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|Source: NMHS Newsletter May 1995
The Big Four Tragedy
Memories of Manchester
by Otho Winger
Along with the comical we must remember some of the
tragedies of college life. It was one evening in the
fall of 1913. A dozen or more of our boys started for
Urbana to play basketball. They had secured a school bus
and driver for the trip. W.W. Peters, then an
upperclassman and college tutor, was in charge of the
boys. As they crossed the Big Four Railroad at North
Manchester, they were struck by a freight engine. The
school bus was demolished, and the boys were thrown here
Mr. Peters phoned me that a terrible accident had
occurred and that I should come at once. The only
conveyance I had was an old bicycle. I rode that as fast
as possible to the Big Four and arrived just in time to
go with the boys to the Wabash Hospital. The engine and
caboose made this trip in record time.
Charles Kreigbaum had his leg cut off between the knee
and the hip. I held his leg and talked with him during
the trip. Nearby was Carman Blough with his right arm
cut off at the shoulder. Some others had minor injuries.
Mr. Peters was sitting by Mr. Kreigbaum when the crash
came but escaped serious injury.
The boys were patient while the surgeons operated and
dressed their wounds. Even while in the operating room,
they began to think and talk about their future, one
without an arm, the other without a leg. Mr. Kreigbaum
has suffered much of the time since then (writing in
1939). No one can appreciate what this calamity has
meant to him. Mr. Blough completed a college course,
went to the university. He is now considered an expert
in tax economy. For many years he was adviser to the
governor of Wisconsin. He spent some time in government
service in Washington, D.C. He is now (1939) a special
accountant in a Chicago firm and draws a large salary.
His plucky, successful career has shown what one could
do with a great handicap.
There is one incident connected with this that I
remember quite well. A good sister, a friend of mine,
spoke to me about it. She didn't believe the boys should
play basketball. She said she thought it was judgment
for them being engaged in such foolish work. However,
the next Sunday an old brother and sister, very faithful
to their church, were struck by a train near here, and
he was instantly killed. Then I asked this sister how
she explained that. She had no answer to the question.