People

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Albert Ingalls- Vice President of New York Central Railroad

1908 Lake Shore Boulevard
Albert Stimson Ingalls
Albert Stimson Ingalls

After graduating from Harvard in 1896, Albert Stimpson Ingalls went to work in Cincinnati, Ohio for his father who was president of the Big Four railroad. His father became the right-hand man in the midwest for Cornelius Vanderbilt who owned the New York Central Railroad.

“Albert,” a friend said, “are you a son of your father?”

“You bet I am,” was the quick reply. Then as an afterthought, he asked, “Why do you ask that?”

“I just wondered whether you were one day going to be president of a railroad.”

Albert started railroading smoking a clay pipe and dressed in overalls rather than a business suit. His career began in an engine cab and the roundhouse of the Big Four System. Albert “learned the works” fast and climbed through promotions.

Superintendent Albert Ingalls of the Cleveland and Indianapolis division of the Big Four Railway was a practical railroad man. On one occasion, he pulled into Anderson, Indiana in a handcar, also known as a pump trolley. He was chilled to the bone and his clothes were stained from travel close to the tracks. He had been on an inspection tour of the road’s tracks and property, to personally estimate the damage done by recent high water and to become personally acquainted with every section crew in his division.

Mr. Ingalls might have viewed the tracks and roadbed more comfortably through plate glass windows passenger car. That was not his way of doing things. He wanted was to get down close to things, so he took the handcar route. He took turns at the pumps, and often stopping to get off to examine embankments and climb under bridges and trestles. He often walked the ties for a mile or more, examining every inch of the roadbed.

He left the big Four in 1906 to come to Cleveland and work for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad and its affiliated lines tp become the assistant to superintendent A. J. Higgins. After three years, Higgins retired and Albert became the general superintendent.

Callers always had easy access to Mr. Higgins and some thought his open-door policy might be abandoned when Albert took over. It didn’t happen. “I want to see Mr. Ingalls,” business visitors at the St. Clair and Water Street offices would say.

Mr. Ingalls secretary would take the message to his office.

“Sure; tell him to come in,” Mr. Ingalls would say.

The visitor found a man dressed very likely in a rough-looking, unpressed suit, with a turndown collar and a modest necktie. Ingalls would look up with mild blue eyes, rumple his hair with his left hand while he flicked the ash from his cigar with his right hand.

“Is that so? No. I think not. Yes, that would be wise. I will look into the matter. Good day.”

That would be all. The visitor would leave and Ingalls would go back to his desk. He would likely not look up until it was too dark to see. Then he would go down to his waiting automobile and motor to his Bratenahl home.

Jane Taft Ingalls
Jane Taft Ingalls

Albert continued to work his way up through the system from the Big Four, then the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, and finally the New York Central Railroad, where he eventually became vice president and general manager of operations west of Buffalo, New York. In 1925, he was made assistant vice president and directing head of the New York Central’s lines in the western zone.

As his career blossomed, Albert moved to Bratenahl. While there, he directed that trains be forbidden to blow their whistles as they passed through Bratenahl, so as not to disturb the sleep of the residents. He earned some fame as the second man in the Cleveland area to own an automobile.

He was long remembered as a hard worker and a quick thinker, a master of English who could clear a desk of correspondence in record time.

Albert Stimson Ingalls Sr. was born on February 27, 1874, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Melville Ezra and Abbie Stimson Ingalls. His academic training included University School and then to Harvard University graduating in 1896.

Albert married Jane Sinton Taft on September 15, 1874, in Cincinnati, linking two important Ohio clans. Jane’s maternal grandfather, David Sinton of Cincinnati, had also owned railroads. Her father’s brother was William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States.

Jane was born on September 15, 1874. She was a piano player and poetry writer of note. She also painted and won the first prize for portraiture at the 1941 May Show.

Albert and Jane had two children; David Sinton born on January 28, 1899, and Albert Stimpson Jr. born on November 10, 1901. David was the Navy’s only flying ace of World War I.

In July and August, the Ingalls went to Saratoga, New York, traveling by private railroad car.

Albert was a director of Toledo Terminal Railroad, Lake Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad, Virginia Hot Springs Company, and Columbia Axle Company. Social memberships included Cleveland Athletic, Country, Kirtland, Mayfield, Mid-Day, and Union clubs.

At age 57, Albert retired from the New York Central after thirty-five years of intensive service. He remained prominent in public affairs in Cleveland

Albert exhibited a democratic spirit and genial personality and an admirable mixture of culture, quick-wittedness, broad interests, and robust energy. He died on August 8, 1943, in Hot Springs Virginia. Jane died on March 30, 1962. Both are buried in Warm Springs Cemetery in Warm Springs, Virginia.