Friday, October 9, 2009

Wm. Hart Laws and the Utah Central Railway

In January of 1920, W.H. Laws received a letter from the Utah Central Railway Jubilee Committee inviting him to attend a celebration commemorating the building of the railroad between Ogden and Salt Lake (begun one week after the transcontinental railroad was finished). 

Granddad Laws was 70 years old and living in Richfield at the time.  (It appears that he worked on this railroad 50 years prior, in the years 1869-70.) Unfortunately, he did not receive the letter in time to attend the celebration which included an informal reception, banquet and evening meeting.  I have a copy of both his invitation and his reply letter (I'll post in another post). 

From the invitation info I was able to locate a copy of the original program. You can find it below and in several downloadable formats on the following Web site:

Granddad is listed as W. H. Laws on the last page as a "builder" of the Utah Central Railroad. During the commemorative program I guess they introduced those in attendance according to groups: surveyors, graders, track layers, construction trainmen or train operators, but it doesn't list the jobs by the names of the people who performed them in the program.  Now I am searching for some sort of text of the speech or another document that might indicate what job each person actually performed. 

The big question is, "Does anyone what Grandpa Laws actually did on the railroad?" 

According to a history I have (author unidentified, came with Grandma Fern's books) William H. arrived in Salt Lake City on 29 August 1868 with Captain Seeley's ox train after riding the rails to Laramie, Wyoming from Long Island, New York.  So, if he started right away on the railroad, he would have worked from September 1868 to May 1869, or at the very most, 8 months.  It is assumed he then immediately began work on the Utah Central Railroad.  
Donna Laws Hemingway (see links in the link list) added:

"William H. must have stayed in this business of helping build the railway for some time, at least until 1870 when the tracks were laid all the way to Salt Lake City. We have a copy of an invitation he received to attend the Utah Central Railway Jubilee, and his reply with regrets that he did not get the invitation in time to make the trip." (And then she includes the newspaper article about the celebration). 

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