Stories

All in the Railroad Family

by Dean Jarrett

  • All in the Railroad Family

    Dean & Deno Jarrett

  • All in the Railroad Family

Life took a few turns before bringing the railroad back into the family tree for Dean Jarrett. Railroading had been in the family for many years, but it was many jobs, multiple opportunities, and more than 20 years before it finally came to pass.

Deans's mother married a railroad conductor named Dale Goad who gave Dean a heads-up on upcoming hiring. Dale, a former Southern Pacific employee in Pine Bluff, had seen the changeover to Union Pacific a few years earlier and had worked as a switchman/conductor for many years. Dale’s brother, Ralph Goad also was a long-time railroad employee.

In October 2002, Dean received a call that he had been hired. Instantly, his thoughts went to his long-time partner and brother-in-law, Roy West, who was driving trucks locally, as Dean also had done. By 2004, both men were working as switchmen/conductors for Union Pacific in Pine Bluff and Little Rock.

The background that found these two men working together started in Paducah, Ky., between 1910-1917. Dean’s great grandfather, William H. (WH) Morrison, was first a farmer, then worked for the ICRR and finished as a MoPac switchman. Morrison also served as the local chairman for the switchman’s union.

At the same time on another branch of the Jarrett family tree, another great-grandfather, John R. Jarrett, began railroad life with the Iron Mountain RR in Northeast Arkansas around 1916. The Iron Mountain merged with Missouri Pacific in 1917 and by 1920, Jarrett, like Morrison, had also moved his family to the McGehee, Ark., area. He worked for MoPac as machinist until retirement. Due to lung problems, John retired from the railroad in 1948.

Life brought these two men together in McGehee, Ark., but little did they realize at the time, what a railroad legacy they had started. The Morrison clan produced several part-time workers until each grew up and moved away for college and other jobs.

Margaret Morrison, stayed in the McGehee area and married Ezra Jarrett (son of John Jarrett), who hired into the MoPac family around 1936. Ezra worked as a Switchman until he retired following a heart attack in 1958. During this same era, John Jarrett’s branch of the tree also produced two son-in-laws who both worked for MoPac as Switchman in McGehee. They were Bonnie Collins and Ed Short.

By the time Ezra had retired, his eldest son, Sonny Jarrett was working for MoPac as a clerk. One year later, another of Ezra’s sons, Tommy “TR” Jarrett started a life-long career as a fireman and later engineer for MoPac. During Tommy’s career, Union Pacific took over the Missouri Pacific line in Arkansas. Tommy retired in 1991.

Beginning in the early 1900s, a direct 95-year railroad line can be followed through Dean Jarrett’s family. Two railroad families blended into one around 1930 and produced a 5 generation line that has also seen different railroad lines blend into one. Dean lived close by the railroading life for many years before actually stepping into it in 2002. In January 2011, a fifth generation railroader joined the Union Pacific line.

Dean’s son, Deno Jarrett currently works as a switchman/conductor on the extra board in the Pine Bluff, Ark., rail yard. Dean and his brother-in-law/long-time friend still enjoy working together on a daily basis where both work as conductors on the Little Rock, Ark., to Dexter, Mo., trips. Maybe in a few years, seniority will allow Deno to join his dad and uncle on the north end. Only time will tell if any more railroaders will be produced by this one long-connected family.

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2
1916-2012
Historical Events, Family, Working at UP
Pine Bluff, AR-McGehee, AR
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