Saturday, October 23, 2010

James Files for Workman's Comp

Another interesting set of documents included in James McGregor's probate records pertain to an on-the-job injury he sustained in 1911.  At that time, James was a station hand working for the Burlington railroad in Macon, Missouri, and had held that position for 10 years.  Then, on the 27th of November, an accident happened that appears to have changed, and may have ultimately ended, James' life.

Five documents make up the Brotherhood of American Yeomen Proof of Accidental Injury packet.  At first I assumed that the Brotherhood of American Yeomen (BAY) was a type of labor union, but once I dug into the organization I found that it was actually a fraternal insurance society associated with the Iowa State Insurance Company, through which James maintained several policies.  It's clear from the affidavits that James' injury was severe enough to warrant a claim, and that his career was ended by the events of that November day.

According to James' statement, signed on 24 February 1912, he was unloading timbers from a rail car when somehow the 10-foot long 8x10 ties broke loose.  Eight to ten beams fell on top of James, breaking his pelvis and severely bruising his left side and back.  He was confined to his bed for six weeks and to his home for four weeks after that.  Two physicians attended James, a W.H. Miller and an A.B. Miller, and both of their statements are included in the package.  Both of their accounts and diagnosis are similar, with their answer to one of the questions being of particular interest.  Question number 11 asks "Will claimant recover from accident in the ordinary course of treatment?"  Dr. W.H. Miller simply states "do not know" while Dr. A.B. Miller writes "I cannot tell. He is slowly improving."

According to James' death certificate, he died from sepsis with a contributing factor of tuberculosis prostate, a condition he suffered from for 2 years - or since early 1912 or late 1911.  I'm certainly no medical expert so I cannot say if James' accident contributed to the onset of this disease or was simply a coincidence.  I can conclude, however, that the events in the rail yard on November 27th, 1911, ended James' career.

Besides shedding light on the injury, the affidavits also give a glimpse into James' every day life.  His own questionnaire (pictured below) shows James to be fond of a beer now and then, having last visited a "saloon" two days prior to the accident.  There is also a form from a correspondent, or witness, named Mrs. Elizabeth Miles who was a seamstress in Macon.  She's essentially a character witness, having known James for 3 years and confirming James' own description of his lifestyle.  The final affidavit in the package was completed by F.T. Skinner, James' foreman, who also knew James for 3 years prior to the accident.

1 comment:

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