Ruth Bell Fair Leonard Abernathy
March 16, 1939
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Tragic Deaths of Former Residents Mourned by Large Following Friends; Impressive Funeral Services Wednesday
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Abernathy, Miss Nadine Leonard Killed in Crossing Crash at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
En route to visit homefolks after a year’s residence in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred and Miss Nadine Leonard, Mrs. Abernathy’s daughter by a former marriage, were fatally injured when the car in which they were riding was struck by a train at a crossing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They met death near the scene of one of the great battles of the Civil War.
According to details received here, Mrs. Abernathy was instantly killed while Mr. Abernathy and Miss Leonard were rushed to a nearby hospital; the former succumbing to his injuries some forty minutes after the accident and the latter an hour and a half later.
The bodies were prepared for burial at Gettysburg, arriving Tuesday evening in Cartersville where they were met by scores of relatives and friends. Mass funeral services were held from the Baptist Tabernacle Wednesday afternoon, Rev. Guy N. Atkinson, assisted by Rev. R.G. Norris, officiating.
Following the impressive services, interment was in Oak Hill Cemetery, all three caskets being lowered in the same grave, as hundreds looked on with bowed heads. It was the first mass funeral ever held in Cartersville and naturally attracted widespread attention. Funeral arrangements were handled locally by Owen Funeral Home.
Alfred Calhoun Abernathy was a son of Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Abernathy of Cartersville. He was born in Bartow County thirty-seven years ago, and had made his home in Cartersville practically all his life. He enjoyed the confidence of a wide circle of friends, who called him “Abby.” By profession, he was an electrician and a machinist. At various times he served in the city electrical department. For the past year, he had been employed at the Thompson-Weinman plant at Norristown.
Mrs. Abernathy, 37, native of Braswell, Georgia, had made her home in Cartersville since girlhood, until she moved to Norristown last year. She was married to Mr. Abernathy some twelve years ago, following a previous marriage, by which she had two children. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fair of Cartersville.
Miss Leonard, who had only recently reached her nineteenth birthday, was a daughter of Mrs. Abernathy by her first marriage. She had lived all her life in Cartersville, until she went to Norristown last year to reside with her mother. She was popular among the younger set, and new of her death caused much sorrow in their circle.
The families are all well-known throughout Bartow County and these untimely deaths are deeply mourned by a large following of friends who paid tribute before their triple bier Wednesday.
Mr. Abernathy is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Abernathy of Cartersville; three sisters, Mrs. Julia Nelson of Norristown, Mrs. Frances Smith and Mrs. Ira Parks, of Cartersville; a stepson Mr. Ray Leonard of Cartersville.
Mrs. Abernathy is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fair; a son, Roy Leonard; one brother, Arthur Fair; and a sister, Mrs. Billie Clark, all of Cartersville.
Miss Leonard is survived by her father, A.R. Leonard; one brother, Ray Leonard, her maternal paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fair of Cartersville, and Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Leonard of Kingston; Mrs. Billie Clark is an aunt. Mr. Arthur Fair, Messrs. Eugene and Buford Leonard are uncles.
Pallbearers at the funeral Wednesday include: Messrs. George Goodson, Homer McEver, Charles Darnell, Ab Underwood, John Willie Bell, Madison Abernathy, Roy Cantrell, Bill Ingram, Bill Siniard, Charles Prices, Charles Shelton, Herschel Green, James Landers, W.H. Dodd, R.E. Cagle, Clarence Gabe, George McCollum, Robert Morris.
NORRISTOWN PAPER BLAMES ICE ROAD ABERNATHY DEATHS
According to the Norristown, Pennsylvania newspaper, a copy of which has been received her by relatives of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Abernathy and Miss Nadine Leonard, the Abernathy car skidded n ice coated pavement and crashed into the side of a passing locomotive on a grade crossing eight miles east of Gettysburg.
The Norristown paper stated: Mrs. Abernathy died instantly and was found under the wreckage f of the car which was dragged some 1,000 feet along the railroad. She suffered injuries of both legs, a crushed _____ and a fractured skull.
The girl and her step-father escaped… (The copy is hard to read, but it states that their clothing caught fire by the gasoline from the automobile. It also states that the fire was extinguished by local residents. Besides the burns, they also had many fractures.)
[NOTES: The front page of this issue of the newspaper features photos of all three victims as well as the three coffins being lowered into the ground simultaneously
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