Wednesday, January 11, 2023

WORKDAY WEDNESDAY ~ Which of my ancestors were employed by a Railroad?

I know I have run across employment with railroads, several times in my research.  I hope I have recorded all of them, but I doubt that I have.  However, working with my Legacy database, let’s see how many “railroad” occupations I have recorded.

According to my Search there are 14 individuals in my database, who have an Occupation associated with the Railroad.  To find this I used the Search>Find tab in Legacy and entered my parameters.  I eliminated 3 of them in the list.  Two are not a confirmed ancestors and one is somehow on this list although I find no reference to a railroad occupation. I'm curious about the one with nothing listed as "railroad" and need to look more closely as to why Legacy added him. I doubt the program is wrong, so what did I miss? 


Looking at the exact description of the occupations, we have Brakeman, Railroad Agent/Telegraph Operator, Bookkeeper, Baggage Handler, Interlocker, Sashman, Cabman, Switchman, Conductor, & Snowman (to learn more about a Snowman, see this blog post WORKDAY WEDNESDAY ~ What is a Snowman?

So many different jobs available.  Some were quite dangerous and others were not.  Some of the men stayed with the Railroad and other moved on to other jobs.

Most of the occupation titles are self-explanatory. But what is an Interlocker and a Sashman?

Interlocker - On operator who would manually set the signal(s) to the appropriate reading (proceed, stop, caution, etc.).  It was a demanding job requiring constant vigilance.

Sashman – I tried learning the definition of this occupation when I wrote a previous post about one of the ancestors listed here, and could not locate it.  I searched again today and was unable to find a definition. If any of you can shed light on it, please let me know. 

I have tried, in the past, to find employment records from railroad companies, but have not been successful.  If you have any tips on that I’d love to hear them.  I’ve been told the records don’t go back very far and I need records from mid to late 1800s and early 1900s.

Here is a list of the men in mine and my husband’s family who were associated with the railroad.

BOWDEN, Robert L. – my maternal great grandfather

CLARK, Henry B. – my maternal 3rd cousin 3x removed

DAVIS, Thomas – husband of my paternal 2nd cousin twice removed

FITZCHARLES, George B. – my paternal 1st cousin twice removed

HALL, Charles S. – my husband’s paternal grandfather

HALL, Thomas C. – my husband’s paternal great grandfather

HART, Elijah E. – my paternal half 1st cousin 3x removed

HART, Henry A. - my paternal half 1st cousin 3x removed

SOUTHWELL, Samuel – Husband of my paternal half 2nd cousin twice removed

THORNTON, Andrew R. – my maternal 1st cousin twice removed

THORNTON, John Jr. – my maternal 1st cousin twice removed

Did you have any Railroad employees in your family?  I’d love to hear about them in comments or your own blog post. 


WORKDAY WEDNESDAY–What kind of work did your ancestors do?

FRIDAY FINDS ~ Henry A. Hart Killed By A Train–His story

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2023   Diane Gould Hall


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I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.