3270. Austin Webster ACKLEY1630 was born on 16 May 1891 in Aberdeen, Brown, South Dakota, United States.71,1278,1344,1629,1633,2662,2769,2770 File # 752409 He appeared in the census between 1900 and 1905 in South Dakota. Between 1912 and 1956 he was a Chief Dispatcher, Tacoma office, Northern Pacific Railway in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, United States.1630 Austin registered for the draft in 1917/8 in Kittitas , Washington1344 On 3 April 1930 he was an a train dispatcher in Seattle, King, Washington, United States.1278 He appeared in the census in 1930 in Washington. Austin was living in 1930 in Seattle, King, Washington, United States.1278 He died on 12 November 1972 at the age of 81 in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, United States.1628,2746,2770 He has Death Cert # 0260642746 Austin was buried in Mountain View Memorial Park, Lakewood, Pierce, Washington, United States.2770 ACK Mr. A.W. [Austin Webster] Ackley
August 4, 1956
Piano Selections Mrs. R.D. Leary
Introductory Remarks Mr. W.C. [Worthington] Smith [Superintendent, Tacoma Division]
Community Singing Mr. J.J. Schmidt
Comments Mr. W.C. Smith
Piano-Accordion Selections John Philip Ackley
Mr. J.F. [John] Alsip, Retired General Manager [NP]
Mr. S.F. Matousek, Local Chairman, ORT [Organization of Railroad Telegraphers]
Mr. C.C. [Clayton] McLean, Local Chairman, ATDA [American Train Dispatchers Association]
Recognition of Honored Guests
Presentation of Gifts D.B. [Don] McGregor
Adjournment to informal social hour
On August 1, 1956, Mr. A.W. Ackley, Chief Dispatcher, Tacoma office, Northern Pacific Railway, will retire after 46 years railroading, 45 of these years on the Tacoma Division.
This a short paragraph, spelling the termination of a long, successful railroad career; a career he may look back upon with great satisfaction as he now relaxes and enjoys the fruits of his many years' labor.
Austin Webster Ackley was born May 16, 1891 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, the son of a successful lawyer of that region. Under more fortunate circumstances "Ack", undoubtedly would have followed in the footsteps of his father, but he lost his father at an early age and securing a job, rather than an education, became the paramount factor in his young life.
In looking for a job he would like, Ack fell under the spell that gripped so many young men in the early 1900s, the spell of the musical sound put forth by the metal bar of the telegraph sounder, the sounds that brought the news of the world into remote hamlets, the chatter that was conversation with other people hundreds of miles away, this was the career for him!
Most stories of men learning telegraphy in this era commence by stating "he took a job sweeping out the local depot, in return for which the Agent taught him telegraphy", but Ack did it differently. He [p. 1] made a deal with the local operators and learned his telegraphy in the Western Union office in Aberdeen, South Dakota. After hard and intensive study he was ready.
The Western Union had an immediate opening for him, and being young and eager he was ready to go to work. However, the telegraphers at that time were attempting to negotiate a contract with the Western Union and had gone on strike to secure their demands. Older heads talked with Ack, explained the situation and thus he avoided committing an indiscretion that may have caused him considerable embarrassment. The issue was soon settled, the Western Union held no grudge, and Ack went to work September 1, 1908, remaining with the Western Union through 1909.
During this time, the tales told by the boomers, of the great West built up in him the urge to boom himself, so, resigning from the Western Union, he headed West. He worked his way through the Southwest into California, looking, but never quite finding, the spot he was looking for.
January 1910 found him in Seattle, still looking. He had heard the Northern Pacific was a good road to work for, so he presented himself to Chief Friberg in Seattle and hired out as a telegrapher on the old Seattle Division [the Tacoma Division's North End and Mountain lines].
His first job was at Hartford, now only a name on the timetable, but at that time a flourishing agency with an agent, a telegrapher and various clerks. Being on the extra list, his stay at Hartford was short and he subsequently worked at Sedro Woolley, Woodinville, CF Office Seattle and finally Ellensburg, where he was able to hold a steady job. He liked the NP, he liked Ellensburg, so was quite content to settle down. But as so often happens, his plans went awry.
In 1910, the NP maintained a Dispatchers Office in Ellensburg, upstairs in the present depot. In early 1911 this office was consolidated into the Pasco and Seattle offices, leaving these dispatchers seeking employment. All were taken care of except one, a dispatcher by name of Shaw, married with four children. Having no prior telegraph rights, and the railroad needing no additional telegraphers, the outlook for Shaw was not good. Seeing the man's situation, Ack decided he was homesick, so he resigned, enabling Shaw to work. This good turn was to be returned to Ack in later years.
