by: Martha Louise (Lewis) Hudgins

After talking with my sisters, Mary Love and Ann, I will try to write something about our father's life while he was serving as depot agent in Offerman, Georgia.

William Jesse Lewis started working in Offerman as station agent for the railroad in February 1926.  He worked from 8:00am to 4:00pm, seven days a week.  He continued there until he resigned due to illness in August 1943.  He died in October of that year at 54 years of age. 

Offerman was the rail crossroads with the  ACL Line going north and south and the AB&C line going east and west.  Some of Daddy's responsibilities included working big, heavy levers which enabled the trains to switch freight cars onto the siding so they could be transferred from one line to the other.  He was the freight agent and would order merchandise for folks around the area.  When the goods arrived they would be stored at the depot until the buyer came to pick them up.  The buyer would pay him and he would then forward the money to the selling company, forward a commission to the railroad to cover services rendered in his handling of the matter.

It was also his duty to closely monitor each train as it went by to see that the wheels were not on fire.  Should he spot a "hot box," he would signal the conductor on the caboose who notified the engineer to stop the train so that they could walk to the wheel and repair it before further damage occurred.

Daddy was also the telegrapher and could type the telegraph message onto his typewriter with two fingers as it was being received by Morse code.  He sent and received many message each day by way of the telegraph key.

Daddy was also the ticket agent.  Passengers going to and from the coast or to other areas would buy a ticket from him.  Many people rode the railroad in those days, and passenger trains came through several times a day.

As a small child, I remember Daddy standing really close to the speeding train and handing the engineer messages by way of a round hoop with a long handle.  The engineer would grab the hoop with his arm, take off the message, then drop the hoop on the ground a short distance from the station so that it could be retrieved and used again.

Mary Love remembers when President Franklin D. Roosevelt came through Offerman.  The train went very slowly and many people from all around the area gathered to get a glimpse of the famous president who waved to the crowd as he went by.

Our father took his work very seriously.  He was always punctual and did his job to the best of his ability.  It has been my pleasure to list just some of his duties which I hope will give an insight into his life and times during those years.

Martha Louise Lewis Hudgins
                          Septmber13, 1997