Friday, October 23, 2020

1924 Bacon Switch Accident


Bacon Switch crossing looking south as it is today

On a Saturday night in 1924 a Ford car with three people in it cross the railroad tracks at Bacon Switch and was hit by an express train traveling at about 50 miles an hour.  All three people were killed.  A newspaper articles follows describing the accident but first a little about the people involved.

Mrs. Phillips was Elsie May Davis Phillips (1898-1924).  She was the daughter of George W. Davis (1863-1942) and his first wife Louisa W. Hearn Davis (1867-1904).  She had married George Phillips in 1920 and in August of 1921 she had a son, George Goldie Phillips, Jr.  The Phillips lived between what is today Bi-State Blvd and the railroad tracks on Bacon Road.  Her father lived on the other side of the tracks on Bacon Road. 

The son was George Goldie Phillips, Jr, not quite three years old,  and he is buried with his mother in St Stephens cemetery in Delmar with his mother in the Davis cemetery plot.  

William "Willie" Frazier Dickerson (1893-1924) was the third son and perhaps favorite son of Frazier A. Dickerson and Opecheo Ellis Dickerson.  Willie's father had died eight years before Willie's death. At the sale of his father's estate Willie had purchased a 90 acres farm from the estate.  Willie had married in 1913 Lelah Edna Phillips.  They had several children but only Edna Ellen Dickerson, born 1917,  survived beyond one year of age.  After Willie's death his widow would marry in 1928 Carlton Elwood Hastings.

George Goldie Phillips (1895-1958) was the son of Columbus Washington Phillips and Priscilla Cooper Phillips.  They lived around Portsville.  George had married Elsie Davis in 1920.  The newspaper article said he worked as a fireman with the Railroad.  George left the railroad after the accident.   For the rest of his life George would have many jobs.  Perhaps he left the railroad because of the possible contact he would have had with the train crew that killed his family.  In 1927 he would remarry to Matti Yingling Kenney a school teacher.  They would have a daughter, Janet A. Phillips.

The railroad crew was not named in any of the articles and the Sussex County Coroner's Jury investigation turned in a verdict of accidental death by unavoidable accident which relieved the railroad of all responsibility.  


 Mother and Child Killed at Crossing, as Husband Rushes to Fire


 Special to The Evening Journal. LAUREL, May 6. George Phillips, a fireman on the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania -Railroad, lost his wife, three-year-old son and his home all within a few minutes Saturday night.

 His wife aged 25 years and son with William Dickerson, aged 30, a cousin of his wife's were all three instantly killed when an express train hit the machine in which they were riding at Bacon's Switch four miles south of Laurel about 10 o'clock Saturday night. Just a few minutes before the accident Phillips had turned the automobile over to Dickerson so that he could hurry to his home which he had been notified was on fire. The house located near Bacon's with all contents was destroyed.

 The Philllpses who had spent Saturday evening at Salisbury were returning home shortly after 10 o'clock when Dickerson, a neighbor, met then and informed them that their home was on fire. Phillips then requested Dickerson to drive his wife and son to the home of Mrs. Phillips' father, George W. Davis a merchant, residing at Bacon's Switch., Phillips then proceeded to the scene of the fire.

It is believed that Mrs. Phillips became hysterical over the loss of their home, and that Dickerson, attempting: to calm her, either failed  to notice that he was near the crossing or failed to see whether a train was approaching. The automobile, as it reached the center of the track, was struck by the fast passenger train south bound.

 Mrs. Phillips and Dickerson were catapulted from the machine for a distance of more than fifty feet, being killed, physicians said, almost instantly. The young child was later found burled beneath the debris of the wrecked automobile. He had been killed. Instantly, it was said.

The fire was declared to have been caused by a defective chimney flue. The building together with all its contents was a total loss. It was said that Insurance will partly cover the building and contents,

 Bacon's Switch where the automobile accident occurred, is a small town a few miles north of the termination of the Delaware division of the Pennsylvania Railroad,

 Mr. Dickerson, was a farmer living near Laurel in the Mt, Pleasant neighborhood. He leaves a wife, and one daughter Edna, his mother, one sister, Alice Dickerson, and four brothers, Winnie, Ellis, Paul, and Albert Dickerson, all of Laurel.

 Mrs. Phillips besides her husband is survived by her father, George Davis, of Bacons, and one brother, Virgil Davis, of Sharptown.

 Mr. Phillips' house was partly covered by Insurance but he carried none on his furniture.

 The funeral of Mr. Dickerson was held this afternoon at Mt. Pleasant Church with Rev. Horning officiating. The funeral of Mrs. Phllllps and child will be held at the home of her father in Bacons tomorrow afternoon.

Above from The Wilmington Evening News 05 May 1924

The accident is still remembered in Bacon Switch.  In a 1993 article on Bacon switch in the Daily Times of Salisbury Paul and Doris Phillips says this a bout the accident.

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