Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Never Know What You'll Find...Another Day, Another Cool "Find"!

A quick stop at my favorite "Vintage Mall" in Springfield, OR today resulted in an unusual treasure---a history of the railroad company that both my paternal grandfather, my father and one of my uncles worked for in Iowa and Illinois. I was just wandering through the store, and there in a little pile of railroad history books was Steam Locomotives of the Burlington Route written by Bernard G. Corbin and William F. Kerka, published in 1978. It's a 320 page book with 530 photos of trains!

I know that my father, James Everett Elting (1909-1970) not only worked for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&QRR) in the 1930s, but his father James Henry Elting had worked there previously. Dad studied blueprint reading at the CB&QRR night school in Burlington, IA and then rode the rails to Oregon in about 1933. He stayed in the Pacific Northwest and continued his blueprint studies at Edison Vocational School in Seattle while working for Boeing prior to being drafted during WWII.

I don't know much about "Grandpa Jim's" work on the railroad other than he kept taking his young family by train to Montana and had a land claim there (near Havre, I think). They finally settled permanently in Burlington when Grandma had had enough of the primitive conditions in Montana. Perhaps some of my first cousins will have more details.

My uncle, Charles Leland Elting, (known as "Uncle Red") also  worked for the railroad. I believe he would have worked at their southern Illinois sites, but perhaps earlier in West Burlington, IA. His children or grandchildren may have information.

I got really excited when I saw "Assignments and Roster Sheets" in the index. "Here we go! Now I'll find all the Elting family names and we'll have another bit of history to share and enjoy," I thought. Silly me. Little did I know that a railroad history book would have pages and pages and pages in that excitement inducing section...but it is all listings of train engines and cars!  There is a lot of written history in the book, in addition to those 530 photos of  trains, and I'll do some more reading to pull out anything that might relate to the time periods when our family members might have been involved. But, much as I love riding on trains, I am already tired of looking at those photos.

But I know just the person to send this book to---brother Ralph. He's currently engaged in studying Civil War cannons and determining why our great-grandfather--yet another James Elting---is on a horse in his official Civil War photo. (He has the answer. Maybe I can persuade him to write about it for this site).

So, that's my special family history find today.


  1. Interesting facts about the family connection to the railroads. My paternal grandmother's brother was George Stuart and he worked for the Chicago and Northwestern railroad back in the 30's and 40's before being brought into WWII. He worked under George Patton keeping supplies moving by rail for his army. I think the railroad is connected all along our family's lives... someone had to move all the people west!

  2. Hello Grace, I came over after reading your most informative contribution to Hope's newsletter. Your genealogy blog URL jumped out at me, as I have been working at my own family history since I was a teenager. Some people mistakenly think it's a pretty dry subject, and I've often told them that it's actually quite exciting, rather like being a detective. I work a bit of history into my food blog once in a while--the post about cream gravy tells a bit about my great grandmother.

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog, Jean! Great to hear from someone who loves family. I love the idea of working ancestors stories into a food blog! What's the URL?