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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Watts, Ashford (P1, C3, L20)

Watts AshfordPrivate Ashford Watts, age 22, of Leatherwood, Perry County, died on May 13, 1917 when he was struck by a train while on state active duty guarding a railroad Aden Tunnel in Carter County near Grahn, Kentucky.

Watts enlisted in Company F, 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment based in Jackson on 9 April 1917. According to newspaper accounts Watts had built a fire near the track in the mouth of the tunnel he was guarding. He had turned his back on the tunnel and when the train came through at high speed he was struck and crushed by the train and his body was mutilated and torn and would up some ten feet from the tracks.

See Kentucky Guard Railroad Related Fatalities 1917-18

Many of the Kentucky Guard were on state duty after the border in order to guard key transportation points around the Commonwealth. Under Special Order No. 36 of March 31, 1917, Captain Short, with Company F, was sent to Lexington to report to the county judge of Fayette County, and to "At the Netherland shops", one mile east of Lexington, three guard the interests of the C. & O. Railroad Company there. sentry posts were established and maintained; at Sinking Creek Tunnel, one mile east of Fultz, two sentry posts were set up; at the Needle's Eye Tunnel, near Aden, thirty-three miles west of Ashland, were two sentry posts; at the Triplett Tunnel, one mile west of Soldier and fifty miles west of Ashland, two sentry posts were established. Research has not yet established which of these tunnels he was assigned to where the accident happened.

Wwatts ashford headstone1atts is the son of Hiram and Polly Noble Watts. He listed his civilian occupation as farmer. Watts was buried in the Noble Cemetery in the Lost Creek community of Breathitt County. Photograph courtesy Stephen D. Bowling Collection / Breathitt County Public Library.

Ashford Watts
The Jackson Times 18 May 1917 page 1

Three salutes to Ashford Watts,
A noble fighter for Old Glory;
Captain, go fire three volleys—
We'll tell of him in song and story.

No more at midnight from his sleep
Shall the Corporal arouse him;
Nevermore dreamy thoughts of home
Shall be disturbed by voices grim.

Dreams of his sweetheart at home
Shall be broken never again;
He was brave, handsome and willing
And died like the noblest of men.

Father, we were proud of your boy,
Who into the fray prayed to go;
Father, you too, are proud of him—
Your boy, our boy - who died a hero.

A Comrade.
Co. F, 2nd Inf., Ky. N. G.

From a photocopy of clipping attributed to: Lexington Herald May 14, 1917 Page 2

Watts, of Jackson, private in Company F, K.N.G., Second Infantry, and killed him almost instantly. The body was crushed by the train and the young man's face was badly mutilated. The body was mangled and torn.
The body will be brought to Winchester tomorrow morning. A military escort will accompany the casket. Funeral services will be conducted by Lieutenant H. H. De Moss, chaplain of the Second Regiment. Burial will be conducted with military honors.
Mr. Watts had built a fire near the track in the mouth of the tunnel and had turned his back on the tunnel. The train came through at high speed. The body was thrown about ten feet.

Killed By Train
Kingsport Times, Kingsport, Tenn. 17 May 1917, Page 5 (Likely a wire service report picked up by the paper)
Olive Hill, Ky., May 13. – Ashford Watts, of Jackson, Ky., was killed by a train near Aden, this county, last night.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, 30 Mar 1922, Page 8

In 1917 another son, Ashford Watts, A soldier, was killed in a tunnel in Carter County. …

Below a photo of Aden tunnel which is no longer in use by the railroad.

Found reference to an article mentioning Watts cited The Winchester Sun 5-14-1917 but no copy or text of the article has been found so far.

The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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