Harry & John Crawford Prominent Dayton residents Killed in Auto Accident
John R. and Harry E. Crawford, brothers and prominent residents of Dayton, Tennessee were killed Friday night February 20, 1920, when their Oakland automobile overturned and rolled down an embankment on the Dry Valley Road about seven miles north of Chattanooga.
The wreckage was not discovered until daybreak when an early traveler noticed the wreck and found the bodies of the two men pinned underneath the auto. The appearance of the body of John Crawford led to the conclusion that he died instantly. The ground on which Harry Crawford’s body laid indicated that he had struggled in an attempt to free himself before he died. The bodies were taken to Chattanooga by coroner Jack O’Donohue. E.F. England a relative of the brothers was notified and along with R.J. Coulter of Coulter Undertaking were accompanied by Ray Martin, R.L. Godsey, Bert Kimbro, Mack Jones, R.A. Abel and F.E. Robinson, all were friends of the victims.
F.E. Robinson stated that when the news of the tragedy was received at Dayton, the entire community was saddened. The brothers were held in high esteem by the entire community.
Harry Crawford was a well-known farmer with a farm about 4 miles east of Dayton. He was married and was the father of a four-year-old child. John R. Crawford was in the automobile business in Dayton. He was formerly in the drug business with F.E. Robinson (Crawford & Robinson Drug Store) for a long time. The accident victims were members of one of the most prominent and widely known families of Rhea County. Their father, the late Capt. H.A. Crawford, served throughout the Civil War in the Confederate Army. James T. Crawford, their brother, was Trustee for three terms and later a cashier with the Dayton Bank & Trust Company. The Crawford family is related to the well-known Gillespie family of Rhea and Hamilton County.
Information was later released, as determined by the Coroner Jack O’Donohue, that an apple was responsible for the accident. In the wrecked car were found two halves of an apple that had been cut cleanly in half with a knife. An open knife, known to have belonged to John, was lying near the wreck. A bite had been taken from one of the halves of the apple, and in the rigid mouth of the body of Harry was found a piece of apple which fit into the half perfectly. Mr. O’Donohue said that his theory was that they got distracted for maybe a second or two with the apple and also having found out that the right-side headlamp had been burned out for some time, they were not able to see that the shoulder of the road was washed out due to recent heavy rains, thus causing the automobile to run off the road and overturn. The auto belonged to Harry Crawford and John Crawford’s watch had stopped at exactly 10:45pm.
The Crawford brothers were brought back to Dayton where their funeral service was conducted, and they were laid to rest together in the original section of Buttram Cemetery.
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