Mary Gatwood was my 2x paternal Great-Grand Aunt. She was maried to Aaron Aten. Aaron had a brother named Robert William Aten. This is his story.

Robert was the son of William Aten and Jane Anderson. He was born in Brooke County, Virginia (later became West Virginia) on August 8, 1818.

He married Sarah Beal June 15, 1850. Just one year later, on June 14, 1851 Jane died during childbirth. She had a baby girl who would also die.

Before long, Robert married again. His second wife was Mary Jane Allison. In 1854, this family left Virginia and moved to Schuyler County, Illinois. By this time Robert and Mary had two children. After the move to Illinois, they had seven more children. Robert taught school as well as being a successful farmer. He cleared the wilderness in addition to raising live-stock that he shipped to other areas by rail. It appears he knew how to get ahead in the agricultural business. They were Presbyterian’s and Robert was a Whig and then a Republican.

Robert and Mary Jane had designated November 13,1900, to visit family. The horse drawn buggy had curtains to keep out the cold and they were closed. This made it so there was no visibility on either side of the buggy. One could only see to the outside through the front. Robert and Mary left home in the morning and eaten with their daughter (Flora Ann) and her husband at midday. Their next stop was to visit a son (Henry). There were only a few miles between the two homes. The couple were bundled up against the cold weather and it is believed they did not see or hear the train. Their horse balked (no doubt because of the approaching train) and when the train hit, it tore the harness off the horse without harm to the horse. It is said that part of the buggy was stuck to the train. The two bodies were found several yards away and badly injured. It is believed that they both died instantly. They were mourned by nine children, three daughters and six sons as well as all their many friends and relatives.

Robert and Mary Jane were buried but not forgotten. As long as there are people like me and others who search old records and tell their stories, they will always be with us.


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