Contributed by Sue Nesland
Lawrence Gagin - b 24 January 1836 married Hannah Driscoll
Charles Franklin Gagin - 15 August 1884 married Lillian Ellmaker
William Phillip Gagin - b 6 November 1916 married Lola Louise Gettle
Next in point of length of service comes Lawrence Gagin, of Sterling IL. Mr. Gagin was born in 1838. In the spring of 1855, when seventeen years of age, "Larry" began work for the company (Chicago & Northwestern Railway) as water boy, working between Cortland and Maple Park, he started with water, as did Dennis Magden, which, equally with blacksmithing, seems to have been a good way to insure length of service with the North Western. In due course of time he was shoving wood under the boiler of an engine, and then, for many years, handled the throttle, retiring at the age limit as engineer in 1908. Mr. Gagin's service of fifty-two years and eight months was continuous with the company.
Took First Train Into Rockford To Give Up Run
Lawrence Gagin the oldest engineer on the Chicago & Northwestern system in point of service is serving his last month.
It has been announced in railroad circles that on Feb. 1 this well known engineer will be placed on the pension list, retiring him after forty years of active service on the Northwestern line.
Mr. Gagin went with the Northwestern more than a half century ago and his first work for the road was on the first division built by the road, between Chicago and Freeport. He was in charge of a construction train when the road was being constructed through Rockford. This was the first train ever run into Rockford.
After the Chicago-Freeport division was finished Mr. Gagin was placed on the main line betwen Chicago and Clinton, where he has continued to handle trains for forty years.
During the fifty years in which he has been employed by the road he has never had a wreck. he fought his retirement from the service, objecting strenuously to being placed on the pension list, but higher authorities have decreed that he is to go on the inactive list.
Mr. Gagin is one of the best known railroad men in the state and his friends in all sections feel that he has justly earned his right to give up active work.
[Friday, January 17, 1908, Daily Register Gazette (Rockford, IL) Page: 5]
Lawrence Gagin will make his last run as an engineer on the Chicago and Northwestern today, completing a half century of service as an engineer. Gagin regrets his retirement although willing to step aside for a younger man and to enjoy a rest. He will draw a pension from the company. [Friday Jan. 31, 1908 Rockford Republic Pg. 4]
CROWDS CHEER VETERAN ON HIS LAST ENGINE RUN
Along the line of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yesterday afternoon crowds gathered at stations between Chicago and Sterling IL to wave fond farewell to Engineer Larry Gaghan, who was making his last run before his retirement on pension.
Gaghan probably is known to more persons along the run than any engineer who ever traveled over it. His service on the Northwestern covers a period of fifty years and much of that time has been spent on an engine between Chicago and Sterling. His retirement was not due to decrepitude, although he is 72 years old, but was ordered because the rules of the road showed that he had reached the age limit.
His entire progress at the throttle of engine No. 901, which drew train 17 from the Wells street depot at 8:45 o'clock, was a triumph as he thundered along over the rails. He was due at Sterling at 7:10 p.m. and arrived on schedule time, in spite of the greetings and handclasps that awaited at every station.
At West Chicago 1,000 persons were on the station platform as he stopped with the care against jar which had characterized his service in the years he had handled the throttle. Business in West Chicago had been suspended for one hour in his honor, and the outburst of cheers, as the train slowed down, drowned the hiss of steam from the piston box and the clang of the locomotive's bell.
So it was along the entire run, admirers of the old man clambering to the step of the cab to shout their good will, at points where the stop was only momentary, or waving hats and handkerchiefs and screaming their messages of cheer as the train dashed by stations at which no stop was scheduled.
Arriving at Sterling the ovation reached a climax. Among the 20,000 at the station were residents from miles around the town. The veteran engineer was dragged from the engine cab and carried on the shoulders of admirers to the main street of the town.
And afterward he went down to the roundhouse to see how "old No. 901" was being cared for by the "hostlers."
Mr. Gaghan's career as an engineer had covered a number of years when the civil war broke out and he saw service in the war. Afterward he ws connected with the Northwestern without interruption of his term of service. Thrifty and keen to recognize a good investment, he has acquired wealth in his fifty years of service and is said to possesss about $500,000, largely invested in real estate in the vicinity of Sterling. He is vice president of the Sterling National Bank. His friends say, however, that more of his time will be spent around the Northwestern roundhouse at Sterling than at the bank of which he is an officer. [Friday, February 11, 1908 Sterling Gazette] (They used Gaghan in this article -- but the official name is GAGIN)
Philip O'Neil Succeeds Larry Gagin in Honorable Place.
Sterling Gazette: Philip O'Neil pulled passenger train No. 11 from Chicago to Clinton today, and arrived at the local station a minute ahead of time. With the retirement of Larry Gagin from service on the Northwestern, Mr. O'Neil becomes the oldest engineer on the Galena division, and holds the record of being in service the longest. He has been in continuous service on the Northwestern more years than the Sterling engineer. Mr. Gagin was in the service prior to the Civil War. During the Civil War he had charge of an engine and became famous for his daring exploits in the south.
Mr. O'Neil and Mr. Gagin entered the service of the Northwestern about the same time. O'Neil was ten years younger than Larry. Mr. O'Neil remained at the throttle during the civil war and this in point of service gives him more years than Mr. Gagin. Mr. Gagin has arrived at the age limit and retired on account of the age limit more than the point of years in service. [Friday, February 14, 1908, Morning Star (Rockford, IL) Page: 6]
Addendum: Larry Gagin is at once one of the most interesting characters in northern Illinois. He was born near Dublin sixty-five years ago. He came to this country when he was less than 10 years old. He hired out to a farmer in the neighborhood of Dundee, near Elgin, for 25 cents a day. He went to hoeing corn, but dropped the implement in the middle of the first day at work and ran off. He went down to Turner Junction and hired to Hughes and Harvey, the contractors who were building the road, and began work carrying water. He worked a year in the gravel pit at Cortland. His work on the locomotive began in 1855, when he got the job of fireman. When he began, Oak Park was known as Oak Ridge, afterward Harlem. Elmhurst was Cottage Hill; Glen Ellyn, Danby; Lombard, Babcock's Grove; West Chicago, Turner Junction; La Fox, Kane; Elburn, Beverly; Maple Park, Lodi; Malta, Dodo; Creston, Dement; Rochelle, Hickory Grove, afterward Lane. [unknown newspaper/date. Submitted by Sue Nesland]
Larry Gagin, with 2,000,000 miles of locomotive engineering to his credit, is dead. He retired in 1908 after forty-eight consecutive years at the throttle. For the thirty-six years previous to his retirement he had held the same run on the Northwestern railway between Chicago and Sterling, Ill. He died in this city yesterday. He was 79 years old. Gagin held a unique record in Chicago railroading. [Monday, October 4, 1915, Rockford Republic (Rockford, IL) Page: 2; Submitted by Sue Nesland]
Wedding Day Charles and Lillian Gagin
at 8th St. & Locust Park - Sterling
L-R - Tom Conlon, Anna Ellmaker, Bill McCormick, Bill Ellmaker, Mary McCormick, Charles Gagin - Lillian Ellmaker Gagin , Laurence V. Gagin, Lucy Holmes, Edith Ellmaker Conlon
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