24 February 2011

Obituary--Perry Willson (& Frank Green too)

This is the obituary/death notice I tried to post last week just before the power went out here at the libaray.  Hopefully we will fare better today. 
The article is sort of half obituary and half news article, relating the story of the accident that caused their death.   
***Warning*** Not for the Squeamish!!***

From the 26 September 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator:

Perry Willson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry G Willson, of this city, was instantly killed in Grand Rapids last Thursday morning when a Holland interurban car struck an automobile driven by T. C. Willson in which Perry and frank Green were riding.  The accident occurred at the Curve St. crossing in the southwestern part of the city.  Frank Green, formerly of this city, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Green, was taken to St. Mary's hospital where he died at 12:30 Friday morning.
Perry was thrown more than thirty feet.  His head was crushed. Green suffered a concussion of the brain and internal injuries.
According to T. C. Willson's story he was driving toward the interurban crossing on his way to Elmer Green's home on Dorchester Ave. where Frank Green was to meet his little daughter to take her to school.  Green was sitting in the front seat with the driver.  Perry Wilson was in the tonneau.
As they approached the crossing going up the steep grade at a moderate rate of speed, Wilson says, he inquired of Green whether it was all right to go on across.  Green is quoted as saying he did not hear any signal bell from the tower and told Willson to drive on.  As they were upon the tracks they saw the interurban bearing down on them.  Willson tried frantically to get across, but was unable to do so, the car striking the tonneau squarely.
Perry was instantly killed, his body being thrown clear of the wreckage.  Green was hurled beyond Perry's body and T. C. Willson was thrown over the windshield onto the pavement.  The automobile was crushed between the interurban car and the steel signal post standing on the corner.  The post was snapped off at the base and the automobile, a Buick, reduced to tangled mass of wreckage.
Coroner Simeon LeRoy took charge of young Willson's body and Green and T. C. Willson were taken in the police ambulance to the St. Mary's hospital.  T. C. Willson, after receiving first aid, was able to walk around but has been confined to the hospital for several days.
T. C. Willson, wife and baby and Rene Williams and his wife went to Grand Rapids Wednesday.  They attended the West Michigan State Fair during the afternoon.  The entire party had planned on returning home Thursday evening.  Frank Green was entertaining the Willson party during their stay in Grand Rapids.
James Perry Willson was born in Fremont March 29, 1899 and was 19 years, 5 months and 20 days old at the time of his death.  During the past six years he has lived on the farm in Dayton township with his parents. Besides his parents he is survived by one sister, Mrs. Jesse Davis and one brother, T. C. Willson , both of Fremont.  His many friends will remember him as being kind, genial, obliging and tender-hearted. He was especially fond of animals.
The funeral services were held from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Davis Monday afternoon conducted by Rev. R. A. Thibos of Fairfield, Ill., formerly pastor of the local Church of Christ.  Interment in Maple Grove cemetery.

This is definitely one of those articles where all the gruesome details are included. And while it mentioned the death of former resident Frank Green, this was really all about Perry Willson and his brother, the driver.   This article has piqued my interest in the interurban also.  I recently learned that my paternal grandfather worked on one and I want to learn more about these.  I have seen them mentioned before, usually as running in Michigan between Holland and Grand Rapids, or Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. 
Obviously they were large and heavy enough to be the winner in any collision with an automobile.

1 comment:

  1. I relocated from northern Michigan to Troy,just north of Detroit; and the history of the interurban is very interesting here. They ran up and down certain roads, and besides transportation, they picked up milk from the farmers. I remember a talk about the tracks up to Rochester, and the speaker said the tracks were removed during the scrap drives during WWII. I didn't know there were interurban trains in Grand Rapids so I learned something today.


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