Tombstone Tuesday-2 Railroad Acronyms

Today I am highlighting two tombstone symbols that are acronyms of railroad organizations. These inscriptions are on two tombstones at Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, and are the only two inscriptions I have seen that are related to the railroad. I think they are rather unusual.

The first symbolizes the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT). BRT was a labor organization for railroad employees founded in 1883 to negotiate contracts with railroad management and provide insurance for members.

BRT, Grover Demler tombstone, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio,

This inscription is on the tombstone of Grover J. Demler (1893-1918). Demler, originally from Ohio City, was a freight brakeman for the Erie Railroad to Huntington, Indiana, where he lived and was a member of Huntington’s B. of R. T. lodge. Demler died in Huntington from complications of influenza during the Spanish Flue Pandemic. Demler was also a Mason and a member of the Knights of Pythias.

Grover Demler, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio.

The other railroad organization symbol is the Benefit Association of Railway Employees (B.A.R.E.).

Benefit Association of Railway Employees/BARE, Beach tombstone, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio.

This BARE inscription is on the tombstone of Franklin H. Beach (1869-1926) a railroad worker who was struck and killed by a freight train east of Ohio City. Beach was also a member of the Knights of Pythias.

Franklin Beach, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio.

BARE was originally founded in 1913 as the Brotherhood of All Railway Employees, established by two insurance men and two North Western Railway employees.

In 1917 The Brotherhood of All Railway Employees adopted a new name and became the Benefit Association of Railway Employees (B.A.R.E.). The name change reflected their growth and defined their purpose. This was considered the Golden Age of Railroads.

In 1922 BARE became a mutual insurance company and was owned by its policy owners. The home office was in Chicago and by 1928 they had over 135,000 members. In 1929 the company began insuring individuals outside the railroad industry and in 1945 they established a life insurance department. The Benefit Association of Railway Employees celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1963 and changed their name to the Benefit Trust Life Insurance Company.

Two unusual inscriptions, indeed.


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    • Marian Burk Wood on September 27, 2022 at 1:43 pm
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    I really enjoy when you decode symbols like these and include clear photos!

    1. Thank you!

    • Teri on March 27, 2024 at 12:52 pm
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    Greetings Karen!
    I was researching L. A. To B.R.T. found on my great grandmother’s gravestone and found your site! My family is in Massillon, Ohio and I too am a retired Dental Hygienist.! Small world! My great grandfather and grandfather on my father’s side were railmen and also have the B.R.T. on their gravestones which I have learned neans Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. However, I have not been able to find out what the L.A. means on my great grandmother’s….would you have any ideas?
    Thank you for any information!

    1. Great to hear from a fellow retired RDH. It is indeed a small world. L.A. to B.R.T. stands for Ladies Auxiliary to Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. So your grandmother was in their auxiliary. What an interesting piece of family history. A link, if you would like to read a little more about the organization: Thanks for writing!

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