Newspaper Page Text
ATA . .
Bee PART IIL I HE UMAHA UNDAY HULF-TGirE SECTIOH T TO 4- VOL. XXXVII NO. 4S. OMAHA, SUNDAY MOENING, MAY 17, 1WS. single oorr five cents. GEORGE W. VROMAN VETERAN UNION PACIFIC ENGINEER Forty Years of Life in a Locomotive Cab, the Eecord of a Man Who Is Still Active and Vigorous Enough to Take Part in Life Despite the Pension Granted Hin. THE OMAHA DEC Ekst Wert FOR forty year George VT. Vroman has sat dally In tbe cab of a Union Pacific locomotive, and for fire years previous ' with tte Wabash, with hi unfaltering Land upon the throttle of tLe mighty steed of steam aDd Las guided it safely over million of tulles of track; for forty-five years George W. Vromaa baa aat In the cab of the engine of progress with his mental eye upon the gauge which show the standing of his fellow -engineers. In plain prone and without frills or metaphor, be has daily had an eye on the welfare of his fellow-workmen and has been a leader in their councils and their representative in the coun cils with their superior officers, aim ays on the lookout to ee that bett'-r whges and better hours were given the men to whose charge are daily entrusted thousands of lives as they speed over the steel rails tt lightning tpeed. Geoige W. Vroman, who has recently been retired by the Union Pacific on a pension which is said to be sufficient to keep him the remainder of his life, was bom In tbe town of Fittbburg. Dane rourty, Wisconsin, September 2", lfUl. Fitchburg is near the cap ital at Madison, and here he lived until he became of age. In 1S57 he att'nded Albion academy for a year, and in lfLi went to the Un! rsity of Wisconsin, where be remained for two years, until c-ir: umrtances compelled him t quit college before completing Lis full college course, and to go out Into the world to earn Lis own v r. v thi on jb life. When be bad reached his majority he went to Lafayette, Ind., where be entered tbe service of the Wabash railroad as a fireman, ;n I (( r ' rr, lfr61. For two years he shoveled coal Into tbe Iron n.: ncter. nrd was then promoted to be an engineer. In tbe fall of tbr.t year be was given charge of tbe roundhouse at State Line, be tven in liana ai'd Illinois, which position be held for a year, when h? cgaln resumed rosd service until January, lfcS. At that time he resigned and c: me west to se-ek a position on tbe new t'uion Pa cific n.iroad which was just completed between Omaha and the Wirt. Pit January 2C, l&fH, he went to work for the Overland route, marine a freight engine between North Platte and Sidney until 1F72, when be vim promoted to a regular passenger run. He mad his 1 on? in North Platte and from that time until a few weeks ago, when he was retired, he has been in continuous service of the Union Pacific railroad. Brought His Bride Along The country was wild and full of bandits and Indians when Mr. Vroman moved to the vest, but he decided that be would ask Mary E. Jordan of Indianapolis to share his fortunes with him in the new country, so on November 1, 1S72, they were married at Indianapolis, and to this union seven children Lave been born. One died in in fant; . bi t six still survive, four boys and two girls. Tbey are Blanch M., Clarence J., Walter J., Arby T.. Ralph W. and Clarence W. Ev-r on the alert to do something for the betterment of his fel-.-( mpk, yes, Mr. Vroman, at Laramie, In April, 1877, organized tie first rer.eral committee of adjustment, and was elected to tJas office of general chairman, which position he held continuously, x cij.t for one terra of two years, until the close of 106. This com rr i i : r hug been of immense value to the engineers, nbt only of the Union I'aciiic, but of tbe entire country, and has not only succeeded In heading off several contemplated reductions on the part of the managers, but has also been instrumental In securing several raises in pay and a general shortening of hours. One special case where quick action on the part of this commits t"c headed off a reduction came shortly after the committee was formed. On June SO, 1877, two months after the committee was orni.iii7.ed, an order was posted along the line of the Union Pacific making a reduction of from & to 10 per cent on all employes, effec tive July 1, ti.UB giving but twelve heux' sotlce. A hurried call for & feeling of the general committee tf adjustment was made tor Ovr.hs, where, after a short conference with tbe officials, they suo c erU c in Laving the order rescinded. This prompt action en tbe part of tbe Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in meeting this emerg ei y proved beneficial to all employes of the road, for the cut was i,ci. made in any department Aetir.c under the advice of George Vroman the engineers of th T: )on Pacific, In March, 1&&5, formulated their first regular sched ule of pay and conditions under which they were