Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding the Baby

Another component of a family story mentioned in a newspaper!

A few years back, I wrote of a family story:  Delia Joyce's mother's skirts were caught by a passing train; as she was dragged to her death, she threw the infant Delia safely to a man on the platform.

When I uncovered Delia's hometown as Pawling in Dutchess County, New York, I was able to locate the family in the census starting in 1860.  Delia's parents were Patrick Joyce and Margaret or Mary Campbell.  The train accident happened in 1870.  Delia was born around 1862, making her too old and big to have been the baby in her mother's arms when she died.  Delia's younger brothers, John and James, were more likely candidates.

I located one newspaper article about the accident, which happened in Katonah Station, Westchester County, New York.  The accounting took up all but four lines of the paper.  No mention of a baby.

Well, I found another newspaper article that mentioned the baby.  (Thank you again!)  The search terms I used included "cars," not "train" or "railroad," as this is more consistent with terminology in use at the time.  Margaret's first name is not in this article.  The mention of the baby is consistent with the family story.

"Her infant child, which she was carrying in her arms, she had previously passed off the car."

We cannot tell from this account if the train had already started to move, so she handed off the baby first and then tried to jump by herself.  Maybe the train was stopped when she got the baby off first, but then started to move, so she jumped so as to not be separated from the baby.

1870 United States Federal Census: Pawling, Dutchess County, New York
The newly widowed Patrick Joyce and his four children.  Mary Joyce appears on the Mortality Schedule.

In the 1870 census, James Joyce's age is listed as one year.  His entry at FindAGrave shows a gravestone with a date of birth May 20, 1870.  He qualifies as an infant for this train accident in June of 1870.  He may have been only a few weeks old.

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