Falling of the County Bridge at Richmond 

 

On Sunday, about the 3rd day of August, 1893, the county bridge across the Brazos River at Richmond collapsed and went dawn, carrying with it several hundred head of cattle, about thirty horses, and two Negro cow hands. The cattle belonged to William Nash, and he was driving them east to Cow Creek, near the line of Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties. R. H. Worthington, who lived on the west side of the river, above the bridge, was an eye witness to the catastrophe, having walked from his house dawn to the bluff to watch them cross. He says that when the cattle came to the bridge, the two Negro hands, Charles Bailey and Sam Johnson, were in the lead, pointing the cattle. A sign was posted on the bridge warning people to go slow, and when a considerable number of cattle had passed onto it and the lead ones were nearly off the middle span they began, to walk tolerably fast, and the two hands in front whipped them back with their quirts. This brought on the calamity that was trying to be avoided by checking the gait of those in front. The middle and rear cattle crowded until a dense mass was on the middle span, filling the bridge full, and at this time the span broke and went dawn, carrying all of the horses, the two hands, and about two-thirds of the cattle, the 'herd numbering in all' about four hundred head. The cantle which were left on the west span, quite a number of them, were either pushed off by those in the rear, or voluntarily leaped into the, river to join the struggling mass which filled the channel of the stream. As soon as possible other hands in the rear made their ways to these frantic cattle and turned them back. Many of the cattle swam out, but most of them flied afterward', from injuries received, or were rendered worthless. The cattle were strung out nicely when they reached the bridge, and would have crossed safely if allowed to have had their own nay in doing so. The bridge evidently was looked upon as unsafe, and that fact should have caused the cow men to string them out, instead of letting them mass. The two hams that lost their lives went backwards, and struck the water beneath their horses, being still in the saddles, and one or both were still in this position when recovered, astride of their dead horses. The inquest on the bodies of Bailey and Johnson was held by Wiley P. Jones, Justice of the Peace, on the 6th day of August, 1893. The bridge in question was, a second-hand one, having been purchased from a company who placed it across the Brazos River near Hempstead for Waller County, but was condemned, and never received by that county. It was used awhile, however, by the traveling public, but finally fell into the river and was purchased by the Fort Bend County authorities and hauled to Richmond on wagons.

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