Eckert, Thomas Thompson
- Edward Hagerman
Eckert, Thomas Thompson (23 April 1825–20 October 1910), telegrapher and business and military manager, was born at St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio, where his father was a farmer. His parents’ names are unknown. Eckert married Emma D. Whitney (date unknown), with whom he had two children. After a common school education, Eckert went to New York, building on a youthful interest in telegraphy as an operator with the Morse Telegraph Company. Eckert’s early initiatives as a telegrapher and organizer caught the attention of his second employer, J. H. Wade, owner of the Wade Telegraph Company. While working as one of Wade’s operators in Wooster, Ohio, Eckert managed to get appointed local postmaster and connected the telegraph wire with his post office, combining the two jobs. Wade in 1852 made Eckert superintendent of the newly completed Pittsburgh and Chicago branch line of the Union Telegraph Company, of which Wade, residing in Chicago, was president. Eckert held this position, which was expanded when the line was taken over by Western Union, until 1859, when he resigned to manage a gold mining company in North Carolina until the outbreak of the Civil War. Early in the Civil War the assistant secretary of war, made aware of Eckert’s talents, placed him in charge of General in Chief ...