Robert Walter Skinner (1859-1934) was an engineer for Erie Railroad on the Port Jervis, New York to Jersey City, New Jersey run. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
He had the following siblings: Abner J. Skinner (1857-1929) who married Sarah M. Pond (1863-); Algernon Skinner (1867-1943) who worked for the Erie Railroad and married Mary (Mamie) Caufield (1875-c1920) and after her death married Nora Belle Piatt (1874-c1955); Flora M. Skinner (1867-1934) who married William Handrim; Grace Estelle Skinner (1870-1934) who married Frederick Jacob Balmos (1867-1932); and Clarence V. Skinner (1877-1902).
- He appears in the Erie Railroad List of Engineers as living or working in Matamoras, Pike County, Pennsylvania. His biography appears in the American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition, H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 1899:
Robert W. Skinner was born at Port Orange, Orange County, New York, on August 27, 1859, and after attending school at the place of his birth up to about the age of 15 he entered upon his first employment as a teamster at Westbrookville, and followed up this business afterward by driving for his grandfather, A. J. Skinner, at Port Orange. Subsequent to this he was employed on a canal boat between Port Orange and New York for a brief period, and also worked for Pluck and Godefroy upon their properties. He next moved to Oakland Valley, and for a time drove a team for Ben Case, and then came to Port Jervis, putting in his first season at that place as driver of an ice-wagon. On February 14, 1883, he began work for the Erie as a fireman out of Port Jervis, his first engine being No. 623, and his first engineer being Robert Lang, the run being a freight run. He continued as a fireman -- taking whatever runs came to his lot, either freight or passenger -- for four years and eleven months, the last eleven months, however, being spent in continuous passenger service, this bringing his record up to January 6, 1888, on which date he was promoted to engineer. Since that time he has been an extra freight engineer between Port Jervis and Jersey City, and of late has also been extra passenger man. He has, at the present time, Engine No. 903 as his regular engine. During his service as a fireman he was identified with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and he still retains his membership in that brotherhood, but he has been for several years a member of Division 54 of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. He is also an Odd-Fellow, belonging to Tri-States Lodge No. 358, of Port Jervis, and is a member of the Epworth Methodist Episcopal church of Matamoras. Married in Forestburg, Sullivan county, New York, on September 27, 1877, to Miss Eliza J. Lilley, his family now consists of seven children, one son being at present employed at the stone crusher at Otisville, one daughter being employed at the silk mill at Port Jervis, and the rest of the family being at home, two of them being at school and two yet being too young for school attendance. Among other incidents of his experience as a fireman Mr. Skinner relates that while he was green in the business he went out on a trip with a conductor who was as green as he was, and -- the conductor being at the time on the engine -- something seemed to be the matter with the flues; the draft stopped, the fire door blew open, his hand was burned, the conductor got out on the step and was ready to jump, when it was discovered that the smoke-stack was stopped up, which, after all, did not prove to be a very serious catastrophe. Since he has been running as engineer he has had no accidents, and barring one time when -- an accident having happened at Middletown, and a great crowd being present to look at results -- he was more attentive to the crowd and its safety than to the switches, he ran off a switch, and got ten days for it, he has been free from any charge, and is not on the black books. Possibly owing to the fact that as a boy he had a great deal to do with horses Mr. Skinner is to this day a man very fond of horseflesh and, moreover, a very good judge of the same. This is one of the ways in which he passes the little leisure left him by his duties, a good share of the rest-in the spring, at least, being passed in the garden of his beautiful property at Matamoras.
- The following is from the October 1905 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Engineer Robert Skinner and Conductor E.R. Dunn have both proved that they can act with hard-headed sense. Away back in July last (1905) these two men running Train 28, eastbound, discovered that Bridge 34, near New Hampton, was afire. Mr. Skinner saw from his post in the cab of the 917 that the bridge was afire. He ran his train over the structure then came to an easy stop. Messrs. Dunn and Skinner organized an impromptu fire-brigade of the train crew -- Taylor, Sayer, Cockrill, Ketcham, Robbins and Quick -- and this little company after the hardest kind of hard work in the heat of a midsummer's day completely routed the flames. They not only saved the bridge but the Main Line of this railroad a severe and expensive blockade in the heighth of a busy time. Conductor Dunn has been working for the Erie since 1856. He has been on the line long enough to appreciate and to rise to such emergencies as this. Mr. Skinner has, himself, been with Erie for the much shorter period of twenty-two years. We see that he has acquired the Erie way of action.
- The following is from the March 1910 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine:
Engineer Robert W. Skinner, his wife and two sons. Claude and Russell, of Matamoras, have gone to Orlando, Fla., where they will visit Mr. Skinner's daughter, Mrs. Robert Carey. This is their third trip to the South, and was made over the Royal Blue Line, Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac and Atlantic Coast Line, a trip covering about 1,300 miles. Mr. Carey owns a large orange grove there, and 'Bobbie' always remembers the Erie 'boys' with some of the Southern fruits. Mr. Skinner and his family will be gone about a month.
Suffern, New York
In 1930 Robert and Eliza were living in Suffern, Rockland County owning their own home valued at $7,000 and he is listed as a "Locomotive Engineer, Railroad".
|Offspring of Robert W. Skinner and Eliza J. Lilley (c1859-) ¢|
|May Amelia Skinner (c1879-)|| |
|Claude Skinner (c1881-)|| |
|Russell Skinner (c1883-)|
He died on April 8, 1934 in Deland, Volusia, Florida.
Middletown Times Herald, Middletown, New York, Thursday, April 12, 1934: "Robert W. Skinner - Port Jervis. Robert W. Skinner, seventy-five, of Matamoras, retired as a locomotive engineer on the Erie Railroad since 1931, died Sunday at his Winter home at Lake Helen, Florida. His employment by the Erie began in 1883. Mr. Skinner was born in Port Orange, 1859, a son of James C. and Esther S. Skinner. He was a member of the Methodist church of Suffern; Elks, Patriotic Order, Sons of America; Junior Order of United American Mechanics and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, all of Port Jervis. Surviving relatives are his wife; four daughters, Mrs. Madie Reinert, of Matamoras, Mrs. Clara Carey of Lake Helen, Mrs. Nellie London of Matamoras and Mrs. Della D. Burnett of Kingstone; two sons, Claude R., of Matamoras, and J. Russell Skinner of Port Jervis; a brother, A.J. Skinner of Jersey City; nine grandchildren and four great grand-children. The body will be brought to the Elks' Home here today where it will remain until Friday at one o'clock. Services will be held at 2:30 at the Matamoras Methodist church with interment in Pine Grove cemetery, Matamoras."
- Robert Walter Skinner Erie Railroad information