Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook April 19, 2013
As I put together, articles from the American Wood Rim Company, I find that sometimes we fail to shed light
on history that is not so pleasant. I have come across several articles that help me understand the many
hardships that came with the phrase "Onaway Steers the World." I have read the Michigan Labor Logs, court
cases from the Northwestern Reporter and court cases from the Michigan Railroad. I will share some of this
information in my weekly articles, but space won't allow all of it.
This week's article is about a pioneer family that lived near the Don Baker Farm. Some of you might know of "VanHorn's Landing" on the Black River, which is now private property.
This article was taken from the March 22, 1907 Onaway Outlook.
MANGLED BY CARS
Life Crushed OUt by Logging Train Saturday Night-Sad Accident That Shadows a Number of Homes in Gloom
March 22, 1907
Death under the wheels of a car is bad enough, but to be cut to pieces in the dark, on a lonely sidetrack, the remains to lie ther for hours, is certainly far worse. That was the fate that befell Roy VanHorn last Saturday morning, on the Wolverine Branch.
The full story as told by a companion of young VanHorn is as follows: Roy had been attending the Adventist School south of this city this past winter. A week previous to the accident he went to his father's camp near the Crumley Bride, on the Black, to assist there for a week, as there was to be but three days of school that week. He stayed there 'till Saturday evening. At a late hour he and a companion named Roy Graham left the camp and walked over the Cleveland Branch. They followed the tracks to its junction with the Wolverine Branch, where they partially expected to meet Ed VanHorn, father of Roy. Failing in that they were going to catch the logging train that ran up the branch each night, coming out at about 2 o'clock.
The father failing to show up, the boys went up the Wolverine Branch a few rods and sat down to wait for the train. It was then about 11 o'clock and they had a long wait before them. They found a convenient log, close to the track, and built a fire out of coal dropped from the engine and tender. The fire was close to the rail. The log mentioned but a short distance away.
After a time Graham lay down on the log and fell asleep. This was about 1 o'clock. The last he remembers of VanHorn was seeing him sitting on a stake that was lying with one end of the rail, breaking the coal to bits and feeding the fire. The next thing he knew he was awakened by the train passing him. He jumped to his feet, confused, and as the train went by he found that Roy was missing. He thought that possibly Roy had gone to the forks of the two branches, and that the trian would stop there. Picking up the lantern they had, unlighted, he started down the track. But in a short distance he found Roy's hat and a bit farther some torn clothing. He went back to the fire and lit the lantern and going farther down the track he found pieces of the body. Finally coming to the trunk, he picked it up and placed it beside the track and then gathered up the pieces as he could, putting all together and covered them up. During this time he was so overcome that he thinks he fainted, as he found himself once lying on the ground.
He then walked back to the camp that they had left early in the evening, saddled a horse and came to town to notify the parents.
As soon as the factgs were told arrangements were made to go after the body and the D & M (Detroit & Mackinac) at once placed special engine and car at the service of the relatives and others who wanted to go. At Tower, Justice Stow was added to the party, that he might hold the necessary inquest. ARriving at the fatal spot, the whole thing was seen as Graham had told it.
The story of the trainmen, who were in charge of the logging train that night, was told. They had seen the light of the fire as they came up the grade and partially slowed down, thinking that it was a lantern and someone wanted to board the train. Not being flagged, they went on and watched the fire as they passed it. Neither engineer nor fireman saw the boys, but brakeman Claude Tower saw Graham jump from his sleeping place. He saw nothing of VanHorn.
The trian was coming out pilot first and had anyone been on the track or beside the rail they would have been seen. It is therefore thought that VanHorn had finally laid down on the same log as Graham, but closer to the rail. When the noise of the train aroused him he started to jump up and being so close to the cars he struck one of them and was thus thrown under the wheels, to meet almost instant death.
An examination of the wheels of the engine, tender and cars showed that the two former were clean, while the wheels and trucks of the first logging car were spattered with blood. This all helps to carry out the theory advanced above.
A coroner's inquest was at once impaneled by Justice Stow and they made a careful investigation, bringing in a verdict of accidental death, with blame to no one. That was all they could do under the circumstances. The jury consistged of the following: J.J. King, Paddy Hyde, Malcolm McNeil, Will Ragless, Dr. Trask and Frank Burt.
The remains were brought tothe city and taken to the undertaking rooms of P.K. Kimball, where they were made presentable as possible. The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon from the Friends Church, the Adventist Church in the city not large enough to accomodate the people. The Rev. Wite, of Petoskey, was present and preached the funeral sermon. The attendance was large, the following to the grave being possibly the largest in the city.
-From The Onaway Outlook, April 19, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.