The individuals that Packer entrusted to continue to run the Lehigh Valley Railroad, were called by W. Ross Yates, “The Railroad Family”. Packer had an amazing ability to surround himself with the best people that could get the job done, thus allowing himself to stay in the background as he preferred it. “The Railroad Family” consisted of the trustees that Packer mentions in his will: Robert Heysham Sayre, Elisha Packer Wilbur, Harry Eldred Packer, and Robert Asa Packer.
Sayre had been associated with Packer ever since the days of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna Railroad Company. He was instrumental in designing the original road of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and was considered to be a very talented engineer. He was Packer’s Chief Engineer and Superintendent and right hand man of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Sayre would also become the President of the Pennsylvania and New York Canal and Railroad, which was a major extension from the main line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Elisha Packer Wilbur was Asa’s nephew, the son of Asa’s sister Eveline. Wilbur had traveled from Mystic, Connecticut to Mauch Chunk, just like uncle Asa had done before. Wilbur was employed by uncle Asa at some of Asa’s mercantile stores in Mauch Chunk. Eventually, Wilbur would become uncle Asa’s personal secretary, handling all of the financial records for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Wilbur would also go on to be the president of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Harry Packer, Asa’s youngest son, was born on June 4, 1850. He was a graduate of the school that his father had founded, Lehigh University. He held various positions in the Lehigh Valley Railroad, including becoming the president of the company. Also, like his father, Harry became an associate judge for Mauch Chunk and a vestryman for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mauch Chunk. However, Harry died on February 1, 1884, when he was the president of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company.
Robert Packer, Asa’s oldest son, was born on November 19, 1842. He also held various positions within the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Like his father, Robert did not wish to hold public office, even though he was asked to accept nominations for public office, which he declined. Robert died on February 20, 1883.
These four men were all part of Asa’s inner circle and Asa named all of them as his trustees in his will. This “Railroad Family” helped Asa to build the Lehigh Valley Railroad and they were there to make sure that it not only operated correctly on a daily basis, but also that it would operate correctly in the future.