James W. Joy Drowned in Olean River

Submitted by PHGS member Nancy Joy
Great Granddaughter of John Joy

Potter County Journal, October 3, 1912

Drowned at Olean

J.W. Joy, of Olean, well known in Coudersport, was jerked from the rear platform of a Shawmut train on the curve to Olean Creek last Wednesday night and fell sixteen feet into the stream and was drowned. Owing to the darkness and swiftness of the stream the body could not be recovered, and although search has been continued unceasingly ever since, there has been no trace whatever found of the missing man or any of his clothing or belongings. The creek in to which he fell has not yet given up his body, and if it was carried into the Allegany River, no one has as yet been able to discover where it lodged. Hundreds of people patrol the banks of both streams looking in vain for a floating corpse.

Mr. Joy was returning from Canaseraga, where he was called because of an accident to his son, whose arm was taken off in a threshing machine.  Another son stood with him when he fell from the train. Joy was 52 years of age and is the father [this should read brother] of Mrs. Olie Jones, of Shinglehouse; Mrs. George Colegrove of Shinglehouse; and Lilly Main, of Shinglehouse. 

Olean Evening (Times Herald) Oct. 3, 1912

Jerked from Platform of Moving Train Into Olean Creek Last Evening

James W. Joy was jerked from the rear platform of a Shawmut train last night and fell about 16 feet into the Olean Creek and was drowned.

Mr. Joy and his son, Forrest had gone to Canaseraga on the early morning train; called there by an accident to another son, Albert C. Joy, whose left arm had been crushed the day before in a thrashing machine. It was necessary to amputate the arm and the father and brother went to him, leaving the mother, who is ill with asthma and heart trouble, very much worse from the shock.

As the evening train which was an hour and a quarter late, was nearing the yard, the conductor told the passengers that they might get out at the switch near the foot of Henley Street, and walk home, as the train would be delayed in reaching the station by switching several cars. The passengers all started for the rear platform, and Mr. Joy, with his son, was the first one out.

 The train was running slowly around the curve over the creek, when it slowed up with a jerk, throwing Mr. Joy 16 feet into about five feet of water.

The accident occurred at 8:42 o'clock and it was to dark to able to find the body. This morning employees of the Shawmut are making a search.

Besides his wife, Mr. Joy is survived by three sons, John, Albert of Canaseraga and Forrest of Olean. Three daughters, Mary Wooden, Mrs. Charles Appleby and Miss Lily Joy of Olean. Three sisters, Mrs. Olie Jones of Shinglehouse, Mrs. George Colegrove of Sharon Center, and Lilly Main of Shinglehouse. He was a cement working, secretary for the local union, and was employed by Mr. Beamus in Boardmanville.

This morning the city police have taken up the search for the body, and have ordered nets with which to drag the creek.


This afternoon the city authorities offered a reward of $25 for the recovery of Mr. Joy's body. The reward will be paid for its recovery by Chief of Police Dempsey.

An additional $25 was also offered by Mr. Fred Woodin, a son-in-law of Mr. Joy. The police were still working for the recovery of the body as this paper went to press.


Late this afternoon the Shawmut Railroad through Henry Sigel, offered an additional $25 for the recovery of Mr. Joy's body from the water. This makes at total of $75 reward offered. 

Oct. 4, 1912, Olean Evening News [misprint in paper]


Mystery of Disappearance of Body in Shallow Water Baffles the Searchers

Up to 2 o'clock this afternoon, in spite of the fact that hundreds of people attracted by the reward that has been offered, have been searching for the body of J.W. Joy, who was drowned in the Olean Creek night before last by being jerked from a Shawmut train just as it was crossing the trestle, no trace of it has been found. The water at the point where the drowning is supposed to have occurred is quite shallow and the search has been a most thorough one. For a long distance below the bridge, the creek has been carefully dragged but not even the man's hat has been found.

