E-mails. Page 22.
MACABRE COINCIDENCE OF
FATHER AND SON DEATHS ON THE RAILWAY LINE.
Maria Siddaway of Middlesbrough has sent the following.
A great example of the benefit of sharing information and thereby
increasing total knowledge.
Saltburn Railway Station on the Right. A two mile walk
for Skeltoners to catch a train before the year 1902.
Maria found the following item on this website, which is thanks to
original research by Peter Tuffs.
[His 4 Volumes of "Directory of Cleveland Ironstone Miners and Their
Associates" are a fascinating collection of similar incidents, not just
of Skelton, but for all of East Cleveland.]
"On the 21st Feb. Robert Bean, miner, of N Skelton, was
charged with neglecting his wife, whereby she became a charge to
Guisborough Union [ The local Workhouse]. He was unable to live with
her due to her drunken conduct. Allowed her 4s per week as maintenance."
Maria then found on the website 1881 census that the alleged
"drunken" wife, Isabella, was living at 41 Wharton St, North Skelton
and had only one daughter living at home.
Maria has done a lot of family research, including communicating with
distant family members via the Internet. It turns out
that Isabella was the daughter of Zachariah Wilson [1816-1881].
Zachariah was Maria's Gt Gt Gt Grandfather.
Sadly Zachariah had met a tragic end in the same year 1881, and Maria
has found the details. which were recorded by the local Evening
Priestcroft Junction, Here the Railway line from
Middlesbrough via Saltburn met the line from Middlesbrough via
Guisborough, Boosbeck. There was also a spur line off to North Skelton
ironstone mine. The fatal accident on the 6th Feb 1881 occurred half a mile or so
further down the line at the North Skelton Junction.
7th Feb 1881. MAN KILLED ON THE RAILWAY AT SKELTON.
"A melancholy accident happened on the railway at North
Skelton on Saturday night. An old man [he was aged 65] named
Zachariah Wilson, a joiner employed at the North Skelton mines, had
to Middlesbrough and had come back by train to Saltburn. Instead of
coming back from Saltburn to his home at North Skelton
by the turnpike road, he had gone part of the way on the line. He had
got to the junction at North Skelton where he was met by the excursion
train from Middlesbrough. His foot was taken off by the ankle and legs
otherwise mutilated. He died
this morning from the injuries received. He was found on the line by PC
Calvert and his own son-in-law, Robert Bean."
[Skelton did not have its own railway station until July 1902 and
people had to travel, usually walk, around two miles to either Saltburn
or Boosbeck to catch a train at this time. Following the railway line
was a shortcut and Zachariah seems to
have had his foot trapped by the points at Priestcroft Junction, when
9th Feb. INQUEST. "An inquest was held at the Bull's Head
Inn, North Skelton before Mr William Robinson, Deputy Coroner,
touching the death Zachariah Wilson, who died from injuries received on
Saturday last by being run over by the return trip train from Loftus.
Inspector Dobbie watched the case on behalf of the North Eastern
Railway Company. A verdict of accidental death was returned.
By a strange coincidence Zachariah's son Richard Wilson,
[Maria Siddaway's Gt Gt Grandfather] was also found dead just
five years later on a railway line, thousands of miles away, in
Braceville, Grundy County, Illinois.
Development of Railways around Skelton. The first came in 1865 from Middlesbrough via Guisborough and Boosbeck. It by-passed
the Skelton villages and continued on to Brotton, Whitby, Scarborough. In 1872, with the building of the Viaduct, the line from Saltburn was
opened coming through North Skelton and joining the 1865 line just before Brotton. Finally in 1873 the Priestcoft Loop was opened, with a
spur off it to collect the Ironstone from North Skelton Mine which had also opened in 1872.
||From 1862 on Richard appears on the Census as a blacksmith,
but in 1881 he is shown as an Ironstone Miner and residing
at 32 Downe St, Liverton Mines when he would have been around 40 years
Many men emigrated to the USA in these times, particularly when the
demand for iron dropped and unemployment rose.
Richard Wilson was one, taking his three eldest children with him. They
were Sarah Ann, born 1863, Richard
Wallace b 1868 and Isabella Frances c 1871. He left his wife Mary Ann
[nee Dobbin, 1848-1934] behind in Normanby with the younger ones,
Hannah Mary, b 1873, Zachariah c 1875, Alice Maud b 1882 and Rebecca
Alder c 1884.
It is thought he left these shores around 1885 and less than a year
later an American paper reported the following:-
"Mr M Tillbury, an employee at the Company store in
Braceville, while walking to this city early Sunday morning was
horrified by suddenly coming across the body of a man lying across the
tracks just North of Godley. The remains were mangled in a terrible
manner, pieces of flesh and clothing scattered along the track for
thirty feet. The Authorities were notified and the body was removed to
Braidwood and taken to the calaboose, where it was identified as that
of Richard Wilson, who lived on Center St in that city. He was a
blacksmith by trade and had been to Braceville on Saturday
in search of work. He left there about dark to walk home on the
railroad and how he met his death is a mystery. The
unfortunate man had been in this country only 11 months, living here
with 3 of his children one a young lady. They
are prostrated with grief at the sudden and terrible manner in which
they have lost their father. The deceased had a wife and four children
in Normanby, Yorkshire, England and it will be a sad blow to them. He
was about 45 years old, a sober, industrious man and a good workman.
Their are rumours of foul play in connection with his death. A jury was
empannelled yesterday and they adjourned until Wednesday , when
probably the mystery of his death will be cleared up,"
Later Richard's daughter, it is claimed, saw a man wearing a
scarf that had been knitted for her father by her mother. Was he
attacked and his body left on the tracks to hide the evidence ? Was it
an accident and
his scarf scavenged by some passer-by ? Was it a suicide in the despair
of unemployment ? The mystery never was "cleared
His children returned to England.
Robert Bean, who found old Zachariah on the line at North
Skelton in 1881, also later emigrated to America and died there in 1917.
A further grizly twist to this family's tale is that Richard
Wilson's son, who had stayed in England with his mother was named after
his Grandfather Zachariah. He was a stone cleaner and was killed at
Eston Steel Works by falling from
a gantry on the 8th July 1905.:-
"The adjourned inquest was held at Eston Hospital today by Mr
O H Cochrane, Coroner, on the body of Zachariah Wilson,
aged 30, of 29 Wilson St, Eston, who died in the Hospital on the 12th
as the result of injuries received as Messrs Bolckow and Vaughan and
Co's Works. John H Lott, skiff-hoist engineman said that he saw the
deceased at 7 o'clock on
the night of the accident and he was perfectly sober. A little later he
saw him fall from the gantry. Witness said he
had heard him and others complain of having to work alone at night.
Police Sgt Devaney said he went to the place from
which the deceased had fallen and examined it. In his opinion it was
impossible for anyone to fall over accidentally.
Dr Fulton said that when the deceased was brought into the hospital the
left side of his head was badly contused. There were also wounds on the
lip and jaw. His case was perfectly hopeless from the first. He was
satisfied the man died from a fracture of the skull and pressure on the
brain. The jury visited the scene of the accident and brought
in a verdict of "Accidental Death" and recommended 2 men should be
employed together at nights. The Coroner remarked
that the verdict was not in accordance with the evidence and thought
the jury were manufacturing evidence in their own
If anyone has any more information about the family, please
email the address on the Introduction page of this website.