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


HUGH P. COLVIN. There was something essentially American in the life and character of the late Hugh P. Colvin. The United States has given rare opportunities from the first to men of courage, honesty of purpose, integrity and industry, to achieve success. The bulk of our public men and those who have legitimately achieved fortune, have been men of the above characteristics, and Mr. Colvin was essentially one of that stamp, although never a man of wealth or a holder of important public trusts, but his record shows that he was the possessor of the traits of character that men must have if they achieve much success in any field of human endeavor. He was a man of the people, and his success in life came as a result of his devotion to right and his tenacity to purpose.

Mr. Colvin, who devoted his active life principally to railroading in one form or another, was born February 4, 1861, in Clinton county, New Jersey. He was a son of Bernard and Rose (Mulligan) Colvin, both parents natives of Ireland, from which country they came to America when children with their parents, each family settling in New Jersey in which state the parents of our subject were married. Bernard Colvin was a quarryman by trade, and while he was an authority on political questions he was not an office seeker. His family consisted of ten children, eight of whom are still living, namely: Mary, Elizabeth, John is deceased, Bernard, Hugh P. of this sketch; Alice, Mike, Catherine, James and Ella.

Hugh P. Colvin grew to manhood in New Jersey and there received a common school education. He remained there until he was about twenty-one years old, when he came to southeastern Missouri and he and his brother went into the railroad construction work, and became successful contractors. They built part of the Cotton Belt railroad in Arkansas, also part of the Canadian Pacific railroad. Later the subject of this sketch became an employee of the former road and worked his way up to a responsible position in the same. In 1886 he began with the Memphis railroad, first as fireman, and five years later he went to West Memphis, Tennessee, where he handled the trains across the Mississippi river on transfer boats, was yard master and in charge of a switch engine. In the summer of 1890, he went on the road as engineer in the freight service, was twice in the same service, and while still in the service went to Thayer, Missouri, where he remained in the same line of work until 1893. In 1893 he moved with his family to Springfield, and continued railroading as engineer in the passenger service between Springfield and Thayer, pulling the "Memphis Flyer," the Frisco fast train. In 1908 he was injured in a wreck, his fireman being killed at that time, and our subject was incapacitated for service for three months as a result of his injuries. He resumed his work as engineer which he followed until December 19, 1911, when he and his fireman were both instantly killed in a wreck two miles south of Mountain Grove, Missouri. He was well known to railroad men and was one of the Frisco's most trusted and efficient engineers.

Mr. Colvin was married, January 28, 1892, to Margaret Irby, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, May 23, 1875, and there reared to womanhood and educated. She is a daughter of Charles and Drusilla (Grant) Irby, natives of Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively. Mr. Irby was born on October 15, 1845, and his death occurred on December 31, 1913; his wife was born on January 11, 1852, and she died in September, 1878. Mr. Irby was a railroad man and for many years was an engineer on the Memphis & Little Rock railroad, maintaining his home at Hopeville, Arkansas, and later he was master of mechanics for that road at Memphis, while the great bridge across the Mississippi river was being built. Politically he was a Democrat. He was twice married, and had two children by his first wife, Mrs. Marie Smith, and Mrs. Margaret Colvin, widow of our subject.

Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Colvin, all still living, namely: Harry, born on November 1, 1892; Bonnie, born on August 6, 1894; Edith, born on August 15, 1896; Frank, born on September 13, 1902; Hugh, born on March 3, 1905; Margaret, born on March 2, 1907; John, born on August 28, 1910; and James, born On July 24, 1912.

Politically Mr. Colvin was a Democrat. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Engineers. Fraternally he belonged to the Knights of Columbus. He was a Catholic in religious matters. His widow has a pleasant home on College street. He was a man whom his officials could always rely upon and whom his acquaintances and friends all liked for his friendly manner and high character.

[1804-1806]


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