Obituary – Thomas E. Powell
Contributed to Genealogy Pit Stop
By Sheila Fritts
East Liverpool Review
Monday, 7 March 1904 – pg. 1
Universal regret was expressed on every hand when the New Review made exclusive mention Saturday of the sudden death of Thomas E. Powell, of this city, in the great railroad accident near Hammondsville. The young man, though possessed of no unusual characteristic, was a universal favorite. He was known to more people and was perhaps better known than any other man in his station in this community. The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Powell are extraordinary. Up to within three weeks ago he was a faithful and efficient employee of the East Liverpool railway. In fact, he had not yet severed his connection with that concern when he went to his death at the bottom of Yellow Creek. Powell had long cherished an ambition to be a railroad man, and entered the service of the street car company with that end in view because there was not then an opening on the Cleveland & Pittsburgh. During his nine months of steady employment with the East Liverpool railway, he earned a high place in the regard of the patrons of the company and endeared himself to his fellow workmen. He was careful and accommodating, ever mindful of the comfort and safety of the people, placing these before his own interests at all times. Three weeks ago “Tommy” Powell answered a summons from the railroad officials to take the examination as fireman. It is said that the test was in every way satisfactory and weight is given this statement, when it is known that within a few hours after the result of the examination was given out, he was on his first trial trip over the main line of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh. It was here that one of Powell’s main characteristics manifested itself. He had the reputation of doing everything he undertook in a thorough manner and before he had finished his first trip he had won his way into the good graces of the crew with which he was engaged. This, if is understood, had much to do with his success in his brief but fatal railway career. He made but three trips over the road and it was while returning from the last of these that the horrible fatality occurred. The crew with which Powell was engaged had been sent to the vicinity of Irondale to assist in the work of cleaning up the yards and roadbed after the recent flood. The task was finished in time to permit the train crew to return to Wellsville early Friday morning. The engine upon which he had been working was “dead”, and was being towed to Wellsville to the shops for repair. There was no necessity, therefore, of the crew remaining on the engine, and all repaired to the caboose when the journey was begun. It is not likely that Powell or any of his companions ever knew what befell them, as the car in which they rode went to the bottom of the swollen and angry stream and they were either crushed to death or drowned. Powell’s remains were placed on board the relief train which had stood in waiting all day, and with the other victims of the disaster brought to Wellsville. A sad feature in connection with Powell’s terrible death is the fact that none of the members of his family in this city knew of the occurrence for hours after it had happened. When he applied for work on the railroad he had given the name of Thomas Keer. It has been learned since that he gave the assumed name in order that the officials of the street railway might not know that he was seeking employment elsewhere. It is supposed that he intended, in case of failure to “make good” with the railroad job, to return to the street car business without forfeiting his place in line for promotion. President Charles Kontnier, of Division 52, A.A. of S.R., was one of the first to be informed of Powell’s death. In a short time after the sad news could be confirmed, Kontnier and a number of other members of the street railway men’s union had made preparations to bring the body to this city. At 10 o’clock Saturday night a special car on the East Liverpool railroad in charge of Motorman Sam Kerr and Conductor George Ferguson, with President Kontnier and 25 members of the union, started for this city with the remains. The escort made the trip from the Diamond to the stricken home at Gardendale and all that was mortal of their former associate was placed in state. The members of Division 52 gave expression of their sorrow yesterday and today by the display of mourning attached to their due button. The late men who comprise about half the membership of the union, visited the home this morning at 10 o’clock and took leave of their dead brother. The street railway men employed on what is known as the day run, attended the funeral which was held at 3 o’clock this afternoon. Services were conducted at the home and interment was made at Riverview Cemetery. The following members of Division 52 acted as pall bearers: Robert McDonald, Charles Goodballet, Winnie Welch. William Stewart, William Nicholson, Charles Goodman. Thomas Powell was born in Johnstown, PA September 25, 1872. His parents are William E. and Mariah Powell, residing in Gardendale. When the dead man was a small child the family moved to Braddock. They later went to California, removing to Youngstown a few years later, and returned to Braddock, after a brief residence in the Ohio town. The Powells came to East Liverpool 16 years ago, and since that time young Tom has endeared himself to a large number of persons. Genial and whole-souled, he was loved for his many good traits and admired by strangers and friends alike, who will cherish the memory of the little conductor for many years to come. He is survived by his parents, two sisters and three brothers. They are: Mrs. William Black, Mrs. Asa Geer, Theopolis, Howell, and William Powell, all of this city.