war, in the 1870s, Grandfather demonstrated his innate, entrepreneurial
skill by becoming a gravel contractor for the railroad. He landed
the entire gravel contract for one of the earliest bridges across
the Missouri River, a concrete railroad bridge. He used several teams
of horses on this project. His brother Millard drove one of the teams.
bridge was being built by a modern technique that employed compressed
air to force the water out of the pylon chamber, which went down to
the river bottom, and thus permitted the embedding of steel reinforced
piers in the river. Grandfather recalled that he saw many workmen
doubled over in pain when they came up from the compressed air chamber;
he knew of several who died. The phenomenon of the bends,
due to nitrogen in the blood stream, was not understood by the bridge
made a killing on this contract, but couldnt continue this type
of work because he developed a terrible case of rheumatism. He was
so sick for a while that he actually hoped he would die.
eventually regained full health, then became the Marshal of a small
Illinois town. Later he served as the head of a rehabilitation institutiona
work farm. During his stay in Illinois, Grandfather also bought horses
and shipped them by carloads back to Philadelphia where they were
used for pulling street cars, as well as for other work.
brother Theodore lived in Princeton, Illinois, to the west of Chicago.
It was during a visit to his brother in Princeton that Grandfather
met his future bride, Ellen B. Greer, who was there staying with her
was one incident that upset Grandfather during his visit to Princeton.
He noticed that a nigger was sitting in on a poker game
with some whites. Although he claimed that he wasnt prejudiced
at all, that bothered him.