Sipple Stories

Pictures & stories of my Grandparents Joy & Adda Rockwell Sipple, their family and their ancestors.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


There are several Charles Sipple's in our family.
My Grandfather Joy Sipple's father was one of them.
Mother (Juleen) had always told the story about her grandfather being killed by a train and said that "they had to pick up his body in a bushel basket" after the accident.

Below are two newspaper accounts of the accident.

Nebraska City News

Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska Friday September 26, 1913 page 1


The Top of His Head Cut Off by M. P. Train

Charles Sipple, who has been a resident of this city for many years and was quite well know, met with a very peculiar accident this morning about 8:30 o'clock which resulted in his instant death. For some years he was employed as second fireman at the packing house but a few months ago accepted the position of night watchman at the cold storage. He was on duty last evening, and this morning at 7:55 he was seen to purchase a cigar. He was jovial, light hearted and seemed to be in the best of health. After securing the cigar he went down to the river, and returning took the footpath leading to the bridge across North Table Creek. Here, he met his fatal accident. No one knows how he was killed. The freight train that arrives here on the Missouri Pacific was switching cars from one track to the other. The engine had placed a number of cars on the switch and had crossed the bridge for the purpose of getting onto the main track. Mr. Sipple was on the east side, so he could not have been seen by the engineer. Nothing was known of the accident until the body was seen lying beside the track. The entire top of the head had been cut off and laid fully thirty feet from the body.

Coroner Karstens was notified and the body taken to his undertaking establishment where an investigation was made. In his pocket was found a watch, a hunter's license, and several receipts, which clearly identified the dead man as Charles Sipple.

Mr. Sipple was of rather retiring disposition, but did enjoy going out occasionally to hunt squirrels or to fish and that was the reason he took out the license. He came to this city many years ago, and was married to a daughter of the late William Willman, and leaves a widow and five children --- Mrs. Charles Ingersoll, Ethel and Clair, who are home, Earl and Joy who are in the employ of the U.P. at Grand Island.

Mr. Sipple lived in the Waldsmith house, at the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Corsoe. He had evidently gone down to the river to fish, and when returning though that the train had gone to the north and is was save to pass on the track.


Two things... in the article above... "he was seen to purchase a cigar" and "in his pocket... a hunting license... identified the dead man as Charles..."

Charles Sipple's hunting/fishing license and the cigar band (shown here) were found in Grandpa Joy Sipple's billfold after Joy passed away. Joy had evidently kept them and carried them in his billfold from 1913 to 1963. There were also two pictures in the billfold, one of Mother as a young lady and one of Adda, Joys first wife.

The next day, the following article is in the newspaper...


Nothing New in Regards to His Death in M. P. Yards

There is nothing to be added to the death of Charles Sipple, who was killed on the bridge over North Table Creek on the M. P. track. He had been down to the river, but for what purpose is not known, but probably to find some suitable place to fish, as he was a great hunter and fisherman. He came up the steep bank and was struck by the train. A little boy who was near there says that Mr. Sipple got down on his hands and knees, evidently trying to find some way of avoiding the train, reaching for the outside of the rails, so as to permit the train to pass. That he became bewildered is self-evident.

At the request of Mr. Sipple's family Coroner Karstens did not hold an inquest.

Charles Sipple was born December 4, 1855 near Dayton, Ohio and came to this city thirty-five years ago. He first engaged in farming and later was a carpenter. He was married December 26, 1881 to Miss Sue Willman, daughter of the late W.C. Willman. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Untied Workman and took an active interest in that order.

The funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the family home, corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Corsoe, and the services will be conducted by Rev. A.E. Perry of the Presbyterian Church. The members of the A.O.U.W. will have charge of the services.


On June 15, 1918 Charles Sipple's wife Susan filed a law suit against the Missouri Pacific Railway Company.

The details of the case can be found in the book:
September Term 1917, January and September Terms, 1918.
Volume CIL

Susan Sipple lost the case and never got any settlement from the railway company. There was a "Danger --- Trespassing on this bridge is forbidden" sign posted at the bridge where Charles was killed. Although the bridge was "commonly used by pedestrians" the jury determined in favor of the railway company.

The report gives this account of the morning from Susan Sipple, Charles's wife...
I quote from the Supreme Court case:
Charles was a night watchman, accustomed to sleep from about 5:30 o'clock in the morning, and as testified by his wife, "would get up about 10 o'clock and eat, and then he would talk a while and he would retire again and get up about four. * * * He came home, and I had breakfast on the table, and I asked him if he would eat, and he said 'No, because I will get up about 10 o'clock' and he retired, and about 8 o'clock I went up, * * * and in a few minutes he got up and dressed and came down, and I said to him, 'Well, why, what did you get up so early for:' and he said, 'Well, I want to go to the waterworks.' And I said, 'What are you going there for?' He said, ' I have been over there, you know, several times.' * * * Well, he said he wanted to go to the waterworks, and that night was his pay night, he got his pay in the evening, and he says, ' I want to go over to the waterworks because I have been promised a position there, I am tired,' * * * Well, he dressed, and then I asked him if he would eat something before he went, and he ate some cakes, and he said, 'When I come back,' and he went. * * * And he said, 'I will take these (some decayed potatoes) with me and throw them in the river,' * * * I had large washings, and I couldn't do it alone without help, and draw the water, and he said, 'I will be right back, I will go to the waterworks and come right back. Now, whatever you do, don't start to draw that water until I come,' and I said, 'All right.' And that was the last ever seen of him."

I have typed the above exactly as it appears in the book... I'm not sure, but think, that where there are asterisks * * * the lawyer was asking Susan Sipple questions. Maybe our lawyer relatives can answer this question??

One thing that struck me as peculiar in the case is that they say "no witness saw him" several times in the report and yet the second newspaper article had said a little boy saw him. The fact that "no witness saw him" seemed to be one of the big factors in the case being won by the railway company.