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Northern Pacific Crash in 1904 Killed My Great-Grandfather

Northern Pacific Crash in 1904 Killed My Great-Grandfather

Posted: 7 Mar 2007 3:07AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 23 Jul 2009 2:24PM GMT
Surnames: MONGOVEN, MONGOVAN
Hi,

My great-grandfather, Michael Stephen (Steve) Mongoven, was a Northern Pacific conductor who was killed when his train - stalled on the tracks during a winter blizzard in the earliest hours of Sunday, 7 Feb 1904 - was demolished by the train sent to his rescue. The accident happened about three miles northeast of Grafton, Walsh County, North Dakota. Steve had requested rescue and told authorities that his stalled train's location was about one mile north of Grafton...in actuality it was about three miles north. The rescue train from Pembina came down from the north at about 25 miles per hour. It approached Grafton at around 2 a.m., believing the disabled train was one mile north of the town. The rescue engine smashed into the caboose where my great-grandfather and his brother sat waiting. He was killed and his brother was burned and suffered injuries that later healed.

My great-grandfather's body was taken the next morning to his home in East Grand Forks, MN, where his wife was informed of his death. Elizabeth Mongoven was already very ill, recovering from her final pregnancy. In a cruel twist, her newborn baby had died only hours before her husband was killed. The news left her grief-stricken, but she survived and lived to raise her five young children. A coroner's jury was convened on the Monday after the crash outside Grafton. They pinned blame on Conductor Mongoven for an error in judgement...that he had incorrectly informed the rescue authorities that his train was one mile north of Grafton instead of the actual three. Later that year, his wife (with the aid of a family friend who was a Catholic priest) received a $7000.00 payment from Northern Pacific in Minneapolis, and the case never went to court. According to newspaper accounts from the time, there were many who believed my ancestor could not have been to blame, that he was a meticulous individual who knew what he was doing and was not prone to misjudgement. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But I need to know it.

My questions:
1. Since NP no longer exists (it eventually became a part of Burlington-Northern-SantaFe), it there a way that I could access the railroad records regarding the crash?

2. I have contacted authorities in Walsh county for a death record, but there is none (apparently). Where would I look? East Grand Forks, Polk County, MN?

3. Would it be wise of me to travel to Walsh County to investigate further?

Thanks for reading...

Jan Patrick Mongoven

Re: Northern Pacific Crash in 1904 Killed My Great-Grandfather

Posted: 22 Jul 2009 8:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Michael was my great grandfather too. My Grandfather Henry was left to take care of the family. His Mother Elizabeth, whom was known as Nanny to my father and brothers lived with them from 1923 - 1946 then moved down to Minneapolis to her daught Bess' until her death. My fathe was James the oldest son of Henry and Mary Aldaa he had two brothers John Henry and William Joseph, also one daughter ElIzabeth Ann. My father had 6 children Me (Stephen), Karen , Thomas Elaine Mary and Nancy.

Re: Northern Pacific Crash in 1904 Killed My Great-Grandfather

Posted: 25 Jul 2009 4:07PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: MONGOVEN, TRAUFLER, BURKHARDT
Hi Steve,

My grandfather was your grandfather Henry's oldest brother, Joseph William. Joe was a Soo Line conductor. By 1916, he was on his own and married to my grandmother, Harriett Melquist Mongoven. The eldest of their two sons was my dad, Patrick Dennis Mongoven. Since 1999, I have done some fairly extensive genealogical work on the Mongoven (Mungovan) and Traufler families. Don't know how interested you are, but would love to share any info I have that you might want. I wish there was at least one photo of Michael. Very frustrating...no death certificate, no photo, no anything of him. And more photos of Elizabeth (Nanny). I only have a few. I've heard some stories about her from one of Bess Burkhardt's children who also lived with her in Minneapolis...she must have really had a hard time after losing her husband and baby on the same weekend. Take care.

Re: Northern Pacific Crash in 1904 Killed My Great-Grandfather

Posted: 27 Jul 2009 5:42PM GMT
Classification: Query
my E-mail is steve.mongoven@va.gov.....my father James remembers Uncle Joe very well
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