Erie Railroad Biography - Levi Linley

Levi Linley

LEVI LINLEY, Port Jervis, NY
If years of faithful service in this calling and a steadfast devotion, during all those years to the welfare and best interests of his fellowmen entitle one to their respect and good wishes, then in these facts may be found the explanation of the affectionate esteem in which Levi Linley is held by his brother engineers. He was born in Sussex County, New Jersey, and his first move was to work for seven years for D.T. Cox's sarsaparilla and soda water concern, after which he began his railroad career as a brakeman on freight, this being upon the Delaware Division, where he remained for three years. About two years after entering this service while coming east on freight one day the engineer whistled "brakes," a signal almost immediately repeated, and just at that moment the car upon which Mr. Linley was standing left the track and plunged down a forty-foot embankment, fetching up against a stone wall, he being covered up completely in the wreck. The car was loaded with cattle, and after being thrown over the wall, Mr. Linley, when he raised himself, could put his hand upon the head of an ox, who had kept him company on his flying trip. The conductor came rushing ahead and was told that "Levi was killed," but on the contrary, he was at that time very busy and very much alive, climbing out of the wreck toward the conductor's light. When he came in sight the conductor asked, "Are you hurt?" receiving the reply: "No, but I've lost my hat!" Whether Mr. Linley recovered his hat or not history does not relate, but certainly he has not used it to "talk through." A week later, to a day, the car upon which he was riding - a flat - left the track and plunged into the river. The conductor, coming ahead, again said, "Are you hurt?" to which Mr. Linley replied: "No, but they're coming pretty often."

After braking a year on the Eastern Division and firing freight for three years more, he was in February, 1865 promoted to engineer, running extra freight for eleven years, and then, after eight years on a regular through freight run, now having the Orange County express, his present engine being No. 367.

Mr. Linley was married in Port Jervis, August 10, 1864, to Miss Rhoda A. Miller, and of the eight children born to them six are living: Albert J., now yardmaster at Port Jervis; James H., fireman on runs 5 and 10; Mrs. Elizabeth McGrath, of New York; Peter E., with the Co-operative store in Port Jervis; Leota A. and George, both still at home with their parents.

He joined the B of LE in 1868, and at the time of the "Q" strike was Second Assistant Engineeer, his position requiring the handling at that time of large sums of money. He was for a dozen years a member of the Board of Adjustment of the system and served one term upon the Legislative Board, during that time attending the convention at New York.

Mr. Linley has been a success as a railroad man. He has a clean sheet, no accidents wherein he was blamable being charged to his account. None the less, he has had many queer and exciting experiences. Once, while serving as flagman, the accidental (or providential) stopping of the engineer's watch averted a horrible disaster. Again, his engine once ran twenty car lengths on the ties, fifteen cars going down the bank, but no one was hurt. Twice it has happened to him to have that fearful experience--a deliberate suicide before his very eyes, and past all human help to prevent. These are the things which a man carries with him, burned into his memory, and of such occurrences Mr. Linley has had his full share. But nonetheless he walks today with the erect bearing and springy tread of a young man, and no passenger riding behind Levi Linley need fear that harm will come to him or his from the fault of the man at the front.

Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.

From the December 29, 1889 edition of The New York Times:
Levi Linley and three other engineers on the joint Grievance Committee of several unions protested a company requirement regarding written rules examinations. The company revised its requirement to oral rules exams. However, officers of the road were still requiring that employees sign off on the rules, including provisions that the union was objecting to. Shortly after filing the initial protest, each was called in to the Division Superintendent's office and required to undergo an immediate rules examination, written or oral. Each engineer refused, and each was suspended from duty.

Within eight days, the Engineers' Brakemen's and Switchmen's organizations threatened to "tie-up" the road should the engineers not be reinstated. Meanwhile, Erie General Manager Thomas's private secretary said there was no trouble with the engineers or any other employees of the road, and all of them, including the four engineers, were on the best terms with the company, having been given the option of a written or oral examination. He added there was no danger whatever of a strike on the road.

The joint Grievance Committee planned to meet with the company the following day, with the engineers' fate the primary topic.

From the June, 1909 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine (Port Jervis News):
Engineer Levi Linley died at the Post Graduate Hospital, New York, Tuesday May 18 (1909) shortly after undergoing an operation upon his ear. The news of his death came as a shock to his many friends here as his condition had not been previously regarded as critical. Mr. Linley was 67 years of age and was one of the oldest engineers in the passenger service on the New York Division. His kind, genial manners won friends among all classes of men. He had been in the service of the company since 1861 serving as a brakeman on the Delaware Division and fireman and engineer on the New York Division. His service record was excellent and the "Erie" mourns the loss of one of her best engineers. At the time of his death, Mr. Linley was running trains 30 and 35 between Port Jervis and Jersey City. He is survived by his wife and six children.

From the July, 1909 issue of the Locomotive Engineers' Monthly Journal, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers:
Port Jervis, NY, May 18, 1909, Brother Levi Linley, member of Div. 54, age 68, died from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was admitted to the Brotherhood on Jan. 1, 1868. A $3,000 insurance payment was made to Rhoda A. Linley, wife.

Related Individuals:

From the January 27, 1897 issue of the Middletown Daily Argus:
Dennis Linley, for forty-four years a resident of Port Jervis, died Monday at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Harrison Coykendall, at Maybrook, with whom he made his home most of the time since the death of his wife, a year ago.

Mr. Linley was a native of Sussex County. He was a carpenter by trade and had a large circle of friends. He is survived by the following children: Levi, of Port Jervis; James H., of Goshen; Nancy, wife of James Bartow, of Fishkill; Mary, wife of Harrison Coykendall, of Maybrook; Sarah, wife of William French, of Matamoras; and Emma, wife of Lewis Boughton, of Fishkill.

From the September, 1925 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Albert Johnson Linley, trainmaster of the New York Division, died suddenly at his home in Port Jervis (July 27, 1925) from acute indigestion. His death removed from the earth's activities one of the most widely known and best liked railroad men in the eastern section of Erie Railroad territory.

He was born in Port Jervis, May 10, 1865, and was a son of Levi and Rhoda Miller Linley. His father was for many years a locomotive engineer on the New York Division and took much interest in local politics.

In 1886, Albert J. Linley entered the service of the Erie Railroad as Yard Clerk at Port Jervis. In 1900 he was made Yardmaster and in 1908 was promoted to General Yardmaster. It was this position that he held at the time of his death.

"Al" Linley was an efficient railroad man. He specialized in yard work and by reason of his long experience in the largest yard of the Erie outside of Jersey City, Chicago and Buffalo, obtained a knowledge of transportation problems that stood him well in hand when he was called to higher positions. He was conscientious in the performance of every duty and wanted to see a job well done and things kept moving. He had a pleasing personality and knew how to handle men to get the best results. He could be strict in discipline when the occasion required and he could also be considerate of the other fellow who, though he might have made a mistake was trying to do his best. The best evidence of the esteem in which he was held was the large attendance at his funeral. Railroad men came from far and near to pay their last tribute of respect with the many friends from his home town.

He is survived by his widow and daughter, three brothers and two sisters. Mr. Linley was a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Port Jervis, Lodge No. 328, Free and Accepted Masons, and also served as one of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Port Jervis, in which organization he took much interest.

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