Transcribed from Portland, Oregon Oregonian, 29 June, 1890, p. 1. by Stephenie Todd:




At the Lick House, San Francisco, Yesterday Morning




He Began Railroading When Eighteen Years of Age




Account of His Railroad Career - Personal and Family History -

Tribute to His Character - Temporary Successor Appointed


At half-past 2 o’clock yesterday morning Mr. John Brandt, superintendent of the Southern Pacific lines in Oregon, died at the Lick house in San Francisco. He was on his way home, accompanied by his wife, Miss Susie Woodard and Miss Susie Royce. After attending the theater Friday night he retired at the hotel, and between 1 and 2 o’clock awoke with a violent fit of coughing, which lasted until he died.


John Brandt was born at Lancaster, Pa., July 4, 1824, and therefore near to his 66th birthday. He began railroading in 1842, entering the employ of the State road, from Philadelphia to Columbia, as fireman.

From 1843 to 1846 he was engineer on the New York and Erie; from 1849 to 1853, assistant superintendent of motive power on the Susquehanna & Pennsylvania. The next two years he was assistant superintendent of the New Jersey locomotive and machine works at Paterson, NJ In 1855 he took the superintendency of the Lancaster, Pa., locomotive works. Beginning with 1857, he was for eleven years general superintendent of the Cincinnati & Chicago Air Line; afterwards the Chicago & Great Eastern.

Mr. Brandt came to the coast in 1872, and was engaged by Ben Holladay, then president of the Oregon & California railroad, as master mechanic, and afterwards general superintendent of the road, remaining in the service of the company and the lessee companies of the Oregon & California up to the time of his death.


Mr. Brandt was three times married. His first marriage was to Miss Maggie Bartow at Tappan, N.Y. The second to Maggie Spinney at Richmond, Ind. The third to Matilda Harriet Collins at Portland, April 13, 1881. Two children survive the first marriage, John Maurice Brandt, who is in the East somewhere, being of a roving disposition, and Mrs. Jennie Knapp of Tappan, N.Y. The third child of this marriage was Mrs. Maggie Rapp, who died at Roseburg three years ago, leaving a little son. Mr. Brandt’s only other child was by his second wife, a son, William Judson Brandt, now in the employ of the company as brakeman. Mr. Brandt has a brother, A. Brandt, master mechanic of the Southern Pacific; he has a sister, Mrs. Park of Brooklyn. Mr. Fred Currier married a sister of Mr. Brandt’s wife and the two families have their home at Eighth and Washington.


It has been a hard winter on Superintendent Brandt. The heavy disasters in the way of storm, flood and mountain slides, which relentlessly pursued the Southern Pacific the past winter and spring, fell with peculiar weight of care, anxiety and added labor to his office. Then there was a recurring pain in the region of his heart, which he was told was caused by indigestion. The fact that he had heart disease, and from that organ the blood came which he raised in his coughing spells, was kept from him by his devoted family and physician. Those who met him day by day, except the few who knew the secret, would never have supposed that his sturdy-looking form was at all times on the brink of the grave, so manfully did he meet and discharge his duties, so uncomplainingly did he bear his sufferings, going into the heart of the snow blockade in the dead of winter and personally directing the gangs of snow shovellers in the mountain drifts.

About the last of May, however, he decided to go to California for his health, and on Tuesday, June 4, went on a leave of absence to Paraiso Springs, thence to Monterey. All reports received from him were encouraging, and even yesterday Mrs. Currier received a letter from Mrs. Brandt saying that he was a great deal better, and that they should be home at once. Last Thursday he telegraphed to have his private car sent below as he was ready to return. The car went out on the overland Friday afternoon, and the calculation was to reach Portland next Thursday. His death yesterday morning resulted from his heart trouble, aggravated by the violence of his coughing.

The remains are now being embalmed in San Francisco, and will leave for the north this afternoon. They will be accompanied by Mrs. Brandt and her two nieces, Misses Woodard and Royce. Mr. Fred Currier and wife left yesterday afternoon overland, accompanied by Messrs. A. Thomas and F.O.. Downing, friends of the family. They will meet the train at Redding, accompanying it north to Portland.


John Brandt was one of the best known railroad men in the United States, among whom he ranked high for competency and efficiency. He had the highest esteem of his superiors as well as his subordinates. No man was juster in his dealing, braver in the discharge of his duty or kindlier in his intercourse. To newspaper men he was distinctly courteous and possessed a quality of frankness and cordiality which left no doubt of the truth of his statements. There is generally a reticence about railroad men when questioned as to important business which often leads them to misrepresent facts. This Mr. Brandt never did. His own innate honor gave him confidence in others, and his candor was a guarantee that no man would abuse his confidence.

Few men possessed in a greater degree the domestic quality. No time that duty permitted him to spend at his home was denied it; and few men are more devotedly loved by their family than he. It was his special desire to be home to celebrate his birthday next Friday, and on this account he set an earlier date for returning than was proposed by others. His death creates a vacancy in his office and in his home, which in the one case will be difficult and in the other impossible to fill and no one who knew the brave old man can help being made better by the remembrance of his sturdy honesty and loyalty to duty and home.

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