Workday Wednesday – Ship it on the Frisco!

My great grandfather worked for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, known as the Frisco, for 52 years, retiring when he reached his 70th birthday, which was the age limit.  This was the card that he proudly carried with him after his retirement.

John Alonzo French began his Frisco career as a messenger boy in the Springfield, Missouri, dispatcher’s office, earning $15 a month.  He studied telegraphy and in 1879 became operator and station helper in Lebanon, Missouri, which paid $30 a month.  He progressed through various positions until moving to Saint James, Missouri, in 1907, as agent.  Upon retirement in September 1928, his pension was $63.75, based on continuous service of 52 years, 1 month.

I found this information, and much more, in the Springfield, Greene County, Missouri, Library’s digital Frisco collection.  This includes post cards, employee records and many of the Employe Magazines from 1902 to 1935.  If you had relatives who worked for the Frisco, or if you are just interested in railroads, I highly recommend this site:

An article in the September 1926 issue of The Frisco Employes’ Magazine describes the lives and careers of John A. French, Knoal Kinney and George Burney, the Frisco’s three oldest telegraphers, who had worked for the Frisco for 137 years!  Besides important details about my great grandfather’s early years, career milestones are included.  Six months later an article about George Burney’s death ends with “The death of Mr. Burney breaks the trio of the three oldest telegraphers….The three learned telegraphy at the same time and had been life long friends.”

The article “Tenth Reunion of Vets At Pensacola” in the July 1933 magazine goes into great detail about a trip the Frisco Veterans’ Association took for their 10th reunion.  The 450 Frisco retirees and their wives were taken by train from points in Missouri; “the groups were consolidated at Memphis, and the fourteen-car special Pullman train left Memphis for Pensacola…”  In Pensacola, the veterans enjoyed speed boats, sightseeing, Casinos and “picture shows.”  The next morning a thirty-minute meeting of the Veterans’ Association was followed by an equally succinct meeting of the Old Timers’ Club (40 years employment or more), where my great grandfather was elected vice-president.   Afterwards, buses took them to the Casino on Santa Rosa Island, where just about everyone enjoyed the beach.  My great grandfather is on the left, below.  Doesn’t he look like he’s ready to enjoy the sun and the sand?!


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