Tragic Accident Ends Life of Sanford Brown

Sanford Harrison Brown is the 3X paternal great grandfather of my husband, Richard T. Richardson.  He was born about 1841 in Kentucky.  In 1862 he married Minerva Jane “Mary” McDonald in Monroe County, Indiana, and with her fathered eight children including a daughter, Laura, who married Joshua Reece Richardson.

quarryblog

In January 1896, Sanford reportedly went to work at the Consolidated Stone Quarry as a night watchman.   It was his duty to “look after the boilers and get up the fire in the morning.”   On Wednesday, March 11, 1896, it being a relatively quiet night, Sanford, who was a hard worker and having nothing better to do, decided to help a fellow employee, Robert Fisher, unload coal cars.  One car had already been unloaded and they were starting on the second.

Sanford was assisting Robert in letting down the car to a position opposite the coal shed.  Several of the cars were coupled together, and Sanford climbed on the front car which was loaded with stone.  Suddenly the car on which Sanford was standing broke loose from the others.  So he set down his lantern and started toward the brake at the other end of the car.  This was the last he was seen alive.

It is supposed that in trying to reach the brake in the darkness he stumbled over a slab of stone and fell headlong to the track where he was immediately run over by the cars following in the rear.  He was found dead lying on the track, his remains horribly mangled.  According to the coroner’s report, the “car wheels had cut diagonally across the breast from the right shoulder to a point midway between the left shoulder and the hip.”  He died instantly.  The time of death was established between 7:15 and 7:25 PM.

At the time of his death, Sanford was believed to be between 54 and 56 years of age depending upon who did the reporting.  He was survived by eight children including:  Laura, Richard, Sarah, Emanuel, Minnie, Florence, Lou and Harry.  Burial was in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington by the side of his wife who had died in 1888.  His estate at the time of death was valued at only $50 leaving his children nearly destitute.

On May 1, 1896, a suit against Consolidated for $10,000 in damages was filed in Monroe County circuit court.  The case was heard before a jury in January 1897 and a small judgment was secured (the amount of the judgement, as reported in different Bloomington papers, varied from $1,250 to $2,500).  Soon afterward it was set aside “by reason of error in the trial process.”  A second trial was then scheduled for the spring of 1897.  It was also heard before a jury, and that jury deliberated 20 hours before reaching a verdict.  Three ballots were taken.  The question was whether or not Sanford was working at the time of his death.  Jury members were evenly divided on the issue.  As no agreement would be reached, they were dismissed without providing a verdict.  There is no evidence of a third trial.

Hopefully the older Brown children, at least three of whom were married by the time of Sanford’s death, were able to care for the younger children.  But no more information about that is known.

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Bloomington Man Loses Life Aboard the Titanic

The clipping noted below, written by Blaine W. Bradfute, was published in an undated, unsourced Bloomington newspaper under a column called “Looking Back.”  It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana. 

In 1900, according to census information, 47-year old John B. Crafton, the owner of stone quarries, lived with his wife, Sarah, and son, Harry, at 115 E. 7th Street (sic) in Bloomington; in 1910, Dr. J. Edmund Luzadder lived at 115 E. 8th St.  A digital image of Crafton’s January 1912 passport application indicates that he was born in Owen County, Indiana.

titanicThe first man who planned and boasted to his friends that he would make a million dollars out of the local stone industry was John B. Crafton, the only local man who was lost in the sinking of the Titanic when that great ocean liner struck an iceberg on its premier voyage nearly two decades ago.

Mr. Crafton was undoubtedly the most farseeing man of his day in the Bloomington stone belt and had he lived to an old age he would likely have cashed in his stone holdings for more than a million.  Having a great belief in the future of stone, Mr. Crafton leased many hundred acres of land in the local belt and at one time had a large amount of the finest stone land in the county under lease.  For twenty-five years Crafton dabbled in stone land, leasing tract after tract.  Four decades ago the investment in stone quarries and mills was very small and the output was correspondingly small.  The Hunter Valley quarry was one of the first successful companies operated northeast of Bloomington, and when the Hunter Valley was sold for $100,000 to become the Consolidated, the selling price was held up as a big fortune.

The writer as a boy heard John B. Crafton remark, “I may not live to see it but my son, Harry, will someday get a million dollars for my stone holdings.”

Mr. Crafton’s prediction that out of his stone leases would come a fortune of a million dollars to his son did not prove true as his life was cut short when the Titanic was lost; the Crafton stone operations ended just about the time stone properties began to greatly increase in value.  Had he lived and continued his stone operations as he planned, he would have undoubtedly left a fortune of over a million, and as it turned out he left a comfortable estate to his wife and son—or so it was generally supposed at the time.

Mr. Crafton was in his stateroom at the time the Titanic ran into the huge iceberg which ripped one side of the vessel open much as if it had been a huge can opener.  Mr. Crafton was not seen about the vessel by the survivors at any time after the accident, and it was supposed that he met an instant death in his stateroom when the iceberg was struck.

The Crafton family during the years of residence in Bloomington lived in the house on East 8th Street, now occupied by the Dr. Luzzader family.  Although the body was not picked out of the sea, and undoubtedly found a burial place in the hull of the Titanic which sank in the deep water off the Atlantic, a stone monument in Rose Hill Cemetery was erected by the widow to the memory of Mr. Crafton—one of the men who in the early days had a true vision of what the great Bloomington stone belt was to become.

Post by Randi Richardson