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England, 1852

My grandfather, John Christopher Halton, was born on March 15, 1827, in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. He left home at the age of about 16 as a result of a dispute with his father over what trade he should follow. He ran off to London and rode as a jockey while getting an education as a civil engineer. At the age of 25, in 1852, he came to America on a three month sailing voyage, accompanied by one of his brothers who later returned to England. He first worked in underwater construction in New York where he married my Scottish grandmother, later moving to Chicago where he continued to work in tunneling and dredging. He was granted a patent, which I now have, on a dredging machine.


When the first railroad was started into East Texas, he came to Texas and designed and supervised the construction of all bridges and trestles. In April 1875, construction had progressed to Hearne, Texas, where my father was born. That railroad was temporarily terminated at Round Rock, Texas, just outside Austin, and my grandfather retired there. Then in the early 1880’s a railroad was built from Austin to Marble Falls for the purpose of hauling granite for the construction of the capitol. Halton then came out of retirement to build the structures on that line.

Gretchen Morgan, stories at immigrantjourneys Dot com, P.O. Box 661467, Sacramento, CA 95866-1467

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