William Henry Roll

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William Henry Roll
The Trolley Accident

Spouse(s): Sarah Virginia Shipman
Family tree: William Henry Roll 1862-1898

Wagon Struck by Trolley


Killed by Trolley
At Fairmount Avenue.

Terrible Death of a Well Known Man of This City Last Night--Car and Driver Were Both Travelling at a Lively Rate.

Mr. Henry Roll, age 38 years, who lives at Lyons Farms, while on his way home at 7:30 last evening, and while in the act of driving his horse across the trolley tracks at Fairmount avenue, on the boulevard, was struck by a trolley car, and hurled out of his vehicle.

Mr. Roll fell upon the track, the wheels of the car crushing both legs, fracturing his skull, and breaking his neck.

The trolley car was almost stopped by contact with the heavy wagon, in which Mr. Roll was seated. The vehicle was demolished, and the horse injured on one of its legs.

The motorman, John McCalley, and Conductor Henry Ernst, both of whom live on Washington street, this city, went to Mr. Roll's assistance, and found him unconscious. The ambulance was sent for and in it Mr. Roll was removed to the General hospital, but he died before reaching that institution.

Mr. Roll, who for several years past, has supplied many stores in this city with sawdust, was well and favorably known to our business men. He left a wife and three children.

The motorman and conductor, who were subsequently arrested, gave ecurity to await an investigation ordered by the county physician.

A gentleman, living at Fairmount avenue and the boulevard, who witnessed the collision, severely condemns the motorman for driving his car at high speed at that point.

It is the habit of motormen, said this gentleman to a Daily Leader reporter, When they reached the boulevard to put on a full head of the electric current, and drive their cars as fast as possible. That's the way this car was going last evening when it struck Mr. Roll's wagon, which was crossing the track. Had caution been observed when Fairmount avenue was reached, and the car been under control, as it should always be, it could have been stopped, and that man's life saved.

Mr. Roll married a daughter of Policeman Shipman the night deskman at police headquarters.

He was a resident of this city since boyhood, and was well known. His many friends here will be grieved to learn of his untimely end.

Source: Daily Leader, October 29, 1898.


Henry Roll the Victim of an Accident.


The Motorman Held Pending an Investigation.

Henry Roll, who for a number of years has been a well-known dealer in sawdust, met with a tragic death last night while on his way to his home in Lyons Farms. He had been in the city delivering sawdust to merchants of several sections, and was riding on the high sided wagon used to carry that commodity when the accident oc[curred].... collision [with a] trolley car at the [co]rner of Fairmount and Newark avenues, sh[o]rtly after 6 o'clock.

According to the few facts that can be gathered concerning the accident, Mr. Roll had driven through Fairmount avenue from the east and was either turning toward Newark into Newark avenue, or was about to cross that thoroughfare when the fatal accident occurred. At the same time a trolley car in charge of Motorman John McCulley and Conductor Ernst going toward Newark, approached the Fairmount avenue crossing. The car struck the wagon at the front with such force as to throw the horse from his feet, and to knock the body of the wagon from the running gear.

Roll was on the wagon seat when the crash occurred. He was thrown from it, and fell on the tracks directly in front of the car. The fender missed him, and he was caught by the brake beam. The car ran several yards before it came to a stop, and then it was found that Roll's body was badly jammed against the under side of the car. The man was unconscious, and he was removed as carefully as possible.

It was feared that he was dead, although he was breathing slightly, and he was carried to the side of the street and laid on the grass. A hurry call was sent for the General Hospital ambulance, and Drs. J. S. Green and N. W. Voorhees were also summoned. When they arrived [th]ey found that Roll was in a very cri[tical] condition. They...and besides he had [a] broken hip and several other severe injuries. Heroic treatment was given him, and he was hurried toward the hospital, but died before the ambulance reached the institution.

Roll was 36 years old and had been a resident of this city and vicinity all his life. He had a very large circle of acquaintances both in and out of business, and news of his death was a shock to all. He is survived by a wife and three children.

So far as can be learned nobody witnessed the collision except those directly concerned in it, and the statements of the trolley conductor and motorman are practically without contradiction or confirmation. Motorman McCulley reported to the officials of the traction company that he saw Roll's wagon coming toward Newark avenue as his car approached Fairmount avenue. He began to ring his gong while the car was some distance from the crossing, and believed Roll could hear it and keep out of danger.

Instead of turning or stopping, Roll kept right ahead, and as the car approached Fairmount avenue, McCulley applied the brakes and reversed the motor in order to prevent any accident. Roll continued to drive ahead and his horse had partly crossed the track before he apparently noticed the presence of the car. When the car was within a few yards of the rig, McCulley says, Roll seemed to become aware of his danger, and then stopped his horse right in the path of the car. Roll evidently was dumbfounded at finding himself in such danger, and lost his presence of mind, the traction officials believe.

The car had such momentum that the motorman was unable to stop it until after it had struck the wagon. In the collision the glass in the vestibule was broken and flew all around the motorman, but he escaped unhurt. "the few passengers in the car were considerably frightened because of the sudden stoppage and the jar of the collision, and one man," McCulley says, "went out on the front platform to see if the motorman had been hurt. After learning that he had not, the man remarked that he was lucky in preventing a worse accident," McCulley says.

The accident was reported to the police, and both McCulley and Conductor Ernst were placed under arrest. They were locked up last night, and McCulley was bailed this morning to await the result of the investigation by County Physician Wescott. Conductor Ernst was discharged. Roll was the youngest son of Jonathan S. Roll of Spring street, and his widow is a daughter of Night Deskman Shipman at police headquarters. Some few years ago a child of the deceased was killed by a horsecar on the old route to Waverly.

Source: The Journal, October 29, 1898.

Henry Roll Killed at Elizabeth

ELIZABETH, Oct 29, Henry Roll, thirty-eight years old, of Waverly, while driving along Newark Avenue last night received fatal injuries by a trolley car running into his wagon. Mr. Roll was thrown from his wagon and rolled under the car wheels. Both his legs were crushed and broken and his skull was fractured. He died on the way to the Elizabeth General Hospital. He was a brother-in-law of George Stratemeyer, Surveyor of the Port of Honolulu. He leaves a wife and three children.

Source: Unknown newspaper, October 29, 1898

No Inquest Over Trolley Victim

Special to the EVENING NEWS.

ELIZABETH, Oct. 31 -- County Physician Wescott, of Fanwood, was in this city to-day and concluded his investigation of the death of Henry Roll, of Waverly, who was killed on Friday night by being struck by a trolley car on the Newark and Elizabeth line. Dr. Wescott concluded he would not order an inquest and gave a permit for the interment of the body. A civil suit for damages against the traction company will, however, be brought, it is said, by the family of the dead man.

Source: Evening News, October 31, 1898

Expresses Her Gratitude.

Mrs. W. H. Roll desires, through the Journal, to express to her friends, neighbours and to all who extended their kindly sympathy to herself and family during the recent great bereavement in the death of her husband, who was killed by a trolley car, her thanks; also to Rev. Mr. Bennett and to all who assisted and attended the funeral services.

The Journal, About October 31, 1898


The fu[neral of William H]enry Roll, who was recently killed by a trolley car on the boulevard, took place yesterdary afternoon from his home in Lyons Farms. There was a large attendance of relatives and friends, many from this city and more distant places. The house was thronged and the service was very impressive. Several beautiful floral tributes rested on the casket. Rev. Robinson Bennett, pastor of the Lyons Farms Presbyterian Church, conducted the service. The interment took place at Evergreen Cemetery.

Unknown newspaper, about October 31, 1898