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GAR Obituaries from Eakin to Ellis

Robert J. Eakin

Robert J. Eakin

"Death Follows Fall From Car,"
The Elgin Daily News, January 20, 1912, pp. 1, 10.
Robert J. Eakin Succumbs Half Hour After Minor Accident Occurs.
Falls Dead While Waiting for Car at End of North State Street.

Robert J. Eakin, a resident of Elgin almost continuously since 1848 and widely known throughout the city and vicinity, dropped dead about 12:40 o'clock yesterday afternoon in the wall paper and paint shop of Fred Schuld, 435 North State street, while waiting for a car to take him home to dinner. He was talking to W.J. Smiley, his companion up to the time he reeled and fell to the floor.

Circumstances preceding the death of Mr. Eakin were such that the exact cause of death could not be determined absolutely without an autopsy. This Coroner Norton advised. Relatives acquiesced, but the widow changed her mind at the last minute.

Thrown from Street Car.

Mr. Eakin attended chapel services at Illinois Park yesterday morning. The crowd left the chapel at 12:11 o'clock, just as an Elgin and Belvidere electric car was passing the platform of the Illinois Park station. Mr. Eakin was in front of the others, rushed for the moving car and grabbed at the hand rail at the rear steps. He was thrown around to the rear of the car and lit on his face. The car continued on its way.

Mr. Eakin arose unassisted and declared that he was unhurt. He showed no scratches or bruises. With Mr. Smiley and a Mr. Garver, he walked from Illinois Park to the end of North State street to wait for a North State street car. He walked briskly, saying that fast walking was good for bumps. Mr. Smiley asked him three times if he was hurt and each time he replied that he was not.

Arriving at North State street, the men noticed that the shop of Fred Schuld was open. Mr. Smiley and Mr. Eakin entered to keep warm until the car came. Mr. Eakin continued to converse, but in about ten minutes reeled without warning, fell on his back, and was dead.

Dr. O.L. Pelton, Jr., was summoned and pronounced him dead.

In the fall in the shop, Mr. Eakin received a jagged gash in the back of his head and a small fracture of the skull.

Heart Failure Indicated.

Dr. Pelton declared at the inquest yesterday afternoon that a fracture of the skull would not cause instant death. Evidence of Mr. Smiley was that he believed Mr. Eakin died when he reeled. Indications pointed to some internal trouble, probably of the heart, as the cause of death. Whether the shock of being thrown from the Elgin and Belvidere electric car, followed by a long, fast walk in the cold air and a sudden stopping for rest, caused the trouble could not be determined without an autopsy. Relatives declared that Mr. Eakin was a well, strong man and had never had any symptoms of heart trouble. It is possible that a blood vessel in the brain was ruptured when Mr. Eakin was thrown from the car and that it had formed a clot after he had arrived at North State street.

Peter Hade, conductor on the Elgin and Belvidere car, appeared at the inquest and took the stand at the instance of officials of the company. He said that he believed the car stopped at the Illinois Park platform to pick up a couple of hunters, whom he followed in the car, giving the go ahead signal to his motorman as he stepped inside the rear door. The chapel is located about sixteen feet east of the station platform on the south side of the track. Mr. Hade said that from his position he could not see anyone coming from the chapel nor did he see Mr. Eakin try to board the car. He said the cars were running on faster schedule than formerly and that his car was a minute late at Illinois Park yesterday.

Mr. Smiley said that the people rushed from the chapel just as the car was passing the platform.

"Mr. Eakin was ahead and determined to catch the car," he said. "I saw that we could not get it. I could not tell whether it had stopped at the station to take on passengers or let them off."

The verdict was that Mr. Eakin came to his death "from an attack of acute heart trouble, following a long fast walk, evidence showing that he had been thrown a half hour previously while trying to board a moving Elgin and Belvidere electric car at the Illinois Park station."

After the inquest was concluded, relatives of Mr. Eakin located a Miss Libby Atkins of Belvidere, a passenger on the car. She said the car slowed up a little and that Mr. Eakin, evidently thinking it was going to stop, motioned for his companions to hurry up. According to her, the car did not stop at the station platform.

Harry Thomas, motorman of the car was not at the inquest. There was some comment because of the absence.

Mr. Smiley also rode out to chapel services with Mr. Eakin and stated that he was apparently feeling well.

Born in Ireland.

Robert J. Eakin was born in Londonderry county, Ireland, sixty-seven years ago and came to America with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Eakin, in 1848.  They settled on a tract of wild timber land in Rutland township and converted it into a farm. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Eakin were among the best known of the pioneers of the county.

Robert Eakin enlisted in Company B of the famous Plato cavalry, attached to the thirty-sixth Illinois infantry and served throughout the war.

In 1865 he engaged in the grocery business with his brother, William S. Eakin, on Chicago street. The partnership existed for twenty years, at the end of which time Robert sold his interests to his brother and entered the plate room of the watch factory. Lately he has followed no definite vocation.

Survived By No Children.

He was married to Matilda Thompson in May, 1868. She died in 1891. A little more than two years ago he was married to Martha Fleming of Woodstock, who survives him. Other relatives are: William S. Eakin, a brother, and Mrs. A.H. McCornack, a sister. Mr. Eakin left no children. He resided at 120 North Channing street.

Mr. Eakin was quiet and retiring and was affiliated with no organization except the G.A.R.