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Charles Dibble, formerly of this County......


Posted By: Volunteer: Sherri
Date: 10/15/2016 at 21:04:46

Charles Dibble, formerly of this County, and two Others Killed.

A head-end collision occurred about seven o'clock last Saturday morning, April 10, 1898, on the Rock Island, a short distance east of Libertyville, between two freight trains in which Charles E. Dibble, formerly of this county, was killed along with his fireman Elmer Blosser and the head breakman of his train, William Watterson, all of Eldon. First we will give a brief obituary for Mr. Dibble, with an account of the accident following.

Charles E. Dibble was born in Farmington, Aug. 31, 1862, and moved with his parents to Keosauqua in 1866, where they resided until 1872, when they moved to Eldon. April 1, 1884, he was married to Miss Anna Meredith who survives, and who is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Meredith of this place. To them were born two children, who are now 13 and 5 years of age. Mr. Dibble began work on the Rock Island road when 17 years old and was continuously in its employ until killed at the date named. He was a member of the orders of K. of P. and A.O.U.W.

The funeral, at his late home, was conducted by Rev. Charles E. Perkins of Keosauqua, assisted by the pastors of the Methodist, Congregational and Baptist churches of Eldon. Members of the Keosauqua Congregational church choir, Mr. and Mrs. Craig Miller, Mrs. S.W. Manning, Miss Rachel Duckworth and Mr. Hugh Sloan furnished the music at the funeral service. The procession to the cemetery was a long one, consisting of the Eldon band, Uniformed Rank K. of P., subordinate lodge K. of P., Keosauqua lodge K. of P. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, A.O.U.W. of Eldon and Keosauqua lodges, and many in carriages, including a large delegation of P.E.O. of Keosauqua of which Mrs. Dibble is a member, also several members of the Rathbone Sisters of the last named place. Mr. Dibble carried about $6,000 life insurance, and the railroad company will pay his widow about the same amount. Following are the particulars of the accident as near as obtainable:

Fairfield, Io., April 16: - A head-end collision took place at 7:10 this morning on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad between two fast moving trains, about four miles west of here, or nearly half way between here and Libertyville. As a result of this collision, three trainmen are dead and still fastened in the wreck. The local way freight No. 86, due here from the west at 7:20 a.m., and an extra freight west bound, with Martin as conductor, met upon a sharp curve and in a deep cut a half mile west of the railroad bridge across Cedar creek. The collision was terrific, as the cars, fourteen in number, are piled across the two engines and over into the wagon road near by, the debris being nearly twenty feet high. The names of the killed are: Charles Dibble, engineer; Elmer Blosser, fireman; Wm. Watterson, head brakeman. All are married men and have families dependent upon them, and their homes are in Eldon. All of the killed belonged to the extra west bound train. Their bodies were buried in the wreckage and it was some time before any trace of either of the bodies could be found, and up to this writing only two have been located. There is no trace of the (continued on Page 246)

third man known to have been killed. The body of Engineer Dibble was found wedged in between the boiler head and tender, and was buried under a mass of coal and iron. He appeared to have been standing up at the time of the collision and apparently leaning toward the fireman's side of the cab.

The body of what is supposed to be that of the fireman, is lying on the side of the track on the left side of the engine, and it is conjectured that he must have jumped just as the shock came. His body is buried under a great pile of trucks and debris and nothing is visible, except one hand. The body cannot be recovered until the wreck can be cleared away, which will take until tomorrow morning. The missing body is probably beneath the wreckage and will be recovered as the work of clearing progresses.

Engineer Buckley, of the ill fated way freight, together with his fireman, jumped and came out without any serious injuries. Buckley is badly shocked and bruised but says that he will be all right in a few days. Brakeman Travers, of the same crew, is quite badly bruised up. The other members of the crew came off all right. The wreck presents a frightful sight, the powerful mogul engines which pitted their strength against each other had crashed together, tearing away their entire fronts and were transformed from machines of beauty to inconceivable masses of twisted iron and debris. They were completely telescoped, the boilers are gone and there is little left that represents the mighty machines that have been of of such service.

Just at the curve, where the two engines came together, lives a farmer and his wife, James Despain. They were in their yard when he noticed that these two trains coming from opposite directions were about to meet. He immediately gave his wife instructions to use her apron to wave it, so that the engineer would see that they were in danger, while he took out his red handkerchief and waved it frantically toward the fast moving way freight. It is believed that he did some good, for as they neared they slackened their speed and gave the men an opportunity to jump and save their lives. Mrs. Despain did not have such good luck, being on the opposite side from the engineer her danger signal was not noticed and the train came down the incline with a rate of twenty five miles an hour, and suddenly the crash came and one of the box cars fell within a few feet from where the heroic woman had stood a moment before. Two tramps who were stealing a ride were thrown thirty feet in the air and came down as though nothing had happened, with the exception of a few slight bruises. It is estimated that fully five thousand people from all over the country have visited the wreck today.

Later word says: The wreck was all cleared away by 4 o'clock Sunday morning. the first body recovered was that of the head brakeman, Watterson, about 2 o'clock, and by 6 o'clock, Blosser, the fireman, was found buried in the mud and water and covered by three cars and many tons of twisted iron and trucks. The body of Engineer Dibble was not recovered until 11 o'clock. He was buried under tons of coal and zinc ore. The worst mutilated body was that of the brakeman, whose flesh was literally cooked, his left limb having been burned away, it having been crushed up against the fire box and tender and the other limb was amputated, in order to secure its release from the mass of iron that held it. the cause of this freight wreck is now known. Conductor Crowder and Engineer Buckley of the ill fated freight had received orders when they left Eldon to meet at Libertyville the freight going west By a strange fatality, both conductor and engineer forgot this until they were flagged a moment before they struck. It gave them time enough to reverse the engine and enable them to jump, but Engineer Dibble, being on the opposite side of his cab, failed to see the danger signal and met his death while his engine was working all the steam it possessed.
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WHEREAS, Death has entered the family of brother and sister Merideth and taken from them C.E. Dibble; and

WHEREAS, The family circle has been broken, a place in their midst made vacant by his sudden death, thereby causing their affliction to seem the greater and their burden the heaver; therefore, be it

Resolved, That we, Keosauqua Rebekah Degree Lodge No. 340, extend to the bereaved family our sincere and heartfelt sympathy in this hour of their deepest sorrow.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be give to Bro. L.R. Merideth, and sisters Ella and Lizzie Merideth, and that a copy of the same be published in the Keosauqua REPUBLICAN and State Line Democrat.

Source: Van Buren Co. Genealogical Society Obituary Book G, Page 245/246, Keosauqua Public Library, Keosauqua, IA


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