De Leon Free Press


DeLeon, Comanche County, Texas, Saturday, March 29, 1924

Extra Edition

Terrible Tragedy Mars Track Meet; 3 Are Dead

An appalling tragedy that cost three lives occurred last night on the De Leon and Sipe Springs road at a point a mile east of Sipe Springs. A Ford roadster, being driven by Miss Minnie ASHENHURST, went over the side of a high culvert carrying its owner and driver, and two other young people to their death. Miss ASHENHURST, 35, Miss Ruth WESTBROOK 20, and Byron ANDERSON, 17, were the casualties.

The party was enroute from Sipe Springs to De Leon, where young ANDERSON, a senior in the Sipe Springs High School, was to compete in senior boy’s declamation at the Interscholastic Meet, in session here. They left Sipe Springs at 6:10 o’clock and the accident occurred at 6:24, as shown by Miss ASHENHURST’s wrist watch, which was broken and stopped at that point. The slippery condition of the roadway following the rain may have been the cause of the car skidding off the side of the culvert, or something may have gone wrong with the steering gear. The culvert was some six or eight feet above the bed of the little ravine, and there was considerable water running underneath the bridge. The unfortunate trio may have drowned in the shallow water, although their injuries sustained otherwise were sufficient to have caused death. Young ANDERSON’s neck was broken. Miss ASHENHURST sustained bruises about the chest and slight lacerations, in fact all were somewhat bruised and lacerated by the heaving machine falling directly upside down upon them, literally crushing out their lives.

It was at about 7:25, an hour after the tragedy, when a passing car in which were two men, observed the wreck in the darkness and went to a nearby house and gave the alarm and assistance was immediately had from Sipe Springs. The bodies were removed from the wreckage and carried to their homes and the tragic news soon had cast its shadow over the little city and nearby country. All night long the sorrowing populace kept silent vigil over their dead! Never before in the history of the town has a tragedy occurred that penetrated the hearts and cast its blackening shadow over so large a majority of the people.

Business is suspended in Sipe Springs today. Only necessities may be had and that by special arrangement. The post office, over which Miss ASHENHURST presided, has remained closed, for the postmaster is dead, as is also her assistant, Byron ANDERSON. No one else could do the work. The government has been notified and will send someone to take charge, doubtless.

Miss ASHENHURST has lived in Sipe Springs for many years and was widely known and deservedly popular with the mass of the people whom she served faithfully in public capacity. Miss Ruth WESTBROOK, popular young daughter of Dr. and Mrs. WESTBROOK, was a graduate of Sipe Springs school of three years ago. She was a talented musician and lovable young girl, just reaching the estate of young womanhood when life holds out most alluring promise. Young ANDERSON, a popular senior in the class of ’24, with only a few weeks remaining until his graduation, was son of a M-K-T railroad man of Sipe Springs, and was well liked in school and social circles. The tragic and untimely ending of three lives with but a single stroke of fate is indeed sad.

All the forenoon friends of the victims of the tragedy have given of their efforts, lovingly, tearfully, in arranging for the triple funeral, which is being held at the Baptist church there at five o’clock today. The Rev. PARKIN, pastor, who was at Brownwood when the tragedy occurred, will conduct the sorrowful service. Meanwhile hundreds throughout this entire section mourn the cause of the disaster.

De Leon Students Score Big in Meet

Winnings in Declamation at City Hall last night, in the four events were all scored by De Leon declaimers.

Miss Evelyn BALLEW, De Leon senior, won in Senior Girl’s Declamation.

Dick WEAVER won Senior Boy’s Declamation.

Allene WEAVER won Junior Girl’s Declamation.

Dan STEAKLEY won in the Junior Boy’s Declamation event.

A De Leon declaimer also won second in one of these events.

Ronal MYERS, De Leon Senior, won first in High Hurdles, Class A.

Elton BOSWELL for De Leon won first in mile run, his time being 5.27.

In Junior Spelling Contest, Mary Ellen PRINCE, De Leon Hight School scored 95 5/6, while Edith HIGH was a close second with 91 7/8. De Leon team won this event.

De Leon Wins Senior, Comanche Junior Spelling

Three teams entered the Music Memory Contest.

Gustine team consisted of three – Gladys KEITH, Clara PETTITT, Connie Mae COUCH.

De Leon North Ward team consisted of Hazel HUDDLESTON, Beulah Mae WARD, Violet GREGORY, Lucy Mae MERRITT.

De Leon South Ward team consisted of Lucile APPLEBY, Grace SHORT, Kennith FINGLESTINE, Louise LESTER.

De Leon South Ward Team won first place, Gustine Team second.

Kennith FINKLESTINE and Lucy Mae MERRICK tied for second place.

Senior Spelling Contest

Altus SWEEDEN, Finis COOK, Comyn; J. Mark MOORE, Tom MOORE, Comanche High; Lavelle BRINSON, Stella LOUDERMILK, Downing; Mary Ellen PRINCE, Edith HIGH, De Leon High.

De Leon First

Comanche second

Comyn third

Downing fourth

Junior Spelling Contest

Pauline STEELE, Avys WEST, Imola; Veda TUTTLE, Opal ISHOM, Gustine; Thelma WILLIFORD, Johnnie MAGNESS, Comanche Grammar; Burl WILSON, Ewell JONES, Sidney; Maurine WATSON, Zora BAKER, Comyn; Geraldine SLAUGHTER, Max BELLEW, De Leon South Ward; Mattie Ruth RIDDLE, Ethel VAUGHN, De Leon North Ward.

Comanche Grammar, first.

De Leon South Ward, second.

Comyn, third.

©2004 Judith Michaels.  This transcription is the generous work of Judy Michaels taken from microfilm held by the Newspaper Collection of the University of Texas at Austin with a microfilm copy at Comanche Public Library.  The information may be used for personal research only and not for commercial purposes without specific permission.