Mask v. LNO & Texas Railroad

On March 2, 1885, Hamilton T. Mask purchased a ticket at Memphis from the Louisville, New Orleans and Texas Railroad Company to Lula which was a regular station on the line.   He took passage on the first train to Lula with J.G. Haynes.  Both Mask and Haynes were farmers in Coahoma County.  Mask had moved there from North Carolina.  Hamilton Mask lived with his wife named Jessie and his son Henry.  Jessie was his second wife and her maiden name was Van Eaton.

His ticket was taken up by the conductor and canceled.  When the train approached the station, the whistle sounded and the train began to slow up.  Mask and Haynes, who were the only passengers on the train, took their baggage and went to the rear on the platform of the car.  The conductor looked into the car and didn’t see anyone so he told the train to go ahead without calling out the name of the station.  As the train kept moving, Hamilton Mask and J.G. Haynes rushed forward to tell the conductor they were being carried past their stop.  The men wanted the train stopped and the conductor immediately signaled the engineer to do just that.  However, they were several hundred yard beyond the depot.

Hamilton Mask got off the train and went back to the depot, but didn’t find a conveyance there.  He had to walk home which was a distance of about three quarters of a mile.  This was about 12 o’clock at night, and the night was dark, cold, and rainy.  The roadway was also muddy and Mask was in feeble health according to everyone.  He had been born in 1823.  In 1860, he and his family were living in Memphis where he was listed as a merchant. By 1870, they had moved to Corinth where he was listed as mayor.  From there, they went to live in Lula. By the time Hamilton reached home, he was exhausted and went to bed immediately. His health worsened though and he died on April 23, 1886.

Before his death, he instituted a lawsuit against the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railroad Company to recover “damages for the injury inflicted on him” according to the suit. After his death, his wife who Jessie O. Mask, continued the case.  When it came to trial at the March, 1887 term of court, counsel for the plaintiff asked for two of the jurors to be dismissed.  They stated A.G. Hartgroves was an employee of the railroad so he was biased.  The judge agreed and he was dismissed.  The plaintiff’s lawyer also wanted James Young dismissed, but the court over ruled that challenge.

During the trial, it was shown by the testimony of his wife and two doctors that Mask had been, some time in 1884, suffering from nervous prostration that had grown better. He had been able to attend his business until that night at the Lula depot.  After then, he had been too sick to do anything and died.  His services were worth $!00.00 per month to his family and this was missed because he had passed away.  The two doctors were able to prove that his death was linked to exposure to the weather when he was forced to walk home from Lula.  It was further shown that a servant and horse were in waiting for Mask at the station, but had left when the train didn’t stop.  The servant returned home supposing that Mask had not come.

The jury found for the plaintiff and assessed damages at $1,000.00.  The defendant appealed the judgement, but the court sided with the plaintiff.  The case decision stood.  Jessie O. Mask continued to live in Coahoma County, but moved further south.  She died on June 13, 1919 and is buried at Shufordsville Cemetery.  According to some records, her tombstone was vandalized and missing. It is not known where Hamilton Maze is buried.  His son Henry Mask died on December 25, 195 and is also buried in Shufordsville.







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