Killed by the Cars

blog BERGER Emma

On January 27, 1890, Emma (nee Berger) Toomey, aged 26, died after being run over by a train. Almost two years later, on December 23, 1891, her husband, Michael Toomey, was also “killed by the cars.”  It’s believed they were struck because they couldn’t hear the train coming, as both  Emma and Michael lost their hearing as the result of childhood illnesses.

1890 Jan 28 BERGER Emma Death The Fort Wayne Sentinel Pg 1
The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Indiana) Jan. 28, 1890

I wonder if anyone else thinks it’s possible Michael’s death was a suicide.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that a deaf man whose wife was killed by a train would be walking on the tracks!

1891 Dec 24 TOOMEY Michael KILLED BY THE CARS The Daily Democrat Huntington Indiana Pg 2
The Daily Democrat (Huntington, IN) – Dec 24, 1891

The timing and circumstances of Michael’s death also make it very suspect.  He and Emma were married on December 25, 1884, so their anniversary was near, as was the anniversary of Emma’s death.  Also, Michael just remarried and it seems from the following newspaper report that he may not have had everything in order for his new bride.  Possibly the stress was too much?

1891 Dec 25 TOOMEY Michael DEATH Huntington Weekly Herald Huntington Ind Pg 5
Huntington Weekly Herald (Indiana) – Dec. 25, 1891

Nonetheless, it was a tragic event, whether Michael’s death was an unfortunate accident or suicide, Not only did it adversely affect his newlywed bride, Jennie (nee Emerling), but it left Michael and Emma’s young daughter, Grace, without either of her parents.

Note – The spelling B”a”rger was surely an error on the carte de visite. Emma’s maiden name is indeed Berger, as indicated from the 1880 census, her marriage record, as well as her daughter’s marriage record.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
Indiana marriage records
Index to Digest of Obituaries Published in Newspapers of Columbia City, Whitley County, Indiana, 1856-1910, Compiled by Nellie M. Raber
U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1890
Peabody Public Library, Columbia City, Indiana
Columbia City Commercial, Columbia City, Indiana, Jan. 29, 1890
Columbia City Commercial, Columbia City, Indiana, Dec. 30, 1891
Indiana School for the Deaf
Then and Now: The Old Deaf School

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Killed by the Cars

  1. A small point: Have reread all posted obits, but did not note where Emma’s maiden name is stated as B”e”rger, while on the photo shown it clearly is written as B”a”rger is it not? Possibly your research settled that, but if so a slight notation might help others like myself from wondering! You have created a fascinating site, and I am anxious to continue exploring it! Also, I completely appreciate and understand your motivations for it!

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    1. Thank you for catching that! I’m going to edit my post to add an explanation. The spelling B”a”rger was surely an error on the carte de visite. Emma’s maiden name is indeed Berger, as indicated from the 1880 census, her marriage record, as well as her daughter’s marriage record.

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