Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tullis Sharp: Cut to pieces by the cars

It took quite a while earlier this week to sort out the identity of the 12-year-old lad who died tragically overnight May 30-31, 1871, on Burlington & Missouri River Railroad tracks just east of Lucas.

Although the death was duly reported in The Chariton Democrat of June 3 under the headline "Fearful Accident --- A Boy Cut to Pieces by the Cars," editor John V. Faith's creative spelling of the victim's name obscured his identity. Here's a transcript of the article:


On Wednesday morning, the remains of a boy about 12 years old were found on the railroad track, a mile this side of Lucas Station. From appearances he had first been run over by the train going west, and then by the next one coming east.

Coroner Huyck was notified of the matter, and he proceeded to the spot and held an inquest. Nothing could be learned of the boy, who he was or where he came from, nor the circumstances under which he met his death, but it was the opinion that he had attempted to climb upon the train while it was in motion, and the verdict of the jury was, "killed by the cars."

His remains were collected together, put into a small box and brought to town and buried. Every effort was made to identify him, but without success, until next morning, when his brother, a lad of 15, came to town upon the hunt of him,  without knowing that he had been killed.

It seems that the unfortunate child was named Pallace Sharke, and that his  mother lives at Osceola. The boys had started out to hunt work, and being without money and night coming upon them, they had lain down near the railroad track to sleep. Pallace was subject to somnambulism, or sleep-walking, and it  appears that in one of those fits he wandered upon the track, near where his remains were found.


After quite a bit of thrashing around via and other references, I finally was able to figure out that the victim was 12-year-old Tullis H. Sharp and the brother, Ebin D. Sharp, who actually was about 17 at the time.

According to online databases, Tullis was born Sept. 7, 1853, in Wisconsin to New Jersey natives Joseph Mackey and Jane W. (Castner) Sharp and had settled near Smyrna in Clarke County with his parents at some point between 1862 and 1870.

The senior Sharps' marriage hit a terminal rough spot and they separated during the summer of 1870, then divorced.

Tullis actually was recorded twice in the 1870 federal census of Clarke County --- on July 14, when the family still was together in Green Bay Township; and again on August 17, by which time Jane and the children had moved to Osceola.

Where is Tullis buried? I just can't say. His unidentified remains probably were buried on May 31, 1871, in what we now call Douglass Pioneer Cemetery, just southwest of Chariton. While it's entirely possible that his family had the body disinterred and moved home to Clarke County, there's no tombstone anywhere to identify his final resting place.

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