Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

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Court: You have been living by the tracks how long? Answer – Fifty-Two years. Q. You have

been living by the track how long? Answer – Fifty-two years.

Mr. Mackey: I believe that is a case where every man is an expert.

Court: It is only a guess?

Witness: Only a guess.

Court: You have never had any railroad experience? Answer – Only to travel on them, and to see

trains pass.

Mr. Mackey: You have seen trains pass a great many times? Answer – Yes, sir.

Court: You have been there fifty years? Answer – Yes, I have lived there 50 years out of 52.

By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Do you run an automobile? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Do you have a speedometer on it? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Have you had occasion to observe the speed of trains during that time? Answer – I have no occasion to, but I have noticed them.

Q. It is a matter of daily experience? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. I ask you what, in your opinion, was the speed of the train going north? Answer – I judge forty or forty-five miles an hour.

Q. Did you notice anything unusual about that train? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Tell what that was? Answer – I couldn’t tell what it was; it was something, however, hanging down under the car on the rail.

Q. Was it an open car or closed car? Answer – I didn’t notice the character of the car.

Q. What was it that attracted your attention to this thing hanging down under the truck? Answer – I could see something was sliding on the rails, making a blaze of fire.

Q. Was this blaze of fire continuous as it went by? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you continue to watch it? Answer – Yes, sir, until the collision.

Q. Did this blaze of fire continue until the collision? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Then what happened? Answer – They collided about five hundred yards north of my place.

Q. What caused the collision? Answer – I couldn’t tell you.

Q. Which train left the track? Answer – The freight train left the track.

Q. And collided with the train of what road? Answer – Passenger train on the Southern road.

Q. Was that passenger train No. 17? Answer – I think so, yes, sir.

Q. Did you notice at what point in the freight train this car left the track? About how many cars had gone by before it left the track? Answer – I think about two-thirds of the train had passed over it.

Q. Had passed over what? Answer – Over the point of collision.

Q. Was there any frog there, or switch? Answer – Yes, sir, the frog leading to the pump station or coal chute.

Q. How near the pump station was this place that the car left it? Answer – It looked to be three or four feet south of the frog, the frog leading to the switch that supplies the coal station.

Q. After the accident did you go up to look at the wreckage? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you make any examination of this thing hanging down which you saw striking fire? Answer – No, sir, the car was off the track.

Q. What was the extent of this wreck, just in your own way tell the jury? Answer – I couldn’t tell you the extent of it; the engine and tender were down the bank and three or four cars off.

Q. The engine and tender of the Southern? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Down the bank? Answer – Yes, sir; the engine and tender and several cars of the C&O had gone off.

Q. And those cars left behind on the C&O what was their condition? Answer – Some off the track and some had been thrown crossways of the track of the Southern.

Q. What did they appear to be loaded with, those that you saw in the wreckage? Answer – I don’t know that I noticed, but I believe one was pig iron.

Q. Anything else? Do you know if there was any lumber there? Answer – Yes, sir, there was lumber.

Q. How was this wreckage, where was it located with reference to the Southern cars & engine? Answer – With reference to the Southern cars?

Q. Yes, how was this wreckage? Answer – One of these cars seemed to rear up and fall in front of the train 17 on the Southern, and the others seemed to side-swipe it.

Q. Side-swipe train 17? Answer – Yes, sir, some of the cars ran off the track and went too close to the passenger cars, and it is called side-swiping, I believe.

Q. And went on towards the north? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you see the Southern coaches? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What was their condition? Answer – Some of them were still on the track, and some were off.

Q. Were they broken, or mutilated, or wrecked in any way? Answer – Not materially so other than the glass; it might have been broken up some, but not very badly.


By Mr. Browning: (Geo. L.)

Q. Where were you when the C&O train passed your place? Answer – Standing on my store porch opposite the depot.

Q. Your store porch is on the west side of the track, is it not? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. The C&O freight train was on the further track away from your store, was it not? Answer – The northbound track, yes, sir.

