The Tale of the Caboose and a Loose Wheel

Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville, Ohio

Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville, Ohio

This intricately carved gray marble caboose, track, and wheel displaying the letters: B of RRT can be found in the Union Cemetery at Uhrichsville, Ohio.  The tale told by the cemetery maintenance crew about the marker is that the man buried under the railroad car was killed by a wheel that came off the train, which is supposedly displayed in front of the car.  Besides being a cruel joke to show the weapon of one’s demise at one’s graveside, the story is not true.  The gravestone does not actually mark the grave of a person, but is a commemorative marker for the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.


Like many organizations and fraternal groups founded in the mid to late 19th Century, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, founded in 1883 in Oneonta, N.Y., was organized to, in part, provide insurance for its membership.  The BRT, B of RT or the BRRT, was founded to represent railroad labor’s interests in a negotiated contract with railroad management.  The union included conductors, stewards, ticket collectors, brakemen, switchmen, car tenders, car operators, yardmasters, baggage men, flagmen, and various other workmen laboring in the railroad business in non-management positions.


Note: I first saw the gravestone above on the Website:  Beth Santore, the Webmaster, has photographed hundreds of cemeteries in Ohio, as well as, making photo forays into neighboring states.  I highly recommend her Website, especially for those tramping around Ohio graveyards!

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16 Responses to The Tale of the Caboose and a Loose Wheel

  1. The recognized purpose of each of the Safety Appliance Acts was the protection of operating employees of railroads from the hazards involved in the movement of standard trains and cars. The first Safety Appliance Act, 27 Stat. 531, 45 U.S.C. 1 —7, 45 U.S.C.A. §§ 1—7, enacted in 1893, was preceded by a decade of concern, not with light maintenance equipment, but with the death toll caused by the two major hazards facing railroad trainmen: (1) the necessity for operating employees to work between freight cars in coupling them, and (2) the necessity for brakemen to operate hand brakes while standing on the tops of freight cars.

  2. Tanner Norton says:

    Relations between railroads and their workers have often been rancorous . Tension was present from the beginning because of the danger associated with many rail-road jobs. One of the earliest and most dangerous was that of brakeman. Brakemen rode on top of freight cars, hopping down to stick wooden clubs into the spokes of the wheels of the train to bring it to a halt. The air brake ended this particularly hazardous employment, but other rail jobs were also dangerous. Not only were railroad jobs often dangerous, they usually did not pay well. In the 1870s, many rail workers were paid less than $2 per twelve-hour day.

    • Jack Steen says:

      Your understanding of the realities of the railroad brakemans’ job is flawed on many levels.

      Railroad wheels, firstly, are not spoked. They are solid, forged steel.
      The brake wheels that used to be on the top of the boxcars were (and still are) spoked, and the brake clubs you speak of were, indeed, put between those spokes to assist in winding the brakes tight against the wheels below.
      In the 1800s, a railroad man’s job took 18 to 20 hours per day, due to the lack of government rules to the contrary. When I hired out on the C&NW RR in 1972, the legal limit of work in one day was 16 hours.

  3. Athyna says:

    Actually your information is wrong. The caboose is the headstone of a person. I have visited this headstone several times and the information is engraved on the back side of it. A man named Charles (his last name eludes my memory at the moment) who died in May of 1900. He was 27 years old. It does not mention a cause of death. Thank you for posting about it though. It is quite the work of art!

    • Athyna, If you would be so kind to check out the grave for me and supply the correct information, I would be happy to correct my post. I would appreciate your help on this. Douglas

      • athyna says:

        Douglas, my apologies for the delayed reply. It took some time to get back there and get some pictures. The headstone says as follows:
        CHARLES E
        6 ‘WHITTING
        DIED MAY 4 1900
        27 YR 6 MO 4 DAY

        I can’t seem to figure out how to add a picture here 😦 but i do have several. Thank you!

      • Dear Athyna,
        Thank you for the follow-up email. I would really appreciate it if you would send me photos. My email address is
        I am a little confused about the headstone inscription. I don’t understand the numeral “6” before his last name. If you understand what it means please let me know. I will update and correct the post when I receive the photos. Again, I really appreciate your help in correcting the post. Thanks!

  4. BabRhetta Maxwell says:

    The final resting place is in Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville, Ohio. The grave is in Section OC, Old Cemetery, Lot 134, his wife Margaret and infant child of Charles Witting, Jr is also buried there, there is also the Davis family which if Margaret Davis Witting family, all buried there. Charles Witting Sr. was killed when the wheel came off the caboose and he jumped out of the train, it fell on top of him crushing him., there are many railroad accidents and deaths in that area, the village of Dennison was the home of one of the largest Panhandle Roundhouses in the world. The railroad has a historic Depot, resturant and many restored cars and a museum there today, They also hold the Annual Railroad Days sometimes around August each year.
    I am from the area originally but moved away, my husband John and I have spent thousands of hours hand scanning and digitally preserving the records for Union Cemetery in Uhrichsville. I do genealogy as a profession and this has been my own personal goal for many years to do the cemetery. If I can be of help, contact me at BabRhetta Kauffman Maxwell. Email me at.

  5. kennedy says:

    that is a family member of mine and all the of the information is wrong

    • Would it be possible for you to share which information is incorrect?

      • I did write a corrected version of this blog post titled, Caboose Re-Do I found more research on Charles and the accident in a newspaper account with the help of your local museum. Please check out that blog post for accuracy.

    • BabRhetta Kauffman Maxwell says:

      You state the info is wrong. I will gladly show you the records from the cemetery to verify the statements. If you feel you have other info, I would like to hear from you.
      I verify my research.

      • I did additional research on this blogpost after a reader brought my attention to some details I had missed. The updated information is in a blogpost I titled, Caboose Re-do. Please check it and let me know if it is correct–I verified the information with the local historical society and two newspaper accounts.

      • Genealogy Researcher says:

        This is taken from actual Internment Books from Union Cemetery.

        Date: Sat, 2 Jan 2016 12:48:07 +0000 To:

  6. Kennedy cutlip says:

    I am a descendant of this relative if anyone would like to know more information please email me

  7. Danielle Albaugh says:

    This is the grave of my Great great grandfather, yes he is buried there!

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