BUTLER COUNTY'S EIGHTY YEARS BIOS

EDWARD WRIGHT ABBOTT

(transcribed by Sheryl McClure)

Edward Wright Abbott, forty-six years an outstanding, efficient and reliable telegrapher with the Missouri Pacific Railway Company and forty years a popular and loyal citizen of El Dorado, was born in Radnor, Ohio, February 28, 1868. He began his career officially in a railway office as assistant agent and telegrapher in Dexter, Kansas, on January 1st, 1889. From there he went to New Augusta, Arkansas, and worked as agent and telegrapher three months. Because of illness he returned to Kansas. He worked at Deering and Yates Center before coming to El Dorado on March 1, 1894. E. D. Moberly was ticket agent in El Dorado then and the telegrapher's office was allotted half a box car, sharing the conductor's office. The car was located in the east yards.

In forty years Mr. Abbott's average has been from thirty to fifty train orders daily, and it is his unusual and commendable record that in all that time he never has failed to deliver anything for a train and never has been mixed up in any way with a wreck. His associates of many years in the railroad service and his countless other friends have sincere praise for his never-failing good humor and his willingness to cooperate and oblige.

There are two agents living who have served the Missouri Pacific Company longer than Mr. Abbott. They are J. W. Carr, now pensioned and living in Wichita, who once had the record of being the veteran agent in service in this division and also of having spent his entire time of service in the Colwich station which he opened on February 15, 1886; and J. B. Hurlock, Yates Center, who began as agent on September 14, 1887. Immediately following Mr. Abbott on the seniority list are: E. G. Popkess, of East St. Louis, who began May 25, 1891; C. D. Mullin, agent at Eureka, May 1, 1892; C. E. Jones, agent at Anthony, August 28, 1899.

Among veteran Missouri Pacific engineers and conductors, several of whom have passed away, to whom Mr. Abbott has delivered train orders, are: E. O. (Lige) Summers, now living in El Dorado; William Bray, Peter Lahey, Joe Tack, Jack Johnson, Johnnie Wickham, Julius Nelson, Nels Johnson, James Garrett, Milt Gregg, Fred Stearns, William Ledgerwood, Edward Carroll, Will Hurt, Frank Rose, Jim Crosby, Henry Atkinson, Frank Kelly, Lou Creagor, Tom St. Dennis, Tom Long and David Moran, of Wichita; Jacob Kreisher, William A. Thompson, John Henderson and Oscar Stewart, of El Dorado, and "Dad" Spencer who lives in the Soldiers' Home at Sawtelle, California.

In his forty-six years as a telegrapher Mr. Abbott has received enough messages to more than fill the spacious Missouri Pacific station at El Dorado, but clearly he remembers the saddest message of all that he has received, because the distress it created was enacted before him. On a bleak January night thirty-one years ago, Peter Giltenbecker, veteran "caller" for the Missouri Pacific Company, in El Dorado, plodded along twelve weatherbeaten blocks of board sidewalk to his home and gently awakened his son, Dick, who was a fireman with the company, working as an extra.

"Jim Smith is laying off tonight, son," he said, "you're to go with Mettler on the passenger run east."

Within five minutes the two were on their way back to the station, their figures—the father small and bent—the youth tall, handsome and erect—outlined in the light of the lantern the old caller always carried with him when on duty. Two hours later as the father entered the station ticket office to warm his shriveled hands by the glowing coal fire, Mr. Abbott was listening to a message, an expression of horror overspreading his face. "Pete," he said, "the eastbound passenger engine is wrecked at Yates Center—fireman and engineer—Mettler and Smith— killed."

"Not Smith—he laid off tonight, not Smith, but my boy, Dick—" was the broken-hearted rejoinder. Mr. Giltenbecker said that night that he would never call another man to work, and kept his vow.

Mr. Abbott has given the mature years of his life almost exclusively in devotion to his family and the Missouri Pacific Railway Company. Mrs. Abbott was an invalid during the last ten years of her life and no wife ever was accorded greater care and solicitude. Mr. Abbott never has requested or held public office, and is affiliated with only one existing organization, the order of Railway Telegraphers.

Mr. Abbott is of English and Irish descent. His father, Ezekiel Abbott was born at Chatham, Ohio, July 13, 1826. His mother, Eleanor J. Reed, was born at. Zanesville, Ohio, November 15, 1830. After their marriage on October 18, 1855, Ezekiel and Eleanor (Reed) Abbott lived on a farm fifteen miles north of Columbus (Ohio) until the fall of 1884, when they and their two sons, Edward Wright and Albert Clinton, moved to Los Angeles, California. They returned in the spring of 1885 to Kansas and settled at Oatville, six miles west of Wichita. The father owned and operated a general store in Oatville and it was there that Edward Wright Abbott learned telegraphy, in the Missouri Pacific Station, under the direction of R. E. Collier, agent. A. C. Abbott now resides at Caney, (Montgomery County) Kansas.

On September 22, 1896, Edward Abbott was married in Sedan to Ivy L. Hauger, who was born at Arcola, Illinois, on March 16, 1870. Mrs. Abbott passed away in El Dorado on September 18, 1933. Her father was James W. Hauger of German descent, who was born August 16, 1828, at Terre Haute, Indiana, and her mother was Berthena Fulp, of Scotch descent, born May 9, 1831, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Her parents lived in Arcola, Illinois, until about 1887, when they moved to a farm near Peru, in Chautauqua County (Kansas), living there until their death.

Five children were born of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Wright Abbott. The daughter, Marie, married Stephen Arnold Horton of Oil Hill; Paul Abbott married Emmaline Beichtel and resides at Manheim, Pennsylvania. Harold L. Abbott married Alice O'Brien and resides at Oil Hill; Miss Lucille Abbott is a student in Wichita Business College. Russell Howard Abbott was born September 6, 1906 and died September 17, 1927, having just passed his twenty-first birthday anniversary. He was a member of the DeMolay and one of El Dorado's finest young men.

           

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