

"A crash, a massing of those struggling forms for a moment, a few groans and and then more screaming, a slight diminishing of the speed of the car Then it began all over again. The first collision had come between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. The faces of man in the two cars, faces that were white a moment before, were now covered with blood, but still the cars went on. Again and again they tried to get out of the front vestibule of the first car, or through the iron barred rear vestibule of the second car But there was no chance At the rear the crowded passenger would not make way for each other at the front there was a door that could not be opened. It had to be a game of waiting for what those passengers did not know.

Fifteenth street. A rumble a cross the tracks and then again came a crash. The two front cars slid a few feet and then stopped the third car, with the crashed vestibule, sped toward Nineteenth street. Finally it stopped. Then there came the clanging of ambulance bells, the hurry and rush of the surgeons and then an undertaker's wagon.


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