Video: Hero Forgotten The Tale Of Train Engineer Samuel Reaves Bush


Not all heroes wear capes. Many do not pass a ball around and many receive very little recognition for their efforts. Many heroes from the past do not have a day in their honor. They’re long forgotten. This is one such tale. This is the tale of Bedford County, Virginia’s Samuel Reaves Bush.

Samuel Reaves Bush was born on October 15, 1859 in Virginia. Samuel was married to Nancy Marion Newman. The couple had one child, Anna Bush Atkins. She was born on April 25, 1884.

Samuel Bush was a native of Bedford County, Virginia and supposedly came from a well-known family. The engineer worked with Southern Railway for 30-years.

In August of 1909, Bush’s Washington-Chattanooga vestibule train was traveling southbound at a rate of 40 miles per hour. At approximately 1 o’clock Wednesday evening and just two miles west of Midway, Tennessee, the engine turned over and rolled down a bank.

samuel reaves bush knoxville tn

It was followed by the mail, baggage, and express cars. No passengers died in the incident, but ten were hurt. Unfortunately, the Engineer, Samuel Reaves Bush, was among the injured. Reports claim that Bush suffered a crushed leg and a hole was cut in his head.

After the crash, Bush was slowly and painfully making his way out of the wreckage. He called for physicians, but none were on the train. After Bush was sure that the passengers were all safe, he asked for one last look at his engine. It was wrecked just as bad as his scalded body.

The passengers looked everywhere for whisky to calm the badly injured engineer. When approached with the whisky, Bush refused. He forced four men to smell his breath, so they could confirm he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident. He told the men that “All an engineer has is his record and he cannot afford anything against that.”

After his death, it was revealed that the 30-year veteran engineer had saved his salary. He left an estate valued at $100,000. Samuel Reaves Bush was 49-year-old when he passed away at the Knoxville Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bush’s death certificate concluded that he suffered from a fracture of the right femur at junction middle and lower third. He also had scars about the neck, face and shoulders. After the wreck, the engine and four cars were completely wrecked. While The coaches were torn to pieces, no passenger were seriously injured.

The mail cars were split in two and hurled forty feet into a field. Postal Clerks R. W. Hunt and Fay Price reportedly held onto it all the while. At the end of the day, it was concluded that the wreck was caused by spreading rails.

The heroics of Samuel Reaves Bush were later reported by newspapers throughout the country. He was ultimately laid to rest at the Greenwood Cemetery in Knoxville, TN. Samuel Reaves Bush is gone, but he should not be forgotten.

November 10, 2017 |

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