As a youngster, I noticed a picture of my Uncle Ben in my Grandparents kitchen. My Dad told me it was his oldest brother Ben, who had past away. Nothing else was said. It was probably not until my teenage years that I found out how he had died. As I recall from our family lore, 18 year old Ben had been asked to show Joseph around the surrounding area to establish a bread route, for a new bakery in Tillsonburg. On the fateful morning of Feb. 6th. Ben told his mother this would be his last day showing Joseph around, she could not have known the irony of that statement.
Ben and Joseph were approaching the M.C.R. crossing on the Coal Road between Otterville and Delhi at about 10:50 am. nobody knows who was driving the vehicle that fateful day. Edwin Long the engineer stated he had blown the whistle at the whistling post a quarter of a mile from the crossing as he guided the huge Hudson locomotive and 9 express cars and coaches, at a speed of over 60 miles an hour, eastbound towards the crossing. He was on the south side of the engine and did not see the vehicle approaching the tracks on this clear and fair day, but then he heard the fireman call "hold her". He immediately applied the brakes into the "heavy service application". It took 1500 feet to stop the massive train weighing hundreds of tons, but alas they were only 100 feet from the crossing according to fireman Clark Roberts. He was perhaps the only one to see the impact.
He usually kept watch on the left side of the engine, but about a mile before the crossing he had noticed the coal had not been going to the conveyor and had to go back to pull the slide and adjust the steam jets and increase the pressure on the conveyor and elevators to spread the coal on the fire evenly. He had just returned to his seat in time to see the the auto about 25 feet from the tracks. After hollering "hold her" he jumped behind the boiler to protect himself from broken glass and debris, as his window was broken. He said the auto was running about 25 miles an hour and did not slow down.
The impact sent the auto flying 150 feet, coming to rest on the west bound track. Both men were killed instantly from multiple injuries, which were spelled out in all to graphic detail in the newspaper. Why they did not hear the whistle or see the train and why the fireman was called away at such an unfortunate time, always haunted my dad's family, although in those times things such as that were not mentioned often. In another irony that track is long gone. Rest in peace Uncle Ben, March 3, 1912 - February 6, 1931.