When St. Clair Lodge 241, Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen (name later changed to Trainmen) was organized on September 16, 1886, at Fort Gratiot, Mich., Henry Granger was elected treasurer. Sophia J. Granger, his wife, became interested in lodge work. She had hopes of forming an auxiliary of wives, sisters and mothers of members from Lodge 241.
Mrs. Granger called the ladies together and formed a literary society. After a while, the ladies realized they needed to be in touch with the brotherhood and arranged for a ball to raise funds. They changed the name of the literary club to Cicilian Circle, meaning a dancing circle. The ball was a huge success and raised $200. With the urging of Mrs. Granger, the ladies decided they wanted an auxiliary to the brotherhood and sent a petition to Grand Lodge for a charter.
In 1888 the request was brought to the brotherhood’s convention at Columbus, Ohio. A charter was granted from the brotherhood to form a Grand Lodge, Ladies Auxiliary, Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen.
A wire was sent to Mrs. Granger, stating that the first petition presented and signed by 25 ladies would be granted a charter. The next day a petition was sent with 27 names.
On January 23, 1889, the Grand Lodge of Ladies Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen was organized at Fort Gratiot, Mich., by Brother W. W. Wilkinson, Grand Master. All expenses were paid by the brotherhood.
The preparation of the constitution, bylaws and ritual was tedious. The success in organizing has been attributed to the untiring efforts of Sophia P. Granger and the assistance of the brotherhood. Sister Granger designed the emblem of Auxiliary, the eight-pointed star with clasped hands, encircled by golden rays, and the first hymn. These have never changed.
The first subordinate lodge was organized at Fort Gratiot, Mich., Golden Star Lodge No. 1, June 19, 1889. On June 22, 1892, the first Canadian lodge, Maple Leaf Lodge No. 9, was organized in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
In 1925, an Auxiliary home was established in Evanston, Ill., financed by a twenty-five cent (.25) assessment. Due to the small number of members taking advantage of it and changes in city health rules and regulations, the home was sold in 1962 to the Swedish Home, Inc.
The name of the Auxiliary was changed to Ladies Auxiliary of the United Transportation Union, March 10, 1970, when the BRT merged with three other rail brotherhoods to form the UTU. A charter was granted for the Ladies Auxiliary from the UTU.
Following action at the 1998 Auxiliary convention, on January 1, 1999, the word “Ladies” was dropped from the name, thus creating an opportunity for spouses of female employees, and male relatives, to join the “Auxiliary of the United Transportation Union.”
Peak numbers in membership were reached in the 1950s. Today, the Auxiliary has a membership of about 5,350 in 160 lodges in the United States and Canada.
In 1925, offices of legislative representatives and alternates were created in subordinate lodges. Many benefits have been derived from the UTU and Auxiliary legislative departments. The Auxiliary supports UTU PAC with continuous contributions and encourages close association with the UTU on legislative issues.
Today, the Auxiliary still works arm in arm with the UTU. Its continued support, guidance, interest, and assistance are greatly appreciated in Auxiliary deliberations.
Through voluntary lodge contributions, the Auxiliary was able to present two seeing-eye guide dogs, which included the cost of training both the dog and recipient, and a $25,000 aortic heart pump to the Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. In the 1980’s, a large amount was donated to cancer research from the sale of cookbooks.
Sophia J. Granger laid the ground work for the Auxiliary over 100 years ago: “May we strive to carry on the work with renewed faith, to build membership, continue legislative and charitable work and be ever mindful of our motto: Truth, honor and sincerity.”