The men in my family on my mother's side were mostly railroad men. Most of them worked for the Tennessee Central Railroad. I was eating in a local restaurant a few years ago and was sitting next to a man and his wife when I realized that I had seen them at a Smyrna Mexican restaurant where I was singing karaoke at the time. We struck up a conversation and I asked him what he did for a living. He told me that he was a blacksmith at Cannonsburg in Murfreesboro. I said that my grandfather had been a blacksmith for the old Tennessee Central Railroad. He said that his grandfather had also been a blacksmith for the Tennessee Central Railroad. The man wanted to show me an old picture that he had of the Tennessee Central blacksmith shop to see if I recognized anyone. It was probably a week or two later while I was at karaoke that he gave me a copy.

  My jaw dropped to the floor. I picked out my great grandfather, John Clayton Breckinridge Frogge, who was the shop foreman and the first man in the front row. He was born July 19, 1858 and would die on January 20, 1943. This was after suffering a massive heart attack at work. My Uncle Elby Morse was the 2nd man from the left on the top row. He was an Uncle by marriage because he was married to my grandmother's sister "Lizzie" Frogge Morse. The 4th man from the left on the back row was my grandfather Marcellus Fain Brown born on June 16, 1889 and died in July 1968. I can't remember the man's name who gave me this picture but his grandfather is the 3rd man on the 1st row and his uncle was was the last man on the right in the 2nd row. His uncle died in a car wreck in 1939 which means this picture was probably made in the 1920's or 1930's. What are the odds of two men meeting casually in a restaurant and out of an old picture of thirteen men the two of us could identify five of them?


  1. Beautiful! I call these events, "God winks"…because they almost have to be supernatural. My Father was a conductor and brakeman on the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad for 40 years. He often rode on the "Caboose". I have great memories of trains and train rides to Chicago from our small town in Southern Illinois, where I grew up.

  2. Railroad men are a special breed of men and much of American history revolves around them. My grandfather was also a conductor on a Detroit street car.


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