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Birmingham Finance Company Brokers
Room 3, Hood Building
Cor. 20th St. and 3rd Ave.
Birmingham, Ala.

Sept 22, 1919.

In re. Ed. Roberts.

Mr. G. R. Wilcox, Master Mechanic

Frisco Railroad


Dear Sir:

This is to advise that the assignment, notice of which was given you on August 30th, had been properly adjusted and settled prior to the time that the notice was given.

The adjustment was made through our attorneys who had not advised us of it, until a day or two ago.

We therefore hope that Ed. Roberts, against whom the assignment works will not be put out of service because of this oversight on the part of our attorneys.

Very truly yours,

Birmingham Finance Company

By Ed S. Wight Jr., Asst. Manager

FRISCO LINES Pink Telegram

{“This telegram has preference over all other business except train orders and wire signals. It must be transmitted immediately and after transmission mailed to Superintendent Telegraph.” Also: “This blank must not be used for any purpose except Pink Telegraph Service.”}

25 BYV Bgham 230:PM Dec 21st,1919

GRW Mfs.

W-92 Fireman Ed F Roberts left Bgham 23rd for Springfield.

C. L. Shattuck--


{Penciled across paper: “Phoned 3 PM”}

Bill of Mason & Company - vs Ed Roberts, colored, Fireman -

Memphis, June 12, 1920.

File 16

Mason & Co.

Amory, Miss.


Your letter of May 21st, addressed to Mr. Wood with reference to debt owed your Firm by colored Fireman Ed Roberts:

I have had this party in my office in connection with this debt, and he has promised to take care of same just as quick as possible, and in this connection I will advise he has been off from work from May 4th, to June 1st, account of injury sustained.

I have made it very plain to this Fireman that we would insist on this debt being taken care of with the least possible delay.

Yours truly,

{no signature this copy}

Master Mechanic

cc B. A. Dobbins

Mason & Company Staple and Fancy Groceries Amory, Miss

July 23, 1920

{Stamped “Recd Jul 24 1920 Master Mechanic Memphis, TENN.}

Mr. G. R. Wilcox

Birmingham, Ala.

Reference: File 16

Dear Sir:

In reply to your letter of June 12 with reference to debt owed us by Colored Fireman Ed Roberts. Beg to advise we have not yet heard from this party.

We note what you have to say with reference to this man being off from work, and wish to say this account is over a year old. It only amounts to $8.00 and there is no reason why it should not have been paid long ago.

If we do not hear from him just after the first of next month, we are again going to take the matter up with Mr. Wood and if we are unable to secure payment in this way we will be forced to take other steps to force payment of this account.

Thanking you for your assistance in this matter, we are,

Yours very truly,

Mason & Co.,

by O. R. Mason

Personal Record - Ed Roberts, Colored Fireman - Birmingham Sub

Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 31st, 1920


Mr. B. A. Dobbins:

Your file 400-R of December 30th.

I have nothing on file against the above fireman to keep him out of service. However, his personal record indicates that he has been badly mixed up with the Loan Sharks at Birmingham. I want you to tell this fireman that when he returns to service we are not going to tolerate garnishments or assignments of wages from him.

Master Mechanic

Personal Record - Ed F. Roberts - Col Fireman - Birmingham Sub.

Memphis Tennessee., August 9th, 1924.

Mr. G. R. Carson:

Your file 761-Roberts of August 8th.

I have this date furnished Mr. Sisson with transcripts of personal records of this party, copy of which I am handing you herewith for your file.

{no signature this copy}

Master Mechanic

{Penciled across the bottom:

Pa66877-Ed F Robts-Washington to NY 9-9-24 66878-Louvia - “ “ “ “
son 1885 - Ed F R - Bgham-Washington - 9-9-24
“ 1886 - Louvia - “ - 9-9-24
(merit pass)

S-5293 - Ed F Roberts - 11 yrs Son
5294 - Mrs. Louvinai -


Ed Roberts Col fireman {handwritten across top of page 1}
808 Eleventh Ave. N.
Birmingham, Ala.
Aug. 9, 1924

Mr. G. R. Carson
Supt. of Terminal
Frisco R. R.

