Ostrander Boys Who Made
Their Mark in Railroading
Marysville Tribune, March 17, 1897
Written by J.L. Roney
About the year 1866 there was a telegraph office
established in Ostrander, and Mrs. James Liggett was the first
operator, using the instrument caled "The Register".
About all the skill required to operate it was to read the
telegraphic alphabet, the instrument indenting the character on
narrow strips of paper as they pass thru a cylinder. I
believe Mr. Liggett was about the last one to use the
"Register". His first student in telegraphy was
Henry Keller who is now located in Bellefontaine on a good salary.
He is a nephew of our old and esteemed friend David Houtz, who came to this township in 1844. The next was a young man by the name of Wooley, if living is no doubt occupying a good position.
About this time John Stricklin took service on the railroad as a brakeman between Delaware and Springfield. He is now an honored conductor. Near the same time John Peck commence work on the railroad and is not located at Springfield, Ohio. Directly after Mr. Stricklin commenced braking on the local between Delaware and Springfield, and soon rose to the position of passenger conductor, which place he now holds.
Soon after this Tim Burns took service on the railroad and is now a freight conductor. Near the same time Frank Dorwart commenced braking on a passenger train between Delaware and Cincinnati. He was being promoted rapidly when his health failed and is now an honored farmer near Ostrander.
Some time in the eighties Morey Felkner, H.W. Felkner, and Val. Felkner entered the railroad service. H.W. Felner is now local baggage master on a railroad in Marion, Ohio. Morey Felkner is a baggage master on teh Chesapeake and Ohio railroad; he was lately badly hurt in a wreck on that road. Val. Felkner is now running on the Illinois Central Railroad.
Some time after this Hugh Rittenhouse commenced firing on a passenger engine between Delaware and Cincinnati on the Big Four. He is now firing a passenger engine running between Bucyrus and Ohio Central Railroad.
George Rhoads was the last boy from here to enter the railroad service. Poor boy, he was killed about one year ago while running a cut of cars near Cincinnati.
John Turney left here several years ago. He is occupying a position of trust on a railroad out tf the city of Topeka, Kansas. I believe I have named all the men and boys who have commenced railroading from this vicinity other than telegraph operators, except E.F. Loveless, some of our well-known townsman. W.H. Loveless.
Frank (as we call him) took the civil service examination about three years ago with a view to entering the railway mail service. It is said on this examination he remembered the name of every post office in Ohio but one. Of course he was successful and is now postal clerk on the mail train between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
D.L. Myers (Dan we call him) has chosen the better part and will soon graduate from Lane Seminary and enter the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. We will now return to the telegraph boys.
Smanuel Winget was the next to learn telegraphy. He was a remarkably bright boy and soon obtained an office on the Bee Line railway which proved too tame for him, and he started for the wild and wooly West, where I suppose, he is running railroad or a band of Comanche Indians.
W.J. Thompson next graduated in telegraphy. By some means he lost an arm while in the railway service. He died in Delaware, Ohio about two years ago.
Three boys, natives of Ostrander, Will Byron and Vaneman Bean, left hero in and early days and are now holding high railway positions in the far west.
Mr. James Liggett's only son learned telegraphy quite young; his father told me that Charlie could read telegraphy before he knew A.B.C. He has been assistant train dispatcher on the Big Four for several years and is now with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Clarence Stricklin learned the "ticker's art" about the same time and at once went into the train dispatcher's office in Delaware as assistant where he has been working with profit to himself and satisfaction to the railroad company.
In 1882 J.L. Roney finished a course in telegraphy here and accepted the Marysville night office. For six years he worked on the Big Four from Delaware to Cincinnati. In 1888 he was sent here to fill the vacancy caused y the death of Mr. Liggett. He served the railroad company two years and a half; resigning he accepted a position with the ??? Sorg Co of Middletown, Oho, and is now superintendent and treasurer of the M. & C.R.R. While hw was here Henry C. Rittenhouse learned the art and accepted an office at Franklin, Ohio. He is now at Columbus with the Short Line Railroad.
Frank Liggett also learned about the same time and is now holding a good office in Piqua, Ohio on the C. H. & D. R.R. During Mr. Liggett's life Will F. Crain graduated and for a short time worked in the office. He is now assistant train dispatcher on the Big Four located at Springfield, Ohio.
A.V. Roney finished a telegraphy course about this time but did not take an office until 1890. He is now agent on the Big Four at London, Ohio.
Will Felkner and Lessing Huntley learned telegraphy with Mr. Liggett, and finding it difficult to get an office, they went west - Felkner to Minnesota and Huntley to Omaha, Nebraska, where they are holding good positions on western railroads. Will Jones was the last student. He took an office on the Big Four but soon resigned and is now living in Marion, Ohio.
C.N. Aldrich, a native of this township was sent here to fill the place made vacant by the resignation of J.L. Roney. He did not stay a great while until he was superceded by S.G. Dikes.
H.W. Robinson was the last to learn telegraphy here; he worked in an office in London a while, but returned home to take care of an invalid father. He learned under S.G. Dikes, who now holds the agency, making but four agents during a period of thirty-one years. Of all the boys I have named, Mr. S.G. Dikes is not a native of this vicinity. Going back to 1850 when very heavy timber covered the ground where our depot now stands, I do not believe there can be found another spot in Ohio where so many boys (thirty-one), by grit and perseverance have obtained honor and financial success. In these personals I have tried to do justice to each one. It is a self imposed task, and has caused me considerable thought and inquiry which has been cheerfully give, to perpetuat4 the names of this grand band f boys (now men).