Edward W Ballentine, (the brother of Samuel Ballentine) was with NCStL for many years.
Ballentine NC&StL Railroad Memories
Of James Edward Ballentine
January 21, 2009
The Ballentine railroad tradition went back to my grandfather, or possibly even further. He was James K. Ballentine (12/28/1845-1/27/1895), and as the engineer, died from injuries sustained in a train accident. He had five children:
Laura Ballentine McKeand (1866-1950), who was married to the comptroller of NC&StL, William McKeand (1858-1930). They had no children.
Dora Ballentine Owenby, born in 1871 and died in 1910.
Samuel James Ballentine (1875-1965), an engineer for NC&StL for 57 years. He worked eight years at the old railroad shop on Church Street before that. He handled one of the first passenger trains from the new Union Station. He retired at age 78 as an engineer of “The Georgian”. He lived on Kimpalong Avenue and had three children.
John Andrew Ballentine, also an engineer but forced to retire in 1930 because of a serious heart condition, although he lived quite a few years longer. He and his wife and two daughters lived on Bowling Avenue with Aunt Laura. Regretfully, I know little about him.,
Edward Watson Ballentine, who was my father. He was born on November 4, 1880 and as the engineer, was killed in a Dixie Flyer wreck in Hooker, Georgia on March 1,1942. He started with NC&StL as a callboy for one year, a fireman for one year, and an engineer for 42 years.
My dad married my mother, Minnie Lee Allen, in 1927 and I was born on January 10, 1929. We first lived in the Vauxhall Apartments on Eighth and Broad, moved to 1512 Demonbreum Street, and then to 3518 Richardson Avenue in 1938. I have two sisters, Dorothy Ballentine Ketchum, born August 8, 1933 and Margaret Ballentine Sullenger, born February 10, 1942 just a few days before our father was killed
Ed and Uncle Sam would toot their whistles when their trains passed each other near Wartrace,Tennessee; Ed from the Dixie Flyer and Sam from the Dixie Limited.
When we lived on Demonbreum Street, my dad would toot his whistle in a special way to let me know he was almost at the station. I would then sometimes run the eight blocks to Union Station to meet him. He was paid on the tenth and 25th of the month and if he was leaving Nashville, he would give me his paycheck to bring home when I was as young as eight or nine years old.
He belonged to the BofLE (Brotherhood of Locomotives Engineers)--the first of all unions. It was started to provide insurance because engineers were uninsurable due to risks. When he died in 1942, my mother received $10,000 from the BofLE and $10,000 from NC&StL. His pay was considered very good for that time.
On one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign trips in the early 1930’s, my dad was the engineer of his private train. He had to stay in a sidetrack all night so the President could sleep and it upset him. After the trip Roosevelt wanted to shake his hand, but my dad said to tell him he had already gone home.
At Christmas time he would slow the train down in a small town, and someone would throw a country ham onto the cow catcher for him. He helped my mom to cook big meals when he was at home. He fried fish, which I did not like, so he told me to fill up on french fries.
I was with him when he bought his last 21 jewel Hamilton railroad watch in 1938 and I still use it. It had to be checked every six months for accuracy. I often walked with him to the wash house where he changed clothes from his suit and tie to overalls; then I rode in the engine back to the sidetrack to wait for his freight or passenger cars to come in.
During my father’s last few years on the Dixie Flyer, he left Nashville at 10:30 AM and arrived in Chattanooga at 2:10 PM. Many times I rode in the coach section. When we got to Chattanooga, he slept and I rested or went to a movie.
He would eat breakfast at 1:00 AM and I would go across the street to the Krystal for four hamburgers and a coke. The train left at 1:50 AM and arrived in Nashville at 6:30 AM the next day. He would be off duty from then until 10:30 AM the next day. I did this routine with him on weekends from age five or six until I was twelve. He was killed soon after that. My dad’s dying words were, “Is everyone else all right?”
James E. Ballentine