William Wallace Atterbury

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William Wallace Atterbury
William Wallace Atterbury 9722409e77 o.jpg
c. 1913
Member of the
Republican National Committee
from Pennsylvania
In office
May 12, 1928 – October 10, 1930
Preceded by George Pepper
Succeeded by Jay Cooke
Personal details
Born (1866-01-31)January 31, 1866
New Albany, Indiana
Died September 20, 1935(1935-09-20) (aged 69)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Matilda Hoffman of Fort Wayne, Ind. (November 13, 1895 – her death in 1910)
Arminia (Rosengarten) MacLeod (June 10, 1915 – his death)
Children three McLeod children he adopted
William W. Atterbury, Jr.
Alma mater Sheffield Scientific School (1886)

William Wallace Atterbury (January 31, 1866 – September 20, 1935)[1][2] was an American Brigadier General during World War I. He was instrumental in reorganizing railroad traffic during the war for more efficient transportation of troops and supplies for the American Expeditionary Forces. After the war, he became the tenth president of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) (1925–1935). He was a leader in pushing to electrify portions of the PRR.

Early life and education[edit]

Atterbury was born in New Albany, Indiana on January 31, 1866.[3] He attended Yale University, Class of 1886,[3] where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity.

Early career[edit]

He started as an apprentice in the Pennsylvania Railroad shops at Altoona for five cents/hour.[2][4]

On May 8, 1912, he was named vice president in charge of operations for the Pennsylvania Rail Road.[3]

During World War I[edit]

During World War I, he constructed and operated military railways in France. He received his promotion to Brigadier general on October 5, 1917. He retired from service on May 31, 1919.[3]

After the war[edit]

He was a Pennsylvania delegate to the 1920 Republican National Convention.

In 1925, he succeeded Samuel Rea as president of the Pennsylvania Rail Road, a position he held until he retired in 1935.[3]

Atterbury was also active in Republican State politics. In 1928,[5] he was elected the state's Republican National Committeeman, though he resigned from the post two years later in opposition to Gifford Pinchot's gubernatorial candidacy.[6]

Awards and decorations[edit]

For his work he was awarded: Distinguished Service Medal, Commander of the Legion of Honor (France); Companion of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath (England); Commander of the Royal Order of the White Eagle (Serbia), and Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown (Romania).[7]

Atterbury on the cover of Time Magazine in 1933.

A plaque commemorating the career of William Wallace Atterbury, hanging in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, a former Pennsylvania Railroad Station.


Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Indiana, is named for him, as was, for a time, Atterbury Army Airfield.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Noted rail head, native of city" (PDF). New Albany Tribune. September 21, 1935. Retrieved 2011-06-26.  cited at New Albany Floyd County Public Library.
  2. ^ a b "William Wallace Atterbury". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1944. Gale Document Number: GALE|BT2310018570. Retrieved June 26, 2011 – via Fairfax County Public Library. (subscription required) Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ a b c d e Who's Who (1975).
  4. ^ "Business: Atterbury for Rea". Time (magazine). September 28, 1925. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  5. ^ "Pepper Refuses Place As Contest Chairman". The Baltimore Sun. June 1, 1928. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Atterbury Bolts Pinchot Candidacy". The New York Times. October 10, 1930. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Biography". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
George Pepper
Member of the Republican National Committee from Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Jay Cooke
Other offices
Preceded by
Samuel Rea
President of the Pennsylvania Railroad
Succeeded by
Martin Clement