ENGINEER S. THATCHER, Owego, NY
One of the oldest Erie engineers is S. Thatcher, of Owego, N.Y. The major portion of his 75 years he spent on the rail, having pulled one train (now 25 and 26) for a period of 43 years.
Mr. Thatcher owns a comfortable home on North Avenue, where most of his time is spent since quitting active service. Always painstaking and careful of the company's welfare, he was an ideal employe. That he was valued by the corporation he so long and faithfully served is attested by the fact that while his activities have ceased, he is remembered every thirty days by the Erie in a very substantial way.
For one of his years, Mr. Thatcher is very well preserved and bids fair to enjoy many years of well earned rest. The actual time engineer Thatcher spent on the road was 53 years. He fired for 2 years and ran for 51 years.
From the March, 1911 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine
Engineer Thatcher, who has been having eye trouble for which he has been under treatment for some time, is gradually improving.
Obituary, from the July issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Summer Thatcher, who was for many years an Erie Railroad engineer and who did not retire from the service until he was 79 years old, died Sunday morning, May 31 (1914), at his home in North avenue, Owego, N.Y., aged 87 years.
Mr. Thatcher was one of a family of twelve children of Benjamin Thatcher, a farmer and miller and was born in June, 1827, in the town of Keene, NH.
In 1846, when 19 years old, he became the conductor of a train on the Cheshire railroad and while running the train he also acted as engineer whenever necessary and learned everything connected with the running of a locomotive.
In 1851 he came to the employ of the New York and Erie railroad in charge of a locomotive which he ran from the South Boston locomotive shops and was at once set to work as engineer of a train on the Susquehanna Division.
When he came here R.N. Brown, the division superintendent, gave him his choice of trains. For many years he ran the local trains known now as 25 and 26 and he also was the engineer of the old "Monitor," which was a light passenger coach with an engine at one end, which ran between Susquehanna and Hornell.
In 1906, when he was 79 years old he quit the employ of the Erie company on account of rheumatism, after having been in its service 55 years. Unsolicited the company awarded him a pension of $32 a month, which was paid to him all the rest of his life.
Mr. Thatcher went through four railroad strikes but never participated in any of them. In a brakeman's strike, notice was sent to him by strikers that if he should run his locomotive it would be at the peril of his life. His reply was that should any of the strikers interfere with him they would do it at the peril of their lives, and as he was known as a very determined, although quiet man he was not interfered with, although other engineers did not escape as easily.
In one strike of the engineers he refused to sign the strikers' paper, saying that he was satisfied in every way with his work and wages, and should stick to his engine. The engineers did not interfere with him and he ran his train all through the strike without molestation. Some other engineers, who signed the paper and afterward resumed work during the progress of the strike, were assaulted. One of them (an Owego man) would have been killed while "wooding up" the tender of his locomotive at a station had not Mr. Thatcher interfered. The strikers had attacked the engineer and some were choking him to death, while others were pounding him with their fists. Mr. Thatcher seized a stick of wood and threatened to kill them if they did not desist, and they let the engineer go.
One remarkable thing in Mr. Thatcher's experience as an engineer is that he never had an accident to his train in all his years of service.
Mr. Thatcher's wife died many years ago and he had since continued to live at his house, 137 North avenue, where his funeral was held, Rev. F.W. Young officiating. He leaves one brother, James T. Thatcher, of Dorchester, Mass., and one sister, Mr. M.D. Moore, of Fond du Lac, Wis. The funeral was conducted at the home, and the burial was in Evergreen cemetery. The bearers were J. Reagan and G.C. Grantier, of Hornell; W.M. McGill and K.E. Reed, of Elmira and William C. Thurston and D.S. Legge, of Owego.