Monday, November 5, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: A Feat of Heroism - 1915

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009.  Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.


I discovered the following news story at ChroniclingAmerica, a digital collection of newspapers belonging to the Library of Congress. I had conducted a search on "Mabel Fulkerson," my wife's great grandmother. Born on June 14, 1901, she had just turned 14 years old at the time of the article.

The Weekly Tribune and Cape County Herald, Friday, June 18, 1915, p. 6.

Tree Driven Across Track is Removed by Lassies Just in Nick of Time
Conductor Chapin to Tell Chiefs of Heroism of Young Women

A large oak tree fell across the Frisco tracks, about five miles north of Parma yesterday afternoon, and a serious accident was averted by the presence of mind and prompt action of three young ladies who discovered the danger a short time after the storm had passed over.

The Gulf train was almost due when Miss Bessie Williams, Miss Iva Eagleton and Miss Mabel Fulkerson in walking up the track discovered the blockade that had been caused by the falling timber.

They hurried to the closest home in the vicinity, and while Miss Eagleton had gone inside to secure a cloth to use as a flag, the other two young ladies hurried to the wood pile and each seized an ax and hurried back to the railroad. Miss Eagleton walked up the track from where the tree had fallen and waited the approach of the train.

A few minutes later, Julius Fischer, the engineer of the fast passenger was attracted by the sight of a woman standing in the center of the track immediately ahead of him, frantically waving a towel.

Interpreting her gestures as a signal to stop he immediately applied the emergency brake and quickly brought the train to a standstill.

Conductor Dot Chapin leaped to the ground and rushed ahead of the engine to investigate the reason for the abrupt pause, when he came face to face with the excited young woman who was almost hysterical from the strain under which she had been laboring.

When hurriedly questioned she was so nearly overcome that she could not answer, but she motioned the train crew to follow, and when they passed around a short curve they came upon Miss Williams and Miss Fulkerson who had succeeded in cutting the log in two, and had rolled one end almost completely off the track.

They were both almost completely exhausted. Their faces were fiery red from the exertion, and the perspiration was pouring from them. Their hands were badly blistered and they bore evidence of the struggle they had made to prevent a serious disaster.

Mr. Fischer said that the curve was on the fireman’s side, and that the engineer would have had no opportunity to see the log until too late to avoid crashing into it. He feels certain that the heroic efforts of the young women saved the train from a serious wreck.

The train crew and passengers thanked them profusely, and Mr. Chapin took their names for the purpose of making the report to the higher officials.


1) When you discover someone in a newspaper article listed with friends, it's always a good idea to do a little research on those friends, as they might not be just friends.

While Mabel was the youngest of the three, the other two were her elder-nieces.
Iva, born in 1899, was the daughter of Mabel's sister, Della, and Jacob Eagleton.
Bessie, born in 1898, was the daughter of Mabel's sister, Julia, and Virgil Williams.
More than twenty years separated Mabel from either of her two oldest siblings.

The Fulkerson family must have been very proud that day.

2) Out of caution, I should indicate that there were three Bessie Williams residing in the same county in 1910, according to the census. There is a microscopic chance that the Bessie in the news story is one of the other two.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article.