Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Joseph C. Boiselle

JOSEPH C. BOISELLE. Perhaps no other form of service, unless it be the army service, gives a man more creditable distinction than that of railroad locomotive engineer. The man who does his duty at this work promptly, efficiently and faithfully through a long period of years has well earned the esteem and favor of mankind.

Among the veteran railroad engineers in Kansas it is doubtful if the record of any stands out more conspicuously than that of Joseph C. Boiselle, who for more than a third of a century has been in the train service of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, with headquarters at Hoisington. He has been railroading nearly half a century, and if railroad men were awarded service stripes, as is done in the army, Mr. Boiselle's sleeve would hardly be long enough for all the honors he has earned.

He was born near Tarlton, Pickaway County, Ohio, June 4, 1850. His grandfather, John Boiselle, brought his family from France to the United States, locating near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and some fifteen years later moving to the vicinity of Lancaster in Fairfield County, Ohio. John Boiselle spent the greater part of his life as a farmer.

Louis Boiselle, father of the Hoisington Railroad man, was born while his parents were crossing the Atlantic Ocean and was fifteen years old when he went with the family to Fairfield County, Ohio. He became a brick and stone mason, later a contractor, and followed that business for many years. During the Civil war he joined Company B of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was at the siege of Vicksburg under General Grant, and also served in Sherman's army. While in the ranks he was detailed as a teamster and helped supply the army with provisions and other material during the campaign from Chickasaw Bluffs to Vicksburg. He remained in the army until mustered out in August, 1865. He was never wounded. After the war he became identified with the Grand Army of the Republic and was one of the faithful comrades of that order until his death, which occurred in May, 1906.

In Fairfield County, Ohio, Louis Boiselle married Miss Susanna Havile, daughter of Jacob Havile. She was born at Brattleboro, Vermont, and lived there to the age of nineteen. Her death occurred December 27, 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Boiselle had the following children: Joseph C.; Mary, who married John Bowers, of Dayton, Ohio; John, who died at St. Mary's, Ohio, in 1901; Sophronia, who became the wife of J. H. Downer, of Lima, Ohio; Etta, a high school principal at Lima; and Samuel, who was accidentally killed by a train in Chicago.

While Joseph C. Boiselle says that he received his early education in a "backwoods school," the training he received there and by later experience has fully sufficed to give him a successful career. As a boy he learned his father's trade of brick and stone mason, and followed that until he turned to railroading as an occupation.

His first experience was a locomotive fireman with the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway, beginning at Lima, Ohio. He was with that company six years, and then joined the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railway and was promoted to engineer by that company August 2, 1875. Since then, a period of nearly forty-five years, he has continuously handled the throttle of a locomotive, and while the service is remarkable for its length it is even more remarkable for its good fortune and efficiency. In all those years Mr. Boiselle has had only one serious wreck.

He had his first railroad experience in Kansas in 1881, entering the service of the Santa Fe Company at Topeka as an engineer under Supt. George Hackley. For a period of six months he was in the freight service three ways out of the capital and later for a brief time was on the Rio Grande, Mexico & Pacific Division of the company. He then went back to Illinois, and down into Tennessee, where for one year he had a run out of Nashville for the Louisville and Nashville Railway Company. He then joined the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company. During the winter he was assigned to different runs out of Minneapolis into Wisconsin, Dakota and Iowa, and in the summer was on the "River Division" between Minneapolis and LaCrosse. He was with the Milwaukee road about three years. Then followed a brief period of recuperation in Illinois, and in 1886 he joined the Missouri Pacific Company with headquarters at Holden, Missouri. As an engineer for the Missouri Pacific he has been all over the system west to Pueblo from Holden, and for twenty-one years had a passenger run on the main line. He now has the congenial duties of piloting the locomotive over the Great Bend branch, making two round trips a day between Hoisington and the county seat.

Mr. Boiselle has been a resident of Hoisington since October, 1887. A railroad man almost perforce can have few outside interests, and he has been content to do his duty for the transportation company, and in politics merely express his sentiments or cast his ballot. The comfortable home in which Joseph C. Boiselle resides, one of the conspicuous residences of the town, is a monument to his industry. It was built of stone quarried and laid up with his own hands, and he performed, in fact, most of the mechanical and architectural work on this handsome three-story, twelve-room house. To a large degree it was the work of his leisure hours, and he never lost a minute nor a single trip from his engine runs. Mr. Boiselle is a member of the Elks Lodge at Great Bend, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, Knights of Pythias and the Occidental Insurance Society. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Church, and in politics he is a straight republican.

At Paris, Illinois, July 2, 1873, Mr. Boiselle married Elizabeth Shaffer, daughter of Moses and Nancy (Rarey) Shafer. Her mother was a cousin of Rarey, the famous American horse trainer. Moses Shaffer, a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was a carpenter and builder and died at Danville, Illinois. By his first marriage he had two sons, William, now a resident of Seattle, Washington, and Josiah, who died at Danville, Illinois. Both of these sons served as Union soldiers during the Civil war. Moses Shaffor's second wife died at Delphi, Indiana, the mother of the following children: Henry, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Mrs. Boiselle, who was born May 12, 1853; Martha, wife of Charles Thurston of Los Angeles; Alfred, of Chicago; Alonzo, who became a railroad engineer and died at Pana, Illinois; and Charles, a resident of Chicago.

Mr. and Mrs. Boiselle take much pride in the record of their sons. They were the parents of three children, George, Louis and Raymond. Louis died when fourteen years old. George first became a soldier in the Spanish-American war, serving in the Twenty-First Kansas Regiment under Captain Newton and Colonel Metcalf. Following in the footsteps of his father, he became a locomotive engineer, and is now giving service in that capacity in France as a member of Company A, Sixty-Fourth Battalion Reserve Training Corps. The other son, Raymond, saw service with the rank of first lieutenant in the ordnance department in the aviation branch in France, but since being released is connected with the Westinghouse Company in the air brake department. Both sons are unmarried.


Pages 2481-2482.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 5 - Table of Contents

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