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New York City, NY Circus Wagon Accident, Apr 1878



JOHN STRICKLAND, a driver in the employ of Barnum's Circus, was thrown from a wagon and instantly killed in East Forty-second street yesterday morning. He left the Rink at an early hour with the large baggage wagon, to which was attached a team of six spirited black horses, to go to New Jersey. He drove to his home in Thirty-ninth street, and bade his wife good-bye as the troupe were under orders to start on their Summer trip. After leaving his residence he drove to Forty-second street. At the corner of Ninth avenue the leaders of the team became frightened at a passing train on the Elevated Railroad, and started off through Forty-second street at a rapid gait. As they proceeded the frightened horses increased their speed and before they reached Seventh avenue, STRICKLAND, although he still retained his hold on the lines with his right foot pressed firmly against the brake, had lost all control of them, and a terrible accident appeared to be inevitable.
Followed by a large crowd of anxious pedestrians the team reached and crossed Sixth and Fifth avenues without meeting and obstructions, and flew past the Grand Central Depot without accident. It was then expected that STRICKLAND, who clung to his dangerous post with wonderful tenacity, would be able to check the mad carreer of his team before any harm had been done. While passing over the network of railroad tracks in Forty-second street, between Fourth and Lexington avenues, the off wheels of the wagon were caught in a switch, the axles snapped off short, and both the fore and rear wheels went spinning along to the gutter. STRICKLAND was thrown from his seat headlong to the pavement and instantly killed. The horses, dragging the wrecked wagon, had proceeded only a short distance farther, when the fore part of the wagon became wedged between a large telegraph pole and an ornamental lamp-post on the south-east corner of Lexington avenue and Forty-second street, and the panic-stricken horses were brought to a halt. They were disengaged from the wagon and taken to a neighboring stable. They were not injured, but the fore part of the wagon was badly damaged.
The body of STRICKLAND, as it lay on the pavement near the gutter, presented a sickening spectacle. The unfortunate man had fallen squarely on his head with such force that the skull had been smashed, and his brains were scattered over the flag-stones. A stretcher was procured and the remains were taken to the Police station in East Thirty-fifth street, and thence to the Morgue. Coroner FLANAGAN was notified to hold an inquest. The deceased was well known and much respected among circus people. He had been nearly 20 years in the employ of MR. BARNUM, and was one of the most trustworthy and faithful of that gentleman's employes. He was considered the best 10-horse driver in the country, and was a strictly temperate man. He leaves his family without money enough for their support.

The New York Times New York 1878-04-19

article | by Dr. Radut