Dear Sir:

I am writing you this letter, asking for a rehearing in the charges preferred against me as to being drunk on the 26 of July by the yard master and switch engine crew. I can prove by a white employee whose occupation requires him to be at the freight yd junction when on duty, who will testify that I was not at that point at the time specified in the charges against me.

My next reason of asking a rehearing is because of the stenographer giving a mistype to my answer as to the house of Hassie Cain. She typed a ‘public House’ when I answered ‘a private home.’

Another reason for asking a rehearing is because of the failure to write into the record the statement made by Mr. E. F. Roberts as to expressions made by some of the train’s crew as to getting me off the job if by no other means than the K. K. K.

If you will not grant me another investigation, then I ask the right appeal my case to higher officials designated by you or the proper authorities.

Believing you to be a fair official handling justice to all employees alike irrespective to Race or Color, it is with this belief that prompts me to write this letter and again I believe my long & faithful service should be considered in this matter. I am mailing a copy of this letter to Mr. B. G. Gamble, M. M.

Enclose find stamp for a reply

Thanking you in advance for your consideration,

I beg to remain


E. F. Roberts


St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company

Law Department

W. F. Evans

General Solicitor

G - 9857

St. Louis, MO., 5/27/25

Mr. B. G. Gamble, M.M., Memphis, Tenn.

Mr. G. R. Carson, Supt. Term., Birmingham, Ala.

Mr. C. B. Perkins, Auditor, St. Louis, Mo.


I have today received from the Agent at Birmingham, Ala, summons in the case of J. M. Adams, Plaintiff vs. Ed. F. Roberts, Defendant, St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company, Garnishee, returnable 18th day of June before Circuit Court, Jefferson County, Justice of the Peace, at Birmingham, Ala. Amount $162.50. The defendant is said to be a fireman at Birmingham, Ala.

Please bring this matter to the attention of the defendant, have him sign the blank below, and when he has done so, kindly forward same to the Paymaster.

If defendant is employed, please advise Paymaster AT ONCE his occupation and location; if an ex-employe, state the date he left the service.

E. T. Miller,

General Solicitor

{Form at bottom not completed; not signed.}

St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company

Law Department

W. F. Evans

General Solicitor

G- 9879

St. Louis, MO., 5/28/25

Mr. B. G. Gamble, M.M., Memphis, Tenn.

Mr. G. R. Carson, Supt. Term., Birmingham, Ala.

Mr. C. B. Perkins, Auditor, St. Louis, Mo.


I have today received from the Agent at Birmingham, Ala. summons in the case of Burnett & Johnson, Plaintiff vs. Ed F. Roberts, Defendant, St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company, Garnishee, returnable 15th day of June before Municipal Court, 3rd Div’n., Justice of the Peace, at Birmingham, Ala. Amount $(blank). The defendant is said to be a fireman at Birmingham.

Please bring this matter to the attention of the defendant, have him sign the blank below, and when he has done so, kindly forward same to the Paymaster.

If defendant is employed, please advise Paymaster AT ONCE his occupation and location; if an ex-employe, state the date he left the service.

E. T. Miller

General Solicitor

{Form at bottom not completed; not signed.}

Garnishment and Assignment of Wages Colored Employes--

Birmingham, October 28, 1925.

File 6-C

Mr. B. G. Gamble,

Your letter October 23rd relative to personal record of E. F. Roberts, colored, Fireman, also your letter of October 26th relative to W. L. Bogan, alias N. L. Bogan account of assignment of wages.

I am attaching hereto copy of letter from Mr. A. S. Cowan, Special Agent, of his investigation relative to garnishments and assignments of wages of colored employed, and you will note his recommendation. Please advise if this is sufficient or if you want me to proceed further as outlined in your letters.

L. H. Gorman {signature difficult to read}

General Foreman

(Copy) Birmingham, Ala. Dec. 30th, 1926.

To Division 386 and Members:

I have with me Fireman Ed Roberts and have had him ever since run was put on, I have asked road foreman of equipment and general foreman Westernhouse to take this fireman off my pool and he has not been removed.

My reason for wanting said fireman removed is because he cannot fire an engine and will not keep steam, he fell down on engine 21 for steam. I went to Mr. Westernhouse and asked him to take Roberts off, he told me I would have to write it up to Mr. McLevanley, I made another trip on engine 2004, had no steam then caught engine 17 and still had no steam, had to double into Glen Allen, then I wrote a letter asking them to take fireman off my turn and still there was nothing done.

