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Can you help with information about railroad worker great-grandfathers?

Donner Lake.
T. MORAN, DONNER LAKE, CALIFORNIA, colored engraving, 1873
(after) Thomas Moran, Donner Lake, hand-colored (modern) engraving,
NY: 1873. Size: 6 x 9".
Courtesy Ed Sherman, California Images.

The Library of Congress states that:  "No first-person memoirs of the Chinese experience in nineteenth-century California are known to survive. There is always hope that further research in the United States and the People's Republic of China will produce such a narrative ..."

We hope that families of transcontinental railroad workers will send us e-mails to make a record of their ancestors' history.

Here are e-mails from people seeking information about their ancestors:

Bruce C. Cooper wrote:
> ... my great great grandfather, Lewis M. Clement was the first assistant chief engineer of the CPRR from 1863 to 1881. Between 1863 and 1869 he had, among his many other duties, primary charge of the design, location and construction of the CPRR sections of the first transcontinental railroad over the Sierras from Colfax to Truckee, and the last 200 miles across eastern Nevada and into Utah to Promontory Summit. (L.M. Clement also served the CPRR for many years as its Superintendent of Track.) Later in his career he worked on the design and construction of many cable and street rail systems in California and elsewhere. Among those were the Market Street and other cable car lines in San Franscisco as well as various street car lines in Oakland, CA.

Bruce Cooper and Lewis Metzler Clement mannequin at the CSRM
Bruce Clement Cooper meets his great-great-grandfather Lewis Metzler Clement (mannequin) at the new surveying exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

The Day Before ...

Elizabeth L. Gero wrote:
>  [This] picture that was taken in Utah ... shows my grandfather,
Patrick Lynch, sitting in front of the photographers wagon.  He and his
companion had paid the photographer eight dollars to sleep under the wagon
the night before the driving of the golden spike at Promontory [Summit], - so
>  the story goes.  ...  He was an Irish immigrant who arrived here
>  as a child in the 1840's and had settled with his family in New York State. ...
>  He was from from Ballymore, Rathconrath, County Westmeath, Leinster, Ireland. ...
>  His companion was a man by the name of Mack (first name of Mach's son was
>  William).  They sailed to Panama and crossed the isthmus, and
>  from there sailed to San Francisco.  Both worked as carpenters on the snow
>  sheds.  Found your site fascinating.  Had just always wondered if anyone
>  knew who the 'ordinary' people were who were photographed.  The story is
>  that he was in the famous picture atop the engine on the left hand side of
>  the picture.  The man who knew which one he was died 50 years ago and took
>  that information with him.  As with all these things, wish I had paid more
>  attention.  The subjects returned to New York State and lived out their
>  lives here — telling about bathing and washing their clothing in the hot
>  springs and seeing the spike driven.  Both Patrick and my father, fathered
>  children when they old enough to be grandfathers, so brings the history a
>  little closer.  ... Patrick had two brothers who emigrated to California.
Elizabeth L. Gero

Patrick Lynch, May 9, 1869 in front of photographer's wagon at Promontory Summit, Utah
Patrick Lynch, an Irish Central Pacific Railroad carpenter who built the snowsheds,
camping in front of photographer's wagon at Promontory Summit, Utah, May 9, 1869.
The next day, Patrick Lynch witnessed the driving of the golden spike and was
photographed atop the CPRR's Jupiter engine at the ceremony.
Courtesy Elizabeth L. Gero Collection.

They rode the first train ...

Sheila R. McCloud wrote:
> ... My family was on the first train and at Promotory Point. ... I have 2 short passages written by my Great-great Aunt Ida McDonald. ...
Click for Ida McDonald ObituaryGreat-great Aunt Ida McDonaldIn the winter of 1868 Andrew Jackson McDonald auctioned off his property and after paying a farewell to his wife's family at Talbottom, Ga. in the latter part of April 1869 they took a steamer at Savannah, Ga. bound for New York. Passage had been engaged on a New York boat for Calif. On the way up the coast the ship was delayed in a severe storm off Cape Hatteras. When they arrived in New York the outward bound vessel was gone. Upon investigation it was found that the new transcontinental railroad was nearing completion and that by taking a stage a short distance they could come that way. Rather than wait for another ship and risk of encountering another storm and being sick again, he bought a family ticket on what proved to be the first through transcontinental passenger train. Andrew J. McDonald was present at the laying of the last rail and was given a piece of the wood supposed a part of the last rail but I [Ida] could never quite understand just how a rail could be laid and then given away as souvenirs. (The old aunts kept that piece of wood until the last died in 1954. They gave it to a niece and sometime later her husband accidently threw it away) (I about died when I heard that story) The trip ended near Stockton, Ca. Those traveling on the train were Andrew Jackson McDonald born 1831, his wife Lucinda Francis Maxwell McDonald born 1831, children Mary Eula born 1854, Ida born 1857, John born 1859, Jack born 1861, Clara born 1865, and infant Lovett born Feb.1869.

Recollections of Ida Valentine McDonald, Courtesy Sheila R. McCloud.

Andrew Jackson McDonaldAndrew Jackson McDonald ObituaryAndrew Jackson McDonald (called Jack) was born Georgia and spent his life there and in Alabama up to the time of his departure for California in April, 1869. Click for McDonald Family History, pages 1-2He went to school at Mercer University and fought in the civil War at the battle of Chicamauga. Very soon after the close of the war, his father (Lovet McDonald with his family) came to California and sent back glowing accounts of the openings here for making a fresh beginning. In the winter of 1869 he auctioned off his property and after paying a paying a farewell to his wife's people at Talbotton, Georgia in the latter part of April, he took a steamer at Savannah, Georgia bound for New York. His father had come by way of the isthmus, and he had planned to do the same. Passage had been engaged on a New York boat for California. On the way up the coast the shop on which he hand his family were was delayed in sever storm off Cape Hatteras. and when it finally arrived in New York the outward bound vessel was gone. Upon investigation it was found that the new transcontinental railroad was nearing completion and that by taking a stage a for a short distance they could come that way. Rather than wait for another ship and risk of encountering another storm and ell being sick again, he bought a family ticket on what proved to be the first through transcontinental passenger train. McDonald Family History, pages 3-4He was present at the laying of the last rail and was given a piece of wooed supposed a part of the last rail but I could never quite understand just how a rail could be laid and then given away as souvenirs. The trip ended near Stockton, California where his father was then living. Both began looking for a place to establish permanent homes and finally they located .... County California, near where the Southern runs and not far from the San Joaquin river. There was quite settlement of Southern people there, mostly from Alabama and the place became know as the Alabama Settlement. The nearness to the river proved to be quite an advantage. The settlers had free access to the driftwood for fuel, fish were abundant and there were berries in the bottomlands There was a ferry across the river run by Mr. Landrum.Hundreds of cattle belonging to Miller and Lux roamed the plans and made beaten paths leading from all directions to the river where they all meet for their daily drink. Farmers who planted grain or who wanted to keep the wild grass for their own stock had to stand watch day and night to keep it from being eaten by the cattle. Supplies had to be hauled by team from Stockton. It took about a week to make the round trip. A school was organized and a Sunday School was held in an old deserted settlers house near the banks of Cottonwood creek. There was no water in this creek except after heavy rains and then it was dangerous to cross on out of quicksand. In wet weather there were places where cattle would sink in as far as their bodies. Our milk cow went down and the neighbors gathered with long boards and pried her out. It was a long time before she recovered from the effects of it. In the spring of 1873 my father sold his claim and moved to the place near Centerville where my mother died. Ten years later he moved up to the hills near Auberry Valley where he was living at the time of his death shortly after his eighty-first birthday. He was always active in the Sunday school work in whatever neighborhood he was in. He was brought up in the Baptist church and it was one of his deep regrets in the earlier days that there was no organization with which to affiliate. Ion the early nineties he put his church letter in the then newly organized Baptist church in Fresno where he remained the rest of his life.

Andrew Jackson McDonald ... his wife Lucinda Frances Maxwell McDonald The little girls are (the seated one) Mary Eula McDonald, her sister Ida Valentine. The little boys are (seated one) John William and Jack Benson.
The man is Andrew Jackson McDonald the lady sitting is his wife Lucinda Frances Maxwell McDonald. The older man is Andrew Jackson in his older years [darker image, above]. The little girls are (the seated one) Mary Eula McDonald, her sister Ida Valentine the little boys are (seated one) John William and Jack Benson all the children of A.J. and Lucinda. Not pictured but on the train were Clara Lou (would have been 4) and Lovett born Feb.1869 died 1871. All of these rode the train. Courtesy Sheila R. McCloud Collection.

Dennis A. Bullard wrote:
>  ... I've been trying to get any and all info about ...
Benjamin Welch, Master Car Builder [for the] CPRR, SPT Co. or
>  his sons.  Please email me if you can help.  ... I'm ... Dennis Alan Bullard
>  ... a locomotive engineer with [the] Camas Prairie RR in Idaho ...
>  Benjamin Welch's great, great, grandson. ...
B[enjamin] Welch was very close to Mr. [Lewis Metzler] Clement, T. Judah and
the Big 4.  Benjamin Welch started with T. Judah at [the] Sacramento Valley RR.
I believe he built the shops at Folsom.  He also built the shops in Sacramento.
>  My Aunt Cindy told me when I first started looking that Mr. Clement and Mr.
Welch had built the emigrant sleeper together. ...
>  He was hired by Huntington 11/01/1863 retired on a pension in 12/01/1903.  In 1865
>  he built the Bucker snowplow ...  I also have a picture of him standing next to the first
>  plow CPRR #9.  He also reconstructed the American River Bridge that was destroyed
>  by fire.  I might have been wrong about the Emigrant Car but I know he was involved
>  in the designing some of the first used by CPRR.  If you have any info[rmation] on [the]
>  Tourist Car I believe that he did design that car in 1870 ...
>  I [also] have a ... silk ... menu from the Golden Eagle Hotel Sept. 28, 1869 ...
>  printed up by Russell and Winterburn Printers ... [from a] big complimentary
>  banquet ... for the officers of the CPRR by the citizens of Sacramento. ...
Dennis A. Bullard
Benjamin Welch portrait detail from "The Last Spike" painting by Thomas Hill
Benjamin Welch portrait detail from
"The Last Spike" painting by Thomas Hill
Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper and
the California State Railroad Museum.
George Kraus.  High Road to Promontory.  New York, Castle Books, 1969. p. 300:
"BENJAMIN WELCH, master car builder for the Central Pacific and later the Southern Pacific, built or invented many devices that helped the railroad get over the rough and rugged Sierra during the construction period. The 'Bucker' snowplow was his invention, and he built nine of them at the shops. The low-cost emigrant sleeper and the luxury Silver Palace sleeper were also built by him. Welch, along with I. G. Graves, built and operated the shops of the Sacramento Valley Rail Road at Folsom. Later, he became car master on the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad, which he left for his position on the Central Pacific at Sacramento. The men who worked under him invariably liked him and called him 'Uncle Ben Welch.'  Few other details are known of this man, although he was employed by the Central Pacific and, later, the Southern Pacific until 1899."
Courtesy of Edson T. Stobridge.

Edward E. Steele wrote on 22 Feb 2001:
>  ... my grandmother was Ada West, and her grandfather was Chauncey W. WestMormon Bishop Chauncey W. West in charge of CPRR construction in Utah
>  He was the Mormon Bishop whom Brigham Young asked to handle the construction
>  of the CPRR through western Utah.  I am a genealogist and have been documenting
>  our family history for about 25 years. ... I have lots of information on C. W. West,
>  but I am wondering if you have a manuscript or photograph collection that might
>  contain any materials pertaining to him.
"The 1860s saw the opening of the West and the construction of the nation's first transcontinental railroad.  Lorin Farr accepted a contract from the Central Pacific Railroad for the construction of the roadbed from Nevada to the east.  Chauncey West was given charge of the Central Pacific's construction project.  He was with the group of men representing the Central Pacific Railroad at the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah, on 10 May 1869.   Bishop West died while on a trip to San Francisco to negotiate payment of funds (promised by Gov. Leland Stanford) for the Mormon laborers who constructed the Central Pacific Railroad line. "
Ted Steele, St. Louis, Missouri

John D. Connolly, Jerome, Idaho writes on 1/18/2004:
> My grandfather, William Zehander Connolly, lived and worked in Beowawe, Nevada for years. He worked as a pumper for a railroad. ... He was also the Justice of the Peace in Beowawe from 1947 to 1952. I know he worked for the RR from the early 1930's on and possibly earlier. ... I ... have a photo of the Pumphouse and tower with my grandfather and uncle standing in from of it in 1937. ... Reynolds G. Connolly is on the left. He is the son of William Zehander Connolly (on the right). I really don't know what my grandfather actually did other than insure that the locomotives (as he put it) "got their fair share of water." I can only assume that he also repaired the equipment at the pump house and made sure everything worked as it should have. He died in 1953 when I was 8 so I don't really remember a lot about him, hence my current journey into his life.

Southern Pacific RR Pumper, William Zehander Connolly, and son, Beowawe, Nevada, 1937.  Courtesy John D. Connolly Collection.
Southern Pacific RR Pumper, William Zehander Connolly, and son, Beowawe, Nevada, 1937. Courtesy John D. Connolly Collection.
Obituary of Southern Pacific RR Pumper, William Zehander Connolly.  Courtesy John D. Connolly.

Robert E. Stewart, Carson City, Nevada, author, Aurora, Golden City of the Dawn, writes on 11-10-2003:
> I will start with the question, then explain: Is it known how the Golden Spike was transported to Promontory? I am expanding a little book I wrote about Aurora, Nevada. In it I devote a number of pages to a biosketch of Laura Crittenden Sanchez, the wife of mayor Ramon Sanchez and daughter of Alexander P. Crittenden of San Francisco. Some years ago I gave a talk on Aurora to the docents at the Nevada Historical Society, and talked about Laura's life. Afterward Jim Higgins, a former employee of the Society who had left to become librarian in Ely, then came back to Reno as a docent, asked "Why didn't you mention that Laura carried the Golden Spike on the train, on her lap, to Promontory?" The answer of course was that I was not aware of that. He said he was certain that it was true. Jim became sick shortly after that, and I was never able to get any further detail before he died. I have searched the Nevada Historical Society records (with the help of the curators) for a hint of where he learned that fact, to no success. Can you help?

Edson T. Strobridge comments:
... the gold spike was in Stanford's care from Sacramento to Promontory from May 4th or 5th until the morning of the 10th of 1869. Stanford left Sacramento early in the morning of Wednesday the 5th with the spike, the Laurel last tie and the silver headed spike maul and arrived at Promontory Friday afternoon on the 7th. There are no reports that I have ever seen that Mrs. Sanchez was one of Stanford's guests aboard any of his cars and she isn't listed as having been at Promontory at the celebration. It is my guess that what you have is just another story passed along with no support or documentation which has become part of the folklore  that surrounds the Central Pacific.

Hank Houck wrote:
> I have been informed that my Great-Grandfather, Frederick L(ivingston)
> Barker, was a brakeman, on either the CPRR or UPRR, at Promontory Point,
> when the "Golden Spike" was "driven".
> Frederick, a Civil War veteran, was born in, I believe, N.Y. state in
>1843.  He died in Weiser, Idaho in 1931.
>According to my Uncle, Robert Barker (aged 89), his grand-father,
>Frederick, along with other original train crew members, received, from
>Fox Studios, a commemorative bronze plaque and a life-time free movie
>pass, when the film "The Iron Horse" was released.
>Does your museum have any information that may shed light on these
>matters?  Does Frederick show up as a crew-member?  How long was he a
>rail worker?  Does he appear in any of the available photos of the
>Promontory ceremonies?  Is there any photo accessible?  Are there any
>biographical notes on his work or life?
>Any information would be greatly appreciated.
>Thank you for your time,
>Henry C. Houck

Joan Tierney wrote on Jul 24, 2003:
> Subject: Irishmen on the CPRR 1869
> Hello to the great CPRR museum. I have just finished reading the Stephen Ambrose book, "Nothing Like It in the World." I was very interested in knowing details about the Irishmen (8 man gang) who laid the ten Mile rails in one day. The naming of each man was certainly a surprise and since a particular name could mean so much to my family history I would like to know if you have further details of an individual. My husbands grandfather was named PATRICK JOYCE. Dates and ages could match this reference. Can you research for a possible clue as to making better connections????? Your website is just great and I wish to search futher. Hoping to hear from you in a most positive message. A JOYCE Family researcher and relative. Joan Tierney

Merle Carson wrote:
> My father's cousin who was raised by one of my great-grandfathers
> used to talk about him and his time on the Union Pacific Railroad. ...
> His name was Matts Olson.  He emigrated from Sweden in 1865, and went to
> work on the UPRR.  He died in 1914.  He would talk about his work on the
> RR and being at the golden spike ceremony.  His main thought about it was
> all the hard work.  The one thing he couldn't understand was the country's
> infatuation with Buffalo Bill.  He said after all he was only a hunter and at
> times not very good at that.  The meat he brought in sometimes wasn't very
> fresh.  He had a word for it, but it was in Swedish and wasn't convertible
> to English.  After the RR was finished, he moved to Dodge, Co. Nebraska and
> homesteaded.  One of the first things he and his wife did was donate 3 acres
> for a cemetery which is one of the oldest in Nebraska.  I have 3 generations
> of grandparents buried there. When he died in 1914, he owned over 700 acres
> and was able to leave all of his 9 kids 80 acres and $10,000.  Quite a
> success story which is why those immigrants came to the United States ...
> Merle Carson

Linda Hughes Juarez wrote on 9-10-2003:
> I am trying to obtain information on my Great Great Grandfather, Alfred Henry Hughes.  Alfred was employed by Union Pacific Railroad as a carpenter on the Bridge Building Section, Ogden Division in Utah.  I don't know what year he began working for UP.  After several years he became a crew leader.  Alfred was involved in an accident, he and four Irish members of his crew were on a handcar en route to the Railroad Hospital in Logan, Utah.  Unknown to Alfred, a unscheduled work train was on the same track west bound out of Logan.  The handcar and the work train collided in the last tunnel before Logan.  The four members of Alfred's crew were killed.  Alfred received severe injuries to his left leg.  The work train picked Alfred up, and backed the train into Logan, where Alfred was taken to the Railroad Hospital.  He subsequently recovered from his injuries, however he was terminated from his position by Union Pacific.
My question regarding this story is, when did this accident occur?  When was Union Pacific building tunnels in the Logan Utah area?  I have tried to confirm Alfred's employment dates, and the date of the accident with Union Pacific, however they have told me that they do not have any information on specific employees, nor do they have any information on this accident.  They suggested that I contact you for further assistance.
If you are not able to help me in this regard, do you have any idea who may be able to?
Thank you for taking the time and effort to help me with this.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
> ... The accident did not involve the building of the tunnel.  According to family stories, four members of Alfred's crew were off duty, and being good Irishmen went to the local saloon and drank their weight in hooch.  Then they decided to scare some of the other workers by wearing white sheets and pretending to be banshees.  The drunken Irishmen conmandeered a handcar and went past some other off duty workmen and screamed like banshees.  Well, it worked, the unsuspecting workmen got up and beat the crap out of the pranksters.  Alfred came along just after the beating, and put the injured "banshees" on the handcar and was taking them to the Railroad Hospital in Logan. Unknown to Alfred, an unscheduled work train was west bound out of Logan, while Alfred and the banshees were east bound to Logan, and kapow, inside the tunnel. The result was four would be dead banshees, and one severely injured Alfred. Poor Alfred, he was just trying to help the injured "banshees" and he almost lost his left leg, and he did loose his job with UP. I'm not that interested in confirming this story, I'm sure that it was embelished over the years.  I'm trying to track down the time frame of Alfred's employment and termination from UP.  Because after he lost his job, he went to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to use the mineral springs to recover from his injuries.  While in Glenwood Springs he became a Peace Officer, and so the story goes, met and became good friends with Doc Holliday.  That is the information I am trying to confirm.  So if I can confirm the date of the accident it will help me narrow down the time frame I am have to search to confirm the Doc Holliday story. Wish me luck.  Thanks for your time.  I hope the above stories entertain and delight you, they sure did me when my Father told them to me.

Barbara Hettwer writes 7/26/2004:
> My Dad says that my great grandfather "worked his way west" as a timekeeper on the railroad. He thinks he put his wife and baby on a ship which sailed around the South America and he went to California by working on the train. We still have the watch he used as a "timekeeper." From other records it appears he came to Los Angeles in about 1875. His usual job was that of a schoolteacher. In Los Angeles he also began the Tidings (Catholic newspaper still published today). He later also opened a Catholic bookstore in downtown L.A. Does anyone know what railroad this would have been? Is this a feasible story? His name was John J. BODKIN.


Bill Riess wrote:
> My Grandfather's uncle, Paul O. Riess, was a chef on the Transcontinental
> Railroad...somewhere between 1910 and 1930 if my recollection is correct.
> His name was sometimes mispelled as "Reiss."  Is there any way I can find
> out more about his career with the Transcontinental Railroad?  By the way,
> he resided in California during the 1920 census, in Los Angeles/Burbank
> Township, Enumeration District 128, Ward 665.  It is not clear on the
> census record what street address he had, but it does list a wife named
> Frances (Francis?) and a daughter named Margueritte.  Paul was born in or
> near the year 1888, in Germany.
> I'm not sure you can help, but I sure would like to know more about my
> great great uncle.
> ...Here's what I was able to find out from my mom.  It appears, Paul Riess
> published a cookbook and Mom had a copy.  Would you believe they mispelled
> his name on the cookbook?  Reiss was how they spelled it....I thought I had
> heard that somewhere.  In the census records, however, they spelled it
> Riess...so I'm not sure how the railroad spelled it.
> According to the cookbook, Paul was head chef and the cookbook states that
> Paul Riess was the supervising chef and that he was internationally famous.
> It also says that he tested every recipe.  The railroad was Southern
> Pacific.  As far as dates are concerned, it looked like he was employed in
> the 1920's and 1930's for sure. ...
> Thanks.
> William M. Riess
> Woodstock, GA


Our Dining Car Recipies by Paul Reiss, SPRR.  Courtesy Earl the Pearl's.
Recipe booklet Our Dining Car Recipes Southern Pacific
by Paul Riess, Head Chef, SPRR. A 30 Page Booklet with
numerous recipes used by the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Courtesy of Earl The Pearl's.

Dale Sheldon wrote:
>         I'm looking for information regarding my 3rd great-grandfather,
> William Wallace Barbour Sheldon.  He was an architectural engineer and worked
> for the Pacific Improvement Company, Central Pacific Company and Southern
> Pacific Company.  He built the Mark Hopkins mansion on Nob Hill that was
> destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey (now the
> Naval Postgraduate School) and a number of train stations including those is
> Sacramento, Redlands and San Antonio, Texas.  He was born in Essex County,
> New York married in Brooklyn and lived for a time in Reno, Nevada.  In 1875
> he moved to San Francisco and again moved to Oakland in 1880 were he lived
> until his death in 1915.  I'm looking for any information regarding him and
> I'm collecting photos of buildings that he built on my web-page.  So far I
> only have the Hopkins mansion and Del Monte Hotel but I'm expecting the
> Redlands and Sacramento stations soon.  Do you have any record of this man?
> His name, one more time, was William Wallace Barbour Sheldon.  He very often
> left out the William (I don't know why).  Thank you so much for your time.
> Dale Sheldon

CPRR Assistant Engineer Alonzo Russell Guppy:
> Is there a list somewhere, of the civil engineers and assistant civil engineers that worked on the first transcontinental railroad?  I am ... looking for any information on a railroad civil engineer by the name of Alonzo Russll Guppy.   ... One other interesting bit;  [we] recently learned that Alonzo had a brother, George Fox Guppy, who was a captain in the Civil War.  He was attached to the 5th Infantry Regiment out of New Hampshire. ... Thank you,
Patricia Guppy

> I the great, great, great nephew of Mark Hopkins.
I hope you dont buy all that Garbage about Mark & Moses Hopkins being from New York.  They were from Randolph County, North Carolina. Leland Stanford is and will always be a THIEF!!! And so is Timothy Hopkins, C.P. HUNTINGTON & CHARLES CROCKER!!! When Mark came HOME in 1877, he tried to get people to go back to San Francisco with him.
A good book to read on this is CONTROVERSIAL MARK HOPKINS (1963) BY ESTELLE LATTA with MARY L. ALLISON.
It seems a lot of people were SIGNING MARK HOPKINS SIGNATURE AFTER HE DIED IN 1878.  Among these was Stanford & Crocker. Mark Hopkins was the TRUSTEE along with SILAS SANDERSON of ALL THE LANDS OF THE C.P.R.R. & S.P.R.R.
Maybe you can write the TRUE BIOGRAPHY OF MARK HOPKINS!!!
I have several deeds from Nevada & Idaho to prove this.
Thank you,
The Hopkins Heirs

[See comments.]

Edna Marnette Hart Click wrote:
> I am doing genealogy and just discovered that my great-great-grandfather Lewis Carmichael
> did ... a lot of work on the transcontinental railroad.  I would like ... pictures you have for
> [UPRR Construction Contractor] Lewis Carmichael and Carmichael's camp, cuts (anything
> to do with Carmichael).  ...  I am so glad someone thought to preserve the history on film,
> and that the pictures have been preserved. ... Check out [the] Historical Newsletter, September 1999 Issue:

"In 1865 the Union Pacific selected Carmichael to serve as one of its grading contractors during construction of the transcontinental railroad. Carmichael and his men faced numerous daunting challenges during this endeavor including the Sherman Hill area of southeastern Wyoming, the Bitter Creek region of southwestern Wyoming, and the canyons of northern Utah. Carmichael was engaged in this work until the railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. On the evening following the railroad's completion, Carmichael attended a special celebration where he received [a] silver service set as a gift. According to the May 18, 1869, edition of the Utah Daily Reporter newspaper, 'On the 11th inst. at the Jenks House, at Echo City, Mr. Lewis Carmichael, the king of graders, was presented with an elegant set of solid silver worth $5,000.00 by his companions and employees of the road.' The hollowware from the set was manufactured by Tiffany & Co. of New York. The flatware, made by New York silversmith John Polhemus, was sold by Tiffany and carries both the maker's and seller's marks. [Forty-five pieces of the silver set have been donated to the Nebraska Historical Society] ... the showpiece for the set [is] a large tray with scenes from the railroad's route etched into it [but its] location remains a mystery. "

> Edna Marnette Hart Click

John Storch wrote:
A Railroad Bicyle ?
> I'm hoping your resources might be able to help me.  I'm looking for
> newpaper articles or pictures about a Joseph Dierbeck who rode a "railroad
> bicycle" supposedly from Milwaukee to NY sometime around the turn of the
> century (1900, that is).  He was my wife's grandfather and I'm trying to
> find some info for her and her brothers.  If you can't find the
> information, perhaps you know some other resources I can try.  Thank You.
> John Storch, Milwaukee, WI

Georgette Critchley wrote (machine translation):
[Note:  not sure if this request refers to the Central Pacific RR or the Canadian Pacific.]
> Hello, I want to know if you have the list of the workers, since the
>beginning of the C.P.R.;  I seek the life of my father who arrived at
>QC in 1895 at the 9 years age, I know that he worked for the C.P.R.
>about the years 1900, if you can help me to reconstitute his life, I
>would be very pleased.  My father named Samuel Critchley, had a
>brother named James.  Thank you!
>Je veux savoir si vous possédez la liste des travailleurs,  depuis le
>commencement du C.P.R. ; je cherche la vie de mon père qui est arrivé au
>QC en 1895 à l'age de 9 ans, je sais qu'il a travaillé pour le C.P.R.
>vers les années 1900, si vous pouvez m'aider à reconstituer sa vie, j'en
>serais très contente. Mon père se nommait Samuel Critchley, il avait un
>frère nommé James. Merci!

Leif Mörkfors wrote:
> Hello! This is written from Sweden. My great grandmother had a brother that left Sweden in 1891 and worked for some years building the Pacific railway. He seems to have lived in Weiser, Idaho according to the letters that I have from him from year 1900. His name was George (Goran) Persson born 1870 6th August. I have a photo of him but he seems to have disappeared from the Swedish family just some years later. Do you have any information of him? Did he stay in Idaho? Best regards from Sweden

Fred Hasenzahl wrote:
> Hello!
> My great-grandfather, Wilhelm Hasenzahl, who was known as an excellent
> marksman immigrated from Germany in 1865 and worked for the Kansas
> Pacific Railroad approximately 1867-71.  My grandfather told me many
> stories of Wilhelm, among which is that he was a buffalo hunter with
> Buffalo Bill Cody during this time (my grandfather told of riding
> around on Buffalo Bill's shoulder in approx. 1896 in Cincinnati, Ohio
> where my family settled.
> We still have guns and gunsmithing apparatus - Wilhelm made his own guns
> after going out west.  He also invented the 'clay pigeon'
> (biodegradable - so as to not use dishes which split calves hoofs).
> I am researching my great-grandfathers history with the railroad
> during the years I outlined above.  If there is any resources you may
> know of and can recommend any avenues, I would appreciate any
> information you can pass along.
> Thank you much,
> Frederick Carl Hasenzahl

Kevin Hudson wrote:
> I was recently talking with my uncle, and he told me that my great, great, great grandfather
> is one of the men in the picture of the meeting of the two rails in the famous Promontory Point
> photo.  Would you be able to tell me if there is any record that might identify either a "Hudson"
> or an "O'lalley(?)" in that photo?  thanks,
> Kevin Hudson

> Re: Identifications of individuals in Wedding of the Rails photo at Promontory Summit. (Point [is] about 20 miles further south) contact the Utah Historical Society, in Salt Lake City. The photograph of interest has been reproduced with identifications in a book, "Lorin Farr - Pioneer" by T. Earl Pardo, a deceased great grandson teaching at BYU . The LDS church historical department may also have copies of the book. David Farr

