N&W in 1909--Tearjerker

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Tue Feb 3 14:09:45 EST 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
February 19, 1909

Mangled Body of Unknown Youth Picked Up on Railroad Tracks Just East of Graham Depot

This morning, in some home, somewhere they are watching and waiting for a boy who will never come back, for yesterday the mangled body of a youth was picked up on the railroad tracks just east of the Graham depot. There was no way to identify the crushed and broken body. No papers in the pockets of his blood stained and dirt begrimed clothing told where his home might be. Like driftwood cast up by the sea, what remained crushed and bleeding fell to the corporation whose right of way it encumbered. The section men dug a grave by the side of the track and without a prayer or a song, laid him to rest in an unknown's grave. No sigh, no tear for his fate, but God's beautiful sunshine bathed the broken bones in its glory and the balmy mid-winter breeze fanned the blanched cheek with sweet caress as he lay awaiting the depth of the earth the law requires to be reached. For a few short days the mound above this nameless clay will be pointed out by passers-by and the brief story told, and then the verdure of spring will hide it and all will be forgotten until that day when the soul shall rise to judgment and then shall escape into eternity.
Early yesterday morning the dismembered and mangled body of a white man was found between the rails on the west bound track just east of the Graham station, by a colored man who came along just after daylight. The unfortunate man's head was so badly mashed and distorted that it was impossible to identify the body. One of his arms was also severed from his body besides being otherwise mutilated. A blank envelop, new, apparently, bearing the business address of J. M. Hray, Bondtown, Va., a Southern Railway time table with the name of J. S. Bowcock written on it in two places with a pencil, together with a note written on a scrap of paper with pencil reading, "This is my friend whom I hope you will assist in getting over the road to Cincinnati" were found on the body. The note was addressed to Mr. Sewell and was signed by J. Stacy. The corpse looked to be that of a working man of about 18 to 20 years of age. He wore a dark coat, gray trousers and a black slouch hat. Failing to ascertain from the authorities at Bondtown any intelligent information as to who the man was, the railroad company gave the body a decent burial on their right of way near the west end tower where sleep a number of unfortunates who met death in a similar manner and were buried by the company.
[Some of these early reporters had a way with words! Also, tearjerkers like the account of the lad probably sold newspapers in those days. Finally, I wonder how many instances of bones being found occurred on the N&W during later-day excavations for utilities, etc.]

Gordon Hamilton

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