Skip to main content

Terrific Explosion Followed by Death, in 6 Parts (a Tombstone Tuesday Crossover)

Photo by James Allen
Over at the Rose Hill Cemetery blog, I recently completed a series of posts about a horrific explosion in a Macon railroad yard. Two men, John McDonnell and Edmond Hodges, were killed instantly and rest in Rose Hill Cemetery. I shared all the details of the news article, believing the totality would be of great interest to many. Railroad yards were places of occupation for numerous ancestors in a myriad of families. Yet the danger of such, though well known then, I don't think is often remembered today. If you are interested in the subject matter, or any of the individuals mentioned below, please stop by and give it a read. The first post is linked above, and all posts in the series are linked below this first entry:


An Awful Catastrophe at the Central Railroad Shops Here Yesterday Morning -- Engine was Blown to Atoms and Two Men were Instantly Killed, One More Died Soon After, and Three are Supposed to be Fatally Injured -- Six Others are Painfully Hurt -- Theories as to the Cause of the Explosion -- Harrowing Scenes when Loving Ones Gathered About the Yards.

The Telegraph's extra yesterday morning told in detail the story of the disaster at the Central of Georgia Railroad Company's shops, and more than one thousand people rushed for the extras as fast as they could be issued from the press.

The explosion was heard for more than seven miles in the country, and the havoc wrought was almost complete.

The dead are:
JOHN MCDONNELL, engine inspector, who was on top of the engine.
URIAH CORNELIUS, a negro who was in the cab assisting Mr. McDonnell.
E. W. HODGES, who was crossing the yard about 100 feet from the engine.

J. I. O'NEAL, machinist, comminuted compound fracture right elbow; lacerated wound back of head; brain injury; will die.
R. L. WILLIS, blacksmith, scalded.
HENRY FOX, engine inspector, comminuted fracture both legs below knee; compound fracture right ankle; lacerated over symphis [sic] pubis; condition bad.
E. D. HAMBRICK, carpenter, lacerated wound of face and head.
W. M. WILSON, carpenter, fracture right rib; lung injury; serious.
J. M. MEADOWS, carpenter, lacerated wound right ear; contused right hip and knee; bruised all over.
PETER HAMMOCK, col., scalp wound; contusion of left hip, and right side of head.
WESLEY JOHNSON, colored, cut right side of face; right hip bruised; not serious.
PETER ADAMS, colored laborer, contusion of right shoulder.

All except R. L. Willis and Peter Adams are in hospital.

Mangled Remains.

The body of Mr. McDonnell was broken to pieces. The bone in each leg was broken in several places. The head was cut away so that only a small portion of the rear skull remains. The face was torn off and destroyed. Mr. McDonnell was at work on top of the engine, trying to adjust the pop valve, which had on the day before been found defective. The negro Cornelius was assisting him by firing the engine and getting up steam so the pop could be set to go off at 160 pounds pressure. It was necessary to get up that much steam in order to set the valve at that [?].

Cornelius was broken up as badly as Mr. McDonnell. His head was blown away and his ribs were broken. These two bodies were found nearly a hundred feet from the engine.

Mr. Hodges was crossing the yard in front of the engine and about 100 feet distant when the explosion occurred. He was not killed outright, but some huge object struck him in the side, breaking three ribs, and something else broke his leg. The wound in the side was fatal, and he died soon after being taken up from where he fell." [Macon Telegraph (Georgia), 3 January 1902, pg. 1 - Viewed online at GenealogyBank.]

Next up: "Where the Explosion Occurred" and "Location of the Injured Men."

All Posts in Series:
- Terrific Explosion Followed by Death
- I Cannot Live; You Cannot Do Anything for Me
- A Leg Bone was Found Just Over the Fence
- The Deceased Came to Their Death from the Explosion of an Engine Boiler
- Both Men were Blown Away, and Killed Instantly
- Who the Victims Are


Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you. Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here." Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. H

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol . [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties . The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.] Wikipedia states: The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Arm

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History through the eyes of those who lived it . It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it. Here are several items I found while snooping around. - Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 : "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others." - Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937 : "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You ca

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)