The Canal - Railroad Honor Roll
The Panama Canal Review - May 4, 1951


"Yesterday morning Lieutenant Brooke, nephew of General Brooke, U.S.A., in accordance with instructions of the United States Government took possession of the New Panama Canal Company's property on the Isthmus and OLD GLORY was hoisted at the central office of the extinct French Company in this city, thus publicly demonstrating that the transfer had taken place.

The old employees of the Company have been requested to continue in their present positions until further notice."

- Star & Herald, May 5, 1904


This brief notice was the only description or explanation of this historic event of 47 years ago today, marking the start of the greatest single enterprise of its nature ever undertaken up to that time by the United States Government. The same amount of space was devoted to the event in the Spanish language section of Panama's oldest newspaper, while only one paragraph was used to tell the story in French - the paper then being trilingual.

Oddly, another name now featured in world news appeared side-by-side with the Canal story. It was a column-length story describing the crossing of the Yalu River by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War.

The ceremony marking the transfer of the second French Canal Company's rights and properties occurred at 7:30 o'clock on the morning of May 4, 1904. It took place at the Company's headquarters located in the building then known as the Hotel de la Compagnie which is now the Panama Post Office Building [Ed: Now - in 1998 - this building is a museum about the Panama Canal].

Lieutenant Mark Brooke was selected to represent his Government in the absence of Maj. William M. Black, then in charge of an engineering party on the Isthmus, who had just sailed for New York. The formal transfer was somewhat hastily arranged after clearance in Paris of the final legal technicality of approval by the stockholders in the New French Canal Company.

The famous forty-million-dollar receipt was signed in English, French, and Spanish by Lieutenant Brooke and the resident director of the French Canal Company.

The simplicity of the ceremony which launched the Canal work contrasted sharply with the scenes of feverish activity soon to take place on the Isthmus. It was much the same as if a monument had been placed on time itself to mark the beginning of a decade of almost unbelievable man-made miracles.

There were more doubters than believers then about the Panama Canal. The initiation of the project had even been in doubt up until a short time before the young Second Lieutenant of the Corps of Engineers signed the $40,000,000 receipt.

Few believed that yellow fever and other pestilences endemic to the Isthmus could be eradicated; that a 50-mile trench wide and deep enough for ocean liners could be dug through treacherous muck and hard rock; that an earth dam could be safely built to hold back the largest artificial lake then ever planned; that steel and cement could be fashioned into monumental locks for the waterway; that steel plates and girders could be pieced together into gate leaves weighing several hundred tons.

These things, never before seen, required men of vision. They required men and women who were not faint-hearted. They were found.

They came from many nations, from the United States and Panama, from Jamaica and St. Kitts, from Barbados and Guadeloupe, from France and England, Italy, and Spain, the Philippines and Alaska, China and India, and from the countries of Central and South America.

The names of 69 of those from the United States are listed below in an honor roll of the Canal-Railroad organization. They are still working for the enterprise which they helped to build and saw brought into being.

They are the handful left of the army of men and women who formed the white-coated fumigation and sanitation squads, built towns, cleared jungle, swung the steam shovels, loaded dynamite, manned the Lidgerwood cars, invented electric mules, taught school, kept books, wrote records, policed the area, or did any of the thousand other jobs required.

This honor roll of Canal veterans was cut by one-third during the past year and only one of those whose names are listed had entered the service when Teddy Roosevelt visited the Isthmus.

The complete list of veterans of the Canal construction who came to the Isthmus from the United States and the dates they entered service are as follows. Names of employees in capital letters indicate unbroken service and those marked (*) are holders of the famous Roosevelt Medal indicating two or more years of continuous construction service.


1906
*Harold A. Shafer - Aug. 10
*Vincent G. Raymond - Dec. 16

1907
*Florence E. Williams - March 1

1908
*Esbon S. MacSparran - June 22
*Charles P. Morgan - October 26

1909
*J. Wendell Greene - May 5
*JOHN R. WILLIAMS - May 14
Andrien Marie Bouche - July 2
*John E. Ridge - Oct. 20

1910
*George H. Cassell - Jan. 29
*Julius H. Bornefeld - Feb. 4
*LEON A. KOPERSKI - Feb. 14
*Frank J. Gerchow - March 4
*Raymond B. Ward - June 13
*Raymond A. Koperski - June 27
*William R. Howe - July 1
*ALBERT C. GARLINGTON - Nov. 26
Myron R. Herrington - Dec. 23

1911
*ERNEST C. COTTON - Feb. 20
*William P. Quinn - May 24
Lea K. Dugan - June 6
Herbert T. Souder - July 15
*Charles Lester - Aug. 18
*GEORGE N. ENGELKE - Sept. 5
*Bernard W. McIntyre - Sept. 28
Melville L. Booz - Oct. 2
*Gregor Gramlich - Oct. 14
*Berney J. Robinson - Oct. 30

1912
Samuel J. Deavours - March 1
Gustaf R. Holmelin - March 13
*Gilbert B. Owne - March 22
Josephine R. Dennis - April 6
Harland V. Howard - April 22
*Robert W. Hutchings - April 26
*Fred Frank - June 1
George F. Miller - June 28
Alba D. Hutchings - Aug. 19
Thomas J. Breheney - Nov. 1
*Edward W. Schnake - Nov. 26
George C. Orr - Dec. 5
ARTHUR MORGAN - DEC. 16

1913
Otto A. Sundquist - Jan. 15
Jerome F. Prager - Feb. 3
Bernard J. McDaid - Feb. 19
SAMUEL ROE - Feb. 28
Leonidas H. Morales H. - March 1
ADAM S. MILLER - April 14
David W. Ellis - June 11
Arthur J. Farrell - June 11
Edward P. Walsh - July 1
George E. Matthew - July 2
Otto C. Frick - July 2
Robert I. Barnes - July 3
JOHN W. MANUSH - July 5
EMMETT ZEMER - July 10
HARRY A. COMLEY - July 14
Harold P. Bevington - Aug. 16
Newell N. Shaw - Oct. 4
Eric E. Forsman - Nov. 4
Wayne H. Nellis - Nov. 17
WALTER W. WHITE - Nov. 18
Bert G. Tydeman - Nov. 22
Mal LeRoy Dodson - Dec. 10
William V. Brugge - Dec. 17

1914
JAMES G. MAGUIRE - Jan. 20
LEON F. HALLETT - Feb. 14
Clarendon Sealy - March 6
Mary G. Hammond - March 24
Samuel L. Souder - March 24


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December 19, 1998
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