Biography of Nelson H. George

Nelson H. George is one of the veterans in the service of the Santa Fe Railroad in Kansas. He had been connected with the railroad in different capacities for twenty-five consecutive years, and when he first came to Kansas over thirty years ago he entered the employ of the railway company, though afterwards for some seven or eight years he had a most diversified experience as a West Kansas homesteader. He now had the heavy responsibilities of general yardmaster of the Santa Fe Railway at Arkansas City. His name is familiar to railroad men throughout the southwest, and his efficiency in the strenuous and exacting life of the railroad man had brought him influence and prosperity in other lines.

Mr. George was born at Piqua, Miami County, Ohio, May 22, 1858, and on December 19th of the same year his father, Nelson George, died at the age of thirty-five years, six months and a few days. Thus Nelson H. George early learned the lesson of self dependence, looked to himself rather than to others for the good things of life, and his career is one that may be studied with interest and inspiration. He had a worthy heritage of good stock from his ancestors. His great-grandfather David George was of both Scotch and Welsh stock. He lived in Sheffield, England, where all his children were born, but he died in Wales. The grandfather, William G. George, was born in Sheffield, England, and came to America when a young man with his brothers Charles and Robert. He and Charles located at Philadelphia, but Robert became separated and nothing more was ever heard of him. Charles George conducted a printing shop at No. 9 George Street in the City of Philadelphia. William G. George migrated to Dayton, Ohio, in 1827, where for twenty-eight consecutive years he was county surveyor of Montgomery County. William G. George’s wife, Sarah (Clark) George, was born in Pennsylvania in 1788, and died at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1886, when ninety-eight years of age.

Nelson George, father of the subject of this sketch, was born at Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1823, grew up and married in his native locality, and became a cabinet maker. Soon after his marriage he loaded his household goods on a prairie schooner, and with his wife passed over the mountains and prairies to Piqua, Ohio, where he set up as a workman at his trade and lived until his death. He was a Whig in politics and a very active member of the Baptist Church, which he served as deacon. He also belonged to the Masonic order and was master of his lodge when he died. Nelson George married Elizabeth Grant Rain, who was born at Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1826, and survived her husband many years. She died at LaPorte, Indiana, March 2, 1882. She was the mother of four children: W. F. George, who became bookkeeper and died at LaPorte, Indiana, August 21, 1886, at the age of thirty-five; Julia, who died aged thirteen at Piqua, Ohio; Charles, who died at the age of six years at Dayton, Ohio; and Nelson H.

Despite certain adverse circumstances during his youth Nelson H. George managed to acquire a substantial education. He was graduated from the high school at Piqua, Ohio, in 1876, and soon afterwards went to LaPorte, Indiana, where he became a student in Holmes Business College. He completed his course there in 1878, and in the meantime, in 1877, began working for a medicine company. He was with that firm until 1884.

Mr. George’s arrival in Kansas was the 4th of July, 1884. Going to Topeka, he found work in the shops of the Santa Fe and reported for work on the 5th of July. He was there nearly a year and left to go to Wichita, where he was assistant postmaster under Marshall M. Murdock until the next change of administration. Mr. George is competent authority on life and times of Western Kansas when that section of the state was regularly visited by blizzards, tornadoes, drought, grasshoppers, and mortgages. From Wichita he went to Syracuse, taking up a homestead of a hundred sixty acres and a timber claim of similar amount. He proved up on both these claims, and later sold them. While living in the western part of the state he served about a year as deputy United States marshal. It was an office that meant more of personal danger and trouble in those days than at the present time, and among other duties he became involved in the county seat fight. He lived a truly strenuous life. On returning to Wichita, Mr. George entered the real estate and loan business.

On July 7, 1892, he arrived at Arkansas City, Kansas, and resumed employment with the Santa Fe Railroad Company. This time he was in the operating train service. He began as a brakeman, was promoted to conductor in September, 1897, and on January 25, 1898, was taken off his regular run and made night yardmaster at Arkansas City. November 3, 1903, he was promoted to general yardmaster at Emporia, was transferred August 27, 1905, as general yardmaster at Wellington, and on June 14, 1907, the company sent him back to Arkansas City as night yardmaster. His last promotion as general yardmaster came on January 1, 1912.

Mr. George had his offices in the South yard. This yard is the division terminal for the Oklahoma Division of the Santa Fe and the south terminal for the middle division on the Galveston line. The yard had a capacity of twelve hundred cars, and is made up of a network of connecting tracks, and with switch tracks leading to all the local industries. Uusually from thirty-eight to thirty-nine thousand cars are handled in these yards every month. The equipment for handling consists of eight yard engines and thirteen chain gang crews and six local crews. Even railroad men can appreciate the responsibilities of Mr. George’s post as general yardmaster. The yards at Arkansas City are some of the largest on the middle western line of the Santa Fe.

Mr. George is a Republican, a member of the Baptist Church, and is affiliated with the Order of Railway Conductors Division No. 245, with Crescent Lodge No. 133, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Bennett Chapter No. 41, Royal Arch Masons, and the Fraternal Aid Union.

For the past sixteen years his home had been at 623 South B Street, but in 1911 he tore down the old residence and replaced it with a modern home of every comfort. He is also owner of six hundred forty acres of land in the Texas Panhandle adjoining the Town of Lipscomb. At different times he had acquired investments in the oil district of the old Mid Continent field, and he had twelve hundred acres under lease in the vicinity of Arkansas City alone.

On January 12, 1887, Mr. George was married at Wichita to Miss Neva Kimel, a native of Illinois and a daughter of Thomas K. and Rebecca (Mounts) Kimel. Her mother is still living at Wichita. Her father, who was a retired farmer, died at Wichita in October, 1914. Three of her brothers are conducting large farms in Sedgwick County, Kansas, and a fourth brother is in the lumber business at Kansas City, Missouri.

Mr. and Mrs. George had two children: Ethel Bertha died at Arkansas City, August 2, 1914. Marie M. is a graduate of St. Joseph Academy at Guthrie both in music and regular academic work, is an accomplished and trained musician, and is now the wife of Arthur W. Paris, a contractor at Arkansas City.



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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