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