A man with a dangerous job
Norfolk & Western listed Ashmore’s hometown as Mossy Creek, Tennessee, which is now known as Jefferson City, Tennessee.1 The Knoxville Journal reported that Ashmore’s full name was Robert H. Ashmore, and that he was a cousin of Will M. Ashmore.2
Ashmore was the express messenger for the Southern Express Company and escorted the packages entrusted to the shipping company. He was seriously injured in the wreck and some initially thought he was killed.
After doctors treated him at Granville Sanitarium in Liberty, he may have returned to his job as an express messenger. The 1891 Chattanooga City Directory lists a Robert H. Ashmore, messenger for the Southern Express Company.3
The Thaxton train wreck may not have been Ashmore’s only brush with death on the Norfolk & Western. On Christmas Eve, 1897, an R. H. Ashmore was the express messenger on passenger train Number Six when it collided with a freight train near Pulaski, Virginia. A postal clerk on the train was killed instantly, and, as at Thaxton, it was thought that Ashmore might die due to head and chest injuries.4 It appears that Ashmore survived and continued in his job as an express messenger. The 1908 Chattanooga City Directory also listed a Robert H. Ashmore as a messenger for the Southern Express Company.5
In 1923 Ashmore’s life may have ended tragically. A death certificate for Robert H. Ashmore, born at Mossy Creek, Tennessee, indicates that he took his own life. The certificate lists his occupation as an express freight agent. At fifty-seven years of age, Ashmore killed himself with a .38 pistol shot to the chest.6
There is no solid link between the Robert H. Ashmore who was in the wreck at Thaxton and the other records related to the later wreck and eventual suicide. The circumstantial link is the common name, occupation, and locations. The information is provided here only as a potential way for someone to potentially make a connection if they know more about Robert Ashmore.
Do you have more information about Robert Ashmore? If you think he might have been an ancestor of yours, or if you have some additional information that you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!
- Fourteenth Annual Report of The Railroad Commissioner of the State of Virginia, J.H. O’Bannon Superintendent of Public Printing, Richmond, VA, 1890: p. xlv. http://books.google.com/books?id=CFopAAAAYAAJ
- “Railroad Wreck”, The Knoxville Journal (Knoxville, TN), July 3, 1889, Volume V, Number 114: p.1.
- Connelly & Fais, Chattanooga City Directory, 1891, p.199.
- “A Fatal Railroad Wreck”, The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, SC), December 29, 1897, Vol. XVII., No.22: p.6.
- Chattanooga City Directory, 1908, p. 80.
- Robert H. Ashmore Death Certificate, Tennessee State Library and Archives; Nashville, Tennessee; Tennessee Death Records, 1908-1959; Roll #: 155; Certificate #: 104.