This Day in Dayton, 31 October
On October 31, 1864, on a Monday afternoon, at Halloween, at five minutes past 3:00, the Cincinnati Express, a passenger train, collided head on with a cattle train on a curve one and a half miles north of Culver’s Station, on the Sheffield and Wea township line. The force of the collision drove the baggage car on the Express into the passenger coach behind it “like the smaller section of a spy-glass” (Courier, 1 Nov 1864), killing nearly all the passengers in that car. The dead numbered 27, the majority, Union soldiers on furlough heading for points in northern Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Local doctors converged on the site, including Dr. David Crouse from Dayton, to help the injured. Local farmers did what they could until the doctors started to arrive. One of the dead was a soldier who had just been released from thirteen months in Libby Prison and was going home to be mustered out after three years service in the Civil War. Another man was a minister from Lafayette. A friend helped to lay him out for burial without recognizing him. Yet another man, a former resident, was on his way to Lafayette to be married. The accident was blamed on the engineer of the cattle train, who allegedly had left the Three Mile Switch sooner than he should have. The engineer and his family maintained his innocence, but the accident haunted him the rest of his life.