Thomas Jefferson Frederick: First Black Engineer for Florida East Coast Railway

Gigi Tinsley | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.
Thomas Jefferson Frederick, Jr. was born in Andersonville, GA to the parentage of the late Thomas Jefferson Frederick, Sr. and ...
Thomas Frederick and Mrs. Eucola Frederick

Thomas Jefferson Frederick, Jr. was born in Andersonville, GA to the parentage of the late Thomas Jefferson Frederick, Sr. and Mary Lou Kegler on October 21, 1921. His academics started in the Public School System of Sumter County, GA. At the age of 17, he moved to Miami. He became a member of Salters Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1940 and remained until his death, currently under the spiritual leadership of Pastor Mildred Roscoe.

Tom Frederick and Joel Stephens July 1985.

Tom Frederick and Joel Stephens July 1985.

On September 21, 1941, he began his career with the Florida East Coast Railway as a Hose Cutter. In 1943, he was called to active military duty. In the army, Frederick became a Military Policeman, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant of the 3028th Brigade. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to his former position on the railway as Hose Cutter. He was promoted to the position of Locomotive Fireman in 1950, before qualifying as the First Black Locomotive Engineer.

In February 1965, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became the law of the land, Frederick was promoted. In 1979, he became Superintendent Road/Foreman of Engineers. Thus, becoming, the first Black American to accomplish these feats with the FEC Railway Co. Frederick retired in 1985.

One of Frederick’s sons, Samuel Frederick, Sr. “worked for the railway for a couple of years as well. He thinks highly of his father and all of his many accomplishments.

“My father, my dad, was excellent in morals and character,” said Samuel, his caregiver for the last few years of his life. “He never gossiped about anyone. He was firm but fair with everyone he came in contact with,”he added.

Frederick was married to Eucola for over 43 years. She died August 2008. She was disinterred and buried with her husband.

He leaves to cherish his legacy and mourn their loss, three sons. In addition to Samuel, the youngest, there is Robert L. Hall and Clarence Frederick of Miami and Jacksonville, respectively; six grandchildren: Arnold-Arnez Johnson, Duluth, GA, who hosted a comedy show on Comedy Central and other comedy venues, Bertha Johnson, Kansas City, MO, Linda Johnson, Kissimmee, FL, Emanuel Johnson, Aurora, CO, Samuel, Frederick, Jr. and Maurice Booker, Miami; one brother, Emanuel Frederick, Miami; three sisters: Lucille Grover, Oglethorpe, GA, Ann Frederick, Americus, GA and Mary Lou Rogers, Ellaville, GA; two sisters-in-law, Bessie and Rose Ann Frederick; one niece, Wanda Frederick, other relatives and friends.