Sad deaths of Two Young Ladies

while working on the McCargar Branch of my family line, I found the burial location of some distant relatives, a 2nd cousin 4 times removed that are buried in an old Cemetery in New York — Groton Rural Cemetery. I entered the memorials, on findagrave.com, for the father, mother and several possible children from the burial index listed for the cemetery. Luckily, the list proved the plot numbers which gives a better chance of getting the photo requests filled for the pictures. Now photo requests can take awhile but luckily, these only took a few days.

Now the surprise was that on the top of the 2 daughters, Hester A “Hettie” McCargar and Mary E McCargar was that they died on the same day and it said “Killed at Tariffville on Jan 15, 1878”.

Now, I have seen were family members have died on the same date or within a week or so, but never listed as killed on the same day. I knew the chances of finding out how they were killed was small, but I thought I would give it a try. I googled “Tariffville 1878”. There were several links to the story, and a sad story it is.

The Story

On January 15th, 1878, 2 sisters, Mary and Hettie McCargar attended a revival meeting in Hartford, Connecticut to hear the popular Protestant evangelist Dwight Moody and singer and organist David Sankey. It is said that people would travel miles to hear his sermons and listen to the music.

When the meeting was over, the sisters, along with many other faithful, boarded the train at the Union Station heading home to northwest Hartford County, upper Litchfield County and New York state. The train left the station around 9:20pm and it was just a short time later around 10:15pm as the train was crossing Howe truss bridge that carried the railroad across the Farmington River that the accident happened.

The bridge reached the middle span and suddenly the bridge collapsed, sending the first part of the train down twenty feet to the dark, icy river below. I cannot imagine the terror of the people as the train fell on that cold January evening. Even though help arrived within the hour, 13 people including the McCargar sisters, died and 70 people were injured.

There was an inquiry about the wreck with the bridge builder blaming the railroad and the railroad blaming the bridge maker. In the end, Four jurors believed that the bridge was safe and that a derailment caused the accident.

In the end, the Railway company paid the families of those that died between $300 -$600 per person.

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For those that don’t know the McCargar family is part of the Beach Line. Many of the Beach Line married into the McCargar line. The Beach Family line then goes into the Dicks Line which marries into the Rutledge Line.

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