Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
MASON CLAUDE WASHBURN. Although Springfield is a city of considerable size, where the inhabitants are engaged in a great variety of pursuits, yet a large number of her citizens are engaged in railroading or dependent upon the railroads, one way and another, for their livelihood; and where there are so many actively engaged in as hazardous a calling as railroading there necessarily occur many fatal accidents. One of the most regrettable was the loss of Mason Claude Washburn, a Frisco employee, who met his untimely death while a member of a train crew over thirteen years ago. He was a young man of much promise, only a quarter of a century having passed over his head, and he was summoned before his judge in the Great Beyond when it seemed that he was most needed here. He was both a railroader and a minister of the gospel, and no doubt would have eventually become a leading preacher in the Christian church in southern Missouri had he been spared.
Mr. Washburn, who was familiarly known as "Claude" Washburn, was born on July 19, 1875, in the state of Illinois. He was a son of Henry Harrison Washburn and Molly E. (Wilson) Washburn. The father was born on September 25, 1849, and the mother's birth occurred June 14th of the same year, both being natives of Kentucky, where they grew to maturity, were educated in the common schools and were married, and from that state they immigrated to Illinois, where they resided until about 1886, in which year they came to Springfield, Missouri, and established the future home of the family. A few years ago the parents of the subject of this memoir removed to Cape Girardeau, this state. Henry H. Washburn has followed railroading ever since he was a boy, has been in the employ of several roads, and has been with the Frisco system about thirty-five years, all told. He is now a passenger conductor; in fact, has been for many years. His family consisted of four children, namely: Lutie lives in St. Louis; Mason C., subject of this sketch; Pearl lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and Harry H. lives in Chaffee, Missouri. The father of these children is a prominent Mason, having attained the thirty-second degree in this order.
Mason C. Washburn was young in years when his parents brought him to Springfield, Missouri, and here he grew to manhood and received a good education, including the public and high schools, a business college and the old Normal school. He prepared himself for the ministry in the Christian church, in which he was engaged for five or six years, during which time he had a church on the north side and supplied a number of pulpits in his denomination. He was a successful minister, well versed in the Bible, and was an earnest, forceful and convincing speaker and a man whose influence in all the relations of life made for better living.
Mr. Washburn secured a position as brakeman on the Frisco railroad in November, 1896, and was assigned to a freight crew to run between Monett, Missouri, and Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Mr. Washburn was married on June 28, 1898, to Lydia M. Wilkerson, who was born on April 16, 1875, in Polk county, Missouri. She is a daughter of Dr. J. M. and Mary (Ayers) Wilkerson. Doctor Wilkerson was born in Tennessee on November 2, 1844, and his wife was born in Missouri on September 8, 1849. He received his medical education in the St. Louis Medical College and practiced for many years in Humansville, Polk county, this state, finally removing to Springfield, where he and his wife still reside. A complete sketch of them appears on another page of this work. Mrs. Washburn grew to womanhood in the town of Humansville and she received a good education in the public schools.
To Mr. and Mrs. Washburn one child was born, James Harrison Washburn, whose birth occurred on June 22, 1899, he is being educated in the Springfield schools. Mrs. Washburn and son live on North Jefferson street.
Politically, Mr. Washburn was a Republican.
The tragic death of Mr. Washburn occurred on November 13, 1900. We quote the following account of the accident from the Springfield Leader of that date:
"Claude Washburn, one of the most popular trainmen in Springfield, met a horrible death at Aurora this morning. He left Springfield this morning as a brakeman on an extra run out in charge of Conductor Garvin. At Aurora the train was heading in and while taking the side track Claude Washburn was riding the pilot of the engine. By a sudden jerk of the locomotive the unfortunate man was thrown from the pilot directly in front of the track and then the engine wheels crushed his life out. He was dragged a short distance, there being scarcely room for a body to pass beneath the pilot, but the wheels of the engine passed over both legs and he was horribly mangled. The engine was stopped as quickly as possible, but the brakeman lived but a few minutes after being taken from beneath the engine. The remains were brought to this city on a passenger train.
"Claude Washburn grew to manhood in Springfield. He came here when only a small boy with his parents. He was about twenty-five years of age and leaves a wife and one child. He was an extra conductor and had been running trains a great deal this fall. He would soon have had a regular run as a conductor if he had lived, as he was considered a most efficient man. His father, H. H. Washburn, an old Frisco conductor, resigned his position yesterday and left last night for Little Rock, Arkansas. His mother and aged grandfather are now at the home on Benton avenue and are heartbroken, as Claude was the pride of the family. Out on Summit avenue and Pacific street there is also his heartbroken widow, almost prostrated by the untimely death of her husband. She is the daughter of Dr. J. M. Wilkerson.
"Claude Washburn was a religious man and a member of the Christian church on Washington avenue. Before he began to work on the railroad he had a strong liking for the ministry, and had in fact been a local preacher. He was a member of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, and attended the national convention in Boston as a delegate in 1895. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. He is spoken of in the highest terms by all who know him, and there is probably not a railroad man of Springfield whose death would cause more general sorrow."
Springfield-Greene County Library