|Me and my sister on a train 30 years ago|
Knowing that several relatives of mine worked for the railroad, when I got started in genealogy I became interested in knowing more about their time with the railroad, and what the railroad records could tell me about them. Before too long, I found an index to Northern Pacific Railway personnel records. I saw that there were indeed personnel files for my grandpa, his dad, uncles David and Thomas, and what looks like his maternal grandfather, Samuel Joseph.
|Index record for Fred J. Gibson, my great-grandfather|
|Index record for Thomas Lewis Gibson, my grandfather's uncle|
Unfortunately, at the time I could not figure out how to find the records these indexes were pointing to. One thing led to another, and I never really got back to finding out how to find these records. I made token searches now and again, but never found them.
Until this week.
I got a text message saying Ancestry had released images and indexes for a record group called "U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963". My mind immediately went back to those railroad record indexes from so long ago, and I went to searching. Three minutes later, I hit the jackpot!
Well, part of the jackpot. It turns out they had records for two of the five people I had index numbers for, Frederick John Gibson (my great-grandfather) and Thomas Lewis Gibson (his brother). David H. Gibson, Frederick and Thomas' younger brother, somehow got skipped (they have the records before and after his number, but not his), and the collection on Ancestry stops before Sam Joseph and my grandpa's records. Hopefully future updates will add these records.
But I was so happy to finally know what these records look like. I do wish my great-grandfather's file was longer, as it's only eight pages, two of which are scans of the manila folder containing the actual records. But Thomas' file is 117 pages! I've only had time to go through a little of it so far, but what I have seen is fascinating. Over and over again, auditor reports of the various stations mentioned that Thomas was considered competent for a more responsible position. On the other hand, the file also contains a letter stating Thomas was suspended for five days due to leaving his telegraph station to get a drink of water - the last line of the letter states "Your excuse that there was no water in the house and you wanted a drink at that particular time is no excuse whatever."
I love living and researching in this digital age, when we have so much information available, and more coming online all the time. I can't wait to see what else I find in these files!