Inez Sparkman

A Mother-Daughter Trip They Would Never Forget
Less than two hours before Norfolk & Western passenger train Number Two plummeted into the washout at Thaxton, Inez and her mother, Roberta Powell, had boarded the doomed train at nearby Salem, Virginia. They were accompanied by Inez’s friend, Janie Caven, and their destination was Fredericksburg, roughly 200 miles away.1

According to Norfolk and Western’s official report of the wreck, which listed Inez incorrectly as Inez Sparkam, she, Janie, and her mother were aboard “Beverly”, the second of the three sleeper cars on the train. All three would survive the crash, but Inez seemed to take the worst of it with injuries listed as “concussion of spine; retention of urine; and disturbance of menstrual and digestive functions.”2

At the time of the wreck, she was only eighteen years old and resided in Marshall, Texas with her mother.3 4 5 She would eventually recover from her injuries and around eight years after the Thaxton disaster, she would marry Dr. Hugh R. Carwile, a physician originally from South Carolina who had moved to Marshall. She gave birth to a son, Hugh G. Carwile, in 1898.6

Her son would not get to see his mother grow old, as she died just six years after he was born and just a few days shy of her thirty-third birthday.7

Do you have more information about Inez Sparkman? If you think she 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!


  1. “A Model Woman.”, The Salem Times Register (Salem, VA), July 5, 1889, Volume 23, Number 51: p. 3.
  2. 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.
  3. 1880 Census record for Inez Sparkman, Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 2, Wood, Texas; Roll: 1333; Family History Film: 1255333; Page: 287B; Enumeration District: 125.
  4. Find A Grave, “Inez Carwile (1871 – 1904) – Find A Grave Memorial”,, (accessed June 6, 2012).
  5. “The Thaxton Disaster. First reports of the Accident Were About Right.”, The Washington Critic (Washington, D.C.), July 3, 1889, Number 6524: pg. 1,
  6. Census record for Inez Carwile, Year: 1900; Census Place: Marshall Ward 3, Harrison, Texas; Roll: 1643; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 47; FHL microfilm: 1241643.
  7. “Mortuary.”, The Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX), March 22, 1904, Volume IV, Number 280: p.2.

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Lost at Thaxton is available in paperback and Kindle format.

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