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Looking back: Man murdered, child ignites a powder explosion and father and son escape from stalled car on railroad

Looking Back

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EAST IDAHO — is looking back in time at what life was like during this week in history.

This week is Nov. 15 to Nov. 21.


PRESTON — A man who was “well know in this city” was arrested at his home in Preston on Nov. 17, 1904, on a charge of having killed a man, The Pocatello Tribune reported.

William G. Hopson was arrested after a body was found in a boxcar in the Ogden yards in Utah on Nov. 2. The news “was quite a surprise to those who know him.” The paper said Hopson was in Preston on election day but never said or acted like he was connected with the killing.

“He is said to have made a confession. … In the confession, he claims to have committed the deed in self-defense,” The Pocatello Tribune article reads.

Hopson told “newspapermen” that on Nov. 1, he and Lynch — the man who was murdered — were at Cache Junction when they hopped on a lumber car a little after 10 p.m. The two of them talked about “several things” before Lynch asked Hopson how much money he had and what his business was. Hopson told him he was a bartender.

“After the train pulled out, he slipped down on the lower pile of wood on which I was sitting and sat beside me,” Hopson recalled. “I asked him to move away, and the first thing I knew, he was going through me. I got away from him, and one word led to another, and he abused me.”

Lynch allegedly told Hopson he’d cut his throat. According to Hopson, Lynch then shoved his hand in his pocket, and Hopson pulled his gun out and shot him. Hopson said he watched him fall over on the pile of lumber, and then he put Lynch’s coat over his body. He said he heard a rattle in Lynch’s throat and “was satisfied he was dying.”

“Hopson was cool and apparently unconcerned in telling his story as he might have been in relating an adventure with a dog,” the paper said. “He bears a rather hard reputation in some quarters and has had trouble with officers before.”

Deputies said there were several conflicting statements in Hopson’s confession that didn’t fit other statements and facts.

Hopson was married and had six children living in Preston at the time of the crime.


RIGBY — A child was injured in a powder explosion, according to an article in The Rigby Star dated Nov. 20, 1930.

A four-year-old boy belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Dan Robbins of Rigby got a hold of a can that contained a small amount of powder and “lighted a match to the contents.”

“The explosion which followed burned practically all the flesh from his face, his eyes swelling shut to an extent that it was feared he would never see again,” the paper explained.

Doctors said he had a 50-50 chance of recovering his eyesight, but at the time the article was published, the child was still unable to see.


BLACKFOOT — A father and son miraculously escaped from their vehicle before a train hit it, the Idaho State Journal said.

On Nov. 16, 1957, Fort Hall local Eugene Diggie and his son Quincy, 15, were going west on Truchot road, which was seven miles south of Blackfoot, when their 1919 car stalled on the tracks. Diggie told state patrolman Paul H. Todd that they looked up and saw the train when it was only 100 yards away.

“They jumped out of the car and ran just before the train hit,” the Idaho State Journal said. “They were not injured, but the car was demolished.”

Engineer E. L. Nelson said he saw the car and applied the emergency brake to slow the train down. The train hit the car at an estimated 45 miles an hour and carried it almost 130 feet.


SODA SPRINGS — The first female to fly an airplane by herself in the Soda Springs area did so on Oct. 20, 1977, according to the Caribou County Sun.

The paper reported the news on Nov. 17, 1977. It said Ann Chambers made her first solo flight from the Soda Springs Airport in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

“Ann is going to be a top-notch pilot,” Jerry W. Stoor, Chambers’ instructor, said.