How much is your finger worth?

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To my grandfather Earl Higginbotham, his finger was worth $307.04 back in 1919, when he was about 19 years old.

I came across these two letters from the U.S. Railroad Administration in the last batch of letters my Uncle Charlie gave me.

Then I found this reply from Earl’s father, Rufus F. Higginbotham Jr. to Mr. Jim McPhetridge of the US. Railroad Administration settling for the amount of $307.04.

I never knew my grandfather worked for the Railroad. I had found several pictures and postcards of his from when he was in Kansas City, but I had no idea what he was doing there.

After I found these letters I asked my Dad if he knew that his father Earl had worked for the Railroad, and if knew about any injury, and he replied, “Oh yes! I sure did. Daddy worked for the Railroad and one evening they stopped the boxcars in Mena. Daddy grabbed the side of the boxcar and jumped down, his ring caught on something on the boxcar, and his ring ripped his finger off. He could not get any help until they got back in Texarkana, and he lost his finger.”

I had never noticed in any of the pictures of my grandfather that his finger was missing, so I went back through them all, and I found only two photos in which you can tell his finger is missing.

Just looking at this one without knowing the story, I would have thought it was just tucked under.

This is my grandfather with my father’s first cousin, Lou Ann Brock Brown, you can see his finger is missing in this one really well.

I love finding these letters, I love the fact that the first letter up above, even mentions Earl’s grandfather, Justice Higginbotham, and about all the places that he tried to find my grandfather at.

Thank you, Uncle Charlie! These letters are a true treasure!


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