Early Newspapers- Accident of John Devlin

Early Newspapers- Accident of John Devlin



Newspaperman 1860



September 2 1898-Almonte Gazette


Terrible Accident Occurred on the C.P.R. track here last Saturday night (August 28). John Devlin, the seventeen-year-old son of Mr. James Devlin, Carleton Place, in company with a couple of younger boys, was stealing a ride from the junction town to Almonte on what is known as the *“blind baggage” of the Winnipeg express, and while the train was speeding along opposite the Church street crossing, about two hundred yards from the station, young Devlin jumped off between the tracks and, according to some boys who were eyewitnesses, he bounded back with his head across the track.

A wheel passing over his head, smashing the skull and crushing the lower part of his face into a pulp. Death must have been instantaneous. The probability is that deceased never knew what happened him. A couple of his toes were also cut off. The face presented a horrible sight, and was totally unrecognizable. Some young men identified the unfortunate young man by his clothing. Coroner Burns was soon on the scene, and communicated with the relatives and the railway authorities with as little delay as possible, but the ‘body remained on the ground for some time before authority was given for its -removal, the decision in the interval being that no inquest was necessary.

Undertaker Donaldson then took the body to his “ morgue,” where it was dressed and coffined, after which, at the request of two brothers of deceased, he drove it to the home at Carleton Place, whence the funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon, to St. James’ church and cemetery, and was very largely attended.

The Herald says: “ Deceased was an employee in the Hawthorne woolen mill, a weaver, and was a steady and industrious young man. The parents and brothers and sisters have the sympathy of the whole town in their sudden and heavy bereavement. He was 17 year old.



St. James Anglican Cemetery – Block A-to-J,
230 – 8th Concession of Ramsay Twp, Carleton Place
Lanark County


Why would anyone publish anything this graphic?

Once upon a time, newspapers were a primary source of information. In the early 1800s, newspaper publishing bore little resemblance to the business it is today. Most newspapers had a small circulation, and were staffed by a very small number of workers. Division of labor in the newspaper publishing process – news gathering and reporting, editing, and printing–was uncommon, though it became more so as the period progressed. Even in the larger, urban newspapers, the owner of the paper would usually serve as the reporter and editor. Apprentices often assisted with printing and delivery.

Their principal function was not necessarily to inform, but to make money for the publisher, which they did by selling copies of the paper to readers and selling advertisements to businesses. Nineteenth century newspapers, unlike urban papers in our own multimedia universe, often carried very detailed coverage of a much broader range of activities – lengthy transcriptions of evidence given in court, for example, or the minute by minute happenings of a municipal council meeting, or an accident similar to the above newspaper article. The hunger for news and the lack of well-researched stories often meant that rumour and hearsay were published as fact. Then, as now, sensational stories helped sell newspapers, and checking the facts did not always take priority. So don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers:)



*blind baggage
:  a railway baggage, express, or postal car that has no door or opening at one end




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal11 Oct 1929, FriPage 22



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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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