In about five or six days they had me in the office about doubling the hill, I explained in the investigation it was on account of fireman not having steam, that I had asked foreman Westernhouse in advance of this trip to take this fireman off my run, I consider fireman Roberts unsafe to have on engine, he will not look out for signals, heading or backing in yard where tracks lead off from his side, he will not look out while approaching public crossings, or railroad crossings, approaching or pulling through yard limits where curves are on his side, neither does he look out for train order boards or block signals or ring bell when approaching crossings or stations.

One has to tell him every move to make even in switching you have to tell him to look out for signals and in several cases have had him tell me he did not see any signal, and on one occasion I looked back over top of gons and saw conductor Robinsan and head brakeman McMurren, they kept giving signals on firemans side, he told me he did not see any one, in a few minutes McMurren came over and asked him what was the matter, he didnt look out, and finally the head brakeman got on top of cars and rode so I could see him and spot the cars correctly for road master Smith. I understand most every man on this division has turned this negro in and still no action has been taken.

Now Brothers I ask each of you if you think it safe to work under such conditions, for the safety of the train crew or company’s property, to say nothing of the danger of loosing your job.

Now this fireman has been in the service about fifteen years and still has to be told every move to make, it seems absolutely impossible to get him to bring up his part of the work. He either has no ability or else lays down on the engineer, as you know the engineer is held responsible for everything that happens. I dont feel like being held responsible for a fireman like this. I am asking the division to please instruct the local committee to take up with division officials and have this fireman taken off my run, if not out of service entirely, and if they do not attend to it turn it over to the general committee and instruct them to act on it at once. Please do this at once as it is most impossible for me to work with this fireman.

Yours truly,

{no signature this copy}

{Copy sent by L. Stevensen L. C. 386 B. of L. E. {Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers}

Bham Ala

11/21/27 {Date may be 1/21/27}

Mr. B. G. Gamble M M

Memphis, Tenn

Dear Sir

My turn full off today and I am Going to Amory on 926 to take the Local out of Amory in am. I would like to have Ed Roberts Fireman - I understand that the machinist & Engr have turn him in claimed that they smell liquor on his Breath - Mr. Teed? informs me that this is all are mistake that he test it out with Roberts & could not smell no Liquor on his Breath - this man have not drink any thing. they are doing him injust & I have Mr. Teed word for it and if this meet with your approval notifie him to come a head & fire for me and oblige

Yours truly

J S Hollinsgworth

Memphis, Tenn., Jan 28th, 1927.

Mr. R. B. Butler;

Your letter of the 25th, inst, file 208-18-86 in which you refer to our conversation a short time ago with reference to colored Fireman Ed Roberts Birmingham Sub.

Since taking this fireman away from Engineer Kendrick in through freight service he has gone with Engineer Hollingsworth in Local service between Amory and Carbon Hill.

Understand Engineer Hollingsworth was entirely agreeable to taking him.

{no signature on this copy}

Master Mechanic

Personal Record- Ed. Roberts-col Fireman-Birmingham

Memphis, Tenn., Jan 31st, 1927


Mr. R. B. Butler;

Kindly be referred to my letter to you of the 28th, inst subject personal record Ed Roberts Fireman Birmingham, which was in reply to your letter of January 25th; file 208-18-86 in which you asked the status of this fireman’s case.

Since replying to your letter I have been to Birmingham and found that Roberts is still off. He has not worked since he was pulled off the turn with Engineer Kendrick. It was all fixed up for him to go with Engineer Hollingsworth in local service between Amory and Carbon Hill, however, someone has been to Engineer Hollingsworth and now Hollingsworth states that he does not want Roberts and that if he is placed on the run he will get off it. Simply a case of all the engineers agreeing to run this fireman off. Understand indirectly that Engineer Stevens sent word to Engineer Hollingsworth to not take the fireman through two of the brakemen on Hollingsworth’s crew, and also understand that this train crew signed a letter stating that they did not want Roberts as fireman on the crew.

There is not any question but what they are all well organized in their efforts to get rid of this fireman. Will talk to you about the matter at the first opportunity.

