EDMOND -- Remember the mournful sound of a train whistle? If that sound ever made you want to head off to somewhere on an adventure, you won’t want to miss the program at Edmond Genealogy Society meeting Monday evening Oct. 15 to be presented by Sandie Olson of Waynoka.
Harvey Girls -- and guys -- worked in Fred Harvey Restaurants along the Santa Fe Railroad. Some who worked in Waynoka were locals, others were sent by the company. The Harvey House at Waynoka was in operation from 1910 till 1937 and Ms Olson was instrumental in the building’s preservation.
Waynoka was the center for Santa Fe (AT&SF) Railroad and also by 1930 the center of the Transcontinental Air Transport led by Charles Lindbergh. Crossing America, travelers would sleep in Pullman cars on trains by night and fly on TAT's Ford Tri-Motor planes by day.
One of your female ancestors may have been a Harvey Girl. Fred Harvey's biggest challenge was not delivering fresh food to his far-flung outposts but finding reliable help. So he placed advertisements in the East and the Midwest for single "young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent."
These women became the famed Harvey Girl waitresses, trained in rules of etiquette and given black-and-white uniforms befitting a nun. Humorist Will Rogers once said Harvey and his young servers "kept the West in food and wives." Indeed, one estimate put the number of Harvey Girls who wound up as brides of western cowboys and railroadmen at 20,000.
Mrs. Harvey met each girl as she was hired. Paid $17.50 a month, this was a dream job for many who were unable to cope with the burgeoning populations of big cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia. So many Harvey Girls, always respectable, became the wife to a customer.
One railroad baron said "The Harvey House was not only a good place to eat; it was the Cupid of the Rails". It is estimated that more than 100,000 girls worked for Harvey House restaurants and hotels and of those, 20,000 married their regular customers.
Sandie Olson is quite familiar with the history of the railroad industry. So, growing up in that atmosphere with the sound of the trains always in her ears, it seems natural she would become president of the Waynoka Historical Society, member of the board of Oklahoma Historical Society and a member of Oklahoma Museums Association, along with many other honors including being inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame.
Edmond genealogy meetings, which are free and open to the public, meet at the Edmond Historical Museum, 431 S Boulevard, with a social time at 6 pm, program begins promptly at 6:30. The EGS meets on the third Monday evening of each month, with speakers on subjects of interest to genealogists; membership is open to anyone interested in historical or genealogical research.
For more info on EGS, refer to http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~okegs/.