Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Was it Murder? (Part 1 of 3)

 Lehigh Valley R.R. (Jim Schug Trail)--left click image to enlarge.
Cortland Evening Standard, Friday, May 17, 1901.

He Evidently Had Been Pounded and Bruised Before Being Struck by the
Lehigh Valley Engine—Report That He Was Conscious on the Track but Could Not Get Out of Way of Train.

   Some startling facts concerning the death of Joseph Townsend, the negro who was run over by the Lehigh Valley train last Saturday night near North Harford, were disclosed by the autopsy which was performed upon his body last Sunday afternoon at Wright's undertaking rooms in Cortland by Dr. Dana assisted by Dr. Carpenter. These have been kept secret up to this morning because they seemed to indicate that there had been foul play in connection with the death, and if this were true it was desired that the guilty parties might not escape.

   Dr. Santee, the coroner, states that the condition of the head of the deceased showed that wounds had been inflicted before the train came in contract with the body. There is evidence of an assault. The flesh was discolored and swollen. One eye was badly blackened and contused. The blood had settled about these wounds some time before the mangling of the train. Had these wounds been made by the cars there would have been neither discoloration or swelling, as the wheels passed over Townsend's abdomen literally cutting him in two parts.

   During the week Dr. Santee has been following up some clues. He went to Harford this morning and stated before leaving Cortland that some arrests might be made during the day.

   Sam Bolden, a well known colored man who lives at 11 Groton-ave., told a STANDARD man this morning that Townsend had been at his house two weeks and four days before his death. On that occasion Townsend told him of bad blood existing between himself and another negro in Harford over a woman. The other man had told Townsend never to come near his home again. When Townsend returned to Harford he took with him a pair of shoes for another colored man who lived at that same house and said he was going there to deliver them.

   Saturday quite a party of them went fishing at Dryden lake and when they returned Townsend was not permitted to ride. Whether all of this has anything to do with the case yet remains to be seen.

   The engineer of the train, Mr. Bolden says, told Townsend's father that as the train approached the body Townsend raised his hand slightly, indicating that the man was conscious and realized the tragedy to follow, but could not get off the track. When the engineer saw the man there was not time to stop the train or even to slacken its speed to any extent.

Cortland Evening Standard, Friday, May 17, 1901.

   Ithaca is having an epidemic of sleep walking and sleep walkers. A young lady clad in her night robes has been seen on one of the streets several times about midnight within a couple of weeks. A young man similarly attired knocked at the door of a house at about 10 o'clock in the evening. A lady went to the door, discovered his condition from the fixed appearance of his eyes. She took him by the arm and he waked up and was astounded to find himself some distance from home in breezy attire. He said the last he remembered was when some one asked him what time it was and then he was in his own room. Various other white robed spooks have been seen gliding about the streets at night, but so far as known no one takes them for ghosts.

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