Michael A. Ricksecker, Galion, OH.
There is not in the employ of the great Erie Railroad system a more capable and efficient engineer than Michael A. Ricksecker, who was born in Richland County, Ohio, near the city of Mansfield, on October 19, 1839. He was the son of Greenbury Ricksecker, a carpenter, and after leaving school at the age of 16 he spent the ensuing five years of his life working at the carpenter trade, the intricacies of which he had mastered during his school vacations. In April, 1861, he answered the first call of the nation for volunteers to put down the southern rebellions. The term of enlistment was three months, and after meritorious service for that length of time with the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry he was mustered out and returned home. The rebellion had proved to be of a more serious nature than the government had at first thought, and when another call was made for volunteers Mr. Ricksecker again responded, this time enlisting in the 1st Ohio Independent Light Artillery. The next three years of his life were spent valiantly battling for the preservation of the Union. He was with General Cox in West Virginia, and under General Burnside in the Army of the Potomac participated with credit in the battles of Frederick City, South Mountain and Antietam. He was wounded in the fierce fight at South Mountain, but served out the time of his enlistment, and on December 13, 1864, he was mustered out at Cincinnati. He still retains both his discharge papers and values them as relics of those days of peril.
In March, 1865, he began his railroad career as brakeman for the Atlantic & Great Western, but in July of that same year he changed that employment to firing for the same company. He fired eighteen months on freight, eight months on construction train, and six months on passenger; then, in 1868, he was promoted to engineer. For eleven years he pulled freight trains, when the company further recognized his ability and attention to business by giving him a passenger run. The past twenty years he has spent in the passenger service and numerous letters of congratulation from the Superintendent attest the appreciation in which he is held. He ran engine 499, from Galion to Kent, Ohio, on her return from the World's Fair. For the past two years he has had charge of trains 1 and 16 on the Cincinnati Division.
He was married in June, 1869. Having no children of their own, Mr. and Mrs. Ricksecker adopted a girl of 11 years in 1895. She is a bright little lady of good family and is attending school at Galion. Mr. Ricksecker is a member of Fidelity Lodge 327, Galion, F. & A.M.; Dick Morris Post, G.A.R.; B. of L. E., No. 16, and was a delegate to the B. of L. E. convention at Atlanta, Georgia, in 1893. He is regarded as a good, substantial citizen and has the respect of all.
Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.
From the July 19, 1901 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
Train No. 1 of the Erie road struck a street car at New Portage last night. The street car was badly smashed and the front part of the engine was demolished. The train was in charge of engineer M. Ricksecker, who was badly injured, his leg being smashed. No one on the street car was injured. Ricksecker is known here.
From the July 20, 1901 issue of the Mansfield News:
Erie Train No. 1 with Mike Ricksecker, of Galion, as engineer, struck the head end of an electric car on the Akron and Barberton electric line near New Portage Thursday night. Engineer Ricksecker was painfully injured about the knees by flying timber. The conductor of the electric car had signalled the motorman to go ahead, as he did not see the train, and the car had just started when the motorman saw the headlight of the engine. He applied the brakes and the car stopped just at the edge of the tracks.
From May, 1905 issue of Erie Magazine:
Forty years ago on March 24 Mr. M.H. Rickseeker entered the service of the Erie (then the A&GW) as a brakeman. He changed to fireman and after a few years at that occupation he was promoted to Engineer. Ever since then he has run successfully between Kent and Galion. Here's luck to Mike, and may he run many more years, as he is a good whole-souled fellow and a great favorite of the Company and the men.
From the June 14, 1906 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
Mrs. E.A. Gurley was in Galion Wednesday attending the funeral of Mrs. M.A. Ricksecker.
From the July, 1908 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine (Kent News):
The "box room" at Kent Depot on these tranquil, balmy summer nights might be appropriately designated as the Erie bench show. Though lacking the theatrical appurtenances of orchestra, footlights, curtain, wings, flies and scenery, the entertainment is high-class. Monologues are the star feature, and Conductor Billy Moore in his inimitable drollness alternates nightly with engineer Mike Ricksecker, the dean of the Cincinnati Division, and modern Munchausen, while the overflow on the outside bench is appreciatively looked after by engineer Lafe Williamson, of the Meadville Division, a true humorist, who nearly approaches the lamented Bill Nye. Billy Moore and Lafe must be seen and heard to be fully enjoyed, whereas, Mike's lectures on his recent trip to the South and West will no doubt soon be published in book form, and his adventures, thrilling and amusing, will become accessible to all. As a sample of what the book will contain, Mike tells of a catastrophe which occurred in Florida while an attempt was made to load a watermelon for a point in Michigan. Six yoke of oxen had hauled the melon to the house track, a flat car was placed, and when the melon was being rolled on skids to the car, the skids gave way under the weight, bursting the melon and drowning fourteen men beneath.
From the March 16, 1909 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
Word has been received that Michael Ricksecker, the veteran Erie engineer who started on a tour through the West about a week ago, was taken seriously sick enroute.
From the November, 1909 issue of Erie Magazine:
Engineer Michael Alexander Ricksecker reached his seventieth birthday last month, but says he is "not yet ready to be chloroformed, a la Osler." He has been with the Erie since March, 1865, after ending his service in the Civil War, and is one of the best known and most popular men in this section in the Erie's employ. For 42 years he has been an engineer, and a good one. Mike is the champion story-teller on this division and there are few on the line who can beat him at this game.
