Louis Behrens – Railroad Brakeman killed in accident


On Sunday morning, May 15, Mrs. Goodchild of this place, received a telegram from Salem, stating that her son, Louis Behrens, had been killed by being run over by the cars.  He had been in the employ of the railroad company for nearly three years as brakesman, and at the time of the accident was employed on a freight train.  As the train approached the Salem station, Louis, being the only brakesman on bord, was turning the breaks, and from some cause lost his hold and fell between two loaded cars.  His body fell out side of the rail, but before he could escape the wheel of the moving car caught his neck and crushed it, killing him instantly.  A coroner’s jury was impaneled, and after hearing the facts they rendered a verdict of death by accident.  The remains of the unfortunate young man were sent up on Monday, and were met at the depot by a large concourse of our citizens, who knew Louis well and esteemed him highly during his lifetime.  Six of his former schoolmates and intimate friends acted as pall-bearers, and the remains were conveyed to the M.E. Church, where the funeral services were conducted by Rev. L.D. Driver, after which all that was mortal of poor Louis was laid to rest in the Odd Fellows cemetery.  It is probable that no blame attaches to anyone for the shocking accident, but it is a terrible blow to his aged and widowed mother and brother and sisters.  His untimely and unnatural death has cast a gloom over this whole community.  Louis was raised in Eugene City and was highly esteemed by all who knew him, and was a genial, honest and industrious young man.  At the time of his death he was a few days past 19 years of age.”  Oregon State Journal (Eugene), May 21, 1881, pg. 5, col. 2.  University of Oregon Knight Library, Newspaper Collection.

The Eugene Pioneer Cemetery (I.O.O.F) lists in block 195 the following: Louis O. Behrens born 5/12/1861 Oregon, died 5/16/1881 [Salem, OR from newspaper article], Louis B. Behrens born 4/13/1818 Baden (GER), died 11/8/1871.  Also listed in block 195 Mrs. Johanna Goodchild born 12/3/1823. Stockholm (SWE), died 9/24/1882 Eugene City and James Goodchild born 12/4/1813 Berks Co. (ENG), died 1/20/1881 Eugene City.

I was surprised when I read the last line of this article that stated that Louis Behrens had just turned 19 years of age and according to the article he had been a brakesman for nearly three years.  That would have made Louis 16 years old when he started as a brakesman.  I understand life was different back in 1881, but the brakesman job sounds far to dangerous for a  16-year-old boy.


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
This entry was posted in Eugene History, Eugene Pioneer Cemetery (IOOF), Featured Obituary, Lane County Oregon History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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