Oh, Those Irish Wakes …

by Laurel | January 21st, 2007

In the city news section in the Dec. 11, 1882 issue of the Holyoke Transcript are the following articles about one Michael O’Brien, discovered dead near the railroad tracks and the Connecticut River (last seen attending the wake of a cousin). With a bit of speculation regarding the death itself.

His Last Walk.

This morning, a little before seven o’clock, Patrick Shea came to the police station and gave notice that the body of a man who had been killed by the cars was lying beside the track of the Connecticut River road ledge at the dam. At the same time a telephone message came from the man at the wheel house who had just discovered the body. The corpse was lying about a foot from the track, with both legs broken and the head cut. A hat was found about 20 feet from the body. It appeared as if the man had been struck by the train and thrown against the ledge, from whence the body had fallen or rolled back to the ground near the track and had been dragged along some feet. The probabilities are that the man was struck either by the five o’clock freight train or the six o’clock passenger train, the likelihood being that it was the former.

The body was taken to the morgue in the city hall and was identified as that of Michael O’Brien, a man who separated from his wife a week or to ago and has since been boarding with relatives on Fountain Street. He had one child, by a former wife, whom he kept with him, the second wife living at South Holyoke since their separation.

It is stated that O’Brien had been attending a wake on Chestnut Street previous to that accident. He was not a man of steady habits. He had been employed in a dye-house and previously at the Holyoke Paper mill.

Medical Examiner Tuttle viewed the body at the morgue and will hold an inquest.

Was it Accident or Murder?

There are some peculiar circumstances about the death of Michael O’Brien, this morning. There was a pool of blood near the rocks and another by the track some fifteen feet from where the body was lying, and there was no blood on the rails or the ground in the intervening space. This may possibly be accounted for on the theory that he was struck by the first train and killed and that his clothing was caught by the trucks of the next train, dragging him along to the spot where he was found. Both of his legs had been run over, but the cut upon the head was not sufficient to account for his death. A post mortem examination will be made and the case fully investigated.

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