Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What a weekend of research....

Cold rainy spring weather made for a good research weekend...Can't garden so I might as well work on my project about Grandpa Anderson. I had been meaning to contact my two living Aunts to ask them some questions about Grandpa Anderson. I went looking for his obit and found that I did not have a copy of it. I was shocked that neither my Mother nor I had a copy of it.…that just can not be!  There must be more family papers at Mom's house.  I thought I had all her documents but now I am not so sure…. I know that in order to write this Bio for the Norwegian Historical Society I will need it.
My first call was to my sister to get Aunt Benita's phone number.  My second call was to Aunt Benita, Uncle John’s wife. She was surprised to hear from me and we had a delightful conversation. She did have a copy of Grandpa's Obit and read it to me over the phone. She told me that she would make me a copy and send it to me. She was able to tell me that Grandpa retired in 1948 from Detroit Edison after 30 years of service. So now I know that this retirement photo, which we all love, was taken in 1948 at the St Clair substation on his last day of work.  This is the Grandpa that all the grandkids remember!

I went out to Ancestry.com and found his WW1 draft record from 1918 and sure enough he listed his occupation as Substation Operator for DU Railway or Detroit United Railway.  I remember that this record had puzzled me years ago when I first saw it.  I thought I had kept a copy of it .  In my early years of research, I was not always consistent about making or keeping copies of all the records I found online.  My thinking was that I could always find it because after all, it is online….Well I know better now! I was sure the record was his because it has the correct birth date, the correct address and even my Grandmother's name appears but I never knew he worked for the railroad!  No one ever talked about that job.

My next call was to Aunt Betty, Uncle Ray's wife. And with a little prompting, she gave me a bunch of information to work from. Betty was able to remember Grandpa’s railroad days..”Well the truth is they were electric rail cars which traveled from Detroit to Port Huron.” She told me. “I don’t know when it became Detroit Edison but they are some how connected “, she told me.

As always when you get answers to one question, it often leads to another mystery to solve. I spent a good deal of time researching the Detroit United Railroad this weekend. I still have more work to do on this topic! I was trying to figure out what my Grandfather did for the railroad and how he became an employee of Detroit Edison all in the 30 years that his obit stated that he worked for Detroit Edison. I would find out that Grandpa did indeed work for the DU Railroad in 1918.  He worked in the substation where the electricity was generated which ran the electric rail cars. In Grandma Addie’s photo album, there were photos of the electric rail cars and of the substation.

An electric rail car in Marine City, Michigan.

St Clair Substation is where the electricity to run the electric rail cars was generated.

I will in the coming weeks share with you what I have learned about Grandpa Anderson employers.

Happy hunting,

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