There is a stone in our cemetery that causes much wonder due to it’s strange inscription; Anne H Field’s stone reads “Married and Dead” which is an odder notation than most headstones have. For us at the cemetery, we’ve always wondered was Field her married or maiden name? Who was her husband or family? And what happened to cause such a phase as that to be etched on her resting place? We just knew there was a story waiting to be told and boy, was it a humdinger!
According to her headstone, Anne H Field died January 24, 1860. (1) Our cemetery was “officially” formed in 1854 but there are no cemetery records covering this time period. Additionally, there wasn’t formal reporting required in New York until 1880 and even then it was slow to catch on in all areas of New York. However, Anne died in 1860 which meant that there was likely a “mortality schedule” that might have captured her death. Between 1850-1880, New York had a special census (every ten years just like the regular census) called a mortality schedule that reported people who died within the past year of the date the census was taken. But these mortality schedules aren’t all inclusive so we knew Anne might be on there at all, but in theory she should be as the 1860 mortality schedule, ran from June 1, 1859 to June 1, 1860 which would cover the date on Anne’s headstone.
We were in luck as Anne was found on line 17 of the 1860 mortality schedule for Blooming Grove. (2) For those not great with reading these old records, it say: Anna Fields, age 29, M(arried), January, Teaches Private School, Killed R.R.
Another huge hint into the mystery of Anne’s identity was the 31 May 1860 probate found for her, signed by her husband Thomas W Field who said that she died at “the Village of Yonkers while returning to her residence in the City of Brooklyn on the 18th day of January 1860.”
So there were our hints – she was 29, died in January 1860, was a teacher, and was killed on or by the rail road, she died in Yonkers, lived in Brooklyn and had a husband named Thomas W Field. With no true vital records to pursue, we turned to the newspapers and those turned out to be the key to this mystery! Searches for Anne H Field or even Anne Field turned up nothing in the newspapers and we instinctively suspected why – married women during this time period were almost always referred to as Mrs. Husband’s Name or some iteration thereof. So instead we searched for Thomas W Field and BOOM! – multiple papers were found regarding him, and by default, Anne. Our hearts were not prepared for Anne’s tale.
January 18, 1860, started out as the most anticipated day for nearly every woman – her wedding day! Anne had been at her sister’s home in Kingston and was to be married at the Second Reformed Dutch Church there. The night before on the 17th, her husband to be, Thomas W Field, met her brother and a few friends in Albany before preceding to Kingston. On the morning of the 18th at 10 a.m., the happy couple was married at the church before friends and family. (3)
After the nuptials, they crossed the river to take the express train back to Brooklyn. Anne was in the rear car, chatting with a few friends, while her husband was outside, watching with many others the repairs being made to the train. This was the second time they’d had to stop to fix an engine leak on their trip from Albany to Brooklyn. (3) What happened next was absolutely horrific and there are oodles of newspaper articles on it – too many to share all of them here. (4)
Their train conductor stopped on a sharp curve about two miles from Tarrytown, when suddenly, a whistle was heard and a train from Sing Sing came speeding around the corner. Caught unaware of the danger ahead, the conductor of that train put the engine into reverse immediately upon sighting the Albany train, but they were traveling too fast and to everyone’s horror, they plowed into the back of the stopped train, demolishing the last two passenger cars into mere splinters. (5) As the engine of the Sing Sing train tore through the rear car, it carried Mrs. Fields with it, “breaking both her legs and mangling her body frightfully.” (6) Her husband ran to the wreckage and found her on top of the boiler of the Sing Sing train, pinned there by her clothing. As Anne was removed from the wreck, she was supposedly aware enough to say that she knew she would not live. (7) They made a makeshift cot in one of the undamaged cars of the Albany train which then continued on and stopped in Yonkers where she was taken to the Getty House where, despite medical treatment, she died at about 7 pm.
Because they were stopped, many people, including Mr. Fields, had gotten off the train to check out the repairs, which likely saved multiple lives. (9) Some saw the train coming and jumped for safety, but ultimately, four people died as a result of the injuries they received during the collision and another endured a leg amputation. (10)
There was a widely publicized Coroner’s inquest done in Yonkers where many people, including railway workers, were deposed and after all the evidence was concluded, the jury gave their verdict that the brakeman of the Albany train, Robert Hartley, was guilty of “neglect of duty” for not giving the proper signal of danger ahead to the oncoming train in time as he was directed by the conductor. They also found the conductor negligent of not making sure his order was “properly and faithfully executed.” Additionally, they found that the conductor of the Sing Sing train was operating at a “higher rate of speed than was allowed.” Following the inquest, the Deputy Sheriff tracked the brakeman, Robert Hartley, to Troy where he was arrested and brought to Yonkers. (4)
Anne’s body was taken to the same church in Kingston where she was married and her husband and family held her funeral. She was brought to Washingtonville Cemetery and placed in the one of the Tuthill plots. Her headstone contains a confusing error, having her death date at the 24th of January but it’s well documented it was the 18th. Rather, we believe this is her interment date as coincides with her funeral in Kingston. (13)
For his part, Thomas W Field left New York, at least for a bit to grieve the loss of his bride. (14) In November 1860, he did bring a suit against the Hudson River Rail Road Company. He and a sister of Anne’s testified to the amount of property she had at the time of her death and within an hour, the jury returned and awarded him $3,700 dollars which would be $116,608 in today’s money. (15)
Written by Jill Moore for the Washingtonville Cemetery Committee. Anne H Tuthill Field is her 5th cousin, 5 times removed.
- Find A Grave. Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed 2 March 2021), memorial 39504115, Anne H Field.
- 1860 U.S. Census, Orange County, New York, mortality schedule, p. 86, line 17; New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany; Ancestry image 2, line 17.
- “Accident on the Hudson River R.R.,” Bloomville (NY) Mirror, 24 January 1860, p. 3, col. 2.
- “The Coroner’s Investigation,” Yonkers (NY) Examiner, 2 February 1860, p. 2, col. 5.
- “Disastrous Collision on the Hudson River Railroad,” Rockland County (NY) Journal, 21 January 1860, p.1, col.6.
- “Accident on the Hudson River R.R.,” Bloomville Mirror, 24 January 1860.
- “The Hudson River Railroad Accident,” The New York Times, 20 January 1860, p. 5, col. 1.
- “At the Second Reformed Dutch Church of Kingston,” Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church, 26 January 1860, U.S. Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930 (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 March 1860); citing print edition.
- “Died at Yonkers,” Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church, 26 January 1860, U.S. Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930 (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 March 1860); citing print edition.
- “Shocking Accident on the Hudson River Railroad,” The Evening (NY) Post, 19 January 1860, p. 3, col. 8.
- “Today’s New York News,” Times Union (Brooklyn), 27 January 1860, p. 3, col. 1.
- Member 0144, So Yo Sunset (https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/soyosunset : accessed 2 March 2021), “The Getty House 1852-1948.”
- Find A Grave, memorial 39504115, Anne H Field (1832-1860, gravestone photograph by LadyGoshen.
- “Personal – Mr. Thomas W. Field,” Times Union (Brooklyn), 1 March 1860, p. 2, col. 2.
- “Supreme Court,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 21 November 1860, p. 7, col. 2.