Home > Meigs Elevated Railway

Joe Vincent Meigs Obituary 
Meigs Elevated Railway News


Famous as Inventor of Single Track "L."

Early in War Suggested Use of Colored Troops

Induced to Come North by Gen Butler.

"Capt Joe Vincent Meigs, inventor of the Meigs single track elevated railroad, died last night at his home 22 Cordis st, Charlestown, of cerebral hemorrhage.

Capt Meigs was stricken after he had retired last Thursday and was found in bed unconscious by a member of the household where he had boarded for the past few years. Dr. P. N. Roy, a next door neighbor, was called, and a message was sent to his son Dr. Joe V. Meigs of Lowell, who was visiting in the south, acquainting him of his father's sickness. Dr. Meigs hurried home and was in constant attendance at his father bedside until the end came last night.

Capt Meigs is survived by three sons, Dr Joe V. of Lowell, Dr Return J., who also was in attendance at his father's bedside, and Benjamin V. Meigs.

The funeral will be held Saturday at 2, from Dr Joe V. Meigs' home, 115 10th st, Lowell. The burial will be private.

Joe Vincent Meigs was born in Nasheville, Tenn, in 1840, the son of Return Jonathan Meigs, a distinguished lawyer of whom President Lincoln was especially fond, and who was nominated by him for the bench of the U S supreme court.

The mother of Joe Meigs was Sally Keyes Love, a Tennessee belle, a cultured woman, who lived to perform noble deeds. She was heiress to several slaves, which in the course of events fell to her legal share, but which she refused to take, saying that she did not own them, or any one else, and so she set them free of their own accord. This was long before the war.

For years she went about with her servant among the indigent poor, distributing food and clothing, and when she died, in 1858, the whole town of Nashville turned out to do her memory honor. It is said to have been a touching sight to see her beloved people following her remains. Capt Meigs, in speaking of his mother, said:

'I can never mentioned her without moistened eyes, for she was to me, and to all who knew her, the most beautiful woman in body and soul I ever knew.'

A good part of the early life of Joe Meigs was passed in the south. He was connected with the war department when the first shot was fired upon Sumter, and it was he who suggested to Sec Stanton the advisability of organizing colored troops to occupy the block of houses throughout the Tennessee region, and it fell to his duty to organize and command the first negro battery-A, the first light artillery in the U S service.

It was during his campaign there that he fell into a rifle pit and injured one lung for life.

Capt Meigs was married during the war in '64 to Eugenie Shaffer of Nashville.

Soon after the war Capt and Mrs. Meigs took up a residence in Washington, where he was an employee in practice in the court of claims; then he "fell in" with Gen B. F. Butler, who induced him to come to New England to live. With his family he came to Lowell, and purchased the residence adjoining that of the late general.

For the past few years he had lived in Charlestown.

Capt Meigs' invention, the single-track elevated railroad, created great public interest about 13 years ago when a demonstration section was erected in Cambridge and models were displayed in many of the business places of this city.

Capt Meigs made himself a decidedly familiar figure in about Boston for years in his appearances before committees of the legislature to argue for his system connected him with almost every piece of legislation on this subject.

He was modest and quiet, but energetic, with a great knowledge of rail-roading details and the possibilities of quick transportation over short distances."

Source: Boston Globe, November 15, 1907


Meigs Elevated Railway
Copyright © 2020 CelebrateBoston.com