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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Recalling Charles Krauss, Erie RR engineer

  • HAWLEY- Charles Krauss had a job that has been a dream of many a lad: A locomotive engineer. He worked for the Erie Railroad in the days of steam power, and made his home in Hawley, PA.
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  •   HAWLEY-  Charles Krauss had a job that has been a dream of many a lad: A locomotive engineer. He worked for the Erie Railroad in the days of steam power, and made his home in Hawley, PA.
       Born in Honesdale on November 29, 1857, he was the son of German immigrants, Charles and Margaret (Eagler) Krauss. In 1838, the elder Mr. Krauss emigrated to the United States and settled in Honesdale, PA, where he met Margaret Eagler. They were wed in 1841. She had arrived from the Fatherland the year before with another woman who afterward went west.
       In 1864 they settled in Hawley. The elder Mr. Krauss had been an architecht in Germany, but in this country was employed as a house painter. He was a strict Republican. They were both active with the German Lutheran Church.
       The father died January 1, 1878, at the age of 67. The mother lived until November 23, 1898.
        A 1900 biography states that their oldest chid, Conrad, was a decorator, living in Hawley and wed to Louise Delling. Charles was next in order of birth. Christian was killed on the railroad at the age of 10 years. Frederick died October 30, 1898, and lived with his mother. Elizabeth also lived with their mother. Sophia was wed to Miles Wilds, a miller of Hawley. Jacob died in infancy (1871). The youngest child, Mary, was living in New York City.
        Charles Krauss apparently was never married. He had always lived under the parental roof. He attended public school in Hawley. at the age of nine he began work driving a horse on the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal (about 1866). He did this for three seasons, after which he worked with his father as a painter until his father died.
    •••  Railroad career
       Starting about 1876 he worked in the Erie Railroad car shops at Hawley, repairing train cars. He was then put to work as a fireman on a steam engine for eight and a half years In about 1889 he was promoted to engineer, and continued in that capacity. His biography in 1900 notes he did so as a credit to himself and his company.
        These were the days when Hawley was a bustling railroad hub with freight and passenger trains coming in and leaving from three directions. The town hummed with manufacturing of silk, textiles, glass and other products. Coal was no longer transferred onto cars at Hawley after 1885, but coal trains passed through, with local stops. The canal also kept in business until 1898.
        Charles was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen at Dunmore, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, at Port Jervis, NY; and the Blue Lodge, F. & A. M. at Hawley. He was connected with the German Lutheran Church in Hawley and was a Republican.
    Page 2 of 4 -    "He is a worthy representative of one of the most highly respected families of Hawley, and is quite popular with a large circle of friends and acquaintances," his 1900 biography reads.
    ••• Man on the tracks
       The Scranton Tribune reported on August 3, 1895 of a tragic accident on the tracks occurring the day before near Rosas, a one-time hamlet in Westfall Township, Pike County, on the Delaware division of the Erie.
        An extra coal train with 75 cars pulled by Erie engine 722 was heading east that morning. Charles Krauss was the engineer. Thomas Malia was the conductor.
      The train was approaching Stairway Rock cut, a mile and a half east of Rosas. Also known as Rosa's Switch, there was a half dozen houses and a railroad dock for loading stone and logs onto the trains. The hamlet was just east of the Pond Eddy Bridge. There was a family there by the name of Rosa, and beautiful roses grew alongside the tracks.
        That day, Engineer Krauss observed a man ahead lying on the track, who was evidently asleep. Sounds of the whistle and bell were given, which did not seem to attract the man's attention. The entire train passed over his body, killing him instantly. The newspaper said that the man was dressed like a "tramp" and was unknown.
        Wayne County Herald reported another run-over by an Erie train on June 20, 1902, not in any way involving Charles Krauss. Coincidentally, however, the victim in this instance was identified as Philip Krauss Jr., age 29, of Baoba in Lackawaxen Township, Pike County. He also appeared to be asleep on the tracks, on the Honesdale branch of the Erie, and was instantly killed. Benjamin Gardner was engineer. Philip Krauss was not known to have been related to Charles Krauss.
     
