Updated Jerry Shay’s Work Journal
I updated great-grandpa Jerry Shay’s work journal notes and transcribed all of the pages. It was a big effort but well worth it.
While transcribing each page, I struggled with some of the handwriting but being ‘forced’ to read each word also opened my eyes to several important dates. One thing I noticed is that he didn’t write anything about the start of World War 1 in July and August 1914. Looking back I would have thought Jerry might have noticed the start of a war but he focused his notes on work. And he was very busy as this year shows.
The journal also includes several family notes, but not many. I’m sure he was much more involved with his family than this journal suggests. I know the family lived in Towanda from about 1902 onward when he took the position of the Supervisor of the Maintenance of Way with the S&NY RR.
- Jerry Shay loved to hunt and fish, and did so whenever he could. He usually hunted or fished along the railroad route but there were a couple days when he went to other places with friends.
- He also worked on his vegetable garden but had help.
- When he mentioned his wife, he wrote “Mrs. Shay.”
- He mentions several of his children: Patrick (“Patsy”), Jennie, James, and Elizabeth.
- Jennie got married to Raymond Wall on Tuesday, January 6, 1914 in Scranton. He wasn’t at his daugther’s wedding… not sure what to make of that or if it was normal.
- He had dinner with his daughter, Kate, and her husband “Snedecker” (surname; but that’s what they called him) for Christmas day. He did not, however, mention it was Christmas.
- Jerry’s brother-in-law, John McNiff, died in Elmira on May 27, 1914 while trying to jump on a moving train. John was coming home from work by train and slipped as he jumped onto the train railroad men did every day.
- Jerry, his wife Jane, and their daughter Elizabeth went to Elmira for the funeral on Friday, May 29. These two entries – plus the funeral on Saturday – were key into finding Jerry’s sister Mary McNiff, their parents, and his brothers and sisters in Horseheads and Pine Valley.
- On Sunday, June 21, 1914 Jerry’s son James baptized FIVE children at the same time including Fay, Dorothy, Edward, Lawrence, and Francis.
- Jerry Shay’s son-in-law, Elmer McCracken (Lena’s husband), had an automobile.
- Mrs. Shay went to Williamsport a couple times during the year.
- Jerry Shay generally worked Monday to Saturday but he went out on Sundays when called.
- He injured his foot a couple times that year but he was back to work the next day or so.
- Jerry Shay had to remove a bees nest from a water tower and got about 50 pounds of honey for his effort.
- A ditcher is equipment that cleans the right of way along the tracks to ensure rainwater drains away from the road bed so it (the water) doesn’t undermine the track and derail a train.
- Today, snow is removed from the tracks using specialized equipment but in 1914, most of the work was done by gangs of men with shovels. It was cold, hard labor. And it could be dangerous.
- After the Marsh Hill station burned, he didn’t write in his journal for several weeks. I don’t know the reason but it’s an interesting result.
There are 122 images in the collection with 3 days per page. The journal also included other pages typical of a Day Planner, such as a whole section about the ‘new’ Panama Canal, weights and measures, etc.
As I said before, it was a big effort and I messed it up several times before getting it to work. If you find any transcription errors please let me know.