Grimsby Newspapers
Grimsby's greatest tragedy occurred half century ago
Publication:
Grimsby Independent, 22 Jan 1959, p. 1


Description
Creator:
J. Orlon Livingston, Editor
Media Type:
Newspaper
Text
Item Type:
Articles
Date of Publication:
22 Jan 1959
Date Of Event:
16 Jan 1909
Subject(s):
Personal Name(s):
Wilson, William ; Teeter, Ida ; Teeter, George ; Nelson, Gertrude ; Nelson, Gordon ; Teeter, Lottie ; Teeter, Beulah ; Farrow, Beulah
Language of Item:
English
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Full Text

A sneak thief was the direct cause of five people being killed, one severely injured and 8 children left orphans- Depot Street railway crossing claimed nine lives in seven years - after hard fought legal battle gates were ordered installed.

A sneak thief was the cause of the greatest tragedy that ever struck Grimsby. Fifty years ago last Saturday morning, January 16th, 1909, five fine Grimsby citizens were instantly killed, one badly injured and one, an 11 month old babe miraculously saved. Shortly after three o'clock on that fateful morning the phone on the downstairs wall in the old home jangled something terrific. As a youthful newspaper reporter, in those long ago days, I always slept with one ear and one eye open. It did not take me long to reach that phone. It was Reeve Wm. Mitchell calling for my Father who was right behind me. Mitchell told Dad what had happened. We dressed and went to the Grand Trunk Station. One look and the scene was burned indelibly upon my memory. Five people dead, one badly injured and 8 children left orphans, and all because of a sneak thief. Early on the previous evening William Wilson who was manager of the Jack VanDyke farm (now being subdivided between the Q.E. Way and the lake on the east side of Kerman avenue) and his wife (Ida Teeter) accompanied by George Teeter and his wife (Gertrude Nelson), Gordon Nelson, Miss Lottie Teeter (now Mrs. James Gowland), baby Beulah Teeter and some other friends left Grimsby by team and sleigh to attend a dance in Winona hall. It was a happy sleighing, dancing party of hard working, fun loving people. The night was cold and after the midnight hour became very blustery with a high wind which reached nearly gale proportions blowing from the northeast. About 1:30 a.m. Mr. Wilson left the hall to see about his horses. He discovered that the heavy blankets covering them had been stolen. Being a man who took good care of his horses and other livestock he went back to the hall and told his party they were going home. Ordinarily they would have danced until four o'clock as was the habit in those days. Shortly before three o'clock the sleigh load pulled into Grimsby. Mrs. Burt and Arthur Wentworth left the party on Main Street and Orland Cowell left them at the corner of John and Depot Streets, just 150 yards from the railway tracks. A few seconds later at 2:55, the New York flyer struck the sleigh with tragic results. Samuel Bonham (Father of C.M. Bonham) the night operator, saw the train suddenly come to a stop but did not know why until the train crew came back and told him they had struck a sleigh. He checked and immediately called Drs. Alexander (Coroner) Morris and Smith, Reeve Mitchell and his section men. The waiting room of the station became a morgue and a hospital. Mr. Nelson and Miss Teeter were still alive and were taken to Hamilton hospital on the 6:50 train, where Mr. Nelson passed away. Miss Teeter was able to talk a little, enough so that the men in attendance knew that there was a baby some place. A search soon found the child well dressed, well bundled up against the wintry blasts, sound asleep in a snow bank. Uninjured in any way. that baby today in Mrs. Cecil Farrow. As daylight came and the workmen straggled to work and the news flew around as it did in those days even without the benefit of radio, a state of mourning which gradually developed into a fighting, revolutionary mourning and for good reason. This was not the first calamity that had taken place at the Depot Street crossing. In the autumn of 1901, Alfred Teeter, father of Mrs. Wilson and George Teeter and Miss Teeter, while crossing the death trap tracks with a team and apple barrel wagon was struck by a train and died 11 months later from the injuries he received. On the Sunday evening of December 7th, 1902, Miss Gertrude Hainer, Miss Maud Hughes and Harry Brady , wending their way to Miss Hughes' home from Church service were struck by a train at this crossing and instantly killed. Then the Wilson-Teeter crash. Grimsby had had enough of that kind of slaughter and while its people were bleeding at the heart they were in no mood for any more plausible brush-offs by smooth tongued legal retainers of the Grand Trunk Railway, for they had down in the County Town a Grimsby man who was smarter than they were and a fighter from the drop of the hat. Here is what he had to say when he received the news of this latest accident: "I can only say this, it should have been five senators who were killed instead of those poor people at Grimsby this morning" was the remark of E.A. Lancaster, M P for Lincoln, when asked what he had to say about the accidents, in view of his being the father of the Lancaster level crossing bill. "Yes," added Mr. Lancaster, indignantly, "I could name you 40 senators who might better have been killed than those innocent people." ...[details of his attempt to get the bill passed]...final decision was a very stiff cathechism of the G.T.R. and the order that put the gates on the Depot Street crossing...

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Grimsby's greatest tragedy occurred half century ago