Obituaries of Heber J. Pence from the Columbia City (Indiana) Post in 1929
Newspaper reports on and obituaries for Heber J. Pence, Joseph Hawk, and Frederick Coy, following their deaths at a Whitley county railroad crossing in 1929.
WARNING: these articles contain some graphic descriptions of the death of these 3 men, as seems common in newspapers of the time.
1. "3 Killed: at Line Street Crossing", obituary of Heber J. Pence, Columbia City (Whitley, Indiana) Post, 1929 March 18 (Monday evening), page 1, column 7 and page 4, column 4; microfilmed newspaper, Peabody Public Library, Columbia City, Indiana.
2. "Funeral of accident victims being arranged", obituary of Heber J. Pence, Columbia City (Whitley, Indiana) Post, 1929 March 19, page 1; microfilmed newspaper, Peabody Public Library, Columbia City, Indiana.
3. "Funeral of Heber Pence held Thursday", obituary of Heber J. Pence, Columbia City (Whitley, Indiana) Post, 1929 March 22, page 1; microfilmed newspaper, Peabody Public Library, Columbia City, Indiana.
Transcript of March 18th Article [some paragraphs and lists added]
- Joseph Hawk, aged 63.
- Heber Pence, aged 40.
- Frederick Coy, aged 19.
Three lives were snuffed out in the twinkling of an eye and 18 children left fatherless when the Manhattan Limited, one of the Pennsylvania's crack trains, struck the new Chevrolet coach owned by Heber Pence at the Line street crossing in this city about 11:30 o'clock Monday forenoon [18 March].
The victims were
- Joseph Hawk, well known farmer, who held a public sale a short time ago and moved here about two weeks ago, taking up his residence on the south side;
- Heber Pence, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pence, of Smith township, and brother of Mel Pence, of this city, and
- Frederick Coy, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Coy who reside near Collins.
The most tragic feature, in addition to the untimely death of these men, is the fact that 18 children are left fatherless. Mr. Hawk is survived by his widow and 14 children, four of whom are by former marriages, while Heber Pence is survived by four children, the oldest daughter being married. Frederick Coy was not married.
Eye-Witness to the Accident
Charles Dowell was the only eye-witness to the tragedy so far as known. He was at the Oriental Show You factory when he heard the Manhattan Limited whistle and he stepped on the little platform to watch the train shoot past. It was coming from the east to the west and as he watched he was horrified to see an automobile glide along at a speed of perhaps 20 or 25 miles an hour, right into the path of the oncoming train. The impact was terrific, although the car was not thrown into the air, but was hurled about 20 or 25 feet before it struck the ground and then gave a bounce landing about 50 feet from the crossing, just alongside of the right-of-way, sufficient to permit the train to clear it.
The remains of Joseph Hawn [sic] laid right alongside the crumpled mass of wreckage. It was difficult to conceive that the tangled mass of iron ever had been an automobile. The bodies of the other two men were thrown about 125 feet from the crossing. They hurled through the air and landed down the big embankment away to the west from the Line street crossing. All were instantly killed.
Bodies Not Mangled
The bodies were not dismembered, but they were simply crushed. A part of the steering wheel was driven right into the head of Joseph Hawk and it just seemed that the skull and practically all the bones in his body were crushed. The others met a similar fate.
The train travelled perhaps another 900 feet before coming to a stop, and the train men rushed back to the scene of the accident. Coroner Otto Lehmberg was called there, and pending his arrival, the bodies were left lying just at the point where they had been thrown.
The problem of identification immediately presented serious difficulties. Joseph Hawk carried no papers or memorandum with him which would disclose his name, but Heber Pence and Frederick Coy each had a memorandum in their pockets which disclosed their identity. It was with the utmost difficulty that people were able to positively say that one of the victims was Joseph Hawk, although his face was not badly cut, but the fact that his bones and skull were crushed rendered it extremely difficult to tell to a certainty who he was. It was not until Mrs. Omar Whitman came along that the identification was positively established. She said that years ago Mr. Hawk had fallen from a hay mow and broken both his wrists, so that both wrists were slightly crooked. Not-withstanding the fact that the bones of his arms were badly crushed, the minute one of his wrists was disclosed, she was positive in her identification. Others also identified his watch and his clothing.
Flicker Light at Crossing
There is a flicker light at the Line Street crossing. At certain hours of the day it is somewhat difficult to see the light, and it is probable that the men were talking as they approached the crossing and failed to pay proper heed to the signal light. The Manhattan Limited, however, is one of the fastest trains on the Pennsylvania road and its schedule through Columbia City is probably at the rate of 60 miles an hour or upwards.
Was New Car
The Pence car was a brand new machine which he had purchased from the local Whitley County Motor Sales...
(Continued on Page Four)
about two weeks ago. It was reduced to such a mass of wreckage that not a single piece could be taken off the machine, in the belief of those who viewed it. It was simply smashed into junk.
After a few minutes delay the Manhattan Limited went on its way to the west.
