Genealogy Trails

Jackson County, Illinois

November 4, 1961

$927 Found In Sack
Train Kills Couples On Way To Go Fishing

Two elderly couples were driving toward their favorite fishing spot with an unexplained $927 in a sugar sack when they were killed Thursday by a train at Vergennes.

James Richard Harris, 87, his wife, Lula, 63, Harrison Bruce Mansker, 72, and his wife, Alma, 67, had fished together since last summer, according to Herman Harris, son of James R. Harris.

The fishing spot is on Beaucoup Creek southwest of the rail crossing in Vergennes where their pickup truck ran into the path of Illinois Central train No. 101 at 11:45 a.m. The train, southbound at 70 miles an hour, rammed the truck 2,574 feet down the track.

James Harris was riding in the truck bed and was thrown out first, according to state police. His body was found at the side of the Vergennes depot 174 feet from the point of impact. Bruce Mansker, the driver, was thrown out 234 feet down the opposite side of the track. Mrs. Lula Harris, seated in the right side of the truck cab, was carried 780 feet, and Mrs. Mansker, in the middle was carried 1,482 feet.

James R. Harris was Mansker's uncle. The train engineer, H. H. Horner, is a Murphysboro resident.

A member of the train crew found a pocketbook near the spot of the collision and turned it over to Floyd Crawshaw, Jackson County Coroner. After investigating the accident, he began to check personal effects and found in Mrs. Mansker's purse a 10 pound sugar sack with the $927, plus several rings. He deposited the money in a bank until its owner is determined.

Friends and relatives could offer no reason for that much money being carried except that perhaps the Manskers did not trust banks.

Former Deputy Sheriff

James Harris' sons said he worked as a Murphysboro policeman and a Jackson County Deputy sheriff in the 1920's. He was a retired carpenter.

Witnesses said the truck slowed while approaching the track, but did not stop. They also said the train had blown it's whistle.

The crossing just north of the Vergennes depot is one of many in rural areas, marked only by cross arm signs. It has no warning lights.

One Vergennes resident said of the crash: "I heard that noise. It was like a jet breaking the sound barrier."

Deaths of the four matched a 1955 accident in which the same Illinois Central train killed four members of one family.

Raymond Eugene Webb, 26, his wife, Phyllis Ann, 28, and their children, Sharon Kay, 4, and Richard, 1, were fatally injured December 13, 1955, when their light pickup truck was struck by an IC train at a crossing a few hundred yards north of the Murphysboro depot. The train engineer was Henry H. Horner, engineer on Thursday's wreck at Vergennes.

The same southbound train due in Murphysboro shortly before noon, killed Mrs. Ada Creath, 64, of Rt. 3, Murphysboro, on Feb. 18, 1960. Engineer was S.C. Parker of East St. Louis. The collision was on a crossing on a road leading to the Harrison area north of Murphysboro.

In another accident involving the IC line to St. Louis, Mrs. Mary Perry, 88, Vergennes, was killed by a northbound train on March 29, 1958. The collision was on a rural crossing near the old Finney Station eight miles north of Murphysboro. The engineer was Horner.

Two joint funeral services will be held Sunday for the four victims. Services for Mrs. and Mrs. Mansker will be at 1 p.m. at the Immanuel Lutheran Church. Services for Mr. and Mrs. Harris will be at 3 p.m. at the Meyer-Denning Funeral Home. Friends may call at the Meyer-Denny Funeral Home after 7 p.m. Saturday.

Mr. and Mrs. Mansker's bodies will be taken to the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 11 a.m. Sunday. The Reverend W. W. Kohlmeier will officiate at the Mansker service. Burial will be in the Pate Chapel Cemetery.

The Reverend Joe Daniels will officiate at the Harris service. Burial will be in the DeSoto Cemetery for Mr. Harris, and in the Mr. Carbon Cemetery for Mrs. Lula Harris.

Harrison Bruce Mansker was born in Rockwood in 1889, son of Noah Mansker, of Randolph County and Matilda Harris (sister of James R. Harris) of Williamson County, and lived in the Rockwood area before moving to Murphysboro about 12 years ago. He was a truck driver. He was married in 1944 to Mrs. Alma Yearian, who was killed on Thursday in the same accident. Mr. Mansker leaves stepdaughters Mrs. Kathryn Meininger of Bethalto, Mrs. Alma Zimmerman of Oraville, and a stepson, Archie Yerian of Belleville.

Alma Yearian Mansker was born in Altenbury, Missouri, in 1894. She was married to Arch Yearian, who died in 1937. Mrs. Mansker leaves daughters Mrs. Meininger and Mrs. Zimmerman, a son , Archie, and 10 grandchildren. One daughter preceded her in death.

James Richard Harris was born in Stonefort, Williamson Co. in 1873, son of Zachariah Harris and Sarah Jane Tignor. He was a lifelong resident of Jackson County. Mr. Harris was married to the former Miss Mary Effie Mae Wheeler, of Hamilton Co. in 1901; she passed away in 1938. In 1939, he married the former Mrs. Lula (Marshall) Jones. She was married to Jesse Jones of Murphysboro.