Q. This thing, this arch-bar, this thing that you said something was hanging down, was on the other side of the car from you, was it not? Answer – I don’t know whether it was entirely on the other side or on both sides, but I think on the far side from me. I think the thing obstructed most was on the right hand side on the north side.

Q. What time of the day was that? Answer – It was after lamp-light slightly; I should have lighted my store before that time, but I had not. Train 17 coming from the north had the headlight burning.

Q. How plainly could you see that at that time? Answer – You could see it right plain. It wasn’t dark; it was time to light the lights.

Q. What is the elevation of your store porch? Answer – By the tracks?

Q. Yes. Answer – I would suppose three feet, two and a half feet or three feet.

Q. When you saw this were you standing or sitting, or what was your posture? Answer – Standing facing the train.

Q. Could you see that without stooping? Answer – Oh, yes, I could see that there was something down, and could see that fire was flying from it in a streak, a perfect blaze of fire.

Q. How far were you from it in feet, would you say, Mr. Davis? Answer – About 60 feet.

Q. About 60 feet from it? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now Mr. Davis, you say the train was going at a rate of about forty-five miles an hour? Answer – Forty to forty-five miles an hour.

Q. Forty to forty-five miles did you say? Answer – I say about between forty & forty-five.

Q. You cannot, in making that statement as to the speed be positive, can you? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You do not undertake to be so? Answer – No, sir, only on general principles by the speed of my machine and by the speed of trains that they say come by here; sometimes they come by there fifty or sixty or seventy miles an hour.

Q. Fifty or sixty or seventy miles an hour? Answer – Yes, sir; it is a straight track, and they want to make up some speed, apparently, when they get on that.

Mr. Mackey: Freight trains or passenger trains? Answer – Passenger trains.

By Mr. Browning:

Q. You say the Southern cars were not broken up very much? Answer – I didn’t observe that they were broken up much; I believe one truck was broken out, and the steps of one car, I think.

Q. Did you go inside of any cars? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Which car did you go inside of the Southern, the combination or coach? Answer – Three cars; the baggage, what is called, - no, two; I believe; I was in all the cars on the train.

Q. Were the lights out? Answer – In the cars?

Q. Yes. Answer – No, I didn’t observe that the cars were much broken, but there was a great quantity of glass. The windows were very badly broken up, the lights.

By Mr. Keith:

Mr. Davis, did you see any iron, or timber of any sort inside of that passenger coach? I do not mean the combination, but the other coach in which Mr. Sullivan was riding. Answer – No, sir.

Q. You went through the coach? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You saw broken glass? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. But you did not see pig iron or any other kind of iron lying around loose? Answer – No, sir. I saw a great many milk cans tied up in one end of a car.

Q. And that was not in the passenger car? Answer – No, sir.

Q. That was in the combination car? Answer Yes, sir.

Q. In the passenger car you did not see anything lying around? Answer – No,

Q. You did not see any wood, as if thrown in there by the collision? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Did you see Mr. Sullivan? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Where was he? Answer – In the far end of the car by the little seat which runs parallel with the car.

Q. Was the doctor attending him at that time? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Did you see him after that? Did you see him the next day? Answer – I don’t think I did.

Q. How soon after the accident did you see him? Answer – I really couldn’t tell you; in fact, I don’t know Mr. Sullivan when I see him. I may have seen him the next day, but I don’t know him.

Q. You don’t recall having any talk with him about this accident? Answer – Yes, sir, he came into my store one day to ask about this wreck business.

Q. How long was that after the accident? Answer – I couldn’t name the time. I judge it was some months after the accident, possibly as much as two months.


By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Do you say that you did not see any pig iron or lumber in the cars, or that there wasn’t any in the cars? Answer – I didn’t see any; there may have been.

Q. You did not look around for it; I mean, did you investigate? Answer – I looked over the cars in a general way to see how much damage had been done to the cars. I knew a good many people who were on there at the time.


Proceedings June 9, 1916
Mrs. W. J. Sullivan, another witness called on behalf of the plaintiff, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Mrs. Sullivan, you are the wife of the plaintiff, William J. Sullivan? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. When did you first know Mr. Sullivan? Answer in 1910.

