Darren McMannis to speak on history of travel accidents

Flyer reading "Roadside Crosses: A presentation by Darren McMannis," Nov. 19, 7 p.m."

Roadside memorials to accident victims are often seen around Harvey County and around the country, placed as a loving tribute by family and friends.

Local historian and author Darren McMannis will speak about roadside crosses, and the stories behind them, in a program at Newton Public Library, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.

McMannis recently published a book, “Roadside Crosses,” that collects newspaper accounts of nearly 400 roadside accidents in Harvey County, from 1872 through 1930, including some humorous tellings of near-miss events. Most were gleaned from the archives of the Newton Kansan.

“One of the most painfully sad accidents ever occurring in this city,” begins one such story. “The most sudden and horrible death we have ever been called upon to report,” begins another.

However, these stories chronicle not only the manner of such tragedies, but also honor the victims in reporting the sympathy of the entire community.

McMannis’ research highlights how modes of travel have changed, the dangers inherent in each, and the ways in which tragic events help shape the character and attitudes of a community.