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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Jerry Donohue

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 715 - 716

Jerry Donohue, of Sheboygan, who has for many years been prominently identified with the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway Company, came to Sheboygan County with his parents in 1857, when twelve years of age. The family settled at Sheboygan Falls, and our subject began railroading while a youth, and in July, 1861, when but sixteen, was made station agent at Glenbeulah for the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Railroad. After two years' service in that position, having conceived the idea that he would like to be a locomotive engineer, he left the station and went on the road as a fireman. In 1863 he went to Milwaukee and got a place on the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Railroad, continuing with that company for three years.

In 1865 he returned to Glenbeulah and resumed work with the old company as train baggage master, under Supt. G. H. G. Reed. He held that position for eight months, when he was detailed by the company to buy grain for them, a duty he had performed formerly, while a boy serving as station agent at Glenbeulah. He continued in charge of the grain purchasing and shipment until the beginning of the extension of the line from Glenbeulah to Fond du Lac, when a change occurred in the management, S. M. Barrett, of Cincinnati, being put in charge, Mr. Donohue being required to serve as conductor of a construction train, and as time-keeper on the extension. He performed that duty until the line was completed to Fond du Lac, and was then given the position of yard-master at that station. There his duty also involved the buying of grain and farm produce for the company. He continued in that position until the summer of 1871,when G. H. G. Reed, having been chosen chief engineer and Superintendent of Construction of what is now the Ashland Division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, selected Mr. Donohue to take charge of the grading and track-laying between Sheboygan and Milwaukee, which was duly completed under his supervision, and he had the honor of running the first train over the line between the cities just named. When the road was extended from Sheboygan to Manitowoc, he was given charge of its construction, and on its completion was made Road-master of the company's lines, which extended from Milwaukee to Manitowoc, and from Sheboygan to Appleton, aggregating one hundred and twenty-seven miles.

In 1874 he was made Assistant Superintendent of the road. Continuing in the operating department, he was promoted to be Superintendent in 1878, and continued to hold that office until 1887, and during that period, as before, he was in charge of the construction of new or extended lines, which duty involved much hard work and close application. Finding his health impaired, and that his physical condition required rest, he asked to be relieved, which request was granted, and he was given four months' vacation. At the end of that time he went back as Superintendent of tracks, bridges and buildings, a position that had been created for him. He held that place until 1890, when he was appointed Assistant General Manager and Purchasing Agent, and continued to fill that position until November, 1892, when, owing to the absorption of the old company by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company, involving a change of management, he severed his connection with the road, as many others were compelled to do. At the time of quitting the service of the company, he was the oldest employe{sic}, in years of service, on the road.

On the 12th of May, 1874, Mr. Donohue was married in Glenbeulah, Wis., to Miss Abbie Clarke. Mrs. Donohue was born in Rhode Island, and is a daughter of Hazael P. and Theolosia Clarke, pioneers of Sheboygan County. Mr. and Mrs. Donohue have three children, a daughter and two sous: Abbie, Hazael and Jerry. For four years after his marriage, Mr. Donohue and family made their home in Manitowoc. They then removed to Milwaukee, residing in that city until October, 1888, when they removed to Sheboygan, their present home. Prior to moving to this city, Mr. Donohue built his pleasant and commodious residence on Ontario Street, corner of Fifth. He also erected a fine brick block on Eighth Street, near Wisconsin, two stories with a basement, sixty feet front on Eighth Street and one hundred feet deep, known as the Donohue Block.

Mr. Donohue is a typical railroad man, having had thirty-one years' experience in the construction and operating departments. He began a poor boy without friends of influence, but by force of natural ability, energy and fidelity rose to the positions of great responsibility and trust, the duties of which he discharged so well that he won rapid promotion and the confidence of his superiors.

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