I knew that my great grandfather, David Watt, had been injured in a train accident during his time as a train engineer, but I didn't know the extent of the accident. My dad remembers his grandfather being scarred and part of his ear missing. My cousin Judy sent me pictures of the intersection where the accident happened and the aftermath of the accident.
I had been wanting to get a newspaper article about the accident for awhile and finally found one. There is something about reading a newspaper account of the accident that affects me. My thoughts after reading it was:
- First, I didn't know how close to death he came. He was 55 at the time of the accident.
- Second, I can't imagine what my great grandmother must have felt as she was taken by train to his bedside. Was she scared to get on the train? Did she travel alone? Was she remembering another time when she was in St. Ignace for her wedding to David Watt? She travelled from Marquette, Michigan to St. Ignace, Michigan, a distance, today, of about 170 miles.
- Also, I can't imagine the pain David Watt must have been in. Steam burns hurt like the devil. I have only been mildly burnt by steam while cooking. He was severely burnt. This accident happened in 1913, so I imagine burn care was primitive. There weren't any skin grafts. Salves were used to stop pain and infection. Infection and/or death was common as a result of burns. I have heard how painful recovery from burns is with our modern medicine. Can you imagine what it was like in 1913?
David Watt survived his burns and lived another 32 years. In addition, he eventually went back to work. What a strong, courageous man he must have been. I can only get to know him through articles like this and my father's memories of him. Memories I will cherish.