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"A Pedigree Partly Indian, Partly Batavian"


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William H. Van Tassel

William H. Van Tassell, Superintendent of the Ohio Southern Railroad, makes his headquarters at a finely equipped office in the city of Springfield, and brings to the duties of his responsible position the energy and ability necessary thereto. He is a native of the Empire State, and was born March 4, 1844, in Seneca Falls, Seneca County. He comes of substantial ancestry, being the son of Isaac and Naomi (Stimson) Van Tassell, who were likewise natives of New York State.

The father of our subject was born near the town of Clyde, N. Y., in 1813, and grew up under the influences of a modest home where industry and economy were the ruling principles. He obtained a common-school education, and at an early age began an apprenticeship at the cooper's trade, which he followed for many years. The latter part of his life engaged in coopering and spent his last years in Michigan. His wife, Naomi, was the daughter of David Stimson, Esq., a native of New York and for many years a resident of this State, where he spent his last years.

The mother of our subject died when her son William H. was but eight years old. From that time until a youth of twelve years, he was under the care of his father, obtaining a somewhat limited education in the common schools, and acquiring the habits of self-reliance which have served him so well in his latter years. He remained a resident of his native State until after the out-break of the Civil War, and then determining to have a hand in the preservation of the Union, enlisted in Company A, Nineteenth New York Infantry, which soon afterward transferred to Company E, Third New York Artillery. He first went with his comrades to Washington, D. C., thence to Newberne, N. C., and for a time was stationed at Ft. Rowan, and later at Ft. Totten, sojourning at the latter place probably fifteen months. He then went out with the Hunter expedition to take Charleston, after which the regiment went into Virginia, and was assigned to the command of Gen. Butler. Mr. Van Tassell was at Petersburg at the time of the mine explosion, an occasion ever to be remembered. Although experiencing many privations and hardships, he escaped comparatively unharmed amid the vicissitudes of army life, and at the close of the war received an honorable discharge, and was mustered out at Fortress Monroe. Later he received his pay at Hampton Roads, Va., near the same place.

Returning now to his native State, Mr. Van Tassell repaired to Syracuse and entered Ames' Business College, where he commenced the study of telegraphy. When acquiring a sufficient knowledge of this he came West, and asked for employment in the service of the then C. C. & I. Railroad (now a part of the Pan Handle), by whom he was advised that there were no paying vacancies, but that if he desired to do so, he could go to Dublin, Ind., a small town two miles west of Cambridge City, where the only recompense he would receive would be the limited practice the office afforded, and an assurance that he should have the first paying vacancy. Amongst strangers, without money, there was nothing to lose and a great deal to gain, as practice in, and a better knowledge of the business he had chosen, was most desirable. The offer was accepted. After a sojourn of six weeks at Dublin, our subject was called to the general offices of the company at Indianapolis, Ind., where he remained for two weeks, working the most responsible office on the line, at a salary of $83.33 per month. A vacancy occurring at Urbana, Ohio, Mr. Van Tassell was placed in charge of that office, where he remained three months, when he was promoted and sent to Columbus, Ohio, and a year later was called to Richmond, Ind., and again elevated, this time to the position of Chief Train Dispatcher and Chief Operator, which he handled acceptably until 1871, when he resigned to enter the employ of the Rock Island & Peoria Railroad, at Peoria, ILL., as Chief Train Dispatcher and Superintendent of Telegraph. He was next connected with the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad Company, performing the same duties as before, but still advancing, and finally becoming Train Master and Division Superintendent, which latter position he held until the road passed into the hands of the Big Four, (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad.)

On the 25th of February,1885, in addition to his duties as Division Superintendent, Mr. Van Tassell was appointed to the Superintendency of the Ohio Southern Railroad, a position which he has filled with great credit to himself, and satisfaction to the officers of the road. He was married December 10, 1874, in Warren, Ohio, to Miss Jennie E. Kibbee, of Urbana, Ill. Mrs. Van Tassell was born September 20, 1853, in Warren, Ohio, and is a daughter of John and Jane (Hubbard) Kibbee, who were natives of Connecticut, and are now deceased. The only child of this union is a son, Royal Emile, who was born February 8, 1876. The family resides in a neat and tasteful structure, pleasantly located at No.81 West High Street. Mr. Van Tassell votes the Republican ticket, and socially belongs to Lodge No.51, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, one of the best lodges in the order.

The father of our subject during the Civil War, enlisted in the Thirty-third New York Infantry, and going with his regiment to the Potomac, remained with it until the expiration of his term of enlistment, serving faithfully three years. After receiving his discharge he removed to Michigan, locating in Newago County, where his death took place at Fremont, in 1889. The mother died about 1852.

[Source: The Portrait and Biographical Album of Clark and Greene Counties," Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1890]

Comment: William H. Van Tassel served as Chief of Police, Springfield, Oh., 1895-1897




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