"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 1 June 2000

Railroad Records

One of my great-uncles, Lowe Ramsey, worked for over 40-years on the railroad building trestles and bridges. He doesn’t appear on any census or land records. It is often difficult to track railroad employees because they do not stay in one location very long and do not appear on many conventional records.

Have you experienced this same loose end in your family tree? If so, there are two types of files, which might help you and they contain useful genealogical information. They are the Railroad Retirement Board Records and the Railroad Company Employment Records.

An Act of Congress created the Railroad Retirement Board Records in the mid-1930s. To qualify for this program, railroad employees had to have been employed by the railroad for 10-years. Therefore, there are no files for short-term railroad employees. There are more than one million files for retired railroad employees and they spouses or survivors. Many of these files contain employment histories, death certificates, marriage certificates, etc.

For information on these records, write: Office of Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, 884 North Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611-2092. There is a $16 search fee for each name submitted, 30 to 60 days for reply. Be sure to include as much information as possible, i.e., full name, date of birth, social security number, date of death, name of railroad, if known, etc.

The official website for the United States Railroad Retirement Board at: http://www.rrb.gov/.

To find Railroad Company Employment Records, you will need to know the name of the railroad your ancestor worked. This route of research will require some detective work on your part. You will need to search for these records at the railroad company’s archives (if the railroad company still exists), museums, libraries, and/or historical societies.

Records for the Burlington Northern and the Northern Pacific railroads are maintained at the Minnesota Historical Society in St., Paul, MN. Visit their website at: http://www.mnhs.org/. The Newberry Library in Chicago, IL hold records related to the Illinois Central Railroad for the time-period 1851-1906 and the Chicago Burling and Quincy Railroads. Visit their website at: http://www.newberry.org/.

To find information about the records of a particular railroad, consult the book “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” published by Ancestry, Inc., Utah, 1984. This book provides the addresses of the “Fifty Largest Transportation Companies” in Chapter 10, Appendix 7.

If you do not know the history of railroad mergers, consult “Moody’s Transportation Manual.”

Internet Hint - Indexes to Texas Births & Deaths

In addition to the Texas Death and Birth Indexes which were announced last week, Rootsweb.com now has free on-line search engines for the Texas Marriage Indexes for the years 1966-1997 at: http://userdb.rootsweb.com/tx/marriage/search.cgi. They also offer the Texas Divorce Indexes for the years 1968 through 1997 at: http://userdb.rootsweb.com/tx/divorce/search.cgi.

Genealogy Seminar at the Central Texas Area Museum

On Saturday, July 15th, the Central Texas Area Museum in Saladeo, Texas will hold its annual Genealogy Seminar. Beginning at 10 a.m. with a presentation by Bill Buckner, Manager of the Periodicals/Genealogy Sections of the Waco-McLennan County Library. The next session at 11 a.m. will be Vada Sutton who currently serves as the County Clerk of Bell County. Texas.

Karen Thompson a well-known author will conduct the 1 p.m. session and she will discuss genealogy research of Williamson County, Texas. Alice Pierce who is Vice President of the East Bell County Genealogical Society will host the last session of the day at 2:30 p.m. and she will discuss researching in Bell, Milam, Falls and Robertson Counties. The cost for the seminar is $30.00, pre-registration and $35.00 registration at the door.

Also, the Central Texas Area Museum will be hosting an open house of the Colonel E. Sterling C. Robertson Ante Bellum Home in Salado, Texas on Saturday and Sunday, June 10th & 11th. Tour and bar-b-cue is $17.50, tour only $10.00

For more information on either event, contact: Cile R. Ambrose, President, Central Texas Area Museum, P. O. Box 36, Salado, Texas 76571 or telephone (254) 947-5232.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 17 May 2000 and was last revised on 30 May 2000

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604