{no signature this copy}

Master Mechanic

Personal Record- Ed Roberts - Colored Fireman - Tupelo Sub.

Memphis, Tenn., Feb. 11th, 1927.

Dear Mr. Worman;

Attached hereto copy of letter written Mr. Hutchinson by colored Fireman Ed. Roberts.

You will no doubt recall the conversation had with you possibly 30 days ago with reference to complaints which had been made against this fireman. Circumstances in connection with the matter as follows;

Roberts has for several years been active among the colored firemen and brakemen, and has been recognized leader, however, we of course could not recognize him in this capacity to the fullest extent at least. He has taken a very active part in conducting fuel meeting with the colored firemen at Birmingham and Amory. For these reasons and no doubt for reasons he mentions in his letter he is disliked by the engineers and the white firemen and believe there has been a concerted effort to get rid of him. His last services was in through freight with Engineer Kendrick. Kendrick had no use for Roberts when he took this turn in through freight service which Roberts was already on. Kendrick made several complaints to the Road Foreman and Roundhouse Foreman with reference to the fireman, saying that he could not be depended upon to look out for signals etc., and that he would not be responsible for him.

On December 10th, 1926, they had trouble for steam pulling in a side track which caused a double. Statement was decured{?} from the engineer and fireman by Assistant Superintendent and Road Foreman and the matter was closed out without placing responsibility with either the engineer or fireman, however, it was to be seen that the engineer did not cooperate with the fireman or do his part by properly instructing him and giving him a fair chance to get his fire straightened up and steam pressure back. After this Engineer Kendrick came to me complaining about the fireman. I told him that I knew of his previous complaints that I had seen copy of his statement and the statement of the fireman with reference to the double and that I did not think he had done anything during the entire time this fireman had been with him to get him straightened out or lined up to do a first class job and that I did not think he had even given him an opportunity to do his work properly; that the negro had been in the service something like 15 years and that this was the first case of trouble for steam I had known of, and that while there had been some complaint from time to time he had not been into any trouble. Kendrick then wrote the Engineer’s Division a letter explaining the matter by stating that he had made several complaints about the services of the fireman; that he was unreliable and unsafe; that he could not keep up steam and that he could not be responsible for him and did not want to work with him, and asked that they take the matter up, inasmuch as he had not been able to have the fireman taken off the job. I asked the Local Chairman for the engineer’s to send me a copy of this letter which he did. I then told Roberts to get off the run and try to find some engineer who would be agreeable to take him. He did this, however, has been unable to find anyone who would take him, consequently as the matter now stands he is out of a job.

Am quite sure there were several engineers who would have been agreeable to taking Roberts if it had not been for the pressure brought to bare by other engineers insisting that they not do this. Do not believe Roberts will be able to find an engineer who will take him undersuch circumstances. Personally I feel that the negro is being discriminated against and unjustly so, but do not know just how to handle the matter. This is the second case like this to come up since I have been on the division.

Would like to know just what disposition should be made of the case.

Yours very truly,

{no signature on this copy}


Mr. H. L. Worman

Supt. Motive Power

Springfield, MO.

{Letter from Mrs. Ed Roberts to Mr. B. G. Gamble, M. M.}

808 11 Ave. N

Birmingham, Ala.

June 9, 1928

Mr. B. G. Gamble, M. M.

Frisco Lines

Memphis, Tenn.

Dear Mr. Gamble:

I know this is quite an unusual thing for one in my position to do; But knowing you as I believe I do, and believing you to be one of the Frisco’s most just and sympathetic officials, I write you in the consideration of Ed Roberts, my husband.

I am asking: Is there no way at all that you can help him back into the service of the company? Is there nothing in the mechanical Department. I know he has his faults and maybe he has vexed you unusually so. He and I both are very sorry. Cant’ you forgive him and try him again? You know more than 15 yrs of his have been spent in the service. Somehow I never can get used to his not having connections with the Frisco Lines. There is something hurtful about the blowing of those Frisco whistles, where there used to be a deal of pride to feel that my husband was having a part with a company which was contributing so much to civilization.

Again asking you to give him a reconsideration and thanking you sincerely, in advance for this consideration, I am

Very Respectfully

(Mrs.) E. F. Roberts