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Thomas R. Hackett (1852-1935)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 9/24/2022 at 10:49:49

Thomas Rex Hackett
(December 25, 1852 August 30, 1935)

Thomas R. Hackett is one of the most painstaking, careful and reliable engineers in the service of the Chicago & Northwestern
Railroad Company in Iowa. He makes his home in Lake City, where he is both widely and favorably known, while in his chosen vocation his efficiency and fidelity have gained for him the respect and confidence of those whom he serves. Mr. Hackett is a native of Jefferson County, Ohio, his birth having occurred near Steubenville, December 25, 1852, his parents being William and Clara (Marker) Hackett. His father was born in Leicestershire, England, June 16, 1815, the day on which the battle of Waterloo was fought. His wife
was a native of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It was about 1845 that William Hackett crossed the Atlantic from England, taking up his abode in Ohio, where he remained for ten years, when he removed to
Illinois, taking up his abode near Forreston, Ogle County, where he followed farming. He was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, however, for his death occurred March 17, 1864. His wife, long surviving him, passed away on the 7th of February, 1898, at the age of seventy-two years. In their family were six children: Thomas R.,
an engineer residing in Lake City; Mary, of Onawa, Iowa; George, deceased; Lemuel, of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Ralph and Addie, who are residents of Onawa. Thomas Hackett acquired his early education in Richmond, Ohio, and after the removal of the family to Illinois he continued his studies in Ogle County. He spent his early life on the farm, assisting in the work of field and meadow, and later he
went to Savannah, where he secured a position as engine wiper in 1869, being in the employ of the Western Union Railroad Company. In 1870 he went to Newton, Kansas, and until 1873 was a cowboy on the plains of Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. While thus engaged he went through many exciting experiences. He was in several
skirmishes with the Indians and was five times shot by them. He was also engaged in skirmishes with white men disguised as Indians for the purpose of stealing cattle from the ranchmen, avoiding capture on account of their masquerading as red men. Mr. Hackett was in Newton, Kansas, at the time of the great riot when seven people were killed in a fight between gamblers and cowboys, in which the latter were victorious. He visited Pueblo, Colorado, when it
contained but one building, and went to Wichita when there were only five dwellings in that now populous city. He has killed
a number of buffaloes on the plains, killing four on one river with an old Colt's revolver, which he still has in his possession.
In the fall of 1873 Mr. Hackett returned to Illinois and engaged in farming in Ogle County for two years. Later he turned his
attention to the real estate business, which he carried on until 1878 the year of his arrival in Iowa. Taking up his abode in
Wesley, this state, he began dealing in lumber, but in 1880 entered the employ of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company as an engine wiper at Algona. In March, 1882, he began firing on the northern division and on the 8th of February, 1883, he was promoted to the position of engineer on what was known as the Toledo & Northwestern division of the Chicago & Northwestern Road. In 1897 he was assigned to a passenger run and now makes regular trips between Lake City and Sioux City. He has never lost a pilot in all his service. On one occasion he was derailed at Whittier, Iowa, the engine leaving the track and going into a corn field, falling four or five feet. It required three hundred feet of rail to get it back to the track. The fireman was injured, but the engineer escaped unhurt. In the summer of 1901 he had another accident,
which might have been very serious but for his presence of mind, which certainly averted injuries. When the train was coming down
the hill at Coon river at the rate of forty miles per hour the engine struck two cows. The front trucks and back drivers left the
track, but Mr. Hackett stopped the engine before it left the track. The following account of this was given in the local paper of August 2, 1901: "The Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company employs a class of locomotive engineers distinctively noted for their expert efficiency, presence of mind and well rounded manhood. When last Friday night the eastbound express was running on time at from forty to forty-five miles an hour, coming down Coon river hill, it struck
two cows about a quarter of a mile west of Coon river bridge. Rounding a curve Engineer Hackett saw the obstruction, adopted
emergency tactics on the instant and came to a stop after running nearly a quarter of a mile with a pair of front truck wheels and
a pair of his drivers running on the ties. The passengers as they left the cars to learn what was the matter were pleased beyond
bounds when they saw the condition of the engine to know that they had escaped being piled up in a narrow cut, and perhaps killed
outright, by the proficiency and presence of mind of Engineer Thomas Hackett." He is one of the most reliable, painstaking and trustworthy men on the road, and his twenty-two years' service with the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company is unmistakable evidence of the trust and regard reposed in him by the road.
On the 4th of February, 1874, Mr. Hackett was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Speenberg, a native of Carroll County, Illinois, and a daughter of Peter Speenberg, who is now living in Kansas. Seven children have been born unto them: Clara, who was born June 20, 1876. and died on the 20th of August. 1896; William, who was born November 28, 1878. and now follows farming near Onawa, Iowa; Blanche,
who was born January 7, 1881; Ethel, born December 23, 1884; Sibyl, born December 26, 1886; Clarence, born July 5, 1888; and Marguerite, born August 1, 1893. Mr. Hackett is a member of Zerubbabel Lodge, No. 240, F. & A. M. ; Cypress Chapter, No. 99, R. A. M.; and his wife belongs to Lake Queen Chapter, No. 119, O. E. S. In politics he has always been a stanch Republican since casting his first
presidential vote for General Grant, and though he has never sought or desired office he has always kept well informed on the political issues of the day and is therefore able to maintain his position by intelligent argument. Faithfulness to duty has always been regarded as one of the most commendable traits in the character of man and is well exemplified in the career of Mr. Hackett, who in every relation of life has been found loyal and true to the trust reposed in him and to the obligations devolving upon him. [Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S.J. Clarke, 1902, p.354]


Calhoun Biographies maintained by Karon S. Valeu.
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