    ••• Lived on Academy Street
        The 1900 Census tells us he boarded on Academy Street with his brother-in-law Miles Wilds, who worked in a local grist mill, Miles' wife Sophia and 4-year old daughter Margaret.
       Charles Krauss continued to reside at 408 Academy Street with his sister Sophia, on the steep road  coming up from Church Street.
        He was still working as an engineer in 1910 but retired from the railroad sometime before 1920, when the Census lists him working again in his father's trade, painting. He limited himself to interior painting. Charles was 64 at the time.
        By this time, Sophia and Miles had three children in the house, their daughter Margaret, 23 and son Charles, 18, both who worked in a local silk mill, and daughter Frances, 14.
         The family was well cognizant of the inherent dangers of railroad work. The Honesdale Citizen reported of the tragic death of Miles Wilds' brother William, age 40, occurring May 18, 1909. William was working as a railroad car inspector in Oneonta, NY for the O & W Railroad. William became pinned between an engine and car, and was killed. William, who was originally from Hawley, was brought back for the funeral at their brother Curtis Wilds' home in Hawley.
    Page 3 of 4 -       We read of a pleasant day in July 1910. The Honesdale Citizen reported that Mrs. Miles Wilds entertained a Mrs. Dempster, wife of a prominent glove manufacturer from Gloversville, NY; her neice and Sophia's sister Mrs. Lizzie Mains.  Her guests arrived on Saturday in their automobile with their chauffeur (we wish we were told what type of car it was). "Mr. and Mrs. Wilds enjoyed a motor ride with their guests to Honesdale," the columnist dutifully reported.
         Autos were yet something of a novelty, owned mainly by the well-to-do. Passenger rail service was still very active in Hawley and elsewhere, as Charles could have attested.
         They had no phone service as of 1910; there were only 110 Bell Telephone customers in Hawley at the time, mainly businesses.
         His brother-in-law Miles died October 23, 1917.
         The household on Academy Street in 1930 consisted of Charles Krauss, 74 with his sister Sophia, 62; their sister Elizabeth Main; and daughter Frances with her husband Edward Hunt. The Hunts both worked at one of the nearby silk mills.
        Charles was living there in 1931, the year that he died. He was laid to rest at Green Gates Cemetery, Hawley by his parents.    
        Elizabeth died in 1937. Sophia lived until 1951.
    ••• Nephew namesake
        He had a nephew named Charles F. Krauss In 1900, Charles F. was 12, and lived at home with parents Conrad and Louise Krauss, on Church Street, Hawley.  They also had a daughter Mary, age 10. Conrad worked as a painter.
        Conrad died July 8, 1909 at the age of 53, after an illness. He was laid to rest at the Walnut Grove Cemetery, Hawley.
        Charles F. graduated from Hawley High School in June of 1906, one of 11 in the class. Graduation was at the Standard Opera House in town. Charles F. moved to Buffalo, NY where he was inducted into the US Army in 1918. He served in Co. H. 346th Infantry overseas during World War I. Krauss was honorably discharged in 1919. He was not injured in the war.
       In 1920 Charles F. worked as a street car conductor in Buffalo. His wife, Clara M., was the same age, 32.  The 1930 Census shows neither were employed, but they had a lodger. In 1940, Charles F. worked as a steam fitter helper; his wife Clara was keeper of their lodging house. They lived at 71 N. Pearl St., Buffalo.
       [Editor's note: Anyone with more information on engineer Charles Krauss or his family - or anything to do with Hawley's railroad heritage may contact the writer at 570-226-4547 or news@neagle.com. Pictures are welcome.]
    Page 4 of 4 - Sources:
    Commemorative Biographies of Northeastern Penn, 1900
    Pike County Notebook by George J. Fluhr, 1999

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