Thursday, October 15, 2009

The adventures of Uncle Lyman

Ye socks who are not already using Google's book search app are really missing out . . . for example, today I discovered this really cool, previously undiscovered biographical sketch of my great-uncle (brother of my Civil War ancestor Edson Blakesley):

Lyman Blakesley, a well-known citizen of Fort Wayne and one of the veteran passenger conductors of the western division of the P. Ft.W. & C. railroad, was born in Putnam County, Ohio, March 14, 1842. He is the son of J.B. Blakesley, who was a native of New York, but resided during the most of his life in Ohio, being employed as a railroad bridge contractor. He died in 1881 or 1882. Lyman was reared in Sandusky City, but when ten years of age left home and for five seasons was a sailor on the lakes, attending school during the winter months. At about the age of seventeen years he began railroading as a brakeman with the old Sandusky, Dayton & Cincinnati railroad. In June 1861, he enlisted in Company E, Seventh Ohio regiment, and served three years. At Cross Lane, WV, he was taken prisoner August 26, 1861, and for nine months was in prison at Richmond, New Orleans, and Salisbury, NC. He was honorably discharged at Cleveland in June 1864, and returned to railroading on the SD&CRR, where he remained until 1867, and then came to Fort Wayne and entered the service of the P. Ft.W. & C. RR as a brakeman. One year later, was promoted to freight conductor, and in 1872 he was promoted to passenger conductor, and has since been on the run between Fort Wayne and Chicago. The time covered by Mr. Blakesley's service in the P. Ft. W. & C. RR amounts to twenty-two years, and he is one of the oldest passenger conductors running out of Fort Wayne. He was married September 8, 1864, to Miss Mary J. St. John, who was born near Tiffin, Ohio, July 21, 1844; she died December 4, 1888. To their union three children were born: Harry A., Laura D., and Ralph. The latter died in infancy, and Laura D. died March 15, 1889. For fifteen years, Mr. Blakesely was a member of the Order of Railway Conductors, and he is the oldest ex-chief conductor in Indiana. He is a member of the Third Presbyterian church of which Mrs. Blakesley was also a member, and he is one of the executive committee of the railroad department of the YMCA.

[Excerpted from Valley of the Upper Maumee River, published by Brant & Fuller (1889), Volume 2, pages 77-78.]

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