to work. This rreerr ent was made with the company, but the firemen were not represent d. By recommendation of Mr. Vromaa they were carries1 florg r.nd received proportional benefit. Just befere the schedule vat made tbe Kansas Central was taken Into the Union Pacific sys tem. Here the enginemen were paid very low wages, bnt the acLed nlf of the main line was made to apply to them, and they were brought up to the standard pay. Busy Days for Vroman The Kansas Central was segregated from the Union Pacific sys tem in March, IS and alleged to be under separata management under W. H. Baldwin, jr., whose father was one of the directors of the Union Pacific system. Before he Lad Lad time to warm Lis official chair Mr. Baldwin proponed a redaction of wages of engi neers and firemen., to take effect April 1. Tbe engineers and firemen til J a conference with Mr. Baldwin, asking tor a restoration of tLe v-mv.-s in accordance with the schedule, but be declined to make any cot t ssions. The enginemen called upon General Chairman Vroman, wl j met Mr. Baldwin at Leavenworth, Kan, and after a very short coherence Mr. Baldwin offered to restore about one-half the reduc tion. Mr. Vroman simply said that he could not vary from the schedule without the sanction of the general committee of adjusts rm-r.t and would take the rase up with General Manager Than. a L. Ki:..bail at Omaha. The general committee met in Omaha, and, alter a conference with Mr. Kimball lasting several dure, it was proposed to Lave tbe Question arbitrated. Captain Rus'in, who at that time was general manager of the Omaha Cable company, oper ating cars In Omaha, was selected by Mr. Kimball and Mr. Vroman as arbitrator. On June JC. at the Millard hotel, Mr. Vromaa and General Man ager Kimball presented their doucumentary evidence and made their or: arguments before the arbitrator, who on the following flay ren-6e:-d his decision In favor of the Brotherhood of Locomotive En gineers, restoring the wage of the men on the Kansas Central ra it oad. This arbitration Las gone down In nlrnsry as a notable event and was considered a remarkable victory for organised labor because It was tbe first case on record of a difference between railroad em ployes and railroad officials being adjusted by arbitration. It is more common now, bnt It was considered a notable concession at that time, as it Lad no precedent In history. Another Great Victory GEORGE W. and leading officials of all the principal organizations were prepent at the Learitg. TLe court room was crowded to its fullest capacity and all were Intensely Interested in the every act of the court and the evidence of the witnesses. Tbe aert morning, April 5, Judge Caldwell ordered that the re ceivers ahould conduct the business of tbe road under the old sched ule of pay, la accordance with the desires of the employes The case was netable from the fact that organized labor had reached the jurisdiction of the highest court ever reached in the history of or ganiaed labor. The press of the entire country took up the case and It w as eemsaented on as a precedent as to the rights of labor serving under the Jurisdiction of a United States court and under receivers. No further friction was had for some time, as everything moved VROMAN. got busy andV succeeded in having an increased compensation al lowed for running engines of greater capacity and handling greater tonnage per train, but with greater profit to the company. P. M. Arthur, grand chief engineer of the Brotherhood of Loco motive Engineers, was for years considered to be one of the moFt able and conservative labor leaders this country ever produced. In every convention of that organization, held during his incumbency, he had no opposing candidate except once. On that occasion the name of George W. Vroman was presented, and he received 122 votes, and it was to be seen that with a little electioneering he would Lave been elected to the office and given the title of grand chief engineer. This shows the immense popularity of the man who has always been willing and ready to go to tbe front for bis fellow along quite well until the company began to procure motive power men. He had no fear of the money powers and was always fight of greater capacity. Mr. Vroman and the general committee again lng for the rights of labor. Mr. Vroman left tbe throttle long enough at one time to take the position of mechanical fort-man of tbe Union Pacific shops at North Platte, but was soon Induced to take up the cause of tbe engineers as the genera chairman of the board of afijustmect WLile in this position he held not only the esteem of all the employes, but was considered by the olllcials as broad minded, conservative and able, and to him to a great extent must be attributed the comprehensive schedules of tie Union Pacific railroad and the exceedingly har