Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Road with the Cat and the Cow (52 Ancestors; #9)


On the Road with the Cat and the Cow! (52 Ancestors #9)


¯Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee. An actors life for me!
A high silk hat, and a silver cane.
A watch of gold, with a diamond chain.
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Day an actors life is gay!
Its great to be a celebrity.
An actors life for me! 
Pinocchio, 1940

The first decade of the 1900 to 1910 decade of the 20th century was all about leisure time, entertainment, and fashion.  Nickelodeons, movies, circus, vaudeville, balloon rides, and Sunday drives in the new family car were everywhere. 

Great-uncle Elijah Gill (1872-1932) gave them what they wanted – music and plays.  Young Elijah was known for his baritone voice.  A search of Salt Lake Tribune and Herald newspapers finds many articles about his singing - in the Tabernacle choir, in local opera, at the Chicago World’s Fair, and at Saltair, an amusement park on the shore of The Great Salt Lake. 

Elijah left town with the Pike Opera Company about 1899.  He toured with the “Cat and the Fiddle,” a “merry, musical extravaganza!” 

The Cat and the Fiddle” … show is breezy, nifty, and satisfying…65 hanging pieces, together with a large amount of flat and set stuff and two big trucks of properties, electrical effects, comprising some 19 different scene changes.  The plot is laid around and tells of the strange doings of the people of the imaginary world, the Island of Eye, whose destinies are ruled over by the Great Eye.  Great Gobs and his consort are ruling king and queen, having obtained the power by imprisoning the good Fair Queen, the Genii and her wishing cat, in a big jar under the Catskill mountains.  A sacrifice in the shape of a maiden with a strawberry mark is required every hundred years to appease the Eye so that it will be open for another hundred years….  The story goes on and on and on... 
The Caledonian ran one of the more interesting pieces on the play, which is based on the poem of the same name.  The poem was written to “hit at the extravagances of the nobility .. in the reign of Elizabeth.”  She is the cat, a creature symbolic of witchcraft and evil, a worker of the devil’s wiles; the little dog a bitter thrust at sycophancy; the dish and spoon, meant to convey the waste and extravagance of the monarchy.
 
The production is followed by “The Cow and the Moon,” a new musical extravaganza in three acts and sixteen gorgeous scenes, presented by a company of forty people, headed by Charles A. Sellon, will be seen at the Colonial November 6.  It is a companion play to “The Cat and the Fiddle,” and many of the personnel of the latter company will appear to advantage in this new Sellon show.  The lyrics and music are by Carleton Lee Colby, and the scenery by Harry J. Buhler, who were identified with “The Cat and the Fiddle.”
The touring company would perform “Cat” at a matinee and “Cow” in the evening at the same theater.  They would finish a performance, hit the road, and do it again the next day in another town.  They worked in towns where John L Sullivan would be at the Pantages, or Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the fair grounds the same week. 
Along the way, Elijah Gill morphed into Edward Gill, and later Edward Gilmore.
The federal highway system didn’t happen until the late 1920s.  The players and their equipment traveled 28,000 miles in 7 years between September 28, 1907, and December 2, 1914.  Although the company had “two big trucks,” I imagine the troupe members traveled by train to cities and burgs you never heard of – where is St. Johnsbury, Vermont?  Its Italianate train station is just yards from the Colonial, where “Cat” played on Halloween 1911.  A picture in Images of America: St. Johnsbury shows a fine three-story building on the corner of Church and Main street.  The Colonial burned in 1924.

