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Relive the Exeter Train Wreck This Saturday at Montgomery Cemetery

Hear the stories of the dead and hear what really happened that day in 1899.

On Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m., the will be rivisiting the story of one of the greatest railroad tragedies to befall our region – the .

On May 12, 1899, after spending the day in Harrisburg for the dedication of a statue to Montgomery County’s native son, General John F. Hartranft, the weary travelers from Montgomery County were eager to return home. They boarded two trains bound for Norristown.

Suddenly at a point in Exeter, Berks County, the lull of the rail was broken by the wrenching of the train from its track and the piercing sound of twisted metal, as one train slammed into another. Twenty-nine people were killed, many of them Norristown natives who are buried in Montgomery Cemetery.

According to a May 13, 1899 news report in the Fort Wayne News, the identified locals who were killed were: 

  • JOHN LEAF, Montgomery County
  • WM. STALER, Norristown
  • COL. GEO. SHAW, Norristown
  • CHIEF JOHN SLINGLUFF, Norristown
  • JOHN JOHNSON, Mount Clair
  • WH. LEWIS, Norristown
  • H. HUNCHDINGER, Norristown
  • GEO. SOWERS, Norristown
  • HARRY WENTZ, Norristown 
  • GEO. H. ANDIS, Norristown
  • SAMUEL BATTY, Conshohocken
  • HARRY THOMPSON, Norristown
  • HIRAM SHELLY, Hatboro
  • BENTON SIVIS, Reading

The injured, as far as the names could be attained are: 

  • EDDIE SMITH, Norristown
  • CHAS. WHITE, Norristown
  • NATHAN O’NEIL, Norristown
  • LUTHER CUSTER, serious, Pottstown
  • JOHN JOHNSON, serious, Mt. Clair
  • PATRICK KERN, Pottstown
  • PASCAL WALTERS, Swedeland
  • HARRY LEISTER, serious, Phoenixville
  • LB VANDERSLICE, Phoenixville
  • T. ADDLE, Norristown
  • WM. FREDERBORN, Norristown
  • CHAS. MADDIS, Conshohocken
  • JOHN EARL, Conshohocken
  • HARRY KANTZ, Norristown
  • DAVID CARNEY, Norristown
  • A.J. ASHENFELDER, Norristown, hurt in chest.

Learn their stories and hear what really happened that day, and who was to blame for the tragedy.

The talk will take place at the historic Montgomery Cemetery, One Hartranft Ave, West Norriton, Pa., in the newly-restored cemetery gatehouse.

While the events stem from true historical events, the talk will be delivered in dramatic fashion. First presented in 2009, the lecture has been updated with new research and discoveries.

Refreshments will be served.

For further information, call 610-272-0297 or e-mail contact_us@hsmcpa.org.

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