HONOURING MAXTON STATION AGENT
This is a reprint of an article published in the Kelso Chronicle of 20th March 1908. A framed copy of this article, which had been specially reprinted, and probably presented to the Jessiman family, was found on a stall at the Market at East Linton. It was bought and was given to Irvine Roy of Livingston, a relative of a later agent. He sent it to the Maxton ‘Old & New’ Exhibition, after which it was returned.
Several weeks ago, when it became known that Mr Jessiman, station agent here, was about to retire under the age limit regulations, a movement was set on foot to present him with a testimonial, and a committee was formed to carry this into effect. The committee were:- Rev DD McKerron, (the Manse), Messrs JA Bell (Ploughlands), D Brown (Riddeltonhill), James Hogarth (Muirhouselaw), John Simpson (Maxton), and Thos. Boyd, The Schoolhouse, hon secretary. The appeal of the committee met with a most hearty and generous response, the sum of £42 being subscribed in a short time. It may be mentioned that Mr Jessiman has been altogether 40 years in the service of the North British Railway Company, 27 of these years being as agent at Maxton. The secretary received many letters from ladies and gentlemen of the neighbourhood, all speaking highly of the worth of Mr Jessiman and his unobtrusive courtesy and kindness. The presentation was arranged for Saturday evening, and Mrs Jessiman kindly invited the committee to supper in the Station House. Mr Boyd was called upon to take the chair, and the Rev DD McKerron was croupier. In addition to the committee several members of Mr Jessiman’s family and near relatives were present, viz:- Messrs John, Alexander, and Henry Jessiman, with Misses Helen, Mina, and Chrissie Jessiman; Mr Naughton, Edinburgh; and Mr and Mrs Steel, Greenlaw. After the large company had partaken of an excellent supper, and the usual toasts had been honoured, Mr Boyd was called upon to make the presentation, which took the form of a purse of £37 to Mr Jessiman (along with the names of the subscribers) and of £5 to Mrs Jessiman.
Mr Boyd said – “As the reason for our presence here tonight is patent to you all, I need not enlarge thereon. I content myself by stating that it is our purpose to present a testimonial to our worthy friend, Mr Jessiman, on his retiral from duty as station agent after 27 years of faithful and honourable service. (Applause.) It is always a pleasant thing to do honour to one whom we esteem, and the pleasure is greatly enhanced by the fact that it is shared by the whole body of the subscribers. Taking my duties as a labour of love, and assuredly it is so, I must carry you with me as I go along, and ask you to take up the burden of my song, which is ‘honour to the worthy’. (Applause.) I will not dilate on the many good services rendered by our friend, or the upright and manly conduct that has characterised his course through life, winning for him, as it has done, the esteem of everyone. As a friend, as a man, and as a public official, he has gained golden opinions. (Applause.) The greatest of all writers has well said that “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” But there is also the ebb tide, which no man can stay - the time when the “sere and yellow leaf” of age comes, and one is compelled to face the inevitable. It is not a time for sorrow, but rather of thankfulness that one has been permitted in health and strength to be able for active duty so long. (Hear, Hear.) Mr Jessiman can look back on the past and say, and that truly, that he has at all times endeavoured faithfully to discharge the work of his office, and he will also be cheered by the fact that his son is to succeed him at Maxton.” (Applause.) Turning to Mr Jessiman, Mr Boyd spoke thus:- “Mr Jessiman, my old friend, as one who has been very intimate with you during all the time you have been at Maxton, I think it an honour to be requested to hand over to you this purse of £37, as a token of the esteem and regard of the subscribers, and it is with the earnest hope that you and your worthy wife may have many years in store yet of health, comfort, and domestic happiness. (Applause.)