Ack returned to Aberdeen and reentered the employment of the Western Union, working for them from February, 1911 until February, 1912 when the desire to get back on the road became too strong to ignore.
Resigning from the Western Union, he hired out as a telegrapher for the Milwaukee Road at Aberdeen, South Dakota. This was a short-lived job, and June, 1912 found him on a train, again heading west with the Western Union in Portland, Oregon, his ultimate destination.
En route to Portland, via Northern Pacific, of course, he stopped over in Ellensburg to renew old acquaintances. These old acquaintances were indeed happy to see him, for reasons in addition to talking over old times.
Then, as now, the division was short of telegraphers, and being short of telegraphers, no one was getting a vacation. Ack had his plans made, he wanted to work for the Western Union in Portland, but he finally gave in to their pleading, he would stick around a short while, working long enough to allow them to take their vacations, then he would continue on to Portland. This 'short while' commenced June, 1912 and has lasted 44 years.
By the time the vacation work at Ellensburg was completed, Ack had settled back in the swing; the NP was still a good road to work for, the outlook for continuing work was good, so, hoping that the Western Union wasn't holding his job for him he hit the extra board.
Dudley, Upham, Kennedy, Weston, Palmer Junction, Ravensdale, Covington, East Auburn, stations now remembered by only the old timers, were home to Ack in the next eight years. Eight years in which he built a reputation as a good operator and a better than excellent poker player!
When queried as to what he thought was the outstanding trait Ack displayed during these years, and old telegrapher on the east end replied without hesitation, that the outstanding trait Ack displayed was always being as good as his word - "if he said he had 'em, he HAD 'em!"
Ack finally secured a job at Martin, in the days when the depot was located at the east end, rather than at its present location. While working at Martin, in 1916 [actually May 9, 1917], he was indirectly touched by a tragedy that occurred near Kennedy. Extra 3015 East was climbing the hill, and for some unexplained reason, the boiler blew up. demolishing the engine, killing or seriously injuring several members of the engine and train crew. Ack had ordered two quarts of milk from Lester and they were placed on the tender of this engine. When the wreckage of the engine was examined, and [p. 2] there was little left to examine, Ack's two quarts of milk were discovered, unbroken and the cream hardly stirred up. An item for "Believe It or Not."
During these years, Ack's work came to the attention of the Chief Dispatcher and he was given the opportunity to come into Seattle and "break-in" in the Dispatchers' Office.
He jumped at the chance, and there followed another period of learning, a period of working his job during the day then spending hours each night in the Dispatchers' Office learning the many requirements of a Train Dispatcher's job. After months of this grueling grind, he was "ready" and on April 3, 1920 worked his first trick as a dispatcher. After four years on the dispatchers' extra list Ack bid in his first steady job in 1924. The world looked rosy indeed. He held a job as a dispatcher, working the various jobs in the Old Seattle office, until the depression.
In the interest of economy, in 1932, the Northern Pacific consolidated their Seattle and Tacoma offices. The combined office being at Tacoma, and Ack found himself, not only unable to hold a dispatcher's position, but also found himself completely removed from railroading. Quite a blow after 18 years.
In 1920, unlike the present time, when a telegrapher was promoted to dispatcher his telegraph rights were forfeited after six months working as a dispatcher. The railroad was not hiring telegraphers at the time, so the rosy look the world had had in 1924 dissolved into a very dark outlook on January 1, 1932, the effective date of the consolidation.
It was while things were their darkest, that the good deed Ack had performed in 1912, resigning as a telegrapher at Ellensburg so a married man with a family could work, was returned to him "Ten Times Over" as the proverb goes. The telegraphers themselves, even though jobs were at a premium, circulated a petition among the operators, securing their consent, and restoring to Ack and other dispatchers, who had lost their seniority, their original seniority dates as telegraphers! This act on the part of his co-workers proved to Ack that his choice of a railroad career had been the right choice.
In the early '30s, business was light, few trains were running, so time hung heavy on the third trick forces hands. It is probably untrue, but the rumor persists, that the Yardmasters at Auburn were responsible for Ack returning to the Dispatchers' Office. The clerks at Auburn Yard were spending more time figuring out how Ack could consistently outdraw them than they were writing up trains, and the Yardmasters were going crazy! Be this rumor, fact or fiction, Ack did return to a Trick Dispatcher's job in 1934.
