Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Beeks line: Newspaper find about Wilbur Beeks

"Four Hurt in Head-On Crash Near Mt. Etna"...

I was certainly pleased to find this article in the Huntington Herald Press.  It was dated Monday evening, April 5, 1965, and I had looked through several weeks of newspapers on microfilm at the Huntington, Indiana Public Library in order to locate this.  (Looking through the old newspapers was a lot of fun, as I remembered so much as I was researching, but that's a story for another post, maybe.)

What I found was an account of the accident that involved two father and son duos, Wilbur and Jim Beeks, and Alva and Carl Searles.  Their two cars were involved in a head on collision near Mt Etna, Indiana on April 4, 1965.  All four were taken to hospitals. The Beeks men went to the VA hospital in Fort Wayne, Carl Searles to Lutheran Hospital in Ft Wayne, and Alva to the Huntington hospital.

The article states that the two cars collided at the crest of a hill on County Road 500 S in Polk Township, but does not assign blame.  It happened at 10:55 in the morning so perhaps the sun was shining and caused a glare or reflection.  Maybe both cars were using the center of the road, since that road was probably narrow "back in the day".

It appears that many of the injuries would have been prevented in this day of seat belts and air bags, since at least two of the victims were thrown into their respective windshields. The injuries described are not pleasant to read and would not be described in such vivid terms today.

Pictures of both automobiles are included in the article.  The front ends are heavily damaged, but it appears that the vehicles were probably of late 1950s vintage.  Damages were listed as $500 or more to each vehicle.   

Other thoughts:

The article doesn't state whether ambulances were used to transport the victims, but if they were, they would likely have been of the old, funeral home type variety.  Huntington County didn't get the van type ambulances until some years later. There would have been only basic first aid at the scene, and then little care could have been provided en route to the hospitals. 

$500 damage to vehicles that were a few years old in those days probably meant that the vehicles were totaled. 

We had no previous knowledge of the accident in this household.  The only reason I learned about it is that my husband's aunt kindly loaned me the minutes of a Sunday school class of the First Christian Church in Andrews. Her mother was an officer of the group for many years, so her name was frequently mentioned.  This book covered the class meetings during the 1960's. In April of 1965, I noted that a thank you note had been read to the class for the plant that had been sent to Wilbur following his serious car accident.  That's the clue I needed to go to the library and look for the newspaper article that told me more. 

Hint to family historians and genealogists that might be reading this post:  There may be another record somewhere that you'd never dream of, that has information you didn't know you didn't know!  Where might your next clue be hidden?

The line of descent for our family is:

Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents