Erie Railroad Biography - George J. Schoeffel

Among the better known men who have wide experience in other lines besides those which have been beneficial to them in railroad service, is General Geo. J. Schoeffel.

Mr. Schoeffel was born in Rochester where he received his education, and on leaving school entered railroad service with the New York Central Railroad. He removed to Milwaukee, Wis., in the same year, and there took an active part in athletics and military matters, being admitted as a member of Milwaukee Light Guard, Charter Member Light Squardron, at Milwaukee; private Color Sergeant, Lieutenant, and commanded the troop from 1881 to 1887. His superior qualifications as a commander was substantiated by the three championships won by him for the best drilled Cavalry Troops in the United States.

In business at that time Mr. Schoeffel was Vice-President and General Manager of the Milwaukee Lithographing & Engraving Co., and in 1887 removed from Wilwaukee to St. Paul where he purchased a half interest in the St. Paul Dispatch, and while there was appointed Inspector General of the National Guard of the State of Minnesota by the then Governor Merriam.

Like most young men, who after successful achievements in western parts, Mr. Schoeffel's natural love for the east induced him to return to New York, and purchasing a half interest in "Outing" continued with that magazine for two years as owner and business manager.

From 1891 to 1900 he was in the Marine electrical business and subsequently was appointed Special Agent of the Insurance Department of the Erie Railroad, soon after having added to his supervision other departments, including that of the Police and Fire. He was also president of the New York Terminal Railway Police Association. The police department of the Erie Railroad at that time consisted of 195 watchmen, patrolmen and officers wearing uniforms, and covered the entire system.

On account of poor health, in 1910, Mr. Schoeffel resigned to go to California and on his return from there four or five months later was appointed Fire Warden of the Erie Railroad and later was transferred to President Underwood's office where he is now, and occupies an important position, reporting direct to the President.

It would not seem inappropriate at this time to call attention to Mr. Schoeffel's sterling qualities, as right now the conditions everywhere demand the service of men of his calibre. Take it right here in New York City, under the new administration with Hon. John P. Mitchel as Mayor, no more creditable selection could be made than to give to Mr. Schoeffel the appointment of Police or Fire Commissioner, and since these two departments are notably important it is certain that the newly elected Mayor could warrantably hope to accomplish the best results through the aid of such efficient services as the record of Mr. Schoeffel indicate could reliably be depended upon, particularly as head of New York's Police Department.

Of a clear conscience, honest and upright, kindly disposition yet strict disciplinarian and always ready to lend a helping hand to the needy, Mr. Schoeffel is in an entirely exclusive class, and especially to those who know him best, he is recognized as a man possessing every known good quality accredited to man, and from a viewpoint on qualification in whatever he undertakes to do, he is superior to all.
--Railroad Reporter, reprinted in the December, 1913 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine.

From the March, 1915 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Testimonial to General George J. Schoeffel
On February 7th (1915), a number of representatives of the Erie's Police and Fire Departments, assembled in the office of Inspector of Police Daly, New York City, the purpose being to present to Gen. George J. Schoeffel, the retiring head of these Departments, with a handsome Testimonial of their personal regard and esteem.

After the General's old friends had assembled, Inspector Daly, a real veteran of the Erie's Police Department, arose and presented Gen. Schoeffel with the handsome and costly Testimonial. This beautiful and artistic creation is done on a silver plate, the heading being written in German text, with other styles intermingling making a supremely beautiful effect. The Testimonial, itself, is in script. It is enclosed in a large gold frame, with an outer frame of hard wood covered in glass.

The wording is as follows:

"General George J. Schoeffel, Directing the Police and Fire Departments of the Erie Railroad Company.
The membership of our respective departments that you have so ably directed for the past ten years learn with profound sorrow of your decision to embark in other business. We wish to express to you our feeling of regret that we are to lose your leadership, which has always been to uplift the service by your example and advice, for while the discipline has always been of the strictest, it has been just, and we all appreciate that the efficiency attained has been achieved by your unceasing vigilance and consistent energy to bring both departments to as near perfection as circumstances would permit.

The officers and men who have served under you offer this token of love and esteem with the wish that your new venture will prove a success, and wherever you go our best wishes will follow you, we beg you to believe us always your friend.

Martin Daly, Edward H. Burke, Martin Dugan, Robert S. Inglis, Guy R. Relph, James W. Stewart, Orson L. Wilde, Michael J. Purdy, Patrick J. Ryder, Joseph T. Patricks, John R. Nolan, George W. Koch, John J. Hughes, John T. Corbett, Thomas F. Armstrong, William B. Reidy, John V. Ryerson, George Breitenbach, Joseph H. Huber, Alfred T. Smith, Costello L. Warner, Eugene J. Reilly, Joseph E. Cleary, Harry F. Hickman.

Fred J. Foley, L.J. Yohannes, Martin Koscielniak, Frederick D. Sund, Charles W. Werth, John P. Campbell, Frank J. Dunbar, Cosner J. Metzler, Daniel W. Riordan, Jacob L. Raisor, Albert D. Randall, Robert N. Johnston, John E. Duryea, Nathan R. Henz, John Daly, Dennis J. Collins, William Kane, John T. Thornton, James J. Tobin, Harry Gunther, Charles N. Alm, Stephen J. Sullivan, Frank Feigel, Patrick J. Hanley.

Alfred B. Lindeman, John M. Malone, Patrick T. O'Hara, Roscoe C. Taylor, Jacob Love, George L. Dawson, William C. Edsell, Albert L. Brunner, Henry E. Walsh, Fred Landseadel, Bernard H. Piggott, Jacob Miller, Charles E. McPeek, Albert Lockwood, William W. Stearns."

After the presentation, Gen. Schoeffel responded as follows:

"You have taken me so completely by surprise, not only by presenting me with so beautiful a token, but from the fact that even after the harshest treatment, you prove that the discipline enforced left no ill will or resentment.

When I left the Department in July, 1911, the losses from pilferages and robberies were at the lowest ebb, and when I took up the work again was surprised to find that they had multiplied by several times. It proved to me that something was radically wrong, and investigation proved that someone was 'asleep at the switch.' Inspector Daly was the first assistance I had to co-operate with me in weeding out the drones in the hive, and by perseverence we got the whole force out on the firing line, until the 'thieves and crooks' found the Erie property guarded so vigilently that they sought other fields for their activity. The losses gradually reduced until they again assumed normal proportions, at least on the Erie Division, and you men are responsible for it, proving conclusively that straight police work minus 'sleuthing and gum shoeing' will accomplish wonders. This is the third time I have been surprised by my associates, but the present will be cherished as long as I live, not only for its intrinsic value, but the kindly sentiment it conveys, which after all is more precious than gold.

In conclusion, I want to ask you to give your loyal support to my successor Inspector Daly, who as you all know, is one of the salt of the earth, and will stand by you as I have, so long as you do your full duty, but will surely discipline you without fear or favor if he thinks you deserve it. With the spirit of 'team work' now pervading the ranks, I predict even better success than any yet achieved."

There were present at the gathering, R.S. Inglis, Sergeant of Police, Buffalo, NY; J.W. Stuart, Sergeant of Police, Rochester, NY; O.L. Wilde, Sergeant of Police, Salamanca, NY; M.J. Purdy, Sergeant of Police, Elmira, NY; G.R. Relph, Sergeant of Police, Dunmore, PA; M. Dugan, Sergeant of Police, days, Jersey City, NJ; J. Patrick, Sergeant of Police, nights, Jersey City, NJ; P.J. Ryder, Sergeant of Police, NYS&W, Jersey City, NJ; J.R. Nolan, Detective Sergeant, New York City; E.H. Burke, Lieutenant of Police, Jersey City, NJ; E.J. Reilly, Chief Fire Inspector, New York City; G.W. Kock, Stenographer, New York Office.

All the Sergeants, who represented the men of the Erie Police Department on the Eastern end, felt very proud of having the pleasure of meeting General Schoeffel on this occasion.

From the January, 1922 issue of Erie Railroad magazine:
As the magazine goes to press the report of the death on Dec. 19 (1921) of Gen. George J. Schoeffel is received from California. For many years Gen. Schoeffel was a valued employee of the Erie as Chief of Police, and as Special Agent in the President's office. During the past few months he has spent considerable time in California, but recently returned to New York greatly improved in health, but returned again to the coast. Gen. Schoeffel was at one time commander of the famous troop, the Light Horse Squadron of Milwaukee. Later he was publisher of Outing Magazine. He leaves one son and one daughter. (A photo was also published in the February, 1922 issue.)

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