Mr. Harris leaves daughters Mrs. Flora Asa of DuQuoin and Mrs. Florence Cheatham of Ontario, Calif.; sons Richard and Herman, both of Murphysboro; Roy of Laguna Beach, Calif., and James M. of Glasgow, Mont., and 21 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren. Six sisters preceded him in death.

Mr. Harris was a member of the Mt. Carbon Church of God and a member of the United Mine Workers.

Mrs. Lula Harris was born in Murphysboro in 1898, parents were Allen and Ida Marshall. She leaves a son, Ralph Jones of Murphysboro, a stepdaughter, Mrs. Goldie Welchel of Murphysboro, a daughter, Mrs. Viola Hufnagel of Murphysboro, five grandchildren, sisters Mrs. Blanche Carlisle and Mrs. Esther Morgan, both of Murphysboro, and brothers, Loren Marshall of Columbia and Elmer Marshall of Madison. Her parents and two sons preceded her in death. She was a member of the Mt. Carbon Church of God. Coroner Crawshaw tentatively set an inquest for Wednesday night.

Submitted by ©Linda HARRIS Dyjak, granddaughter of James Richard Harris, second cousin of Harrison Bruce Mansker.

November 6, 1961


The $927 found in the purse of one of four victims of a train-truck crash near Vergennes, Thursday was being saved for a burial fund, officials said Saturday.

Jackson County Coroner Floyd CRAWSHAW said ownership of the money was trace to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Bruce MANSKER at an informal hearing with relatives Friday afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. James Richard HARRIS also were killed in the accident. The four were Murphysboro area residents.

The money was found wrapped in a sugar sack in Mrs. Mansker's purse. Children of the Manskers said they understood the couple had been saving money for a burial fund and did not use a bank.

The Harris' children were sure the money did not belong to their parents, Crawshaw said.

Crawshaw has set an Inquest into the death for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Jackson County Courthouse. Witnesses will be: Ward HEAPE of Vergennes; Jackson A. NEACE, Vergennes; V. E. HUFF, Murphysboro; and the train engineer, H. H. HORNER, Murphysboro.

Mansker was driving the truck which was hit by an Illinois Central passenger train.

Submitted by: ©Linda HARRIS Dyjak, granddaughter of James R. Harris and 2nd cousin to Harrison Bruce Mansker

November 4, 1961

Autumn Outing Ends In Disaster At Vergennes Crossing:
Father of Mrs. James ASA Among Victims

Vergennes, Ill. (UPI) - Four friends in the autumn of their lives would often gather to enjoy the mellower pleasures permitted by the spring-like weather. Thursday was a perfect day for fishing.

"The very thing!" Harrison MANSKER, 72, may have said to his wife, Alma YEARIAN Mansker, 70.

Maybe they invited the HARRISES, Jim, 87, and Lula, 69, to join them. Jim could take them to a spot where you just knew the catfish were jumping. Or maybe it was Jims idea to go in the first place. No one will ever know.

They piled into the truck, the four of them together on a balmy day in November. The truck bounced off down the road and soon came to an unguarded railroad crossing. It seemed to hesitate as though all it's occupants were looking out to see if anything was coming. Then apparently convinced it was safe to go, the driver eased the truck onto the tracks and started across. They didn't have a chance.

An Illinois Central passenger train en route from St. Louis rammed into the truck broadside. The two elderly couples on their way to a peaceful day of fishing were hurled distances as great as 1,400 feet from the point of impact. All were killed instantly.

A violent end for four people with nothing on their minds but fishing on a perfect day for it.

The father and stepmother of Mrs. James Asa were among victims of a train-truck crash in Vergennes, Thursday.

Double services for James Richard Harris, 87, Murphysboro and his wife, Lula, 63, will be conducted from Meyer-Denny Funeral Home in that city at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 5.

Joint services for their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Mansker, who died in the same accident, will be held two hours earlier, at 1 p.m. Sunday, from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Murphysboro.

Harris, a retired carpenter, was born in Stonefort, Williamson County, on December 14, 1873. His first wife, Mary Effie Mae WHEELER died in 1938, and he was married to Lula MARSHALL JONES the following year. He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. James ASA; Mrs. Florence CHEATHAM of Ontario, California; four sons, Richard and Herman of Murphysboro; Roy of Laguna Beach, California, and James of Glasgow, Montana; and 21 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. Bill ASA of DuQuion is a grandson.

Both Mrs. and Mrs. Harris were members of Mt. Carbon Church of God. The pastor, Reverend Joe DANIELS, will officiate at Sunday's closed casket services. Harris will be buried in DeSoto cemetery and his wife in Mr. Carbon cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home after 7 p.m. Saturday.

Friends of the Mansker family may call at the same funeral home from 7 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday, then at Emmanuel Lutheran Church until time of services. Caskets will be closed. Burial will be in Pate Chapel cemetery.

Submitted by: ©Linda HARRIS DYJAK, granddaughter of James Richard Harris and 2nd cousin to Harrison Bruce Mansker

Newspaper Index

Home Page

©copyright Genealogy Trails 2008-2013  All Rights Reserved