From the December, 1909 issue of Erie Magazine:
A paragraph published last month to the effect that engineer Mike Ricksecker had reached his seventieth birthday was in error. Records of his birth recently unearthed show that Mike was but 69 on October 19. So he will continue to decorate a cab seat for a year to come, at least. He will never be too old to spin the yarns that have made him so famous locally that his picture has recently decorated the columns of Cleveland, Kent and other papers.
From the Saturday, October 15, 1910 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
He is at Throttle Forty-Three Years
M.A. Ricksecker, one of the best-known engineers on the Erie Railroad running through here, will retire from the service next Wednesday, when he will have reached the age of seventy years. Mr. Ricksecker has been in the service of the Erie forty-six years, during which time he has been at the throttle forty-three years. His retirement is a matter of regret to a host of railroad friends on this division.
From the December, 1910 issue of Erie Magazine:
The most recent retirement among the old faithfuls, was made on the Cincinnati Division and it happened to fall to the lot of our good friend "Mike" Ricksecker, to be forced into the uneventful life of an everyday citizen, who has earned rest in his declining years, by a faithful performance of duty.
"Mike" Ricksecker, who is Michael A. Ricksecker, in private life, was one of Brother Allen's oldest and most trusted passenger engineers, and it was the fact that he had reached the age of 70 years, that compelled his retirement.
Engineer Ricksecker is a man that worked up from the lower rung of the proverbial ladder, and he has been a familiar figure on the Cincinnati Division, practically since boyhood. He is an Ohio lad, having been born near Mansfield, in the same atmosphere where the late John Sherman first saw the light of day.
For 5 years he worked at the trade of carpenter, his father having been a master of that calling, and in 1861, following the same patriotic impulse of his fellow co-laborer, "Jack" Bruner, engineer Meadville Division, he enlisted first in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, then in the 1st Ohio Independent Light Artillery. For three years he wore the uniform of Uncle Sam and was wounded once. In 1864 he was mustered out. It was in March, 1865, that Mr. Ricksecker began work on the Atlantic & Great Western railway, which had been completed just a short time before. For a time he had a job as brakeman, then went on an engine. In those days every engineer hired his own fireman, and Mike got a job with Jack Pinkney, who was then running on a construction train. In 1868 he was promoted to engineer, pulling freight trains for eleven years after which he was put on passenger, and since then and until his final retirement he has been running passengers between Galion and Kent. His last work was as engineer on passenger trains 16 and 15.
Mike has husbanded his earnings and has enough means to provide for his remaining days. He is the same kind, genial and cheerful Mike as of yore, and his many friends sincerely wish that his days in the land may yet be many and full of happiness.
The photograph from which the accompanying cut was made, was taken specially for reproduction in this magazine, which joins in the hope expressed that his remaining years will be fruitful of peace and happiness.
From the December 14, 1910 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
A sketch of the life of Erie engineer Michael Ricksecker, who recently retired having reached the age limit, appears in the Erie Magazine for the month of December. Ricksecker is well known here and his friends believe that every tribute paid him is fully deserved.
From the January 3, 1911 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
M.A. Ricksecker, an Erie engineer who recently retired having reached the age limit, has been made Assistant Engine Dispatcher at Galion. This is a new office created by the Erie and Mr. Ricksecker is the first man to fill it. It will be his duty to see that the engines are gotten out on the road on time.
From the June 2, 1911 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
J.F. Pinkney, M.A. Ricksecker and E.H. Fralick, three well-known Erie engineers, have received medals from the international Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in recognition of long service to the order.
From the November 30, 1914 issue of the Marion Daily Star:
Erie engineers gather in city - For golden jubilee of Div. No. 16, B of L.E.
Among presentations at the event:
M.A. Ricksecker, of Galion, a retired engineer, said President Lincoln sent for him in 1861, to go down and 'lick' some Southerners. He said he did it, but it took four years' time.
Mr. Ricksecker said he hoped to see the day when liquor is not manufactured in the United States. He said engineers in the old days hired their own firemen, and the conductors engaged the balance of the crew. Mr. Ricksecker told of the first run over the Erie from Galion to Akron and said it took from 2 o'clock p.m. until 8 o'clock a.m. to make the trip. "We laid in Akron for three weeks before starting back," he said.
From the November, 1914 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Retired Engineer Mike Ricksecker was one of 42 engineers invited to a chicken dinner given at Galion, OH by Cincinnati Division engineer John Cronenwett for those Division engineers who did not move from Galion, OH to Marion, OH when the Division headquarters were moved there beginning in 1912. Click here for more on the festivities.
MICHAEL A. RICKSECKER—At his home in Galion, Ohio, on November 9 (1920), Michael A. Ricksecker, one of the Erie's best-known and most faithful locomotive engineers, passed away of cancer of the stomach, at the age of 81 years. In 1865 he became an employe of the old A. & G. W. railroad, holding the position of freight brakeman. Later he fired a freight engine, and then was transferred to a passenger run. His ability and conscientious manner of performing duty soon won him promotion to engineer, which position he held until 1910, when he was taken off his engine and given the position of sight, hearing and color examiner, which be held until he died. While running passenger trains he was in charge of train 8 between Galion and Kent, and was noted for the fine manner in which he handled it. In the city of Galion he was held in high esteem by its leading citizens because he was an upright man among them, and always interested in all public affairs. He was a member of Dick Morris Post, No. 130, G. A. R., and its commander for a number of years; a charter member of Division No. 16, B. of L. E.; Galion Lodge, No. 414. F. and A. M.; Galion Chapter. No. 142, R. A. M. and Gwynn Council, No. 83. R. A. S. M., of Bucyrus, O. He was a member of the First Methodist church. Surviving him are a daughter, a brother and a sister.