Ben Dewberry : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

Do you have any information on the train wreck where Ben Dewberry was the engineer?

-- David W. Proffitt (, September 12, 2002


The song Ben Dewberry's Final Run is a favorite Jimmie Rodgers song of mine. The A&V as most know was the Alabama and Vicksburg which became part of the IC and now belongs to the KCS. The Old Northeastern would be the New Orleans & Northeastern RR which the Southern Railway took over sometime in the early 1900's. Ben must have wanted to work for one of the two roads but never had the opportunity. Charles McCarty

-- Charles McCarty (, November 02, 2002.

Here's the publishing information on "Scalded to Death by the Steam" , by Katie Letcher Lyle for those of you not fortunate enough to already have a copy. It's ISBN 0-945575-01-7, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, NC. Copyright 1983, 1988, 1991 by the author. While it does not have any ballads based on wrecks on the Central of Georgia, it does provide accurate historical backgrounds on the wrecks presented in the book (including Ben Dewberry's wreck) along with the lyrics and whatever sheetmusic and photographs are available of each incident.

-- Alan Walker (, September 17, 2002.

According to the lyrics, the railroad was the "A & V", not "A & B". As to the actual facts concerning the wreck, fifty-year old Benjamin Franklin Dewberry was a veteran engineer on the Charlotte Division of the Southern Railway. His trademark was that he would toss apples to the children from his engine window. He and his colored fireman, Mayson Wadkins were both killed on August 23, 1908 when their train, Southern No. 38-an express hit a bolt one mile south of Buford, Georgia and wrecked. When the train hit the bolt, Dewberry reportedly applied the brakes in emergency, saving the train but not himself or the fireman as the Pacific class locomotive turned over onto it's right side, crushing the steam pipes and scalding both enginemen to death. One of the train-wreckers, a twelve year old boy named Lewis Cooksie was apprehended and charged with having placed the bolt on the track that killed the enginemen. He was bound over to Superior Court and jailed on a murder charge. While he admitted to causing the wreck, he refused to name some fellow miscreants who were also involved and as such, he was eventually released and charges were dropped due to his young age and the fact that he had "been influenced by two older youths." A photograph of the wreck, courtesy of Shelby Lowe appears on page 173 of "Scalded to Death by the Steam" by Katie Letcher Lyle.

-- Alan Walker (, September 15, 2002.

"Ben Dewberry's Final Run" is a folk song by Andrew Jenkins and first recorded by Jimmie Rogers on April 6, 1928. The song is listed as BVE 40751-2.

I have never seen any notes about this song to indicate whether it recounts an actual accident or is just imagined.

Supposedly, Ben Dewberry said before he died there were only two more roads that he wanted to ride, the "A&B" and the "The Old Northeastern." The only railroad coming into Atlanta with "A" and "B" in its name would be Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic, "AB&A," which later became Atlanta, Birmingham and Coast, "AB&C."

I don't know of a road called “The Old Northeastern” that ran into Atlanta.

Real or imaginary, Ben Dewberry probably did not make his final run on the Central of Georgia.

Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (, September 13, 2002.

The song Ben Dewberry's final run was recorded by Jimmy Rodgers in 1927. In the song he says "we will all reach Atlanta, bur we'll all be dead". He hit a passanger train head on after rounding a curve. That is all I know. Thank you.

-- David Proffitt (, September 13, 2002.


Do you have an approximate date of the wreck? That would make it much easier to locate information.

Allen Tuten

-- Allen Tuten (, September 13, 2002.

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