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Memorial gives history, results of 1947 tragedy
Jul 29, 2013 | 1006 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MAYOR STEVE HIATT (left) and Councilman Gil Miller (right) stand with Chloe Rice Thompson and Alex Jenkins at the new memorial honoring the couple who donated the land that is now Barnes Park. 

Photo by Louise R. Shaw|Davis Clipper
MAYOR STEVE HIATT (left) and Councilman Gil Miller (right) stand with Chloe Rice Thompson and Alex Jenkins at the new memorial honoring the couple who donated the land that is now Barnes Park. Photo by Louise R. Shaw|Davis Clipper
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BY LOUISE R. SHAW

Clipper Staff Writer

KAYSVILLE – Away from the baseball diamonds, the covered picnic areas and the sand volleyball courts, a winding path in Barnes Park leads to a new memorial.

It’s a quiet area on the south side of the park, graced by shade trees and bordering a rock-lined stream.

It’s the place Alex Jenkins and his family chose to place a plaque honoring the couple who, despite personal tragedy, donated the land to make the world better for other families.

“I’ve been playing sports here most of my life,” said Jenkins, 15, who did the memorial as an Eagle project. “The story really stuck out to me.”

The story happened in 1947, when a car full of children was hit by a train at the 200 North crossing in Kaysville.

Six children were killed and the driver and two others were injured.

Three of the six killed were the children of Rulon and Emily Barnes, who had already lost their first child when he was three weeks old.

Chloe Rice Thompson, a niece of the Barnes parents, remembers the day, March 21, 1947.

She was eight years old and her mother woke her at 11 p.m. to tell her all her cousins had been killed.

“I remember it very vividly,” she said.

A storage train sitting on another track blocked the view of the oncoming train, she recalled. 

A first train had passed and the driver of the car, a parent of another of the children who died, hadn’t realized there was another train coming toward them at 65 miles per hour.

Those killed were David Barnes, 6; Sterling Barnes, 10; Harold Rice Barnes, 14; Carol Lee Preslar, 11; David Sandall,13; and JoAnn Webster, 10.

Thompson remembers the funerals, and she remembers the letters of consolation that came from all over the country.

“Some were addressed to ‘The parents who lost three children, Kaysville, Utah,’ or ‘To the parents of the kids killed in the accident,’” she said.

“No, they never got over it,” said Thompson, who stayed close to the two. “It was really tough, but they used it for a positive thing.”

Rulon Barnes always said it was no one’s fault, said Thompson. It was just an accident.

He and his wife, who lived to be 80 and 95, respectively, zeroed in on children, she said, and would always support anything that had to do with kids. 

Had their sons lived, the sons likely would have farmed their land, said Thompson. 

Instead, Rulon and Emily Barnes donated it to the city for a park.

“They would love this park,” said Thompson. “This park would be just exactly what they wanted. They loved sports Р they didn’t want a golf course Р they wanted something families could come to.”

The generosity of the Barnes family in the face of such loss is “beyond words,” said Mayor Steve Hiatt. 

“Their generosity and desire to see families come together is appreciated and will leave a legacy for generations to come,” he said. 

It is important for the new generations to learn more about local history, said Hiatt.

“We need to be looking for more opportunities to make younger generations know about those who served, suffered and dedicated so much for our community,” he said.

To raise money for the memorial, Jenkins, who will enter Davis High next year, wrapped presents at Christmas and collected private donations.

He credited his mother for introducing him to the Barnes’ story.

“It grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go,” said his mother, Sherri Jenkins.

The memorial includes a photo of Rulon and Emily and each of the children who died, along with a brief overview of the story.

lshaw@davisclipper.com

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