In 1936, Ack was promoted to an Assistant Chief Dispatcher's position. The Night Chief's job followed a short period on the Class A extra board, then progressively to Afternoon Chief, Assistant Day Chief, and finally, on June 1, 1941, promotion to Chief Dispatcher of the Tacoma Division. This he had dreamed of since his first day's work on the railroad, to be Chief.
It was a good job, his Assistant Chiefs were all experienced men, his telegraphers were old heads and did their jobs well, the road ahead looked pleasant.
But on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and what had looked like a smooth road ahead turned into a frantic madhouse. Not only did the demands of the war strain the available engines and cars to their limit and beyond, but also the forces to operate the railroad had to be expanded and expanded quickly.
New dispatchers had to be selected, trained and promoted, new telegraphers by the score were required and a thousand and one other details, pertinent to the operation of the Division, required constant attention and handling.
These were trying times, and it required bringing to bear all the knowledge of railroading he had acquired over the years to meet and solve each problem. Ack was equal to the situation and under his guidance, the dispatchers and telegraphers carried out their jobs well and efficiently during the war years. With the close of the war, and the subsequent recession that followed, it appeared that the railroad would fall back into routine operation, but this was not to be.
After a brief respite, the great boom that has gripped the nation since 1949, commenced and the Tacoma Division was as busy, and even busier, than during the war years. The shortages of power, of rolling stock, the constant turnover of operators, kept Ack operating at top speed and as is inevitable, took the toll of the man.
In the spring of 1953, after 41 years working without a sick day, Ack was taken to the hospital suffering from a complete rundown condition. After a period in the hospital, he was placed on sick [p. 3] leave and went south to recuperate and regain his health. He returned to the railroad in the summer of 1953, his health improved, but still showing effects of the grueling years as Chief. He quickly returned to the routine of the job, was progressing well with his health when misfortune again befell him.
On New Year's Day of this year, he slipped and fell on a stairway, severely injuring his back. Again he went to the Tacoma Hospital for many weeks, followed by several months recuperation at home, and, eventually a return to the job in the spring of this year.
The routine of the work again quickly returned -- but he had been thinking -- thinking of his many years on the railroad -- thinking of the demands of his position -- thinking that while he was in fair health again, perhaps he'd be wise to step out of the harness and spend the coming years enjoying his leisure. It was not an easy decision to make, to leave a job after all these years, and suddenly change an entire way of life. But, the decision was made, and in May of this year he requested the Company to retire him effective August 1, 1956.
Thus Ack completes 46 years of railroading, many of the years good years, some of them bad years, but each a year he can look back upon with a feeling of pleasure, and a feeling of job well done. Mr. and Mrs. Ackley have no definite plans to govern their retirement years beyond enjoying their Vashon Island home in the summer and following the sun south in the winter.
No matter where he may be, Ack will not be out of touch of the Tacoma Division, nor of his many friends and acquaintances. His son, John, Afternoon Chief on the Tacoma Division, will be well able to keep him informed on the progress of the railroad over the coming years, thus maintaining the ties established over these many years.
-Collection of White River Valley Museum, Auburn, Wash.
Austin Webster ACKLEY and Esther Amelia JOHNSTON were married on 11 June 1912 in South Dakota.1278,1628 Esther Amelia JOHNSTON, daughter of Jesse JOHNSTON and Mary WILLIAMS, was born on 1 December 1891 in South Dakota.1751,2746 She appeared in the census in 1930 in Washington. She died on 14 August 1977 at the age of 85 in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, United States.1751,2746 Esther has Death Cert # 0185682746 She had Social Security Number 536-20-3538 WA.1751
Austin Webster ACKLEY-9197 and Esther Amelia JOHNSTON-9833 had the following children:
Austin Webster ACKLEY and Olga LARSON were married on 27 July 1946 in Thurston, Washington, United States.1632,2770,2771 Plot: Garden View (Acacia Olga LARSON was born on 4 June 1892.1751,2746 She has Death Cert # 0085922746 She died on 25 February 1990 at the age of 97 in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, United States.1751,2746,2772 Her Death Notice appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 7 March 1990 in Seattle, King, Washington, United States ACKLEY, Olga, 97, of Bellevue, Feb. 25 Olga had Social Security Number 538-07-8198 WA.1751 She was buried in Mountain View Memorial Park, Lakewood, Pierce, Washington, United States.2773 Plot: Garden View (Acacia)