Thomas Shirk, a Brakeman on the Northwestern, Run Over -- His Injuries Probably Fatal
Another railroad accident occured (yesterday?) this time on the Chicago Northwestern road, and like it's predecessor on the Western Union, has a fatal termination. The unfortunate man is Thomas Shirk; he was a brakeman on the train known as the Milwaukee freight. It was westward bound, and the accident happened about two miles this side of Pecatonica, at 6:15 this morning. For the reason unknown, Mr. Shirk started to ascend the car next the the way (??) when he slipped and fell. The train was moving at the rate of (??) miles an hour at the time. Before he could be extricated, one wheel had (rolled?) over the lower portion of his (left? right?) leg, and another over the part between the knee and the thigh. The (bones?) of the leg were fractured in many (places?) and the flesh terribly gashed. His (?????) was also injured. The (???) at seven o'clock, and the injured man was conveyed to his home on Van Buren Street, a couple blocks (???) of Stephenson. Dr. Caldwell was (summoned?) but was unable to operate (??) at that time, as the patient was in a very weak condition, owing to the (loss?) of blood. Mr. Shirk is about thirty years of age. He is married and has two children. He died at two o'clock p.m. yesterday. The funeral will take place this afternoon.
"FREEPORT WEEKLY BULLETIN" - Aug. 21, 1879
This article appeared in the Freeport newspaper and concerns the death of John and Phoebe Shirk's oldest son, who is our direct descendant. I was not able to make out all the words from the faded newspaper.
Thomas was born about 1852 and died in 1879 when he was about 26 years old. He married Mary Leach on Oct. 29, 1875 in Stephenson County. I believe that only one child survived him, his son William, born in May 1876. I have no idea if his widow ever remarried. His parents moved to Iowa the year of his death. I am uncertain exactly what became of his son William because he moved to Washington state near his uncles by 1908, abandoning his wife and children left behind in Freeport.
Submitted by: Sharon Shirk on 14 June 2001