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Obituary of

Rufus E. Bass

The Dillon Herald, Dillon, South Carolina
March 9, 1905, Vol. 10, No. 10

Marion Boy Killed In Wreck

Saturday morning at Sanderson, Fla., Rufus E. Bass, a Marion county boy and a member of the well-known Bass family of this county, was instantly killed by a head-on collision of one of the Seaboard's fast flyers with a fright train which was standing in a siding. Mr. Bass was a railway mail clerk and was on his regular run between Jacksonville and New Orleans. The force of the collision threw him into the forward end of the car and it is believed that his neck was broken. There were no bruises on the body, with the exception of a slight abrasion of the skin on the left side of his face and temple.

Mr. Bass, who was a brother of Mr. T. L. Bass of our town, left Latta about twelve years ago. He was a portly man of probably 220 pounds weight and ages about 30 years. He served with distinction in the Spanish-American war, and was commended for gallantry at the charge of Sanee (sic) Juan Hill. The following account of his tragic and untimely death is taken from the Sundays' issue of the Jacksonville Times-Union:

The train was going at a good speed when it reached the switch of the siding, about five hundred yards east of the depot at Sanderson. A freight train was standing on the siding with the engine heading toward the switch. On account of the smoke from the burning woods in the vicinity the engineer of the passenger train evidently did not notice that the switch was open.

Into the open switch the engine of the passenger train ran and although Engineer Carter shut off steam and applied the brakes and then attempted to reverse the engine, the distance between the two engines was too short and the passenger engine crashed into the heavy freight engine.

Caught Under Wreckage

The shock of the collision was terrific and the two engines were completely wrecked, but neither turned over. The engineer and fireman of the passenger engine were caught in the cab and pinned down by the timbers of cab and the cab rods and the frame work of the engines. Neither the engineer nor fireman of the freight train were in the cab of the engine when the collision occurred and therefor escaped injury.

When the two engines came together the sudden stop of the engine caused the United States mail car immediately behind to crash into the tender, and the front end of the mail car was completely demolished.

Mail Clerk Killed

In the front end of the mail car, Rufus E. Bass, the mail clerk in charge was at work, and as the frame of the car was smashed in, he was caught beneath the timbers and his life was instantly crushed out.

Near the center of the car Mail Clerk Joseph M. Ripley was at work, and while the crash threw him nearly to the end of the car, he was not hurt other than a few bruises and one of the last to get to work to extricate Engineer Carter and Mail Clerk Bass.

A special train from the scene of the wreck arrived at the union depot at 5:10 p. m. and on it were several of the passengers who had gone out on the wrecked train, but who returned to Jacksonville when they found that they would be delayed in reaching the places to which they were going. From them the particulars were learned.

On this train a representative of Funeral Directors Clark & Burns brought the bodies of Mail Clerk Bass and Engineer Carter. The bodies were taken to the undertaking establishment and prepared for shipment to their respective homes.

A Spanish War Veteran

Rufus E. Bass, the dead mail clerk boarded at No 225 Florida Avenue, in this city. He was a native of Marion County, South Carolina, and was very popular with all who knew him. During the Spanish-American war Mr. Bass enlisted in the United States army, and was with the troops that participated in the battle of San Juan hill, and the attack on the city of Santiago. After the war he was mustered out of the services and entered the railway mail service.

His body will be sent to Latta, S. C., this morning over the Seaboard Air Line, and will be accompanied by Postal Clerk Van Winkle of the railway mail service. A number of the clerks of the service will be at the depot to see the last of the body of their comrade, who started out on his run yesterday morning in apparently the best of health and spirits.

Transcribed by Helen B. Moody from microfilm at the Dillon Library, Dillon, South Carolina.
Submitted 28 Oct 2003.

Transcriber's note: The Marion County History by W. W. Sellers, page 226 gives the following information. Rufus Evander Bass was the son of James W. and Martha Louisa Moody Bass. His brothers were; Cornelius G., James Edgar, Robert Allison, George Frances, Thomas Leon and Lucius Bass.


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