Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Gruesome Demise of Strother E. Newby - 1915

Strother was the son of Jacob N. and Lavina (Leonard) Newby and the brother of my maternal great, great grandfather, John A. Newby. He was born in Henry Co., Indiana in 1849 and he was married three times and divorced twice. It is likely Strother would soon have been divorced for the third time had death not claimed him first. Strother married Rhoda Musselman in 1874, Flora Alvin Lindamood in 1888, and Laura Agnes (Colley) Haugh in 1894. Laura Agnes' daughter who is mentioned herein, was Lulu M. Haugh, wife of Lawrence Merton Hiatt.
Streetcar photo via The Commons
on Flickr

When I first saw this shockingly descriptive article, my first thought was: "Why didn't my mother ever mention this terrible incident?", but of course Mom probably never knew a thing about it since the grisly accident took place about 10 years before she was born and may not have been talked about in her family. 

From the Knightstown Banner, dated May 7, 1915 - pg. 1, col. 1.


Former Knightstown Man Instantly Killed by Street Car in Indianapolis. ---Brothers Reside Here.

     At an early hour Thursday morning last Strother Newby, sixty-six years old, a brother of L. P., John and L. Y. Newby, was killed by an outgoing East Washington street car, near New Jersey street, Indianapolis. He had spent the night at an East Washington street hotel and was crossing the street when he was killed. Newby formerly lived in Knightstown and was well known by our older people. By reason of two or three accidents which had happened to him during the past ten years, he was a cripple and moved about by the aid of a crutch and cane. The body was horribly mangled and crushed by the car wheels and death was instantaneous. The car was running at a high rate of speed and after the accident ran more than one hundred feet before stopped. A large crowd collected and it required several policemen to force the people back from car tracks. Newby's head was crushed, his skull being fractured on both sides, his body was cut to pieces, his left foot was severed from the body and his right foot was left hanging by a thread. The car was in charge of Russell Nevitt, conductor, and Clinton Hart, motorman. They were among the first to reach the body which was left a few feet behind the car when it stopped. The latter was so overcome by the sight that he almost fainted and would have fallen but for the assistance of those near him. Newby and his wife, Mrs. Agnes Newby, had not been living together for sometime and she had been staying with her daughter, Mrs. Lawrence Hiatt, at 223 South McKini avenue.
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     Richard A. Poole, coroner of Marion county, said: "There was nothing to prevent the motorman from seeing this crippled and deaf old man, who was crossing the track. He was walking with cane and crutch, making it instantly apparent that he was feeble and that caution should be exercised. In addition, the car ran for more than 100 feet before it was stopped after striking the man, indicating that it was running at excessive speed. The old man was dragged along beneath the car and literally cut to pieces by the wheels."
     One witness declared the car ran 125 feet after striking Newby before it stopped and that the gong was not sounded.
     Clinton Hart, the motorman, said that his car was running at a speed of not more than six miles an hour. His gong was sounded, he said. The cripple walked into the street with his head down and paid no attention to the approach of the car, according to Hart.
     Newby's funeral was held from the parlors of Blanchard & Moore, funeral directors, Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock, burial being made at Crown Hill.

On the same date, but on page 4 of the Knightstown Banner, I found a second column about Strother's death and funeral. Until this article, I was not aware that Strother had any offspring, other than his son Everett by his first wife. It seems he had a daughter, Pansy, by his second wife Flora.

     L. P. Newby, John A. Newby and L. Y. Newby, three brothers, of this city and a daughter, Miss Pansy Newby of Lewisville, were at Indianapolis Friday afternoon to attend the funeral of Strother Newby, who was killed by a city street car Thursday morning on East Washington street. However, the daughter, by missing a city car was too late for the funeral, and she reached the cemetery just as the grave was being filled up.

Strother was buried without a tombstone in Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana.

Strother's daughter, Pansy, was born in 1889. Her mother, Flora, married George W. Keiser in 1891 and I do not (yet) know what became of Flora after that. Pansy is found living with Flora's sister Mary J., wife of Truman Goldsbarry, in 1900 and 1910. Pansy married Clinton A. Stevens in 1919 and moved to Illinois where the couple had at least two children: Chester A. Stevens and Margaret V. Stevens. I would love to hear from descendants of this family.



  1. Lisa,
    I wouldn't be surprised if a descendant googles a family name and finds this post. I sure hope so. You know, that like you, I am a fan of these newspapers. That is amazing! Loved reading the post.

  2. I agree with Kathy. Google has put me in touch with a couple of relatives recently who had stumbled across my blog. I sure hope a descendant sees this.

  3. Wow. I know you said it was graphic, but I was still surprised...and stopped eating my pizza (ick!). Those stories really add flair to the family history! Thanks for sharing.

  4. It's always sad to hear about a death and especially sad when it's such a gruesome death. Old newspapers never seemed to shy away from offering all of the gory details of incidents such as these. In this particular case you were certainly rewarded with a wealth of information about your ancestor.

  5. Wow, that is some detail, right down to why the daughter was late for the funeral.

  6. It seems that when there were accidents during that time period, all the gory details were announced in the newspaper articles. I have two great-uncles who met gruesome deaths, the details of which I learned from newspaper articles. They didn't have television then so couldn't see what happened. I wonder if the newspapers fulfilled that need (or desire, or whatever it is).

    I hope descendants are interested in family history and contact you.

  7. Wow! Amazing story, Lisa. What a wealth of information about your family in a local newspaper...I've got to spend more time researching newspapers. Thanks for the post.

  8. OK, now that my ickies have past, I came, I read, it really is a contender for gruesome award for the year. If I ever get around to dealing with the snarly one I found last summer, it may come into a run off between this one and mine! YIKES! Love all the rest of the new information in yours tho.

  9. Wow, what a story! I have to say as tragic as it all was the most wrenching bit was Pansy arriving as the dirt was being filled in his grave. It sounds like a screenplay. Fade out.