Q. And you were married in what year? Answer 1913

Q. So you knew him for three years up to your marriage? Answer – Yes, sir, from 1910 to 1913

Q. What was the condition of his health up to February 23, 1915? Answer – It was fine, his health was fine. I never knew him to have a sick day before that. I never knew him to have a headache.

Q. State whether or not he ever had a spasm or a fit, or convulsion of any kind before February 23, 1915? Answer – No, sir, he never had.

Q. Did you ever know him to have a fainting spell, or a spell of unconsciousness before that time? Answer – I never did.

Q. What was the first evidence or the first time you ever observed a change in his health? Answer – After the wreck; I never knew it before.

Q. Have you ever seen him in any spell or fit, or spasm? Answer – Since that I have.

Q. What was the first time? Answer – The date you mean?

Q. About the first time, how long after this? Answer – As well as I remember, two weeks after the train wreck.

Q. Tell the jury what happened then? Answer – The first he had we were sitting in our parlor at home, and he had the baby in his arm. He started with one of his fits; he had my baby, which was a little past eight months old; he had her in his arms in the parlor, and it seemed that he let the baby drop on the floor and he laid back and frothed at the mouth, and was trembling all over. Of course, I was so excited I didn’t know what to do, and hollered for the lady next door, and she ran in. There was a trained nurse treating a lady next door and she came, and the neighbors undressed him and put him to bed and sent for the doctor then.

Q. How long was he in that spell? Answer – It lasted near fifteen minutes, as well as I can remember.

Q. When was the next time? Answer – They followed frequently from then on, every four or five days, as near as I can remember.

Q. How long would those spells last? Answer – I suppose ten or twelve minutes, as near as I can remember.

Q. Do you recall your husband working at the Steel Plant from May 1915, to February, 1916? Answer – He was there.

Q. State what his health was during that period during the day as regards the spells? Answer – They kept on frequently, the fourth and fifth day, and sometimes the third and fourth days. I was so shocked when he was out, and was so nervous, and sometimes I would think he would never come home, and sometimes he was brought home. Different times he was brought home.

Mr. Keith: I didn’t understand whether from the Steel plant? Answer – People would bring him

home near the block.

By Mr. Mackey:

Q. What would be his condition? Answer – He would be nervous and unconscious lots of times, and fall off in a deep sleep maybe for an hour after.

Q. State whether or not those spells were during the whole period that he worked at the plant, or at the beginning or end? Answer – All the time, and now they are really worse now.

Q. Has Mr. Sullivan done any work during the last five months? Answer – Not for the last five months. I haven’t let him go out of the house unless I am with him, or someone with him.

Q. Why is that? Answer – I am really afraid to let him go. They come so often I am afraid to let him go because he is not safe to let go.

Q. How frequent have these attacks been the last five months? Answer – Very seldom they go over three days.

Q. When was the last time Mr. Sullivan had one of these attacks? Answer – This morning.

Q. What time this morning? Answer – About five o’clock, between five and six.

Q. How long did that last? Answer – About ten minutes.

Q. What has Mr. Sullivan’s health been in other respects since his being in the railroad wreck? Answer – It has been very bad, very bad. He can’t sleep at night, and he just rolls and groans all the night; he doesn’t get more than two hours rest at night, and he has no appetite to eat. He is all the time complaining of his head, and he is aching all the time with his head.

Q. Did you, after this wreck, discover anything in the nature of an injury on Mr. Sullivan outside of the fact that he had these spasms? Answer – He has always complained with his stomach; he can’t keep one thing on his stomach, and it come up as soon as he eats it.

Q. Did you notice anything unusual about his neck or head? Answer – Yes, sir, lots of times his neck is stiff; he complains of his neck and head.

Q. Did you ever shave Mr. Sullivan’s neck? Answer – I have more than once.

Q. When did that practice begin, how many years ago? Answer – Just since the wreck. A while after the wreck I noticed it first.

