Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 27, 2013

GLYNN: Family ties traced to train crash in the 1890s

Niagara Gazette — Descendants of two Niagara area families — the Lynches and Butterys — encountered an unexpected reunion nearly 120 years after a railroad accident one day that thrust their ancestors into the news.

Jim Lynch, whose family roots run deep in this city's North End, recalls that day in 2011 when he was doing research at the Lockport History Center. While there, he happened to meet Lewis Buttery, another local history buff, and his sister, Carol. Lynch explained that he was searching for articles about his great-grandmother, Anna Piper Lynch and her children who were hurt in a train accident  in 1894. 

As Lynch talked about the incident, Buttery expressed intense interest in all the details. "Believe it or not, that was my great- uncle (Earl Buttery) operating the train along the gorge that day, when the accident happened," Buttery said. Quickly they started comparing mental notes, sharing family backgrounds. They struck up a friendship that continues to this day.

Lynch, now a Ransomville resident, has dedicated countless hours researching his ancestors. He also regularly delves into microfilm, newspaper articles and cemetery records, among other sources to piece together the family story. His brother, Brian Lynch, has focused on ancestry.com, digging up information on relatives dating back to the year 700.

Anna P. Lynch, 40, and her four children were riding on a branch of the New York Central & Hudson Railroad after attending her brother's wedding in Lewiston. The train had left the village below the Escarpment at 1:25 p.m. and was due at the Tenth Street Station in Niagara Falls at 1:45 p.m. According to witnesses, the train was passing opposite a stone quarry just north of Niagara University — the present site of the Robert Moses Niagara Project — when a car loaded with stone came hurtling down the incline railway of the plant site and smashed into the rear end of the observation car next to the engine.

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