Just because they didn’t have automobiles doesn’t mean streets and roads were free of accidents in the 19th century. The accounts below appeared on the front page of the November 19, 1884 edition of the York Daily under the heading “Driving Accidents”:
Yesterday morning ‘Squire Platts, George Baum and Harry L. Kuehn left for the Conewago hills in a wagon, to hunt. After the day’s sport was over they started for home and in turning around the wagon was upset, throwing the occupants out. ‘Squire Platts had one of his arms broken, but fortunately it was the artificial one. Mr. Kuehn had his ankle sprained very severely, but Mr. Baum escaped unhurt. After the wagon upset the hose ran about a square, dragging it after him, when he stopped. The harness was torn and the wagon considerably damaged. Last night Mr. Kuehn was unable to walk. Dr. Stahle is attending him.
As Mr. George Shanabrook, residing in back of the reservoir, was coming down South Queen Street yesterday about eleven o’clock with a cart loaded with bricks, the horse became frightened and ran away, throwing Mr. Shanabrook between the wheel and the cart, and from there to the ground. No bones were broken, but his ribs, arm and shoulder were badly bruised, and his forehead scratched. Dr. Ahl was summoned, who rendered professional aid. Mr. Shanabrrok made a narrow escape; had the wheels passed over him, he no doubt would have been seriously injured. There was no damage done to the horse or cart.
On Monday night between nine and ten o’clock, the horses in the Pennsylvania House hack, while standing at the deport, became frightened and ran up Duke Street, striking a lamp post at Philadelphia Street, and were caught shortly afterwards. A son of ‘Squire Platts, in attempting to stop them, was knocked down and had his shoulder dislocated and otherwise injured. Dr. J. W. Brickley is the attending physician. The horses were not injured and the damage done to the hack was slight.
Yesterday about half-past eleven, as Mr. Daniel Peterson, living on Church Avenue, employed by the borough, was crossing Philadelphia Street at Beaver in a cart; his horse suddenly fell on his knees, which threw Mr. Peterson out and the cart passed over his chest. He was immediately picked up, placed in the cart and taken to his home. Dr. T.H. Geltz was summoned, and upon examination found one rib broken. He was considerably bruised, but his injuries are not serious.
Note that all four accidents were caused by horse power (literally) going awry. Only when our cars have rare mechanical failures or in bad weather can we pass on the blame from other than human error. We can’t use the runaway horse excuse.