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Records of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (B.L.E.), Ozark Division No. 83

Collection Number: LA 2
Volume: 1.5 linear feet
Dates: 1871-1954


The records of BLE, Division 83 were transferred to the Ozarks Labor Union Archives on February 15, 1983 by General Chairman, Ronald Dean. The collection was processed in 1998 by Trina Yeckley.


This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).


The collection is unrestricted. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be obtained from the Ozarks Labor Union Archives. Citations should be as follows: Identification of the item, box and folder number, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (B.L.E), Ozark Division No. 83, Ozarks Labor Union Archives, Missouri State University.

Organizational History

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers was organized on May 8, 1863 in Detroit, MI. The organization was fraternal in nature and only open to locomotive engineers; locomotive firemen and other railroad employees formed their own organizations.

In 1870, the first train arrived in North Springfield. The extension of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later called the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad or Frisco Line) from Rolla, MO had been delayed by financial difficulties and the Civil War. The train depot was built 1.5 miles north of the Springfield town line, Division Street. A new town, North Springfield, was quickly constructed around the railroad industry. Frisco R.R. erected a large engine maintenance and repair facility and by 1877 Frisco employed almost 170 people in its North Springfield shops. In 1887, North Springfield was consolidated into the city of Springfield.

On January 1, 1871, eight months after the railroad opened, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Pacific City Lodge, Division No. 83, was awarded a charter, making it the first union in Springfield, MO. Frank Caton, J.L. Parish, Benjamin Smith, Albert Start, William Willis, and A. Casbourn served as the first officers. Division No. 83 officially changed its name to Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Ozark Division No. 83 in 1884.

The B.L.E. agitated for an eight hour workday, improved wages, and better working conditions. In addition to its bargaining activities, the B.L.E. provided insurance to its members. Insurance companies considered railroad work “extra hazardous” and often refused to issue policies to locomotive engineers. The Locomotive Engineer’s Life Insurance Association provided life insurance while another benefit association provided $10 a week to members who were unable to work due to sickness or injury.

B.L.E., Division 83 Charter Members:
A. Casbourn
Frank Caton
George W. Hitchens
A. Malony
James McCourt
J.R. Moore
Thomas Murray
J.L. Parish
R.W. Robinson
Benjamin Smith
James Smith
Albert Start
William Willis


History of Greene County, Missouri, Written and Compiled from the Most Authentic Official and Private Sources, Including a History of Its Townships, Towns and Villages. St. Louis: Western Historical Company, 1883.

Scope and Content

This collection contains the records of the early years of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Division 83, the first union organized in Springfield, MO. The records consist primarily of membership dues payment records (1871-1900, 1904-1905) and minutes (1871-1892, 1904-1907, 1916-1934, and 1944-1954). Please note that minutes are missing or incomplete during the following years: 1893-1903, 1908-1915, and 1935-1943. The last folder contains the records of the members of the Locomotive Mutual Life Insurance Association (1871-1886).

In the summer of 1982 additional BLE records, including minutes, correspondence, reports and rulings from 1912 to 1962, were microfilmed. The microfilming was not professionally done and is neither indexed nor of archival quality. These records are located on OLUA Roll 19 and 20 in the Meyer Library microforms department.

Items Removed From the Collection

Bible. Philadelphia: W.W. Harding, 1871. Inscribed: "Presented by Miss Mary E. Start to Division 83 B.L.E. by aid of the conductors A.P.R.R." Removed to the rare book collection.

The following medals and buttons were placed in the OLUA memorabilia collection:

  • Ozark No.83, Chaplain, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio.
  • Ozark No.83, 1st Engineer, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio
  • Ozark No.83, 3rd Engineer, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio.
  • Ozark No.83, Chief Engineer, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio
  • Ozark No.83, Guide, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio
  • Ozark No.83, sec'y-treas, The Webb C. Ball Watch Co., Cleveland Ohio
  • United for 8 Hours, Time & One Half Overtime, B of L.E, O.R.C, B of L.F & E, B of R.T

Related Materials in OLUA:

OLUA Microfilm Collection Roll 19 and 20.  See attached inventory.

LA 17, Records of the United Transportation Union (UTU), General Committee of Adjustment.

Records of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, unprocessed collection.

Frisco Collection, unprocessed collection.

Container List

Box 1 1 Minutes/Membership Dues Div. 83, B.L.E 1871-1874, Dues:1871-1884
2 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1874-1884
3 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E 1884-1892
4 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1904-1906
5 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1906-1907
6 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1916-1917
7 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1918-1920
8 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1920-1924
9 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1924-1934
10 Minutes Div. 83, B.L.E. 1944-1954
11 Minutes Div. 378, B.L.E. (Nettleton) 1902-1911
12 Agreements Louisville & Nashville R.R. and the B.L.E. 1950
Box 2 1 Membership Dues Div. 83, B.L.E. 1871-1878
2 Membership Dues Div. 83, B.L.E. 1883-1889
3 Membership Dues Div. 83, B.L.E. 1895-1900
4 Membership Dues Div. 83, B.L.E. 1904-1905
5 Membership Dues Locomotive Life Insurance Association 1871-1886

Partial Inventory of the Records of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, St. Louis and San Francisco R.R. (Frisco Line) Microfilm Reel 19 and 20:

B.L.E. General Committee of Adjustments, 1912

Correspondence dealing with the embezzlements of the Gen. Comm. of Adj. funds, 1915

B.L.E. General Committee of Adjustments

  • minutes, 1915, 1917, 1929-31, 1933, 1936, 1948, 1950
  • quarterly reports, 1916, 1933-1936

General Chairman B.L.E, Frisco lines

  • Reports, 1916-17, 1919-31, 1937-41, 1948-49
  • Rulings, 1915-1947 (missing some years)
  • Correspondence 1920s

Agreements 1950s

Similar records to 1962