Railroad gave life and took life from community

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Remember the article in the Shelby County Reporter story about Bob Kendrick whose round-trip to Bessemer to trade goods for his store at K-springs took three days?

I recently received an e-mail from Lawrence Kendrick Jr., a grandson of Bob.

He does not remember his grandfather, he said, because Bob died in a railroad accident in 1906. But he remembers his father Lawrence, the infant in the photograph accompanying the story, and his grandmother Susan Ella Davis Kendrick, the lady holding the infant..

He remembers, too, his Aunt Era, Bob and Susan Ella’s youngest daughter who shared old family photos and stories with me before her death around 20 years ago.

It was Era Kendrick Crim who first told me the story of her father’s accident.

She was around nine at the time. A union of farmers, who held meetings at the K-Springs church building, had convinced Bob to combine his store with theirs and operate one large store near where the railroad was going through The Narrows.

He began work at the new store while work was still being done on the store and the railroad. When railroad workers got ready to blast, they would blow a whistle, but one day they didn’t blow it soon enough.

Crim recalled, “There were eight men in the store and they all ran for cover, diving under the table and just anything. But they said my daddy just turned and leaned his head down against the big mantle. I guess he thought the chimney would protect him.”

But it didn’t. A large rock hit him on the head and killed him.

At the time of Bob’s death, Lawrence, the baby in the old, family photograph, would have been around 18.

The rock that killed Robert L. (Bob) Kendrick was placed on his grave in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery and is still there.