Tobacconist’s Leg Crushed to Jelly by Trolley (1889)

The entry in Green Hill Cemetery’s Mortuary Report for William Hastings Trowbridge reads, “…he died on the 22nd day of Dec 1889 and that the cause of his death was shocked received and peritonitis…”

William, a 47-year-old bachelor tobacconist, died a particularly gruesome death at the wheels of an electric car just a few days before Christmas. Trolley railway systems were first used in 1887 in Richmond, Virginia, and just two years later (give or take a few months), a similar system was being used in Danville. The technology, as with the introduction of most technology, probably took citizens some time to get used to. While a trolley couldn’t nearly travel with the speed of today’s automobiles, they were probably a little faster than the horse-and-wagon system that had been the typical mode of transportation.

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