The applause was continued on Mr Jessiman rising to reply. He said:- “ I do feel at a loss to find words to express my warm thanks for the honour done me this night. The kind way in which Mr Boyd has referred to me has so touched me that I cannot utter half of what I feel and intended to say. This is a very trying ordeal for me, for the work which I have had pleasure in doing will now be undertaken by my son who succeeds me. You have, indeed, proved good and worthy friends, and I appreciate to the full your kindness. I may say that the memory of this evening will be fondly cherished by me and mine so long as life lasts. I have, as Mr Boyd said, endeavoured to do my duty, without fear or favour, and it is deeply gratifying to have my work over so long a period referred to so favourably. I feel that I can now view my retirement calmly, and can look forward cheerfully to some years of rest. (Applause.) It is a comfort to my wife and myself that I am to be succeeded by my son, who I trust will always try to be obliging to the public. He has duty by them as well as by the Company. Again, my good friends, I have to thank you for your kindness, as well as all the subscribers. If I have expressed myself inadequately – and I know that I have – I hope you will be good enough to understand my feelings, and duly pardon. (Applause.)
In handing over the present of £5 to Mrs Jessiman, Mr Boyd said that he had also known her for seven and twenty years, and had formed a high opinion of her as a wife and a mother. She had always been a worthy helpmate to her husband, in times of joy and in days of sorrow. Being of a bright temperament, she was like a ray of sunshine in her home. (Applause.) As a mother she had brought up a large family, and had much credit by them. Three of her sons were in South Africa, and were doing very well, and seven of her family were present that night to witness the honour shown their father and mother. It would be an incentive for them to follow in the footsteps of their parents. He (Mr Boyd) had great pleasure in handing to Mrs Jessiman the small gift of £5, with the best wishes of the subscribers for a continuation of health, happiness and comfort. (Applause.)
Replying on behalf of his mother, Mr John Jessiman said – “I desire to thank you for this very handsome gift. I cannot half express her thanks for the flattering words which Mr Boyd, my old teacher, has spoken of her. She appreciated the gift, the kindly feeling which prompted it, and the sentiments accompanying it, from the bottom of her heart, and she will never forget this honour as long as she lives. It is a most pleasant surprise, and my mother thanks you more than words can tell. (Applause.)
Mr JA Bell, Ploughlands, made a few apt remarks, stating that like Mr Boyd he had known Mr and Mrs Jessiman during all the years they had been at Maxton, and could honestly endorse all that had been said about their estimable qualities. Having had many dealings with Mr Jessiman, he had always found him an honest, upright and honourable man – one who attended faithfully to the interests of his employers, while keeping in touch with the public, who always received from him every courtesy and kindness. He (Mr Bell) desired to express and hope that comfort and happiness would follow the worthy couple for many years yet to come. (Applause.)
The next toast was in the capable hands of Mr McKerron, that of “The New Station Agent”, Mr John Jessiman. He (Mr McKerron) had not known Mr Jessiman so long as others, but he had formed a very high opinion of him as a friend and official. He was very pleased that the name of Jessiman was not to be lost sight of; he could hardly think of Maxton Station without thinking of Mr Jessiman and he had great hopes that the son would be a worthy successor to his father. (Applause.)
Mr Jessiman, replying, said – “I must return you my warm thanks for so cordially responding to this toast. It is very kind of you indeed, and I find it a great encouragement in beginning duty. It will be my constant endeavour, I assure you, to walk in my father’s footsteps as far as I am able. As agent here it will be my care not only to identify myself with the interests of my employers, but also to be kind and courteous to their clients, the public. (Applause.) In this way I hope to gain their esteem and respect. ( Applause.)
Mr Dickson Brown, in a neat speech, proposed “The Subscribers”, who had so generously put the committee in a position to hand over a handsome testimonial. (Applause.)
Rev Mr McKerron proposed the health of Mr Boyd, who had acted as hon. secretary to the committee, and Mr Bell asked for a hearty vote of thanks to Mrs Jessiman for so hospitably entertaining the committee. During the evening song and sentiment followed each other, and altogether a most enjoyable and happy evening was spent. Near the close Mr Bell proposed the health of those of Mr Jessiman’s family who were unavoidably absent, mentioning in particular the three sons in South Africa. Mr Naughton, brother of Mrs Jessiman, then proposed an extra vote of thanks to Mr Boyd, and this was accorded by the singing of “He’s a jolly good fellow,” etc. A verse of “Auld Lang Syne” was then sung by the party before dispersing.
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