On the other hand, if you cant keep yourself from rubbernecking at freeway fenderbenders, set aside a few hours for GenDisasters.coma rather pessimistic Web site recommended in the Genealogy Tips column of our local Cincinnati Post.
The free GenDisasters.com provides excerpts from historical newspaper articles describing calamitous events across America. They’re divided into uplifting categories such as Fires, Floods, Train Wrecks, Building Collapses, Mining Disasters . . . you get the idea.
You can search the site by name and state, or browse by disaster type and state. Accounts describe the damage and many name witnesses and those killed.
According to a lengthy report on a 1916 train wreck near Cleveland, Ohio, Mrs. J. M. Grau, Jerry City, Ohio, Wednesday night guest at the home of Mrs. George E. Reiter, W. Market St., received word that Dr. J. M. Grau was among the number of identified dead of the Amherst catastrophe. Dr. Grau, 51, was on his way to Cleveland aboard the first section of the train, No 86, to visit his brother Frederick.
Some good news did come out of that accident: Immediately afterward, a Mrs. Mary Maiston gave birth in one of the cars.
Not far away in Alliance, Ohio, June 2, 1886, the Marchand Opera House collapsed in a shower of bricks. Mr. Marchand and a lawyer named Harvey Laughlin escaped by the skin of their teeth, and no lives were lost.
You can help add articles to GenDisasters.com; see the Help Wanted page for details. And now that I’ve brightened your day, I’m going out to buy a helmet.