Friday, July 31, 2009

77th Edition Carnival of Genealogy--Disasters

The 77th Edition of COG deals with disasters and how an ancestor dealt with it. Thank you to Miriam at AnceStories:The Stories of My Ancestors for hosting this event.

As you can see from the newspaper copy above, my maternal great grandfather, Alfred Frederick, survived having his leg amputated by a train car in an accident in Youngstown, Ohio in 1898.

Alfred was a “train man” his entire adult life, living in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio until the mid 1890’s. Following his census reports he worked as a switchman, switch tender, flagman and brakeman. He was still employed at age 73 as a brakeman.

Sometime during the mid 1890’s he relocated his family to Esplen, McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

No stories of Alfred were passed down. My mother, the youngest in her generation, knew nothing of him since she was only a small child when he was alive. Alfred was a blank slate except for the photos and census reports until I happened upon the newspaper article one day on the Internet.

After digesting the information and getting over my initial squeamishness at the thought of such an accident, I headed to the family photo albums. As you can see from the only pictures of Alfred taken after the accident, he does have a cane. He also has both legs. I had no idea that there were prosthetic legs back at the turn of the 20th century. I can only imagine the surgery and months of recuperation it must have taken for Alfred to get back “on his feet” again during that time period. He was very blessed to have survived such a horrific accident.

Alfred Frederick aka Nick, Fred
Son of Joseph C. Frederick and Mary Betz
Born May 1, 1836, Columbiana County, Ohio
Died February 9, 1927, place unknown
Buried: Firestone Cemetery, Columbiana, Columbiana County, Ohio
Married Lucinda B. Orr, October 22, 1868, Columbiana County, Ohio


  1. The article and the pictures together are such a great detail. Now in the one picture you can see on his left side the uneven pant leg and the foot appears turned in slightly.
    Further down you can see his right hip sits higher than his left hip.
    When using a cane you hold it on the opposite side as the one that is injured.
    From these 3 things I would presume it was his left leg that was amputated.

  2. Isn't it fun to find these "puzzle pieces," especially when they explain things such as the pictures you have of your great-grandfather. (I was born in McKee's Rocks, by the way.)