The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Compiled and Edited by Virginia Ross
Stronghurst Graphic, April 13, 1922
DECORRA FARMER MEETS TRAGIC DEATH: Fred Fritz, well known and prosperous farmer of Decorra while walking from his home about a mile west of Decorra to Stronghurst on Monday to transact some business and with the intention of returning home on No. 23 was run down by passenger train No.22 and so severely injured that he died about an hour and a half later. The first to arrive at the scene of the accident tenderly carried the Dr. H.L. Marshall, having been notified from the depot, was soon on the scene and upon examination directed that the injured man be taken to his office where with the aid of the X-ray he could better determine the extent of his injuries. The result of further examination showed a gash three inches long on the right side of the crown of the head, compound fracture of the Tibia about four inches above ankle on the right leg and fracture of the skull which extended down across the skull through the temporal bone causing inter-cranial hemorrhage and his death.
Coroner W.J. Emerson of Lomax was notified and arrived Tuesday morning and an inquest was held at the W. C. Regan undertaking parlor.
The first witness examined was S.W. Hollingsworth, telegraph operator for the Santa Fe at Stronghurst, who gave the following testimony: No.22 was reported out of Decorra at 3:44 p.m. lined up trucks, was drizzling rain, stood under eves. No.22 whistled, pulled trucks across west bound main up between tracks. Agt. C. L. Decker was head of truck facing east. In rear facing west saw man walking east between two main tracks abut two feet north of the north rail. Train about two hundred feet from Broadway crossing. He turned and walked diagonally across the east bound main. About to step over south rail east bound main, seemed unconscious of approaching train. Location between Beardsley crossing( Elizabeth Street crossing) and Broadway crossing about 3:48 p.m. (article says "trucks" and may refer to wagons used to haul freight.)
The next witness, Henry W. Hoerr, locomotive fireman of Fort Madison, Iowa, said, "I was firing engine No. 3401, train No.22, saw a man walking east between rails on west bound main. Saw man step out of rails and walk between two main lines nearing east bound main, every step he was taking until we got up to him about three rail length he stepped over on east bound main track just ahead of engine, could not see man after that. Stopped in front of station. The whistle had been sounded all this time as man was nearing east bound main. Train traveling about 15 miles an hour."
The next witness, W. D. Gates, locomotive engineer of Fort Madison, Iowa, and in charge of engine No. 3401, Said, " Set brakes at whistling post and reduced speed preparatory to stopping at depot, fireman told me to blow whistle, knowing that something was wrong. I blew whistle and stopped train as soon as possible. From position in cab was unable to see man, did not know until stopped what the trouble was."
Charles L. Decker, Fort Madison, Iowa, occupation, carpenter, the next witness said, " Was coming up town and was on sidewalk that runs north of crossing west of where man was truck, being about three hundred feet away. Heard train whistle, looked up and saw man walking on tracks. Could not tell whether he was walking between rails or track. When about two hundred feet from main, engine whistled several short blasts. Man looked back and jumped to clear south rail, engine than shut out my view."
Dr. H.L. Marshall was the next witness called and gave testimony in regard to the nature of the wounds and the cause of his untimely end which has been previously stated.
This concluding the examination of witnesses, Corner W. J. Emerson placed the case in the hands of the jury which consisted of the following men: W. V. Curtiss, F. V. Doak, A. F. Kaiser, F.G. Simpson, L. E. McAndrews and Dr. E. L. Emerson, foreman, who retired and after summing up the evidence, arrived at the verdict that the deceased met death by being accidentally struck by A.T.& S.F. passenger train No.22 fracturing skull at about 3:47 p.m April 10, 1922 in the village of Stronghurst.
Fred Fritz was born near Gladstone, Ill. Nov. 26, 1871 and died at Stronghurst, Ill. April 10, 1922 at 5:20 p.m. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gebhard Fitz, the latter with three sisters, namely, Miss Clara Fitz, Mrs. Edward Chandler and Mrs. William Powell surviving him.
He was untied in marriage to Mary Jeanette Annegers on April 11, 1891. To this union five children were born: Frederick W., George Herbert, Herman G., Frances Helen and Richard Annegers who died in infancy. His wife preceded him in death, passing away March 18, 1919.
Fred Fitz was one of Henderson County's well known and prosperous farmers, a man of sterling character, fair and square in all of his business transactions and progressive. In his passing the children lose a kind and loving father whose sole ambition in life was to provide for their pleasures and to educate them to useful citizenship, an ideal that can never be over-estimated in its worth.
Funeral services were held Thursday morning at the home near Decorra, Rev. George McClung of Kankakee, Ill. and former pastor of the Maple Grove Church officiating. Burial was in Terre Haute Cemetery. (A note from editor clarified the following: Train No.22 is an east bound passenger train with Stronghurst as a regular stop. It was the only train in the block at the time of the accident, which was about 3:47 p.m. No. 23 local west bound passenger train is not due out of Media station until 3:49 p.m.)