Q. Did you notice anything unusual about him in shaving his neck? Answer – Not just exactly on his neck I have never that I could see.

Q. What is the condition of his neck, the back of the neck, where you find the stiffening of the muscles? Answer – It is nothing unusual.

Q. Outside of the stiffening of the muscles? Answer – He complains of his neck hurting, and from his shoulders up in his neck and runs up in his head. He complains of pain in his head and running back.

Q. O what occasions, as near as you can remember, have you been present, beginning from the first time on, about how many occasion have you been present when Mr. Sullivan had these convulsions? Answer – It would be really had for me to say. It has been frequently like that all the time so I couldn’t say how many. It would be impossible; it would be quite a number if I had set them down.

Q. Have these convulsions been always at home when you observed them? Answer – No, sir, he has had them on the street; I have had taxis and automobiles to take him home more than once.

Q. State to the jury some occasions when he has had them on the street? Answer – He just gets weak like, and it seems he turns pale and lets himself down; he clamps his hands and drops.

Q. Whereabouts on the street has it happened? Answer – 14th and Massachusetts Avenue, and then he had one on 7th and Massachusetts Avenue, and one in our back alley one day coming in.

Q. On those occasions did he fall? Answer – On those three occasions he fell.

Q. Did he become unconscious? Answer – Answer – Yes, sir, always when he had those.

Q. Now, has he ever injured himself in any way during those attacks? Answer – Bruise himself and chews his tongue is all I can say; by falling he bruises himself.

Q. Do you know any reason why Mr. Sullivan should not have worked during the past five months? Answer – Simply because he hasn’t been able to. They come on him more frequently, and he is in worse health all the time; he has not been able to do it, but he had to.

Q. Have you ever known a spell of that sort to come on at night? Answer – In the morning or evening, but not at night time; it never has.

Q. When do these spells come on with reference to his eating? Answer – Usually right after eating.

Q. Was any doctor ever present when you were present when Mr. Sullivan had them? Answer – No. Dr. Bacon was with him when he had one; it was in our house, but I was sick, and couldn’t be there. He worked on him, I suppose, fifteen minutes or ten minutes, I couldn’t recall to the minute, as I was badly scared and in bed, too.

Q. Where have you been living of late? Answer – 470 Massachusetts Avenue ever since we went to housekeeping.

Q. Who has supported Mr. Sullivan during the past five months? Answer – Well, my father helps some, and other neighbors, and we live the best we could; we have lived accordingly, we have to.

Q. Have you had any income from his labor during the past five months? Answer – No, except a little from the Lodge that he belongs to, I don’t know what you call it, from the Steel plant, and they gave him $5.00 at a time, $16.00 for the last six months is all that he has gotten.

Q. I will ask you whether or not Mr. Sullivan worked regularly before his injury? Answer – Yes, sir, he worked all the time; he very seldom missed a day without he got off for some reason or other.


By Mr. Browning: (A. T.)

Q. Mrs. Sullivan, did I understand you to say you didn’t let Mr. Sullivan go out alone? Answer – Well, now, unless someone was near to guard him, or someone to see after him to see where he went. He may walk about, but a few steps, but someone is always near him to bring him home.

Q. Do you know where he was when he had the spell before the last one? Answer – He walked to my father’s corn field near the house; he walked with my baby, which was last Tuesday, which was, as near as I can say, the next to the last.

Q. He was alone? Answer – Yes, but in sight of the house.

Q. Hasn’t Mr. Sullivan been in the habit of going to the moving pictures in Washington? Answer – No, sir, unless I was with him, or someone else.

Q. He has been frequently going to moving pictures? Answer – Not lately by himself.

Q. In the last month? Answer – Not in the last five months. When I would let him go to the moving pictures he would always go to the Virginia Moving Pictures, and the manager there is a friend of his.

Q. You say he hasn’t gone alone? Answer – No, sir, only when someone was near him or with him.

Q. You say they would sometimes bring him home from the Steel Plant? Answer – Not from the Steel Plant, but on his way home, or near his home; he has been brought home.

