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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The honor of forty-two years of continuous identification with the Southern Pacific yards at Sacramento belongs to Mr. Halloran, who entered the employ of the company July 9, 1869, and continued with intervening promotions until February 1, 1911, when he was placed upon the pension list of the organization he had served so long and so well. From a very humble, unimportant job at a switch he was promoted through various positions to be general yardmaster, and as such he served for thirty-three years, meanwhile making an absolutely clean record for efficiency, trustworthiness and successful yard supervision. Among railroad men he has enjoyed a wide acquaintance, particularly among the officials at the California terminals of the road. An expression of the esteem in which they held him appeared in a letter sent him by H. W. Sheridan, superintendent of the Sacramento division. Under date of February 3, 1911, the note assured him of the general recognition of his faithful service and the continued good-will of the company which had so long received the benefit of his industrious application.

The life record of Mr. Halloran indicates what it is within the power of unaided efforts to accomplish, for he had no means and little education to assist him in securing a start in the world. The family was hampered by poverty and the early life of the young Irish lad was filled with hardships, not the least of these being a long separation from his parents. In county Kerry, Ireland, against whose broken coast line dash the mighty waves of the Atlantic ocean, Martin Halloran was born November 12, 1844, and there he passed the years of childhood. Early in 1851 his father and mother came to the United States, accompanied by three sons, these being the eldest of their six children. The three youngest sons were left with their grand- parents in Ireland, while the parents settled in Toledo, Ohio, and endeavored to secure a livelihood for themselves and the children with them. At first thev encountered many difficulties and suffered many privations, but from poorly-paid day labor the father rose by successive steps until he was chosen city assessor of Toledo.

At last it became possible to send for the youngest children and thus reunite the family. Friends emigrating from Ireland brought the lads with them. Martin, the eldest of the three, was almost fifteen at the time. The father went from Toledo to New York City to meet the ship, but found the passengers had debarked and it was necessary to go to Fourth avenue and Forty-second street. Being a stranger, he had some difficulty in finding the place. While searching for the house he met a German who was in business in the neighborhood. An inquiry brought out the fact that the German had seen the boys, and when told by the father that they had been separated for almost nine years he followed, anxious to witness the meeting. After the lads had been found and the first joy of the reunion was over, the father started with them for Toledo, where all the neighbors gathered to join with the family in a celebration honoring the event.

Immediately after his arrival in Toledo a search for employment was made by Martin Halloran, and he secured work in a nursery. After a year he began in a railroad freight house at the age of sixteen. Later he was promoted to be a brakeman on the "Wabash between Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo. From Ohio he went to Chicago and secured work as a brakeman on the Chicago & Alton railroad, being first on the rim from Bloomington to Chicago, and later from Bloomington to Alton, Ill. From the freight service he was promoted to a passenger route. At the time of the second inauguration of President Lincoln he carried many delegates on his train and thus became familiar with the faces of many of the leading statesmen of that period. Returning to Toledo at the close of the war, he resumed work as a switchman on the old Cleveland & Toledo railroad. At the expiration of four and one-half years he resigned his position, went to New York City, took passage for the Isthmus June 1, 1869, crossed at Aspinwall, then sailed up the Pacific, and on the 25th of June landed at San Francisco. For a few days he worked in a harvest field. On the 2d of July he came to Sacramento and made application for a switchman's job. Through the influence of Mr. McCray he was given a position July 9, and had the distinction of being the third man to move cars in the Sacramento yards. There were then only three men employed, but at the time of his retirement one hundred and twenty flagmen and switchmen were given steady work.

Investing some of his earnings in property, Mr. Halloran still owns six lots and houses in Sacramento, and he recently sold a ranch of two hundred and forty-three acres eight miles from this city. The land was sold at a considerable increase over the purchase price, and represented an excellent investment for him. With his wife and daughter, Miss Lizzie L., he resides at No. 1218 D street, where he owns a comfortable home. Prior to her marriage in 1872 Mrs. Halloran was Miss Mary O'Connor and lived in San Francisco. She had come to California via Panama, landing in San Francisco May 12, 1868. The family are devoted members of the Roman Catholic church and Mr. Halloran has been actively connected with the Knights of Columbus. In addition he is a charter member of the Foresters in Sacramento. Upon attaining his majority he adopted the principles of the Democratic party. While still adhering to that organization in national elections, he does not follow party lines in local affairs, but votes for the men whom he considers best qualified to promote the welfare of the people and the upbuilding of the city. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011