Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


JOHN BECKERLEG. Enjoying the distinction of being the oldest engineer on the Frisco system, John Beckerleg is deserving of special mention in the present volume. Forty years is a long time to work for one company, and in one line of work, but that is his record. It indicates many things to the contemplative mind, among them being the fact that he has been not only faithful but efficient, trustworthy and reliable, for a railroad company is not going to trust its costly rolling stock, to saying nothing of the lives of its patrons--the passengers--to men who are not true and tried. It also indicates stability. Some men fly from one occupation to another, go from one place to another, are never settled, never satisfied; they may be railroaders by profession, but if they stick to the work forty years they have perhaps worked for a score of roads.

Mr. Beckerleg was born in the extreme southern part of the Dominion of Canada, just across the river from Detroit, Michigan, November 11, 1852 . He is a son, of John and Margaret (Glendenning) Beckerleg, both natives of England, the father born April 1, 1825. He received a good education, learned the trade of stone cutter when young, and followed the same the rest of his life. When young he emigrated to Canada, where he established his future home. He was twice married, our subject being by his second wife. Our subject's father died on October 4, 1869, and the mother's death occurred in November, 1885, both dying in Canada. Our subject is one of five children, three of whom are still living, namely: John, of this review; James lives in Paris, Texas; William and George are deceased; Joseph lives in British Columbia.

John Beckerleg grew to manhood in Canada, where he received his education, and there he resided until 1870, when he came to Pacific, Missouri, which was on the east end of the Frisco railroad, and there he went to work, on March 17th, of that year, in the machine shops, and later became a blacksmith, and before the end of that year he was given a run as fireman on the east end of the division, later he ran on the middle division, from Dixon to Springfield, then worked as extra out of Springfield and in various capacities, until 1875, when he had a regular run as engineer on a freight train. In 1880 he was promoted to extra passenger engineer, and in 1882, was given a regular passenger run from Pierce City, Missouri, to Van Buren, Arkansas; continuing as engineer of a passenger he was given a. run in 1886 out of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and for a number of years he has been running between that city and Springfield, and is still active and as good an engine driver as at any time in his career. As stated, he is the oldest engineer on the Frisco, in point of years of service, and is deserving of a great deal of credit for his faithful work.

Mr. Beckerleg was married July 23, 1874, near Sullivan, Missouri, to, Retta Waits, who was born in August, 1854, twelve miles from Rolla, this state. She is a daughter of John F. and Mary (Botoff) Waits, the father a native of Columbus, Ohio, and the mother was horn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr. Waits was an iron molder by trade. His death occurred in Springfield, Missouri, in March, 1888, and his wife preceded him to the grave in 1883. They had made their home in Springfield many years. They were both of German blood.

Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Beckerleg, namely: John Waits, born on September 8, 1875, in Franklin county, Missouri, received a common school education, and early in life gave evidences of a mechanical turn of mind. He began working in the round-house in Springfield, for the Frisco, and later was given a position as fireman, and has been in the road service ever since 1898; twelve years ago he was given charge of a switch engine and is still thus employed; he married Vedie May White, a native of Greene county, this state; they have no children; he is a member of the Brotherhood of Firemen No. 51. The second child of our subject was Charles Wesley, who was born in 1877, and died when three months. Old. Walter Blanchard, the third child, was born April 20, 1886. He received a public school education, and he began railroading as a fireman before he was twenty-one years of age, and he is now an engineer. On November 2, 1908, he married Edna Morris, which union has been without issue.

Politically, John Beckerleg is a Republican. He belongs to the Masonic Order, is a member of Division No. 83, Brotherhood of Engineers, and religiously he is an Episcopalian.

[1799-1801]


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