Workday Wednesday: Did Timothy Corcoran Work for the Pullman Company?

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: , ,

Kirk's Uncle John told us he had heard that his grandfather, Timothy Corcoran, worked for the Pullman Company.  I thought that might be true as Timothy Corcoran and Helen Smith's marriage license stated they were married in Pullman.  I knew enough about Pullman to know that it was a company town.  I set about trying to prove that Timothy Corcoran did work for the Pullman Company.

My first step was to google Pullman Company.  From here, I checked out the following websites:

The South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society  has the Pullman Car Company Employee Record's AND they provide free look-ups.  The website does point out, "The collection does not include the records for all Pullman employees at all locations, and does not include records of Pullman porters."  I didn't know what capacity that Timothy Corcoran was employed, but it was a free look up so I gave it a shot.

A quick search form is provided that one can copy and paste into an email for a look up.  The information asked is Name, Date of Birth, Race, and Chicago Address, if known.  I submitted my search except for the Chicago address and within days, I received a two page reply form listing 16 Corcoran's who worked for the company.  One of them was Timothy Corcoran, born approx. 1876.  This birth date fit with what I knew about Timothy.

Next, I sent a request and check for $7, society member price, to obtain Timothy's employee records.  The cost for non members is $15.  I was prepared to wait awhile for the records to reach me, but it didn't take that long.  I was hoping I would get more than a name.  I was really hoping for a birth certificate, or some proof of who his parents were.

Did I get such proof?  No such luck, but what I did receive was two pages of records.  The first page was a general information page.  Click to enlarge.

It stated:

Name:  Corcoran, Timothy
Department:  Freight
country of birth:  USA
Occupation:  Mach.  ?
Citizen:  Yes
Total service with Co.:  4 yrs.
Family of 1 children and wife
When last employed by Co.:  Nov. 03
How long:  3 3/4
Where:  Freight  2988
Occupation: Mach
Reason for leaving:  New Card
Foreman's Name Vander Veen
Old Check No.  3409
Other record with Co.:  3 mos. Boiler Rm

Other Employment During Past 12 Months:  None
Relatives in Company's Employ:  None.

I found this to be very interesting information.  I learned that Timothy Corcoran did work at the Pullman Company.  He was a machinist in the freight department, which correlates with later work he did when he moved to Grand Rapids.  He worked for fours years, 1899-1903, for Pullman. These dates coincide with the date of his marriage, 1900, and the date his first child was born, January 1903.  Interestingly, his record states that no other relatives were employed.  Does this mean they never did, or was no one working there at the time Timothy did?  None of the birth dates provided with the original search work for a father of Timothy.

The second sheet didn't provide much personal information, but it provided more work records. Some of the writing is faint and unreadable.  The information provided includes:

Name:  Corcoran, Timothy
Age:  28

Information on Check No., Department and Occupation, Pay Rate, Rate Increased, Transferred, Hired and Dropped is included in table form:

It looks like Timothy Corcoran spent most of his time at Pullman in the Freight Department.  

At the bottom of page two, was Timothy's signature, and address, 421 Stephenson St.  The copy below is hard to read, but 416 Stevenson St. is crossed out and below it is written 421 Stephenson St.  The copy I have is readable.  Further research shows that Stephenson St. is now S. Champlain Street. 

Kirk and I stopped at Historic Pullman on one of our trips to Chicago.  We went to the Visitor's Center and took a walking/car tour on our own.  I took many pictures.  One is looking down S. Champlain Street.  The street Timothy; his wife, Helen; and their son, Bert, lived on.  One can visit Pullman, today, and imagine what it would have been like to live there.  My husband and I walked the same streets that many Pullman employees walked to get to work.  There are efforts being made to make Pullman a National Park.

Looking South on Champlain Street, Pullman Historic District

Here are a few other photo's from our visit to Pullman Historic District:
 S. Champlain and 112th St. with Colonnade Apartments and Townhouses in background

 The remains of Market Hall - Market Hall is in the center of the street 

Colannade Apartments and Townhouse are located around Market Hall

 Greenstone Church

 Arcade Park-It's appearance remains much like Pullman's landscape architect design.

 Hotel Florence-Currently being restored

Administration Building and Clock Tower

If you would like more information about visiting Pullman Historic District, please check out their website,


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