Monday, March 12, 2012

Puzzling Leroy

I think of genealogy research sometimes as really complicated jigsaw puzzle – a bit like someone gave my grandmother for Christmas a few months ago.  I made the joke that someone with a sick mind gave that to her…and my grandmother agreed that she didn’t want to try it.  I think it was 1000 pieces with a picture on the front and the back.  So you not only had to match the front but that back as well –seemingly infinite possibilities.  Some of these puzzle pieces spark a little more curiosity.  One of these puzzle pieces for me was my great grandfather’s older brother, Leroy James Gage.

Granddad Gage (my great grandfather) was the oldest surviving child in his branch of his father’s family.  His father, Orlando, had been married to Charity Hotaling before Edith Gallup and Orlando and Charity had had four children.  They were: 
  • Burton Latta Gage b. 8 Oct 1876 d. 27 Sep 1949 m. Bessie Young
  • Edwin Welsh Gage b. 7 Jun 1879 d. 1960 m. Flora Sidney
  • Leroy James Gage b. 22 Dec 1880 d. 14 Oct 1910 m. Effie Butts
  • Nellie Mabel Gage b. 10 Sep 1885 d. 11 Sep 1972

Orlando and Edith Gallup had the following:
  • Allen G. Gage b. 10 Dec 1888 d. 12 Oct 1890
  • Ora Silas Gage b. 5 Apr 1892 d. 30 Dec 1990 m. Florence Christine Shawver
  • Peter Z. Gage b. 23 Oct 1894 d. 21 Nov 1983 m. Elizabeth Mathieson
  • Phebe Margaret Gage b. 23 Oct 1894 d. 28 Jul 1976 m. August Peterson
  • Alice Irene Gage b. 29 Mar 1896 d. 11 Sep 1976 m. Howard E. Frey

Charity died about a month after Nellie’s birth.  About 9 months later, Orlando married Edith Gallup who was by that time probably considered an “old maid schoolteacher.”  I’m sure he had thoughts that she would take care of the rowdy boys…but they proved to be quite a handful.  Nellie stayed with her grandmother for her first few years.  By the time 10 years had passed, Edith had had 5 children, 4 of who were still living. 
Growing up, I had heard a lot about Granddad’s younger siblings and had met most of them – but I had never really heard much about his older siblings.  I know that he had a lot of contact with Burt and Nellie but I heard little about the others.  The one that I really puzzled about was Leroy James Gage.  My great uncles said that their Dad talked about his brother “Roy”, but all they knew was that he died young.  Leroy James Gage was not quite 30 years old when he died.  He was married and had four children by the time of his death – and for a long time, I didn’t know what happened to him.  After my great - grandparents had passed; my Grandmother and I went through a lot of the old photo albums.  We found a photo album that had a lot of old vintage post cards.  Most were notes from his siblings but there was one that was mailed to his sister, Phebe that finally cleared up the mystery of Leroy’s death.  Nellie had written to Phebe that “Leroy was very sick with Plural Pneumonia and was taken a week ago.”  She concluded that she would write more later.  I don’t know what happened to that letter, but what a said message for them to receive.  Granddad Gage and his younger siblings had moved out to Nebraska to live with their maternal grandmother after Orlando and Edith’s deaths in 1908.  It seemed such a short time later, that they lost their older brother.
Front of Postcard - Informing family of Leroy's death
Back of Postcard - Informing family of Leroy's death
 Also in my great grandparents things was a letter.  It was from a Margaret who was a great granddaughter of Leroy James Gage and Effie Butts.  In the letter, she mentioned finding my great grandparent’s names in her great grandmother’s address book.  Effie, Leroy’s widow, had lived 67 years as widow after her husband’s death…after being married a short 8 years.  My great uncle gave me the task to finding this cousin who was descended from Leroy.  This wasn’t an easy task as she mentioned in her letter that she was getting married in a few weeks, and I realized that it would be pretty hard to track her.  I spent some time at the task…and one day I received an email from a Peggy asking me if I knew anything about Leroy James Gage.  I replied that yes…I did and what did she want to know?  She replied almost instantly and told me who she was.  I then asked her if her real name was Margaret and if she was, did she write Ora Gage in 1987.  Peggy replied back very quickly that yes she was Margaret and that she had a copy of that letter sitting right in front her.  Ironically…so did I…and Peggy and I began a relationship through emails and phone calls that has lasted ever since.  She lives in NY and I live in Idaho…but someday, we will get a chance to meet.  Sometimes it is months or perhaps a year or two between contacts – but when we do get a chance to visit, it takes a long phone call to catch up.  I have shared what I know about the Gage family and she and her daughter have spent hours taking pictures of gravestones back in New York.  I feel like she has given me far more than I have given her.  I have to wonder though if my Great Granddad didn’t arrange our connection from up above!