George Walter Stevens

George Walter Stevens

Birth
Utica, Licking County, Ohio, USA
Death 3 Nov 1920 (aged 69)
White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County, West Virginia, USA
Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 30739801 · View Source
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From: Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
edited by Lyon Gardiner Tyler
George Walter Stevens. *(Pages 21-23)
Coming upon the active battlefield of life at the beginning of the period of wonderful national prosperity that followed the unhappy war between the states, Mr. Stevens has been a part of that development, and an important tactor in its continuance. For fifty years identified with the railway service of the country, he has risen from a lowly to a conspicuous place among the veteran railroad men of the nation. Beginning at the age of thirteen years as messenger boy in the office of the station agent of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company at Utica, Ohio, he rose through merit and loyalty from plane to plane of greater responsibility, until he reached the president's chair, which he now most capably fills. No favored child of fortune, but the builder of his own fortunes. Mr. Stevens has won every step forward by proving his ability in each position occupied, thereby winning the entire confidence of higher officials through whom promotion must come. His career is not. only an example, but an incentive to the American youth, proving as it does the possibilities this country opens to the ambitious, clean living, right-minded, young man.
George Walter Stevens was born at Utica, Licking county, Ohio, June 29, 1851, son of James Smith Stevens, a prominent merchant, and his wife. Julia Ann (Penn) Stevens. He is of English ancestry, his paternal forbears settling in Connecticut in the seventeenth century. His maternal ancestors were from Maryland. His early life was spent in Utica, where he attended the public school until thirteen years of age. He then began his long career as a railroad man, a career that now covers half a century of the greatest national progress. On February 1. 1864. he began work in the office of the agent of the Baltimore & Ohio as messenger boy, continuing with that company six years, serving as messenger and agent's clerk and telegraph operator. Those six years were well spent. Not only did they bring well gained information, but valuable experience was gained and a reputation for diligence, carefulness, willingness and trustworthiness firmly established. Terminating his connection with the Baltimore & Ohio, he entered the service of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway, serving as agent, train dispatcher's assistant and train dispatcher, spending three years with this company, and with each year rising in rank and experience. In 1873 he entered the employ of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway, continuing with that company and its successors, filling still more and more important positions. For eight years he was train dispatcher, for two years superintendent of the Ohio & Indiana division, for three and a half years superintendent of the Eastern division, and from January 1, 1887, to November 10, 1889, assistant general superintendent. He then transferred his allegiance to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company, accepting the appointment of division superintendent with headquarters at Richmond, Virginia.
The years had now added to his strong character qualifications the experience and knowledge necessary to further advancement, which quickly came. On January 1, 1890, he was promoted to the office of general superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio, this being followed. July 1, 1891, by his appointment as general manager. Nine years were spent in this position, when again he was called to greater responsibilities. On February 1, 1900, he was elected president of the road. He is also president of the Hocking Valley Railway Company, elected in March, 1910, and of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company, of Indiana, elected July 1, 1910, the latter company being formerly known as the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railway, the short line between Cincinnati and Chicago. Having now reached the highest position a railroad company can bestow, it is interesting to know that this "man from the ranks" has made a forceful, successful commander, repeating in his higher responsibilities the successes of each lower position held. The system he controls is an important one, and with his control directors and patrons are well satisfied. He has built up a large traffic for the system, as he previously built it for division and line by catering to the upbuilding of business of every kind in the territory which the system serves. He is decidedly averse to some of the practice common enough in railway operation, and is old fashioned enough to believe that a railroad can best advance its own interests by loyal service to all the business interests of its territory. This sound business doctrine, loyally worked out by his subordinate officials, has brought prosperity to the road and to its patrons, and establishes Mr. Stevens' contention. That a railroad occupies a very intimate relation to the development of the country through which it runs, and that the development of the one means the natural advancement of the other, is well known.
Neither the rights nor convenience of the shipper, nor the dividend earning rights of the stockholder are sacrificed to one another, but both are secure by Mr. Stevens' wise, conservative, careful and equitable management. Hence, travel where you will along the lines of the Chesapeake & Ohio system, and you will find him everywhere commended as a public-spirited, progressive executive. Happy as are his relations with patron, stockholder and director, he is nowhere more highly respected, honored or loved than by his subordinates of the system. Himself a self-taught man, he has the deepest sympathy with every movement tending to increase the opportunities railroad men may have for self-improvement through good books, study and social intercourse. This interest and sympathy has centered in the railroad Young Men's Christian Association, whose work he has grandly furthered in Richmond and at many other places along the line. Many associations have been formed through his efforts, and through his financial aid many suitable buildings have been equipped. Mr. Stevens takes not only the view of the humanitarian in regard to Young Men's Christian Association
work among railroad men, but also that of the practical business man. He insists that a comfortable room where railroad employees can gather under proper influence, to read and enjoy social intercourse, will promote not only their interests but the interests of the railways by which they are employed. This is another view of the same doctrine of "community of interest," that he believes should exist between railway and shipper. The Railroad Young Men's Christian Association building at Richmond, erected at an expense of $100,000, is one of the results of President Stevens' help and interest in the welfare of the railroad employee. His principle of co-operation between carrier and shipper, employer and employee, is based upon the soundest business principles, and their application has resulted most happily for the corporations over which President Stevens has authority. In a not less degree, have shippers and employees benefitted ; which fact leads to the hope that the gospel he preaches and exemplifies may spread until strikes and lockouts with all their attending misery may forever disappear from our fair land.
President Stevens is a member of the Westmoreland. Commonwealth and Country clubs of Richmond and the Railroad Club, of New York, and everywhere known he is popular, honored and respected. Able and untiring in business, genial and kindly- hearted, he is the ideal leader of men, and while he stands at the head of his particular branch of activity, his career is not finished, but the biographer of the future will chronicle many more years of this useful life.
Mr. Stevens married, December 27, 1881, Virginia, daughter of James S. Wilson, of Logansport. Indiana. Children : Helen, James Paul. Cecil Wade, George Wilson. The family home is at Richmond, Virginia. Mrs Stevens died on August 28, 1904.

Full death date/place provided by Find A Grave Contributor Robert Jones


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  • Created by: An Ashland Genealogist
  • Added: 21 Oct 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 30739801
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George Walter Stevens (29 Jun 1851–3 Nov 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 30739801, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by An Ashland Genealogist (contributor 46610789) .