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Santa Cruz County History - People
Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson
MEEK, REUBEN (1844-1902)
The Mountain Echo (August 30, 1902)
IOOF Cemetery in Boulder Creek
Death of Reuben Meek
The people of this place were shocked Tuesday to hear of the awful death of Reuben Meek at Monterey, by being run over by a railway train, which occurred the Sunday evening before.
From the "Monterey New Era" of August 27th, we copy the following account of the dreadful affair:
The body of Reuben Meek, a teamster in the employ of G.C. Notley, was found in a cattle guard on the railroad near Gingling’s switch, about five miles north of Monterey, Monday morning by the crew of the freight train. Deceased had evidently been struck by a train on the previous night, for the corpse, when found, was stiff and cold.
The body, which was lying in a cattle guard, in a partly sitting position, presented a harrowing sight. The head was almost completely shattered, having been split open from the front, and the brains were scattered on the sill of the culvert while the left foot was cut off near the ankle. Thirty feet toward Monterey from the cattle guard was found the heel of the man’s shoe and a piece of suspender, these articles having evidently been carried forward by the suction of the train which struck him. Neither hat, coat or vest was found on the body, but his hat was discovered on the track, a short distance from the scene of his death, by the engineer of the freight, on a later trip.
Coroner Muller was notified and came over from Salinas in the afternoon, impaneled a jury and brought the body into town. An inquest was held in the evening.
At the inquest the facts regarding the finding of the body were brought out and John Pashon, engineer of the Del Monte bath house, testified that a man in his shirt sleeves and apparently intoxicated had passed his house, just east of the Del Monte grounds, walking along the railroad track towards Castroville.
Up to this time nothing had been learned of the unfortunate man’s identity and it looked as though he would go to his grave unknown, but just as the last of the testimony had been taken and the matter was being left to the deliberations of the jury, Phil Zelaya, a teamster employed by G.C. Motley, appeared and asked permission to see the body.
Being shown the body, Zelaya at once identified it as that of Reuben Meek, a fellow teamster, whom he had last seen on Saturday morning bringing a load of tan bark into town.
G.C. Notely’s foreman was then hunted up and he testified to having seen Meek at supper Saturday evening at the Notley residence. He was apparently sober at the time and was expected to take his team out Monday morning. Nobody could be found who remembered having seen Meek between the time he left the Notley residence Saturday evening and Sunday night, when he met his tragic death on the railroad track between here and Castroville.
Deceased who as a native of Illinois and about 55 years of age, leaves a wife and several children in Boulder Creek. He came here a short time ago to haul tan bark for G.C. Notley and was looked upon as a good workman.
Reuben Meek came to Boulder Creek with J.H Fuller of this place in 1882, from San Jose. For several years after coming here he drove team for Mr. Fuller. Later he engaged in teaming for himself and still later closed out his team and began driving for others. In June of this year he went to Monterey to drive team for Godfrey C Notley, formerly of this place, who is at present engaged in getting out tan bark there. For many years before coming to Boulder Creek Mr. Meek drove team for Mr. Fuller at San Jose and worked for the latter gentleman about 16 years altogether.
In Sept. 1887 Mr. Meek was united in marriage to Mrs. Alice Dick of this place, the latter being the eldest daughter of Mrs. L. E. Paschal, now of Santa Cruz. Five children have been born of this union, four boys and one girl, the eldest 12 and the youngest 3 years of age, who with the widow are shocked and grieved beyond expression by the awful calamity that has thus unexpectedly overtaken them.
The remains of the late Mr. Meek were brought to this place by train Wednesday morning, and the funeral took place immediately afterward from the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Wm. Hicks officiating. The attendance was large, the church being filled with friends and relatives of the deceased and his family. A select choir sang several beautiful hymns and Mr. Hicks spoke feelingly of the debt we owe to the soldiers of the great rebellion, of which Mr. Meek was one, and the great sorrow that has now so suddenly befallen his family. At the conclusion of the service the remains were interred in our local cemetery. The following, all old comrades of the G.A.R. acted as pall bearers: Peter Morris, Michael Elwood, O.R. Dascomb, A.A. Sporeland, Hermann Hesse, and Geo. M. Bruce.
The late Reuben Meek was born in Davis county, Indiana, on May 10, 1844. When but 17 years of age the great war of the rebellion broke out and he immediately enlisted in Co. B. 16th regiment, Iowa volunteers, for two years. At the end of this term he again enlisted for three years and served to the end of the war. Of his four years of service, covering the whole period of the war in the South, no doubt a thrilling and interesting book could be written. That he was a valiant, brave and active soldier, no one who knew Mr. Meek could doubt and he possessed what few even of the old soldiers could boast of and that he has two honorable discharges from the service of Uncle Sam. He concluded his army service by marching with Sherman "From Atlanta to the Sea" and was mustered out of service in Louisville, Kentucky, at the close of the war.
His twenty years of life here is too well known to need recapitulation. He was ever noted for his industry and faithfulness. That he could serve one employer for 16 years in the exacting duties of a teamster, attest this more than words can tell. Like all that is mortal he had his faults, but his life’s work has been a factor in the history of our country for good and the world is better for his having lived. Whatever he undertook he did well. Such is a good example to leave behind. His sorrowing wife and children have the sympathy of the community in their great and crushing affliction.
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