16.  Tales of Destruction...Innocent Victims

A tragedy from The Titusville Morning Herald of July 24, 1871, "On Friday evening, at Oil City, a sad accident occurred from the bursting of a torpedo by which a boy was so badly wounded that his life is despaired of.  The facts of the case, as near as we could ascertain, are as follows:  A boy by the name of Carter, found a tin tube in the mud near the junction of the Jamestown and Franklin Railroad with the Oil Creek railroad, just this side of Oil City, and seeing the cap on the end of the tube, and not being aware of it contents, struck it a violent blow with a pick that he happened to have in his hand.  The tube exploded with terrific force, mangling the youth in a fearful manner, shattering his left arm, destroying one of his eyes, cutting his knee open.  Portions of the tube entered different parts of his body.  Dr. H.H. Seys, of that city, was called to attend to the boy, but it is doubtful if he will ever recover from his injuries.  The lad was the only support of his mother, who is in very impecunious circumstances, and this accident will be a severe blow to her.  He was the oldest of seven children, the youngest being only two months old.  His father, Mr. Carter, left his home in February last, and when last heard from was in Salamanca, N.Y.  Dr. Seys and some other gentlemen are getting up a subscription for the benefit of the family."

This sad accident is a puzzle as to the true identity of the device and its contents.  We know from an article written on September 17, 1870, that the Roberts Torpedo factory had already converted to tin from cast iron as a housing material.  So the evidence seems to point to a Roberts Torpedo that could have contained only the priming charge.  In conversations with Dr. Bob Smith, nitro historian, nothing has been discovered as to the fate of young Carter.

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