Big Crowd Gathered
Soon after the accident the crowd started to gather at the scene, and cars were parked for a long distance up and down Line street. Julius Morsches brought Joseph Coy, who is employed at the Peabody Lumber Co., to see the remains of the boy who was thought to be his son, and the father was overwhelmed when he viewed the remains and recognized them to be that of his boy.
Had Bought Farm
Heber Pence had purchased a small 20 acre tract of land in Smith township, it was learned today.
There was a set of harness in the car, which might indicate that the party was going some place to get some harness.
Verdict Accidental Death
Coroner O. F. Lehmberg stated this afternoon that he would enter a verdict of accidental death following his inquest on the accident.
Joseph Hawk was born in Lancaster county, Ohio, July 2, 1845 and would have been 64 years old, had he lived until his next birthday. He was a son of Henry and Fannie Thompson Hawk, deceased. He was married three times.
His first wife was [illegible text, might say "Ronda Howell"], who died a number of years ago, leaving three sons,
- Alfred, of Indianapolis,
- Claude, of Battle Creek and
- Arnold, of Pontiac, Mich.
He was married a second time to Miss Lida Loe. One son, Charles Hawk, of Ft. Wayne, surviving.
He was married to Lavina Mineka, March 11th, 1901, who survives, with the following children:
- Mrs. Harry Perl, of Ft. Wayne,
- Helen, who works in Ft. Wayne,
- Christ, of Battle Creek,
- Roscoe, of Pontiac,
- and the following girls at home:
- Violet, 17;
- Zelma, 15;
- Joy, 13;
- Fern and Ruby (twins), 10; and
- June 3.
There are two brothers,
- Michael, of Sioux City, Ia., and
- Mathias, of Merriam, Noble county;
and four sisters,
- Fannie Snell, of Noble county;
- Emaline Heintzleman, of Avilla;
- Ellen Herron, of Port Mitchell, Noble County and
- Nancy Royer, of near Corunna.
Mrs. Hawk stated that he went down town Monday forenoon to pay his taxes and said he was going to go over to the Franke [sic] Nursery to get his shovel which he had been using there. It is possible that they were on their way to get his shovel at the time of the accident.
Frederick Coy was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Coy, who live near Collins. His father and a brother, LeRoy, are employed at the Peabody Mill here. Frederick was one of ten children. He was 19 year old. Mrs. James Quinn, of Peabody Avenue, is his great grandmother, and Mr. and Mrs. Olin Vanderford are his grand parents.
Brother Killed at Same Crossing
A brother of Joseph Hawk, Jacob Hawk, was killed at the same crossing at the same time with Clarence Van Orsdall, when their auto was struck 11 years ago. Leonard Hawk, who was killed on the railroad near Peabody, was a cousin.
Heber Pence was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pence, of Smith township. He residede [sic] here when a younger man and is well acquainted locally. He is a brother of
- Mel Pence, of this city, and of
- Arthur, of near Collins.
He was united in marriage to Miss Carrie Long, of Churubusco about twenty years ago [around 1909]. There are four surviving children,
- Mabel, the oldest, who is married, and
- Robert and
Transcript of March 19th Article
The funeral services for the victims of the automobile accident at the Line street crossing were arranged Tuesday [19 March].
The funeral of Heber Pence will be held Thursday afternoon [21 March] at 2 p.m. at the home of Joseph M. Pence in Smith township. Rev. A. F. Knepp of Roanoke, assisted by Rev. C. W. McCoy, will conduct the services. Burial will be in Blue River cemetery.
Funeral services for Frederick Coy will be held Wednesday afternoon [20 March] at 2 p.m. at the United Brethren church in Columbia City. Rev. C. W. Moore of Collins will conduct the services assisted by Rev. McCoy. Burial will be in the Adams cemetery.
The funeral of Joseph E. Hawk will be held Wednesday [20 March] afternoon at 2 P.M. from the Eberhard church, Rev. Slater conducting the services. Interment will be in the Eberhard cemetery.
Transcript of March 22nd Article
[Some lines were printed out of order in original newspaper article, so a corrected transcript is also included below this exact transcript.]
Exact, Uncorrected Transcript
Funeral services for Heber Pence, wreck victim, were held at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pence, in Smith township at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon [21 March]. Rev. Knepp conducted the services. Music was furnished by Revs. Moore and Baily. The
flower bearers were: Ben Hively, Clyde
Wood, Jay Wood, Donald Egolf, Mil-
bearers were: Walter Harrold, Harper
lard Yant, Wyatt Carter. The pall-
Waugh, Ed Summers, Lewis Geiger,
Earl Briggs, Lyman Goodyear. Burial was in the Blue River cemetery.
Funeral services for Heber Pence, wreck victim, were held at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pence, in Smith township at 2 p.m. Thursday [21 March] afternoon.
Rev. Knepp conducted the services. Music was furnished by Revs. Moore and Baily.
The flower bearers were:
- Ben Hively,
- Clyde Wood,
- Jay Wood,
- Donald Egolf,
- Millard Yant,
- Wyatt Carter.
The pall-bearers were:
- Walter Harrold,
- Harper Waugh,
- Ed Summers,
- Lewis Geiger,
- Earl Briggs,
- Lyman Goodyear.
Burial was in the Blue River cemetery.