Biography of George Gorden Derby

George Gorden Derby is a comparatively young man but is old in the service of railroads. He began his career in Western Pennsylvania, where he was an employee and rose to large responsibilities with the Erie Railroad. About ten years ago he came West and had since been with the Santa Fe at different points and is now superintendent of the Oklahoma division, with headquarters at Arkansas City.

Mr. Derby was born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, January 14, 1876. His paternal ancestors were colonial settlers in Connecticut. His father, Lafayette Derby, was born in New York State in 1844, and is now living at Meadville, Pennsylvania, retired. When fifteen years of age his parents removed to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and later to Crawford County, where Lafayette grew up and married. His first business experience was as a grocery merchant, but subsequently he entered the employ of the Erie Railroad when that was known as the Atlantic Great Western, and was continuously in its service for thirty years. He is a republican, and had served as a member of the school board and city council at Meadville, and in the Presbyterian Church was an elder for a long time and also treasurer. Lafayette Derby is a veteran of the Civil war, having enlisted in 1861 and becoming lieutenant of Company H, One Hundred Fiftieth Pennsylvania Infantry. He saw much hard service, was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness and was kept out of the fighting at Gettysburg, where his regiment played a gallant part, because of the wounds keeping him in the hospital. Lafayette Derby married Elizabeth Eleckner, who was born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, in 1849, and died at Meadville in 1906. They had just two children. Lena, the older, is the wife of T. M. Patterson, a railroad man connected with the Erie Railroad and living at Meadville.

George Gorden Derby spent his early life at Meadville, attended the public schools and graduated from high school in 1888. One of the finest small colleges in the country is located at Meadville, known as the Allegheny College, and Mr. Derby had its advantages and training through the junior year.

In 1891 he left college to begin work for the Erie Railroad Company. He began at the age of seventeen, worked in various minor capacities for some years, and having shown a fitness for larger responsibilities was in time promoted to general yard master at Jamestown, New York. Mr. Derby resigned his post there in 1906 and went West to join the Santa Fe. At LaJunta, Colorado, he was general yard master a short time, then filled a similar position for some time at Albuquerque, New Mexico, until May 1, 1907, when he returned to LaJunta as general yard master until October 1, 1909. Coming to Kansas, he was appointed assistant train master at Newton, and from November 1, 1910, until September 15, 1916, was train master. At the latter date Mr. Derby was transferred to Arkansas City and promoted to the superintendency of the Oklahoma Division. Mr. Derby is also president of the Kansas Southwestern Railroad, a line between Arkansas City and Anthony and now a part of the Sante Fe system.

Mr. Derby is independent in politics, is a member of the Congregational Church, and stands high in Masonry. He became a Mason in Pennsylvania, but is now a member of Newton Lodge No. 142, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Arkansas Valley Chapter No. 27, Royal Arch Masons; Newton Commandery No. 9, Knights Templar; Wichita Consistory No. 2 of the Scottish Rite, and Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wichita. Mr. Derby owned two sections of farm land in Stanton County, Kansas. His home is at 126 North B Street.

He was married September 9, 1899, at Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, to Miss Alice Crittenden. Mrs. Derby was born in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, at Wellsboro, daughter of Spencer and Lucretia (Havens) Crittenden. Her father, now deceased, was a farmer and miller. Mrs. Crittenden now makes her home with her children.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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