“Six Killed here Monday when Train Strikes Car
Mrs. James Kepley and her two children of Altoona, and her two sisters and a brother of Fall River meet death in horrible crossing tragedy.
The most lamentable accident in the history of Altoona occcurred Monday morning when the fast southbound Missouri Pacific passenger train No. 125, due to arrive here at 11:42 A.M. took six young lives as it struck a car driven by Mrs. James Kepley of Altoona, in which her two sisters and a brother, of Fall River, were riding.
The gruesome casualty happened in the city limits on what is known as the “water tower” crossing, the impact completely demolishing yet carrying the car, a model-A Ford coupe, five blocks through town before the train was halted. The mother and small baby were thrown from the vehicle by force of the contact and were found near the place of the collision while the other four children were carried on in the battered car five blocks to a point near the Kepley residence where they were removed from the wreckage directly in front of the William Post residence. All were killed instantly, it is believed, except the 6 month-old infant, Harold Wilbert Kepley, and Mary Isabel Ware, 8 years of age, both of whom showed a slight sign of life but died en route to the Wilson county hospital.
The others, who apparently died instantly, were Mrs. James Kepley, 19; Barbara Lee Kepley, 2; Ethel Alice Ware, 12; and William Albert Ware, 10; of west Fall River. The young Ware children had come here only a day before the accident and planned to remain over Sunday for a family birthday picnic.
The deceased mother is the wife of James Kepley, a son of Mr and Mrs. Bert Kepley, longtime citizens of Altoona. He has employment with the WPA and was at work when the accident happened. It is said the young couple had been married about three years.
Dr. Vander Wyst, Mr. and Mrs. Will Post, Mrs Geo. McCool, assisted by other local residents, cared for the victims on the front porch of the Post home until arrival of the Loran Fawcett ambulance from Neodesha which removed the bodies to the hospital.
The mangled condition of the unfortunate group was appalling, presenting a sight which will linger long in the memory of all who witnessed their extraction from the battered car which was wrapped around the pilot of the locomotive.
Funeral services were held at the Altoona Methodist church Wednesday afternoon at 3 o’clock, in charge of Elder C. O. Wilson of the Fredonia Christian church. Singers were: Mr. and Mrs. Richard DeBolt, Mr. and Mrs. John Chamberlain, The quartet sang, “Precious Jewels” and “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.” Mrs. DeBolt and Mrs. Chamberlain also sang a duet, “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.” accompanied by Mrs. Gradie DeBolt at the piano.
Casket bearers were: Mrs. Lloyd Shoaf, Mrs. Irvin Gibson, Mrs. Herschel Frankenbery, Mrs. Glenn Knoles, Mrs. LelandWright, Mrs. Ernest Scott, Mrs Edgar Fletcher, Mrs. Orlie Staton, Mrs Murley Alley, Mrs. Ethelbert Hall, Mrs. Karl Smith, Mrs. Virgil Gamble, Miss Virginia Dannels, Miss Virginia Cole, Miss Naomi Middleton, Miss Arda Ruth Baker.
Ray McDaniel of Cherryvale, W. N. Cason of Fredonia, and Earl Huck of Neodesha assisted Loran Fawcett in the preparation of the bodies and also in conducting the rites. Three funeral coaches were used.
Services at the church were the largest attended of any funereal ever held here, and also a huge number witnessed the rites at the cemetery where each body was interred in a separate grave, except the two younger children who were buried togeather.
Many relatives and friends of the two families as well as a large number of other persons from the surrounding towns were present.
Notes of accident
Many calls and telegrams were received at the Tribune office Monday seekin facts in regard to the crash; some from Kansas City, Wichita, Independence. Chanute and numerous other points.
Engineer Cook informed the writer that he had operated an engine over 40 years and this is the first accident he ever had. of age.”
Lynn Record added: Jan 30, 2009