locked Re: Southern Railway History


This email is in reference to "A History of the Legal Development of the Railroad System of Southern Railway Company" (Legal History for short.)

Just FYI review of the Dedication and Preface to the 1958 Supplement makes it clear the Southern considered this document a valuable and worthwhile reference.  It is dedicated to Harry Ashby Debutts and states "under whose direction it was done."

Review of the 1958 Preface also shows the 1901 Legal History was considered a valuable document.  Significant work was put into it, as well as into the two supplements.  The 1958 Preface states "The invaluable book of Fairfax Harrison called A History of the Legal Development of the Railroad System of Southern Railway Company was published in December, 1901, and for the ensuing fifty-seven years has served the staff as its most useful and indispensable tool whenever any question has arisen as to the legal and corporate origins of the many lines of railroad making up Southern Railway System."

I've attached softcopy of the 1958 dedication and the 1958 Preface (which I stitched together into a PDF).  I've also attached a picture of the 1958 Supplement, showing how it was bound.  I think all copies of the 1958 supplement were bound that way (the 1921 supplement was paperbound).

Andy Ramsay
Berryville VA

On Mon, Aug 23, 2021 at 10:07 PM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:

Fairfax Harrison was certainly interested in who had copies of the document. Note attached inquiry and sample of responses from SRHA Archives Box 192A File 21:


On Aug 23, 2021, at 8:52 PM, Bill Schafer <bill4501@...> wrote:

I have seen a number of sets of bound volumes of the Legal History over the years, and the bindings seem to have been customized a number of different ways. The most common appears to be the main Legal History in two volumes, softcover. The cover is in light blue paper. 

Most of the hardcover ones I have seen are in the camel-brown covers with the red label on the spine. Some of these are in two volumes; some are one gargantuan volume that is usually falling apart if it ever got any use in its lifetime. And then there are the two volume sets that include the First Supplement bound into the second volume. 

The First Supplement was also produced in a stand-alone soft cover version and hard cover version. Usually, the 100 page hardcover was in the same camel-brown-with-red-label-on-spine as its bigger brothers. 

As for the Second Supplement, I don’t think I ever saw it in a paperback version; my sense is that Southern bound all of them in the camel brown when they were printed. Together, the pre-SRHA bound volumes clustered together on a bookshelf look impressive, like they belong in a lawyer’s office (which they usually were). 

I have no proof of this - maybe someone on the list can clarify - but it would make sense to me that some, if not all, of Southern’s outside counsels had sets of the Legal History on their bookshelves too. That may be why Southern had so many extra, unbound copies printed - to send to new outside counsel as needed.

Much harder to find is the other component to make the Legal History set complete: the large, framed 1921 system map that hung on the wall of many attorneys in the executive headquarters in Washington. On this map, each line or line segment is numbered, and each number correlates to a long list on the right of the map. Each item on the list refers to one of Southern’s many predecessors or components. To learn more about the predecessor, you look its name up in the index (at end of the second volume of the original Legal History). The map was issued about the time the First Supplement was printed. 

Not one to waste a good base map, Southern reduced, adapted, and updated it over the years and used it for myriad other purposes over the years. Here’s an example of the base map, with the list of predecessors. The list on the left is arranged by the numbered line segment; the list on the right is alphabetical and also shows the number of the corresponding line segment. This map has been updated to 1962 (it shows the Interstate but not the Central of Georgia, for example) and should look familiar. Any number of special-purpose maps for internal use were adapted from this map over the years:

—Bill Schafer

On Aug 23, 2021, at 19:03, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

I suspect that a copy in a library (e.g. University of Michigan) did not come directly from the Southern Railway, but perhaps from the estate of an official or board of directors member who managed to snag a copy for themselves.

Jack Wyatt

On Monday, August 23, 2021, 06:19:48 PM EDT, aramsay18 <aramsay37@...> wrote:

Hello  Chris

I have an interest in the early years of the Southern, from the early 1890s through the 1930s, how it was formed, structured, financed, and evolved, which is quite a story by itself.  The history's stated purpose is to document the legal aspects of that monumental project.  However, it also has information on other aspects, to include some financial and some operational data can be gleaned from it.  IMHO it is the best source for such early material on the formation of the Southern that is publicly available.  (Haven't explored the SRHA archives in this area yet.)  I've been using the two hardcopy, softbound books parts 1 through 5 for a while and have not found any issues such as missing pages, meaningless text or anything like that.  It appears the version I have was soft bound by the Southern.  The online Google Books softcopy version was scanned from a hardbound copy (it appears that is one 1545 page book) from the transportation library at the University of Michigan. So U of M took delivery of it from the Southern somehow.  Perhaps they put it into hardbound form. I doubt it would have been included in their transportation library if it was of no value. Review of their copy shows some times when the person doing the scanning became tired and didn't line up the pages quite right, but I've yet to find any unreadable pages completely messed up by the scanner.  It is puzzling to me why they refused LOC's request but apparently satisfied U of M's request.  I can understand why the Southern would state the compilation is basically what is called working papers and not a formal document, because if they designate it a formal document, then it might box them into a corner in various legal actions (of which there were plenty).  Perhaps that is why they didn't want to make it available to the general public.  However nevertheless quite a bit of work was put into it.

Andy Ramsay
Berryville VA

<1921 System Map - B&W SRailwayMap_1.pdf>

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