Fifteen years after his son Benson was crushed to death while driving an express wagon at Third Avenue and 83rd Street, Andrew McGowan (b. 1785) died while crossing the New Haven Railroad tracks near his house at East 127th Street.
This death notice seems to be the first time that the spelling “McGown’s Pass” appears in print. But that’s nothing next to our Herald hack’s fuzziness about both the location of the Pass (he thinks it is at Third Avenue) and the person for whom it was named (it sounds here as though it was named for Andrew McGown, Sr.). Finally, the obituary writer might have mentioned Major Andrew McGowan’s service in the War of 1812, and told us why the Pass was significant in that regard. This at least would put it all into context, instead of leaving us with a story about a deaf old man past his sell-by date.
From the New York Herald, March 5, 1870:
KILLED ON THE RAILROAD
An Aged Knickerbocker the Victim—Censure of the New Haven Railroad Company
Mr. Andrew McGown was born in this city nearly eighty-five years ago, as were also his father and his grandfather. It was after the elder McGown that “McGown’s Pass,” located in the rocks about 100th Street and Third avenue, and well remembered by the oldest inhabitants, was named. The McGowns were among the first settlers of Manhattan Island, and were well known to the old Knickerbocker families. For some years past Andrew McGown has been quite deaf, and it was with difficulty that he could hear unless addressed in an unusually loud tone of voice. On Tuesday last Mr. McGown attempted to cross Fourth Avenue at 128th street in advance of an approaching train of cars belonging to the New Haven Railroad Company. The engineer, seeing the danger, blew the alarm whistle, which, unfortunately, Mr. McGown did not hear, and in a moment or two afterwards the locomotive struck and threw him aside with great violence. The shock to his nervous system was so severe that death ensued some hours subsequently at the residence of the deceased, 127th street near Fourth avenue. Coroner Keenan gave the matter a thorough investigation, and the evidence of several witnesses being submitted to the jury they returned the following
“That Andrew McGown came to his death by being struck by a locomotive of a New Haven train at the crossing of 128th street and Fourth avenue on Tuesday, march 1, 1870. We exculpate the engineer, but censure the company for the rate of speed at which their trains are usually run and for not placing a flagman at this and other crossings.”