Heroic Men Save Family From Runaway Horse and Carriage

Runaway horse and carriage
Runaway horse and carriage

Here’s a wild story from The Washington Post, printed on April 21st, 1913.

Two unidentified men risked their lives yesterday afternoon in stopping a runaway horse attached to a surrey containing four persons in G, near Sixth street northwest, and then, after brushing the dust off their clothes, boarded a street car and disappeared. Another man, Harry L. McCormick of 313 G street, rescued a 9-month-old baby by climbing on the steps of the surrey and catching the child from the hands of its mother. A young man, whose name could not be learned, jumped up on the back of the surrey, climbed around to the front seat, and gave the driver material assistance in holding the maddened horse.

The occupants of the surrey were George T. Bowman, of 405 Second street southeast; his wife, their baby, his sister-in-law, Miss Inez Wade, and her brother, James, 11 years old. Bowman is a salesman and a former liveryman.

After dinner yesterday he hired the surrey and a big black horse that he had often driven before.

While passing Union Station the horse took sudden fright at a passing automobile and started on a gallop, turning into G street.

Dashing madly on, the horse swung the light surrey from side to side, barely missing several other vehicles and almost spilling the occupants of the surrey. Bowman, standing with the reins wrapped about his wrists, was unable to check the animal.

Mrs. Bowman, with her baby in her arms, was crying frantically, and was about to throw it out of the carriage when Harry L. McCormick, who had rushed out of his store near Fourth street, leaped to the step and took the child.

Unable to stop his horse, Bowman was gradually weakening, when a young man came to his aid by jumping on the back of the surrey and crawling [sic] around to the dashboard. With his added help, Bowman was able to swerve his horse as it headed for a trolley car running on Fifth street, and the surrey just grazed the car.

The two men yanked at the reins with all their might. Between Fifth and Sixth streets they succeeded in breaking the speed of the horse, but he was just starting off on another spring when two men ran out from both sides of the street, caught hold of the bridle at the same time, and held on for a quarter of a block before they stopped the runaway. Then they and the young man who had jumped into the surrey disappeared.

The carriage party was highly nervous when rescued, and it was with difficulty that Bowman told his story to Policeman McCarthy.

The horse and carriage were taken to a livery stable nearby, and an automobile that had followed the runaway from Union Station took the party home, stopping on the way for the baby. Miss Wade got out of the automobile for the child, expecting to see it badly hurt. She fainted when she found the baby was unscratched.

The drama! Not something you’d see today of course, but can you imagine the scene this caused?

We were able to dig up a record of Mr. Bowman in the 1913 city directory. Check it out below.

George Bowman - 1913 city directory
George Bowman – 1913 city directory

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any additional information on Bowman or McCormick.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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