top of page
  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Train vs. Buggy Accident

In 1915 all kinds of accidents could happen. Travellers had a wide choice of transportation -- automobile, buggy, horseback, trams, jitneys, trains or planes! In this instance, a group of men met with disaster near Danvers, IL when their wagon was struck by the electric interurban train.

This photo is of an interurban train on the Illinois Terminal RR, which was a railroad run out of Bloomington by a local company. The train ran from Bloomington to Peoria, and as part of a larger group of interurban trains, would move passengers far and wide across Illinois.

But on this date, farmer Anton Dirks was driving his wagon with three other men and one small boy back home from a visit to a newly married couple. The three men who were killed by the train were all retired farmers and immigrants from Germany. According to nine year old Oswald Alwes, as the wagon approached the tracks, his father George told Mr. Dirks that they could not make it across the tracks before the train. Oswald thereupon jumped from the wagon, and his father jumped after him, thinking Oswald would be hurt. It was in this way that their lives were saved. The train hit the wagon, scattering it over the tracks and dragging one man down the tracks for many yards. The Pantagraph described in graphic detail the injuries to the men and the fact that the crash was heard in Danvers. Many people came to the site to help the injured. Anton Dirks was badly injured and was placed in the interurban for a fast trip to Brokaw Hospital in Bloomington, where he died.

Oswald told the reporter that they had been to the home of John Gehl and his new wife to "chari vari" them. Oswald said there had been music and dancing, but then they had "hard luck" on the way home. Killed in the accident was his grandfather, Herman Alwes and Ernest Rassbach.

The chari vari started in Europe as an informal social ritual that embarrassed unmarried, cohabitating couples, with mock serenades in which pots and pans would be clashed together and loud parties would take place. The chari vari here was a celebration of the marriage that had already taken place, as were possibly most of the publicly acknowledged charivaris in this area. Charivaris or shivarees, were common occurences in mid-Illinois.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page