Walter C. Masi

A terrible week
Unlike most of the people who survived the wreck at Thaxton, the terror of that night may not have been Walter Masi’s worst memory of that week early in July of 1889. Masi’s brother, Fred, had died in nearby Salem on the same day that passenger train Number Two departed Roanoke, July 1.1 Walter and Fred worked together at the F.H. Masi & Bro. drugstore in Norfolk, Virginia.2 3 4

Walter’s brother had been sick with “consumption”, also known as tuberculosis, and had traveled from Richmond to Salem about two weeks earlier for the clean mountain air.1 In those days, many people who battled tuberculosis traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains to ease the symptoms of that terrible disease. He found no relief, and he took his final breath in Salem.

Records do not indicate whether Walter Masi had been in Salem with his brother at the time of his death, but he was returning to Norfolk from the area on the same day. Walter was aboard the Pullman Sleeper called “Beverly” which slammed down onto the first-class coach in the washout at Thaxton. He escaped from the wreckage with only a sprained ankle and was back in Norfolk within the week.5 6

According to his brother’s obituary from 1889, Walter’s parents were Philip H. and Helena Masi from Norfolk.7 1860 and 1870 census records suggest that Philip may have been a music teacher.8 9 An 1890 obituary for Professor Philip H. Masi of Norfolk mentions he left behind two sons, one of whom was Walter C. Masi.10

Walter may have run into some financial troubles in the years after the wreck. In 1895, the Norfolk Virginian reported that the F.H. Masi & Bro. drugstore in Norfolk was selling its assets to pay off around $2500 in liabilities.11

Walter died on October 9, 1914.12 13

Do you have more information about Walter Masi? According to at least one record, his middle name may have been Clements.14 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!


  1. “Death of a Norfolk Druggist”, The Daily Times (Richmond, VA), July 2, 1889, Volume III, Number 1009: p. 1.
  2. J.H. Chataigne, Chataigne’s Directory of Norfolk, Portsmouth, & Berkley, 1889, p. 345.
  3. “Burying The Remains”, The Daily News (Lynchburg, VA), July 7, 1889, Volume 47, Number 146: p. 3.
  4. Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association at the Annual Meeting, Volume 38, American Pharmaceutical Association, Philadelphia, PA, 1890: p.14.
  5. 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.
  6. “Moses Cherry Not To Be Found.”, The Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, VA), July 7, 1889, Number 11860: p. 2.
  7. “Died”, The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), July 3, 1889, Vol. 75, No. 13,069: p.5.
  8. Census record for Walter Masi, Year: 1860; Census Place: Norfolk, Virginia; Roll: M653_1366; Page: 446; Image: 454; Family History Library Film: 805366.
  9. Census record for Walter Massi, Year: 1870; Census Place: Norfolk Ward 4, Norfolk, Virginia; Roll: M593_1666; Page: 229B; Image: 463; Family History Library Film: 553165.
  10. “Death of Prof. Masi”, The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), November 12, 1890, Vol. 77, No. 17,091: p.10.
  11. “F. H. Masi & Bro. Assign”, The Norfolk Virginian (Norfolk, VA), January 16, 1895, Vol. XLVIIII, No. 49: p.2.
  12. “Died”, The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), October 11, 1914: p. 3.
  13. Mayo, Caswell A. American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record. New York: American Druggist Publishing Co., 1914.
  14. Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association at the Annual Meeting, Volume 38, American Pharmaceutical Association, Philadelphia, PA, 1890: p.797.

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