There is no explanation to offer as to what may have become of the body. The current under the bridge is swift but there is not apparently a large enough volume of water to carry a body weighing about 200 pounds and heavily clothed, any great distance from the place where the accident occurred.

Mr. Joy's son saw him fall and heard the splash as the body struck the water. The train was stopped almost immediately and the search was at once begun. The rewards offered by the city, the relatives of the dead man and the Shawmut railroad total $75. 

Oct. 5, 1912 - Olean Evening News


May Drain Creek Tomorrow in Effort to Locate Body - Possible That Corpse Floated Down the River

The body of J.W. Joy, who was thrown into the Olean Creek from a Shawmut train crossing the trestle just south of East State Street last Wednesday evening, has yet been found.

Many of the searchers have given up all hopes of obtaining the proffered rewards and have abandoned the quest but the two sons of the drowned man and his other relatives still persist in the hope that they may find the body caught in some bush along the bank, which has been tramped over hundreds of times since the search commenced or is some as yet unsounded depth of the stream where it may have sunk.

The shallowness of the water where the accident occurred renders the disappearance of the body all the more mysterious. One theory that has been advanced more strongly this morning since the continued dragging of the stream below the bridge has resulted in revealing no trace of the body, is that the man may possibly in his efforts to reach the shore have mistaken its direction and in his dazed condition, have wandered up the stream into the deep water, just below the mill dam. It is understood, that no thorough search has as yet been made of this section of the stream and it has been suggested by Coroner Cassar Smith; that it might be possible to open the gates of the dam in the eastern channel of the creek tomorrow and thus draw the water away from the main dam, so that portion of the stream below the dam and above the railroad bridge would be practically drained.

The offers of three $25 rewards for the recovery of the body still stand and it is not at all unlikely that Sunday will find many searchers along the banks of the creek in a hope of claiming the reward. The confluence of the river and creek is less than an eighth of a mile from the point where the accident occurred and many believe that the body may have been carried down the Allegany, instead of remaining in the creek. 

[Please NOTE the typing is being completed, as it is in the Newspaper, thus all the grammatical errors.]

October 7, 1912; Olean Evening News

No Trace Yet Discovered Of Body of late J. W. Joy

Although the search for the body of J.W. Joy has been continued unceasingly ever since his drowning on last Wednesday evening, there has been no trace whatever found of the missing man or any of his clothes or belongings.  The creek into which he fell has not yet given up his body, and if it was carried into the Allegany River, no one has as yet been able to discover where it lodged. Hundreds of people patrolled the banks of both streams yesterday, looking in vain for a floating corpse and others securing water telescopes scanned the creek and river bottom from boats, also without success. The rewards, totaling $75 for the recovery of the body, have not been increased. 

October 8, 1912; Olean Evening News

Body Still Unfound

The body of J.W. Joy, who was drowned in the Olean Creek, near the Shawmut bridge last Wednesday evening, has not yet been found. Every inch of the creek bottom from the Oliver Mill dam above the bridge to the place where the stream empties into the river has been thoroughly dragged, as well as carefully explored by the aid of water telescopes. The search has even been continued to the river itself and hundreds of people have tramped up and down the banks of the river in a vain effort to find the body of the missing man. The offer of $75 reward for the recovery of the body has been great stimulus to the search. 

October 9, 1912; Olean Evening Times

No trace has yet been discovered of the body of J.W. Joy who is supposed to have been drowned last Wednesday evening by falling from a Shawmut train into the Olean Creek.  If it is true that the bodies of drowned people reach the surface at the end of nine days as is commonly reported, it will be Friday night before the body will re-appear. 

