My great-uncle Henry Quinn Jr. was born in Croyle, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, in June 1889. He appears in the 1900 census - 10 years old with no occupation (his 15 year-old brother is a coal miner, and started working in the mine at 9, so this is somewhat unusual) and four years of school (so he’s probably still in school) - and in the 1910 census - 21, still living at home and a fireman with the railroad. But he doesn’t appear in the 1920 or 1930 censuses. My grandmother recalls that he was killed in a railroad accident and the family apparently got a sizable settlement, but there doesn’t seem to be any record of his death anywhere…
There’s also no draft card for World War I. The draft was done in three waves: the first on 5 June 1917, for all men 21-31 years old; the second on 5 June 1918, for those who hit 21 after 5 June 1917 (and a second round was held on 24 August 1918 for those who hit 21 after 5 June 1918); and the third on 12 September 1918, for men 18-45.
In 1917, Henry would have been 28, so he should have been included in the first registration. While forms have been found for his two older brothers, there’s no form for Henry. I take this to mean that he most likely died after the 1910 census and before June 1917.
My aunt did an extensive search of obituaries in the local paper and couldn’t find anything for him. I found three possibilities in the Pennsylvania Department of Health death indexes:
1914 - Harry, Phila. April 15
1914 - Henry, Phila. November 29
1915 - Henry, Conshohocken, April 13
(I include Harry because my aunt recently found the obituary of Henry Sr. - my great-grandfather, and Henry’s father - indexed under the name Harry. No Henry Quinns are listed as having died in Pennsylvania in 1910-1913, 1916 or 1917.)
At the Pennsylvania State Archives, I found records of the Pennsylvania Railroad and some records on railroad accidents, but they’re descriptions of the Archives’ holdings rather than the holdings themselves, so this research would have to be done in Harrisburg itself. On the Department of Transportation site, I found detailed reports of railroad accidents, but the names of those killed are redacted. Focusing on the Pennsylvania Railroad, I tried to line up the three dates from the death indexes with the accident reports but came up empty…
But then, since he worked on the railroad, he didn’t necessarily die near home. Chances are, though, he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, specifically on the former South Fork Railroad that the Pennsylvania Railroad acquired in 1903, which was very near his family’s home in Croyle and connected to the local coal mining industry that employed his father and brothers.
It’s a shame that his story - which is surely very interesting - may not be an easy one to tell.
South Fork, Pennsylvania, in 1891: