J. J. Mahoney, Trainmaster, Chicago & Alton Railroad

Business card. Circa 1900 – 1910.

Price:  $15.00               Size:  About 3 and 5/8 x 2 and 1/4″

A nice piece of history involving the Chicago & Alton Railroad:  the business card for Trainmaster, J. J. Mahoney. What’s a trainmaster you might ask? Here’s a definition from the Houston Chronical:

“The railroad industry employs many professionals that ensure the safety of trains, their passengers and cargo. A trainmaster oversees the safe departure and arrival of trains at a specific train terminal. They work with yardmasters, conductors and engineers to ensure trains arrive and depart in a timely manner. While other railroad professionals work outside on the train or in the railway yard, trainmasters spend a large majority of their time indoors communicating with staff on the trains.”

So, we did some web searching (per usual) for the full name of our trainmaster, but no luck. However, we did find him mentioned in the publication Railway Age Gazette, that was put out for the first half of the year, 1910:

“J. J. Mahoney, assistant superintendent of the Chicago & Alton at Bloomington, Ill., has been appointed superintendent of transportation of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, with office at Newton, Kan. The office of assistant superintendent of the Alton at Bloomington has been abolished.”

And we’ll add this post to our Unusual Occupations category, not that trainmaster is necessarily so unusual but rather in the probability that many (like myself until now) have never heard of this particular job title.

Sources:  Alton Railroad. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alton_Railroad (accessed September 22, 2017).

Michael, Elvis, “What Is A Railroad Trainmaster?” Houston Chronical. http://work.chron.com/railroad-trainmaster-20446.html (accessed September 30, 2017).

Railway Age Gazette, January 1 – June 30, 1910, Vol. 48, no. 13. p. 916. (Google eBook).

Taking Care Of What He Has

This is the first post in a new category here at Laurel Cottage, under the heading of Unusual Occupations. I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile; there are some eye-catching entries out there on old census records, city directories and that type of thing.

Taking Care occ1

This one could be interpreted a couple of different ways, and shows John J.[?] Duryea, age 57, along with (one assumes) a brother or cousin or some other male relative, S. Duryea, age 56. Their occupations were listed as  “taking care of what he has.”  How funny to see an occupation transcribed as such! This 1880 Federal Census for New York City shows that the two Duryea men were boarding with S. M. Tweed, age 30, occupation printer. Perhaps the Duryeas were caretakers working for Mr. Tweed; on the other hand, perhaps the entries meant they were taking care of their own things, in which case, one might wonder if they were unemployed. The address is given on the census as the Grand Hotel, at 1226 Broadway, and the several census pages for this location show 115 occupants at that time. This building was designated as a city landmark in 1979 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Below is a 1910 photo from Wikipedia showing the hotel on the left.

Grand Hotel in 1910

Taking a quick look at the next available Federal Census, the 1900, shows a listing for a John J. Duryea, age 70 and wife Julia, age 49, living in Middletown, New York. This may or may not be the same John J., but his occupation is listed as landlord. So, that is the third possibility for what was meant on the 1880. That “taking care of what he has” could have meant landlord.

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 880; Family History Film: 1254880; Page: 289C; Enumeration District: 289; Image: 0519. (Ancestry.com)

Grand Hotel (New York City). n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Hotel_%28New_York_City%29. (accessed November 23, 2014).

Year: 1900; Census Place: Middletown, Orange, New York; Roll: 1140; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0025; FHL microfilm: 1241140. (Ancestry.com)