Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rollin's Been Working On The Railroad

Rollin Waterman Webster
I've written about my maternal great-granduncle, Rollin Waterman Webster, in previous posts. He was one of Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster's brothers. Watson was my great-grandfather, also known as "The Traveling Dentist" here on my blog.

I am in possession of two letters that Rollin wrote in 1951, when he was around 81 years of age. One letter was written to Mr. Harper C. Pendry, who was employed at the Athens Board of Trade and the other was written to my grandfather, Debs Warren Webster. In these letters Rollin talked about his employment in both the Denver & Rio Grand Western Railroad and the Santa Fe Railroad. Here are portions of those letters.

Transcription of cropped letter above (highlighted portion): "I am Retired from the Santa Fe R.R. since 1937 I had 31 years R.R. service as Stationary Eng I worked 10 years for the IC. RR 21 years Santa Fe R.R."

Transcription of cropped letter above: "I started with the Denver & Rio Grand Western, with Debs Father 1890 he was a Coach Trimmer of R.R. coaches, for the Rio Gr R.R. in 1890"

Transcription of cropped letter above (highlighted portion): "I am retired from the Railroad I worked 31 years as Stationary fireman and Engineer an car repairer, I started in Denve, Col, in 1890 then worked for the IC. R.R. 10 years and the Santa Fe 21 years"

As you can see in these letters (above), Rollin mentioned working for the I. C. Railroad for 10 years. I didn't know what those initials stood for so I did a search for them on Google. I found out that they stand for the Illinois Central Railroad. I also found that there is an Illinois Central Historical Society and they have a website.

I found this card (below) on Ancestry.com.1 It's a railway prior service record index card and is part of the Kansas, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Prior Service Records, 1859-1935 database on Ancestry.com. The card corroborates what Rollin said in his letters that he retired in 1937. This card gives his exact date of retirement.

Webster, Rollin Waterman - Kansas, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Prior Service Records, 1859-1935

Information gleaned from this card:

Name: Webster, Rollin W.
Location: Corwith, Illinois
Retired: July 31, 1937

Unfortunately, I don't know what the number in the right side of the column titled Aug., 1935 means. Could that have been an amount paid, such as $80.16?

I'm so glad Rollin wrote so much information in his letters to Mr. Pendry and to my grandfather. They hold a wealth of valuable genealogical information.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2017 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

1 Ancestry.com. Kansas, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Prior Service Records, 1859-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Rollin W. Webster. Image 306 of 974. Accessed 1 April 2014. Original data: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company Records. Topeka Kansas: Kansas State Historical Society.


  1. What a shame that the ICHS don't have an online catalog of their holdings. I'm sure I would find useful stuff in there for my own ancestors.

    1. Yes, that is unfortunate Tony. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Nothing beats those hand-written first-person accounts.

    1. So true Wendy! I'm so glad my grandfather saved those letters.

  3. That service record index card is marvelous & I love the photo of Rollin.

    1. I really love that photo too. I've even included it in my photo collage for my genealogy blog's Facebook page header.

  4. How fortunate you are to have such treasures, Jana! I love way they reveal Rollin's fascinating history!




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