monious relations that have always enstd between the road and it employes in the engine and train service. General Manager Moh ler was once heard to say that only tbe loyalty of Lis trainmen could put such a larce volume of business over tbe crowded rails, and it is such men as George W. Vroman who tend to produce this har mony which works to the welfare of alL One Plan That Died At one time Mr. Vroman conceived the idea that It would be a fine thing to build a railroad in which the railroad employes of the country could invest their savings. He figured that there were then 1,000,000 railroad employes, and that if each would invest $10 a road could be built from San Diego to Salt Lake, following prac tically the same line as tbe new San Pedro line follows. His Idea was to build a line without bonded indebtedness Laving the men pay for their shares on the installment plan. Associated with Mr. Vroman In this scheme was U. S. Grant, jr. The road was planned at tbe wrong time, as the financial troubles of 1Si3 and lkM blocked the plan. In October, lff, the Union Pacific put on the fast Chicago Denver special and east-bound from Julesburg to North Platte the eighty-cine miles was s. li:duled at fifty-four miles an hour, the fastest schedule west of New Tork at that time. Engineer Vroman was selected to run that train, and for nearly five months averaged fifty-seven miles per hour, and many nights when the train was late made tbe run of eirhty-one miles in from seventy-three to eighty cine minute, and had no delays on his account. The class of the en gines at that time did not have the large driving wheels sixty-nine Inches being the largest at that time, while now they have engines on the run with wheels eighty-cine Inches In diameter, or nearly seven feet. Of thrilling experiences Mr. Vroman Las Lad his share, as one may well imagine when it is considered that for forty years he drove Lis engine over tbe plains from North Platte to Sidney. He could write a volume of his narrow escapes, but the most thrilling was tbe Bin S;rinps train robber on September IS, 177. Mr. Vroman was engineer on the Overland express that cicbt when the train w ai stopped by robbers, one of whom shot at tbe engineer from the water tank, but. fortunately, he escsped injury The robbers secured $65,000 from tbe express car and from the passengers, but did not attempt to rob the mail, which contained many thousand dollars more in registered packages. Chase for Robbers The story of the chase of these robber is most thrilling. Joel Collins was nearby wiih a bunch of cattle he and his men had driven from Texas. They appeared on the scene and offered their services to search for the robbers. D. E. Leach, telegraph operator at Ogal lala, went to Collins' camp and there saw some circles which had been cut from handkerchiefs to make mabks. He came back that night and saw Collins and Lis men dividing the swag. Collins was recognized in the depot at Buffalo Park, where the station agent saw him reading a letter. The sheriff was notified, but he let Col lins go. Afterwards the sheriff changed his mind and went after Lim. When they met Collins and his companion were killed. Tied In the legs of old overalls was found $20,000 of the money In gold. The weight of this Lad Lindered tbe men in their escape. The rest of tbe gang was tealously followed and all were either killed or captured with the exception of Sam Babs, who made Lis escape, al though wounded. Engineer Vroman Is at present retired frowr'artive service and resides w itti his family at North Tlatte, the next door neighbor to Colonel W. F. Cody, with whom he has been Intimate for the last thirty years. One of Colonel Cody's sisters married a locomotive en gineer. Ed Bradford, at North Platte. Although retired. Mr. VroRan is a very active man and Is prob ably the best known locomotive engineer In the United States, Li prominence for maty years In tbe councils of the grand conven tions Laving given him a wide acquaintance and a reputation wLich Las extended over the entire field of organised labor. His broad knowledge of all branches of railroad business Las made Lim a most valuable man in all conferences which he Las attended and today Lis advice is sought by railroad men because of Lis broad experience. Hayti's Strange Ruler Unlike Any Other Potentate Another notable lictory was won for organized labor a few year later through the effort of Mr. Vroman. During the year of 188 and 1M, through the acquisition of contiguous lines, the Union Purine had a mileage of S.000 mile, and the men and officials wer moving along wimmingly through these prosperous years until Oo-toit-r, 1 K 3 . when the panic caused tbe system to pas Into the hands cf receivers. In February. 