The History of Taylor County: Chapter 283

Railroad Tragedy

George Creel, prominent citizen and inspector of buildings and water stations for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, met a tragic death on June 22,1903, when the power motor on which he and A.W. Manley supervisor of track, were riding on the Grafton and Belington branch on a tour of inspection and in passing through a deep cut near the village of Arden when they were met head on by an extra freight train which caught the men and motor in the cut with no chance to escape. 

The compact with the fast speeding freight hurled the motor a considerable distance and the locomotive caught Mr. Creel beneath its wheels literally grinding him into pieces. Mr. Manley more fortunate escaped with bodily bruises and injured hands. The freight train was stopped within a short distance of the tragedy and the body of Mr. Creel disengaged from its surroundings and brought to Grafton and taken charge of by Undertaker John A. McCabe and prepared for burial.

Highly connected with one of the oldest families of Taylor County and a member of a number of fraternal organizations, he served as the first Eminent Commander of DeMolay Commandery Knights Templar on its organization on July 16,1894, and as a high officer in the Masonic and other fraternal societies of Grafton. Delegations from all the organizations with which he was affiliated attended the last rites of this popular man and citizen whose remains were laid to rest in Bluemont Cemetery.

Another old employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad who began his career with the railroad in the 60s, passed away at his home on Wilford Street August 15,1903. He was Lewis E. Hirst, one of the best known citizens of Grafton. Crippled by the loss of an arm while serving in the freight service on the Piedmont division, he was retired from the transportation department and after serving as yard switchman was given the position of caller at Grafton terminal, whose duty was to summon the employees for their train runs out of Grafton and for many years this quiet unassuming man was a familiar figure going about his duties with a lantern hung on his crippled arm. In the political campaign of 1888, Mr. Hirst, was named for the office of assessor on the democratic ticket but he withdrew his name in favor of Samuel A. Bainbridge and never again aspired to political office. A member of Grafton Lodge No. 31, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Hiawatha Tribe No. 7, the two societies conducted the last rites at Bluemont Cemetery before the body was lowered into the earth.

John Adair. III, his brother, Arthur, and Guy F. Gregg imbued with the idea their future lay in the theatrical field and to put their idea onto concrete form sought the opera House management for the use of the house during the summer months for rehearsals for a repertoire of popular plays with parts cast for a company of professional men and women. Using the theatrical publications for New York in their quest for talent, they secured Leonard Rowe, a most capable leading man and actor of experience; Miss Pauline Geary, a very accomplished actress for leading woman, Eduaoard DeOize for character man. Charles Sanders for comedy roles, John Sanders for old man parts, Miss Dora Mitchell for soubrette parts, Miss Rena Sanders for character woman, Miss Julia Stewart for ingenue [arts, Percy Yarrick for juvenile parts, Arthur Meredith and Jack Core for character man, Hal Johnson. Female impersonator, and Professor Alfred Trenchell as musical director.

The gathering of the members of the company in Grafton in June, the theatre was turned over to them to begin rehearsals in preparation for their road tour at the call of Mr. Rowe, who proved a most capable director in assigning the men and women in their parts in the repertoire of plays the management procured for the company. It was interesting to watch the director drill the members and correct mannerisms and inflections of speech to impart  greater individuality into the parts they were to interpret on stage and under his coaching the company soon became proficient.

Professor Trenchell called the house orchestra for a rehearsal of the music scores incidental to the action of the plays to be produced and when he raised his baton for the first number, the musicians under the capable leadership of Claude E. Vincent rendered the score with such accuracy and timing to fit the scene the little French musical director gestured in  the excitable Latin style and said, “She is enough, there is no need for more rehearsals.” It can be said that for many years that Claude Vincent directed the house orchestra his orchestra met the requirements of all attraction that appeared on the local stage. The company was billed to make their first appearance in the Opera House on August 24


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