Gravestone Tales of Stark County

Five-Year-Girl and Grandmother
Killed by Train in 1889

By Don Schmidt

Mrs. Corilla Earhart and young granddaughter Laura Adams were struck by a train and instantly killed September 22, 1889, while returning home from Sunday school at Castleton. Mrs. Earhart miscalculated the speed with which the C.B.&Q. train was approaching and the distance of the train from her. She started across the tracks with her granddaughter by the hand. When nearly over the tracks, both were struck by the train and killed instantly. Mrs. Earhart “was fearfully mangled beyond recognition” and the little girl was fatally hurt about the head. Harry Adams, a brother of the little girl, witnessed the terrible accident. He was 16 years old at the time. Later Harry Adams became the father of Mrs. Miriam Steward and Mrs. Ardis Murray. Gary Steward of Toulon is a great-great-great-grandson of Mrs. Earhart.

The Wyoming Post-Herald covered the accident. It published graphic details about the injuries to the victims–much more graphic than we would read in newspapers today.

In an interesting postscript to the story, “the relatives of Mrs. Earhart knew that she had received a sum of money shortly before her death. On searching her room they failed to find it and were at a loss to know what had become of it. The thought occurred to them that it might have been buried with the remains. It was a practice of Mrs. Earhart to carry a considerable amount of money on her person. She usually had it sewed on an inside skirt. This caused the relatives great uneasiness, as they feared someone would disturb the grave. For this reason a number of the friends went to the cemetery a week after her burial, exhumed the body and searched the remains. They found $265 in bills and two silver dollars.”

According to a Federal Reserve Bank website, $267 in 1888 would have the spending power of about $6,400 in 2008.

Mrs. Earhart and Laura Adams are interred in Smith Cemetery, in Section 31 of Osceola Township.

Gravestone Tales of Stark County is a Stark County News exclusive! These stories are researched and written by local historian Don Schmidt, of Toulon.

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