184. the receiver petitioned the United ftaiea court lor the district of Nebraska, proposing new schedules nd making a reduction on all labor, both organleed and unorgan ized. George W. Vromaa Lad been made general chairman of the b.iard of chairmen. rtrreseiitlng all organised labor on the system, and be called a xuetig of the general chairmen at Denver immedi ately on hearing of the application. They formulated an answer to the receivers" petition, which they filed, and were given a bearing '.fore United States Judges Hal let t and Bluer, for Colorado and QVyoming. They won their caae and the reee'vers took an appeal to tne United States court of appeals at St. Louis, before Judge H C CaldwelL Tbe receivers were ordered to a hearing early In April in, Omaha in the United States court, before Judge Caldwell, wiva Judge titer Fitting with Lim. Otgn iiHI labor aU cvw the oonttry w& Ixtereated la th case PORT-AU-PRINCE. Haytl, May 10. Possi bly somewhere in the jungle of Africa, or perhaps in the mystic east, or on the planet Mars, there is a president, poten tate, shah, rajah, sultan or some other sort of ruler who Is as atrange and grotesquely impossible' as President Nord Alexis of Hayii, but ccrtai1BCNatbere t none to cempare in the Western Hemisphere. Castro of Venezuela, that ""monkey of the Andes," cornea close, perhapa, but Castro' style diters. and, while he defies the great power of the earth, he doe not approach In pure pic turesQ ueneas the venerable old man who aits in the presidential palace here and runs this little black republic to suit himself. Imagine a typical Ethiopian between $0 and 100 year of age, bloodthirsty and apparently only half drilized. a .dealer of death to political enemies, a iliever in tbe horrible voodooism, and jou Lave Just a taint Idea of what he really is. 1'or anything more one must come to Haytl and see tor himself. For ll'S years the country has been under tb same sort of rule as now. The natives gained their Independence from the French, and since that time the history of the country has been one of strife and bleod. Ehut eff frcai all the rest of the world, it has gone on a downward path, until now it seems that nothing can save It from utter ruin except Intervention by the powers. No steps have re cently been taken toward saving what is left and building upon it. The' government robs the peo ple, and the pccple, thoroughly accustomed to this procedure, don't seem to care much. Alexis rule with a hand of Iran. Some day a rerorction against Lim will doubtless be success ful. If Le lives until snotber may be organised, but for the present Lis will Is law. A personal or po litical enemy is dealt with summarily and harshly. The shooting of twenty-eeren alleged con spirators on March 16 by order of Alexis Is the most recent example of Lis way cf ruling, ywt um time paste and the perspective is larger that slaughter will be bnt a mere detail la the history of Lis regime, perhaps one of the wxirsi detail, bat xto so very much worse than many other things Llch Lav been don and other which wCl be done, bo doubt, bales foreign!- take Large. The c-fcf3ar if Aiwmla i - fir tor. His father was a so-called prince of Cape Haytian, the northernmost part of the country. Alexis the elder heid a high position in the household of Emperor Henry Christophe, a barbarian, who left behind him when he committed suicide in lfc"0 a horrible trail of blood and deeds which native his torians pass over a "many unfortunate acts." The ideas of CLrlstopbe were handed down to Alexis, LiuiBelf a ptge to tbe emperor. A mighty and brutal man was Christophe, whose history u told here is BcarceJy believable. Once Chrisuipbe doubted the loyalty of the chief of police of Port-au-Prince, and theieupcn he asked this officer if he were really ioyal. The chief naturally enough said he was, whereupon Christoihe told him to prove it by bringing the heads of his ( the police chief's ) w lie and cauhtrr. which the tUit-f did, and Chr.siopbe was convinced of hi6 love and support. At another time Christophe became enraged with the French and lsbued a decree that there after the official language would be English, and that if nfter twenty-four Lours an; one spoi.e French in Lis prtM nc" Le would be exec uted. To complete the transformation he changed his own name to Henry and Las since been known ai CLristophe, and sometimes as Henri Christophe. The traditions of Christophe which have b-en Landed down from the last century deal with nothing save bloodshed and the atrocities he com mitted. His own death was violent and somewhat heroic. In 1I0 he was stricken wi:h paralysis, where upon Lis political ener. ies started a' revolution. He swore to cure Limsclf of Lis ailment and at tempted to do so with a bath in a aolution of herbs and peppers. It gave Lim momentary relief, enough to p rmit Lim to mount Lis Lorse and start for the front. The paralysis Quickly took hold again and Christophe was