> My maternal grandmother (who was born in 1878) was apparently the first female telegrapher for the Union Pacific (Central Pacific??) Railroad, and she was stationed at Tunnel No. 13, above Donner Lake. How do I go about finding more information about the telegraphers of that era, how women got into the field, and perhaps information that would verify this family anecdote about my grandmother? Thanks so much!
... Here's what we know about my grandmother: her maiden name was Frances Tracy Davison (no "d" in the middle), and she grew up in the general area of Gold Run, CA. She was born on Oct. 9, 1878, and died on Nov. 24, 1950 in Auburn.  Her father was Albert Nathan Davison, who was born in 1828 in Cooperstown, New York; he came to California in 1850 & worked for the Union Pacific in Nevada. Some time thereafter, he came to Gold Run (or possibly Dutch Flat), and continued working for the railroad as a telegrapher.  In 1878 he married Sarah Evans; at some point, both Albert & Sarah worked for the railroad. Frances (everyone called her Francie) was their first child.  Francie's brother was George Davison, who also worked for the railroad; he served in the Spanish-American War in 1898, was later killed in a railroad accident, and is buried in the Gold Run cemetery. Another brother was Clarence Davison, who also worked for the railroad in his younger years as an "operator" (which I presume relates to telegraphy).  The youngest brother was Carlton "Dutch" Davison, but I don't believe he ever worked for the railroad. I have no idea when Francie worked as a telegrapher, but my guess would be somewhere between 1895 and 1905.   My mother was Francie's child by a 2nd marriage; she was born in 1911.
Joan Merriam, Nevada City, CA

> My Cousins and the CPRR:
> Just visited your great site on the Central Pacific Railroad. I
> was looking to see if I could find any info regarding cousins of mine with
> the surname Resseguie. There was a group of brothers with the name that were
> engineers with the CPRR in the 1870s and 80s. One, my cousin Frank Alonzo
> Resseguie had a horrific accident on Sept 20th 1884 while running into a herd
> of Cattle on a dark night. His Fireman was killed instantly and Frank was
> severly injured but lived. Do any of the records of the CPRR still exist?
> I would like to verify info from the family genealogy. ...
> I ... have a pocketwatch that belonged to my cousin Joseph Alexander Resseguie.
> I have a photo of it on my Resseguie family website.
> Thanks,
> Jim Resseguie

> Please help if you can to identify the craftsman credited with preparing the
> Califonia "laurelwood" tie into which the golden and silver spikes were
> placed.  My records indicate it was William Hardenbergh of San Francisco.
> Thank you.
> Charles T. Hardenburg

Robert Williams' Railroad Pocket Watch Robert Williams' Railroad Pocket Watch
> I am tracing my family history and I am wondering if you can help me with this
> enquiry.
> I am researching Robert Williams born 19th April 1856 at Llanrug,
> Carnarvonshire, Wales.
> We believe he left home at 13 yrs of age and travelled to America and worked
> on the railways.
> A family member has a pocket watch showing One engine with 2 railway lines
> meeting [see images at right] - showing THE EAST MEETING THE WEST - these were
> apparently given out at the completion of the railroad across America.
> He was married in Australia 1893, so we are trying to find any information
> about him and when and how he left America and came to Australia
> Any information or leads you can provide will be extremely appreciated.
> Judy Dean

> I have a relative who worked as a surveyor (he had just graduated as a
> Civil Engineer) for the ... Pacific Raiload at some point during the
> years 1866-67.  My information is that he worked on the first railway
> tunnel through the Rocky Mountains. He had graduated from Union College
> in N.Y., traveled to this area I believe in Utah, then returned to teach
> at Union College.  His name is Cady Staley. ... He was in a place
> called Echo Canyon, and that [was where] the tunnel was ... If you could furnish
> with any information as to which tunnel this may have been, written
> me information or photos I would appreciate this.
> ...
> I wrote a couple of weeks ago inquiring about a relative of mine who
> worked as a surveyor for the railroad in Echo Canyon sometime around
> 1866. These were pictures he took during that time and the only caption
> is "one of the cities in Utah in early days". I also have photographs of
> wagon trains and one says Mormon Emigrants/Echo Canyon. Would you be
> able to tell which town these would be from or identify the railroad
> car? I know this is probably an impossibility, but there are names on
> some of the buildings and I thought maybe you had seen them before. It
> seemed very settled for that time and I wondered if they were maybe Salt
> Lake City? ... He was also in California for a short while prior to starting
> work for the railroad ...
> Kathleen Davis

Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
[Click on any image to enlarge.]

Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Cady Staley - Utah Family Album
Courtesy Kathleen Davis.
"At least a number of them are probably trimmed stereo halves [of Salt Lake City, Utah] by C.W. Carter circa 1875.  I have not seen all of the images before, but have seen (and have) some either on stereo or CDV."  —Bill S. Lee
"Cady Staley authored an enlarged and revised edition of the classic 'Gillespies Surveying' around 1880." —Bill/GeoLift

"... in the fall of 1868 [Theodore K. Matzen] returned to San Francisco, where for two years he was employed on the Central Pacific Railroad in the bridge department."



Additional genealogy resouces:

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