Erie Railroad Biography - ALBERT NEWTON HURD

From the December, 1927 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
"ALBERT NEWTON HURD, 81 years young, the first telegrapher in America to receive the dash-and-dot messages by ear—which incidentally won him a sixty-one-year job with the Erie—was retired yesterday on a special pension."

Thus began a piece in a recent issue of The Vindicator, of Youngstown, O., the piece written, as is understood, by Ernest N. Nemenyi, who is Western district editor of the ERIE RAILROAD MAGAZINE. The Vindicator article continues:

Showered with gifts and good wishes by coworkers in the Erie freight house at Youngstown, Erie officials added to his happiness by presenting him transportation for himself and daughter, Miss Alberta, to California. In 1862, when the North and South were leaping at one another's throats like bloodthirsty wolves, Hurd, then 16, ran away and attempted to join the Union forces. His youth and small stature prevented his joining, greatly to his disappointment.


Four years later, he stood in a crossroads Erie Railway station in northwestern Ohio repeating the messages aloud coming over a telegraph ticker. His older brother was stationmaster. An Erie official was near. Messages in those days were printed on tape.

"Can you take messages by ear?" queried the official. And then, "Do you want a job? We have a new station at Broadway and need a stationmaster." Young Hurd accepted and yesterday ended sixty-one consecutive years of service in various capacities upon the Erie by Hurd.

Hurd was born in Champaign county, near Urbana, and the Broadway station was not far away, near Alar ion. In 1890, thirty-seven years ago, he moved to Youngstown to become telegrapher to the superintendent.

In those days galvanic batteries were used in sending messages and because of the low voltage, messages had to be relayed. Youngstown was the relay point of messages between New York and Chicago and this was Hurd's responsible duty. At the age of 70, telegrapher's paralysis overtook him and he was transferred to Erie claim inspector, his last Erie work. The Erie has no pension system. Recently, high officials checked over the list of those the company desired to retire and awarded special pensions, Mr. Hurd being on the list.


Although four score and one in years, he enjoys perfect health. He used tobacco in his youth, and quit forty years ago. He says he never drank liquor, has always been a great walker, is a moderate eater of plain foods, loves to read, particularly politics, and keeps posted through The Vindicator, Plain Dealer, and New York Times. His recipe for long life is to be content with your work and be moderate in all things.

Mr. Hurd married Catherine Winter, of Broadway, Nov. 11, 1866. Herman M. Hurd, treasurer of Republic Iron & Steel Co., Miss Kate Hurd, kindergarten teacher at the Valley mill school, Alberta Hurd of the family home, 143 W. Rayen avenue, and Mrs. Jesse L. Fairbanks, of Los Angeles, are his children. Mrs. Hurd died Oct. 3, 1916. There are also four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Tracing the family tree, the original Hurd came to America from England about the time of the Mayflower, settling in Massachusetts, later going south to Connecticut and then to Kentucky where the home was one of the original block houses built by Daniel Boone.


His mother was Phoebe Morris of the famous Robert Morris family. Robert Morris financed the Revolutionary war for the colonies. Herman M. Hurd has a canceled note for $5,000, representing a loan made by Robert Morris to a friend in 1794.

Because of their ancestors on both the grandmother's and grandfather's side, the present Hurd girls are eligible to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Herman Hurd's liking for the steel business may be explained by saying his great grandfather was an iron and steel worker, operating blacksmith shops throughout his life, first in Kentucky with Daniel Boone and later in Urbana, O.

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