carried back to Lis bed. His sol dier went forth to battle with the rebels, Chris tophe directing the campaign. Then cam the news of desertion from the government rank and the revolution was thus made successful. When the king rece:ved this Itlormatioa be shot himself ttrotih the Lean. It 1 doubtful if an? one ctonmed the loss. Eaviag beea ln.b4 wi'-h tin sort of rule, it U prLa; u4 aarytain Cat i krt Is the xaaa Le is, although more than four-score years have gone by since Alexis used to wait upon Emperor Cbristopbe. Alexis came into the presidency in lio: by force, as bate all presidents of Hatl. He had made other efforts in previous years, but had never been successful. They say tow that he desires to remain presi dent until be. dies, and that he also has an ambi tion to proclaim l.imfatif emperor, but this latter ambition will doubtless be put afaide unul the pres ent difficulties tee been put out of the way. Were it not lor the earnestness displajed the whole situation v ould seem aosurdedly impossible. It is uselest to call it oj-era boulle, for from tn-.t point of view it is even more. The most pictur esque part of life here is ti e aim with its scores of fc.ncri.ls and all. It is extremeiy funny to a foreigner, but the soldiers thenst.;et take n muct seriously. President Alexis on a Sunday morning granted an interview to the correspondent of The Bee. The audience was given in a reception room of the presidential residence. Thit. executive mansion lies in the southern part of the city. It is built of brick and wood, two stories in height ana, strange to say, is painted a slate eoior, with a dark and moilest roof. Tbe buil:ng itse-lf is surrounded by a com pound enclosed in an iron fence with another sur rounding that, thus affording two lines of protec tion. On the east and north of the executive reser-. a tion lies the 'ast Chr:) d? Yars lij the ccn; t of which is a huge statue of D.'ssa'ir-'S. who exter minated the whites in 1M'3. The CI a:n;i de i'!irt is like unto nothing else than a bit cf pasture land, where a flock of sheep and n any gatf re constantly grazing. There aie no drnes or inad w a?s; the native carriages drive at where in the reservation and thus a network of roads, or tra.is. Las mar-ed impossibly what could easily be made an attracth sj-ou On this i: under morning th-re w as a re view of aoidiers within the palace ground. This the foreigner did not see. possibly because the sol diers wer nct in good form, or po.L!y U cause no one thought about extending tb-m an invita tion. The entrance to the grounds is through a large galea ay. a paaa on each Sid fur pedestrian and a larger one In the center for horse and vehicles. Half clad soldier filled the street out side and the compound within. The uniform perhaps too dignified a word -of the private, who is a soldier only occasionally and a street laborer at all other times, consists of a sort of blouse, trousers tattered and torn and a dilapidated hat- The invariably wretched condi tion of the hats we surprising. No one ranking under the grade of colonel seemed to Lave need for shoes. The officers of higher rank were uniformed brilliantly, but no two were alike. It seemed that each officer must hae" concocted his own dress. Sometimes there were brilliant scarlet breeches with a purple stripe, sometimes the order wa re versed and another dash of color given by a green coat with a ust amount of gold lace. There wa a marvellous variety of hats, the cockade with worn a. grett.es resembling nothing more than a moth-eaten feather duster. There was a pause in our progress at the gate way and a general he must hate been that at least was called. He gave the sign and. after standing aside to permit the exit of half a dozen prixates. we were permitted to enter by the sentry. Ibis individual sat on a boxlike chair at on side of the gate. He had in his possebsion a long rite, a chassepot of the tpe turned out about '70, with a ba.or... t "I he butt of the gun jested between his I t. re bee It as he sat on the box; the point ot the bayonet supported the gun against the upright J...11 if ilit- pule. .Lis making tne opposite side of a l &nnr. To inrn.it past.age the energetic senti nel l;.z;: reii-hed d n and lifted the gun toward him, then. nHt-r the part had passed th.ough, ha let it drop l...ci; into j .act'. The t ; -nt i c-ivevi,; was guarded by a number of soldiers Li d a s:; ail i rass cannon, a Napoleon. Th get.eral tmeij of tbe place was neutralized a bit by sweet pt-vfi, :, tioui the rose gardens oa rr.li- r side Presi'tt Alexis a great loer of v e v e i . v . i. The doors of the palace were three, each with a chafoet, ,t leaning d a; oi aVy a'-roia. a at the otLer gte. v;ih a darky sent.uel to watch it. A lij-'hlj-c-oiored both in uniloriii and otherwise cftoer nodd. d toward a aeniinfol and the party want through.