October 10, 1912 - Olean Evening News (as written in paper)



Had been in the Water over a Week. 
Mr. Edel to get rewards of $75 - Body in Fair Condition

After having been carried fully a mile from where the drowning occurred and for over a week having lain in the water, beaten against the rocks in the shallows of the river and been made the play-thing of the eddying current beneath the surface the body of J.W. Joy, who fell into the Olean Creek from a Shawmut train, October 2nd,  was finally found early this morning, lodged against the piles of the long disused mill dam in the Allegany river, opposite the foot of South Eleventh Street. The body was discovered by Xavier Edel, an aged German living on Irving Street, almost opposite the dam and one of the few who have daily searched for some trace of the drowned man.  The gruesome find was made by Mr. Edel, this morning aobut 7:30 as he was starting out in his boat to fish up the stream. He had planned to look for the body on his return, but as he rowed out toward midstream, he saw the clothing caught against some of the old piles that were left in the riverbed wen the old mill was abandoned and the dam taken out, a generation ago. 

He rowed out to the body but found that it was so heavy with its water-soaked clothing that it would be impossible for him to bring it up the bank near where it was found. So he towed it down to the Fifteenth Street bridge and there, where the bank was less steep, brought the body to land.

He shouted for assistance and in a few moments the workmen employed in that vicinity on the new powerhouse and at the tannery had helped him lay the body gently on the bank. The police and Coroner Casser Smith were at once notified and word was sent to the stricken family at their Boardmanville home.  Two sons of the drowned man were just starting out on their search when the word was received that the quest was ended.

They hastened to the river and were there almost as soon as the coroner. After examining the body, Dr. Smith directed that it be taken to Woodard's undertaking rooms, where it will be prepared for burial.

Dr. Smith said that the body was not badly decomposed considering the length of time it had been in the water.  There were numerous bruises on the face, which, in the opinion of the coroner, were received after the body had been in the water, probably from rocks on the bottom or from obstructions that it had encountered in the stream.

There was also a cut three inches long in the head, which may have been caused either by striking against the ties or upon a rock in the stream below. The wound was not sufficient in itself to produce death, but might have caused a severe shock and probably rendered the man unconscious.

The cause of death as nearly as could be determined by the coroner was drowning, but the condition of the body is such that it would be impractical to hold an autopsy, even if the circumstances surrounding the case were such as to render one advisable. There can be little if any doubt that the accident occurred very much as the son first reported it, and that the man fell from the train directly into the creek.

The strange part of the whole affair is how the body could have escaped discovery for so long a time. It was Wednesday evening when the accident occurred and it was Thursday morning of the following week before Mr. Edel found the body. The sons of the dead man who have been indefatigable in their search, declare positively that they had repeatedly searched the river in the vicinity of the old dam, and as far down the course of the stream as Allegany. They are certain that yesterday the body was not in the place that it was found this morning. It would seem that it must have risen from some deep hole where it had been concealed and that sometime during the night it floated down the river and was caught on the piles of the old dam.

The reward offered by the police department of the city, the sons and relatives of the dead man, had encouraged hundreds of people to make a search for the body and it seemed as of every inch of the river bottom had been repeatedly dragged. The water telescope used to hunt for the body also failed to reveal any trace of it.  Not even the hat was found by the searchers, although it was not on the head when the body was picked up this morning. The water in which the body was found was quite shallow and it is extremely improbable that anyone searching the stream in the vicinity would have failed to see it.

Up to 1 o'clock this afternoon Mr. Edel had not appeared at the police station to claim his rewards, which total $75 and which have been fairly earned by him.

The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been completed but the burial will be in Little Genesee.

Mr. Joy is survived by his wife, Rachel Elizabeth Joy, and six children, Mrs. Nancy Woodin of Ceres, John Joy and Forrest Joy of this city, Mrs. Lena Appleby of Hamburg  Miss Lily Joy of Olean and Albert Joy, of Canaseraga. 

October 11, 1912 - Olean Evening News

Received Reward

Xavier Edel, who yesterday morning recovered the body of J. W. Joy applied this morning to the Shawmut railroad for his reward of $25, which was immediately paid by the road's representative Henry Sigel.  The bill for the reward from the city has been put in and will doubtless be approved at the next meeting of the Common Council. Mr. Edel is also to receive $25 from the relatives of the drowned man.

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