Q. I understand you to say from the Steel plant? Answer – Coming from the Steel plant, not from the Steel plant, but coming home he has been brought from the street by others.

Q. Not from the Steel plant? Answer – He has never been brought by the people from the Steel plant but on his way home.

Q. Did I understand you to say that you had never known him to have one of these spells at night? Answer – Not exactly at night, evening or morning, or during the day. I can’t recall one at any time after he would go to sleep.

Q. Was he working at the Steel plant night or day? Answer – At night, from four o’clock until twelve.

Q. The fact that he was working at night, did that make any change in the time of those spells? Answer – Yes, sir, being up it was more or less like day, but after he was asleep it wouldn’t be like day; it was after he would quit his work, or about meal time.

Q. What were his hours at home when he was working at night at the Steel plant? Answer – He was at home the balance of the day up to four or five.

Q. I mean did he work all night? Answer – No, sir, up to twelve at night.

Q. Then did that have any effect upon the hours of his spells? Answer – Yes, sir, it changed lots of times; he would have them lots of times when he would come home while he was working.

Q. While he was working he would have them at night? Answer – Yes, sir; if he would be at home and asleep he never had them after he would go to sleep, but before he would have them.

Q. What were his hours at the steel plant? Answer – From four in the afternoon until twelve at night.

Q. from four in the afternoon until midnight? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What time this morning did you say he had this spell? Answer – Between five and six o’clock, as near as I can remember. I don’t know to the minute.

Q. Did he become unconscious? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did anyone see him besides yourself? Answer – No, sir; it was before anyone else got up.

Q. Did you attempt to call anybody else? Answer – My people are very nervous, and my mother is nervous, and I try to keep it from her.

Q. As a matter of fact, you didn’t call anyone else? Answer – No, I didn’t have anyone else in the room at all.

R. H. Davis, recalled for further cross examination.

By Mr. Keith:

Q. Mr. Davis, how soon after that wreck did you say you were there and went through the passenger coach where Mr. Sullivan was? Answer – In a very few minutes, as soon as I could get down there; I went very hurriedly.

Q. Who was in the car besides Mr. Sullivan that you know? Answer – I really don’t know, but there were quite a number of people back and forth through there.

Q. What was the condition of that passenger coach? Answer – There was considerable glass broken and strewn on the floor, but I didn’t notice any other material damage.

Q. I think you said yesterday you didn’t notice any iron of any sort, or any wood or timber? Answer – No, sir, No iron or timber. I was back and through the coaches as long as they remained at the wreck – as long as the cars were there. I spent a good deal of time there, back and forth through the wreck.

Q. What was Mr. Sullivan doing when you saw him? Answer – Sitting on the seat in the car.

Q. Where was Mrs. Sullivan? Answer – Sitting beside him. He and the little child and she were sitting on one of the little seats that run with the aisle.

Q. Did you see the child? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What was the condition of the child? Answer – It seemed to be as lively as any other child.

Q. Did you notice any injury? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t notice any. My attention had been called to these folks in the car by Mrs. Halterman, and she being a neighbor of mine and living near me it interested me to some extent, and I went through the car to see if they were hurt. She told me her daughter was on the train coming from the hospital, that she had been there for treatment.

Q. Mr. Davis, will you state why you noticed there was something wrong with the arch-bar when it went by Bristow? Answer – Some obstruction hanging on the rail. I took it to be an arch-bar, but, of course, I didn’t know what it was.

Q. How many times did you go back and forth through the coach where Mr. Sullivan was? Answer – I couldn’t count the times; I was in there quite frequently.

Q. You were back and forth frequently? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Have you ever had any experience in railroad work? Answer – Yes, sir, quite considerable.

Q. What kind? Answer – I have been a contractor on the railroad for quite a number of years, and traveled pretty well all over the system.

Q. Doing what kind of contracting? Answer – Grading and also stone work.

Q. Did you furnish ties? Answer – Yes, sir. And I furnished ties before, but quite awhile ago,

Q. What was the condition of that track between Bristow Station and the point where the wreck took place.

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