O'Fallon Progress

Man lost both feet in fall from train in 1904, so the citizens of O'Fallon bought him prosthetic ones

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

In February 1904, E.W. Bradley was traveling with a friend on a freight train on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that ran through O’Fallon. Bradley worked for the Sells & Downs Circus as a snare drummer. His friend was in charge of cattle being transported on the B. & O.

Somehow, Bradley fell from the train as it passed through town, losing both his feet. The train stopped, and the conductor wanted to take him to the County Farm in present day Swansea — a poor house that included a hospital.

But Dr. Franklin Varney had other ideas. Realizing Bradley wouldn’t survive the trip, he took the man to his "sanitarium" in O’Fallon and treated him there, saving his life. But that wasn't the end of the story.

Bradley had little money and no relatives closer than Kansas City. The merchants and citizens of O’Fallon took up a collection to buy him a pair of artificial feet in St. Louis. Not only that, they arranged for him to get his old job back at the circus in Philadelphia and paid for his rail fare to get there.

75 years ago

April 29, 1943

With the season of warmer weather not far off, city officials are concerned over the problem of dusty streets. Since no road oil is procurable, due to war conditions, O’Fallon’s city council, like all other municipal governing bodies are somewhat puzzled as to how to remedy the situation, although sufficient funds by taxation are available for street oiling purposes.

50 years ago

April 25, 1968

Faced with a continuously rising grade school population, O’Fallon Grade School District 90 voters are facing a bond issue election for $550,000 Saturday. A similar bond issue was defeated by 88 votes on Feb. 24. The School Board decided to resubmit the issue now in the face of pressure for school room space. A High School bond issue was also defeated in February and will be resubmitted in May.

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