Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: NMHS Newsletter May 1995

The Big Four Tragedy
from 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 and there.

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.