Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mystery

Ah, gourds, how do I love thee? I broke down and purchased some corn and gourds before our outing this Sunday to the pumpkin patch. I probably paid twice what the farm will charge. I blame it on the moon; I simply couldn't wait.Busy weekend at chez pneuma. We are celebrating Hubby's birthday ( who stubbornly remains younger than me), Little Man's second birthday, and our 6th wedding anniversary. Parties will commence shortly. Since I will be on the party, guests, cleaning, fun roller coaster for the next few days, I decided to take some quiet time this morning to reflect on life.

By quiet I mean real quiet. I took a stroll with Little Man around the city cemetery. He had fun watching blue birds and chasing dragon flies while I investigated a bit. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not morbid, contrarily, I am fascinated by the lives of those resting there. These are the folks that built this place I call home. So being the curious cat I am, I've been trying to learn more about the history of this small town. The cemetery happens to be located behind our library, so I am often there.

I have been able to cobble together a picture of the history of the town from the earliest settlers in the 1830's, the Union march into town across a wooden rail road bridge that spans the two rivers, the rolling mill, mines, coke furnaces, and of course the family trees. Having grown up in Atlanta, history was always cut in vast general swaths which almost always began with the destruction of the city. Atlanta is simply to large to wrap my mind around and fit in the details as intimately as I have been able to do here.

There are many early townspeople whose lives intrigue, but one man and his family, dare I say it, haunts me. He was a conductor on the local rails that carried passengers to Birmingham. He and his wife, 4 year old son, and 2 year old daughter lived in my town. On December 27th, 1896, he took his family for a loop on the commuter train, presumably on his day off as a holiday family outing. On the same bridge I mentioned earlier, the one spanning the two rivers, a group of bandits sabotaged the line hoping to rob the people aboard. They misjudged and the train advanced too far onto the bridge where it plummeted 100 or more feet to the ground and burst into flames. 22 people were killed, most instantly, including Mr. H's wife and children. He was seated with them and another man pulled him to safety on the river bank as the engine, coal car, and 2 passenger cars burned. The newspaper reports I have found indicate Mr. H survived, but was in serious condition, and "will die soon." The old reporters didn't leave out any graphic details but I will.

Mr. H's wife and children were buried in the cemetery, I located them and paid my respects today, but he is not there. What happened to Mr. H and where did he end up? This keeps whistling in my ears. Could he have survived and moved away to begin again? I just need to know. In drawing up my own map based on the maps I found from 1885 and hybrid satellite maps on google, I realized that if I walked out my front door and through the woods for 3/4 mile, I would be standing under that bridge. Here it is not even October and the ghosts are already visiting me.






1 comment:

Katie said...

That is so interesting!
Mike's been talking about your blog and sent me a link today so I'm just checking it out. Very cool. Hope everyone is doing well.