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The Life & Times of Samuel Braby - Wampum PA

Samuel Braby, born in 1886 (possibly in Canada), went on to lead a somewhat exciting yet tragic life. When he was a young boy his father George Braby died and young Samuel was adopted by William Henry Brady Jr. and Jennie E. (Wilkinson) Braby, his uncle and aunt who lived in Wampum, Pennsylvania. George and William H. Brady Jr. were among the sixteen children of William H. and Marian (Witherspoon) Brady of Kingston, Canada, who had originally come to North America from England and Scotland respectively. Several of their children, including sons James and Benjamin, had moved to Wampum in the 1850’s.

Samuel’s adopted father William III was born in Canada in 1847, moved to the Wampum area when he was sixteen, worked in the coal mines in nearby Clinton for many years, was united in marriage in 1870, and started his own hardware store (Beaver Valley Supply Company) in Wampum in 1877. He was quite successful and later owned or co-owned a livery, a sandstone company, and a grocery store. He was the preeminent merchant of Wampum and also served eight years as the postmaster of the borough. Samuel, who attended school in Wampum, was probably raised in relative luxury at the family home on Clyde Street.

On Tuesday, August 7, 1894, when Samuel was eight years old, he caused a great sensation in Wampum when he disappeared. He was last seen in the afternoon walking to a friend’s house but never made it there. By the early evening several hundred people started a search of the village and surrounding areas, especially along the banks of the Beaver River. Later that evening he climbed down from a tree near his home where he had been perched for several hours. He had apparently watched the frantic search take place! I’m sure his family was not pleased with is antics, but they were nonetheless happy for his safe return.

Samuel grew into adulthood but soon experienced an accident that undoubtedly changed his life. On Tuesday, November 7, 1905, nineteen-year-old Samuel was injured in a hunting accident near Wampum. He set down his loaded musket and it accidently discharged and struck his left hand. His hand was severely mangled and had to be amputated at the wrist. I’m not sure what Samuel did for a living after this, but I would guess he was employed in some fashion of management in his stepfather’s businesses.

Samuel lost both his parents in the coming years, as his stepfather William died in 1911 and his mother Jennie died in 1916. Tragedy followed and Samuel met his own end soon after. On the night of Saturday, October 28, 1922, Samuel and two of his friends were returning home via automobile from a visit to Ellwood City. John Witherow was driving the motor car, while Grant Dalton and Samuel sat in the front seat as passengers.

As they attempted to cross the railroad tracks near the Consolidated Stone & Mining Company west of Ellwood City they were blindsided by a slow moving freight train of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company (B&O). The vehicle was pushed from the tracks as the train attempted to slow down. Witherow was ejected from the car and slightly injured and Dalton’s legs were battered and bruised. Samuel, who was sitting on the passenger side and closet to the train, was critically injured in the collision. A passing motorist picked him up and rushed him to the Ellwood City Hospital. Samuel’s injures were too much to overcome and he passed away three hours later.

An investigation was launched to determine the cause of the accident. Witherow claimed they had no warning of the oncoming train, while the train’s crew said they used a lantern to signal their intention to cross the intersection at night. I am not sure of the outcome of the investigation but either way Samuel was gone.

A memorial service for Samuel was held at the Braby family home on October 30, 1922, and presided over by the Reverend Harry E. Woods. Woods was the former pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Wampum. The burial for Samuel subsequently took place next to his stepfather and mother in Clinton Cemetery.

To read about the day Samuel disappeared in Wampum in 1894 click on: DISAPPEARED ARTICLE. To read an article about the hunting accident in which Samuel lost his hand in 1905 click on: HUNTING ACCIDENT ARTICLE. To read personal mentions about Samuel going to visit out of town relatives in 1909 and 1917 click on: VISIT ARTICLES. To read the obituary of Samuel’s aunt (stepmother) Jennie, who passed away in November 1916, click on: JENNIE’S OBITUARY. To learn more about the train accident that took Samuel’s life in 1922 click on: FATALLY HURT ARTICLE. To read about his memorial service click on: BRABY FUNERAL ARTICLE.

The large Braby family stone in Clinton Cemetery. (2010)

Samuel Braby’s marker. (2010)

The marker of William Braby, who adopted his nephew Samuel as a young age. (2010)

I believe this remodeled house on Clyde Street in Wampum may have been the old Braby home. (2010)


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