The Cat and the Fiddle” … show is breezy, nifty, and satisfying…65 hanging pieces, together with a large amount of flat and set stuff and two big trucks of properties, electrical effects, comprising some 19 different scene changes.  The plot is laid around and tells of the strange doings of the people of the imaginary world, the Island of Eye, whose destinies are ruled over by the Great Eye.  Great Gobs and his consort are ruling king and queen, having obtained the power by imprisoning the good Fair Queen, the Genii and her wishing cat, in a big jar under the Catskill mountains.  A sacrifice in the shape of a maiden with a strawberry mark is required every hundred years to appease the Eye so that it will be open for another hundred years….  The story goes on and on and on... 
The Caledonian ran one of the more interesting pieces on the play, which is based on the poem of the same name.  The poem was written to “hit at the extravagances of the nobility .. in the reign of Elizabeth.”  She is the cat, a creature symbolic of witchcraft and evil, a worker of the devil’s wiles; the little dog a bitter thrust at sycophancy; the dish and spoon, meant to convey the waste and extravagance of the monarchy.
The production is followed by “The Cow and the Moon,” a new musical extravaganza in three acts and sixteen gorgeous scenes, presented by a company of forty people, headed by Charles A. Sellon, will be seen at the Colonial November 6.  It is a companion play to “The Cat and the Fiddle,” and many of the personnel of the latter company will appear to advantage in this new Sellon show.  The lyrics and music are by Carleton Lee Colby, and the scenery by Harry J. Buhler, who were identified with “The Cat and the Fiddle.”

The touring company would perform “Cat” at a matinee and “Cow” in the evening at the same theater.  They would finish a performance, hit the road, and do it again the next day in another town.  They worked in towns where John L Sullivan would be at the Pantages, or Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the fair grounds the same week. 
Along the way, Elijah Gill morphed into Edward Gill, and later Edward Gilmore.
The federal highway system didn’t happen until the late 1920s.  The players and their equipment traveled 28,000 miles in 7 years between September 28, 1907, and December 2, 1914.  Although the company had “two big trucks,” I imagine the troupe members traveled by train to cities and burgs you never heard of – where is St. Johnsbury, Vermont?  Its Italianate train station is just yards from the Colonial, where “Cat” played on Halloween 1911.  A picture in Images of America: St. Johnsbury shows a fine three-story building on the corner of Church and Main street.  The Colonial burned in 1924.
28,000 miles, as the crow flies.


Krug Theater, Omaha, Nebraska, September 28, 1907
The Paris Grand, Paris, Kentucky, November 4, 1907
Lyceum, Toledo, Ohio, November 22, 1907
Babcock Theater, Billings, Montana, September 4, 1908
The Spokane, Spokane, Washington, September 12, 1908
New Oregon Theatre, Pendleton, Oregon, October 7, 1908
Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 15, 1908
Academy of Music, Newport News, Virginia, February 4, 1909
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 2, 1909
Opera House, Glendive, Montana, September 8, 1909
Harnois, Missoula, Montana, September 15, 1909
Keylor Grand, Walla Walla, Washington, September 17, 1909
Auditorium, Spokane, Washington, September 19, 1909
Tacoma Theater, Tacoma, Washington, September 24, 1909
The Grand, Seattle, Washington, October 2, 1909
Oregon Theater, Pendleton, Oregon, October 4, 1909
Grand Theatre, Aberdeen, Washington, October 10, 1909
Colonial, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 17, 1909
Jefferson Theater, Lafayette, Louisiana, December 13, 1909
Beverly Theater, Staunton, Virginia, March 4, 1910
Paris Grand, Paris, Kentucky, March 25, 1910
Holland Opera House, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, March 30, 1010
The Kentucky, Paducah, Kentucky, April 4, 1910
The Auditorium, Spokane, Washington, August 27, 1910
The Mandan Opera House, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 14, 1910
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 15, 1910
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 15, 1910
The Opera House, Glendive, Montanta, September 18, 1910
The Grand Theater, Aberdeen, Chehalis County, Washington, October 16, 1910
The Ogden Theater, Ogden, Utah, October 23, 1910
Gondram Theatre, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, October 24, 1910
The Colonial, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 6, 1910
Academy of Music, Orangeburg, South Carolina, February 2, 1911
City Opera House, Newberry, South Carolina, February 9, 1911
Bennington Opera House, Bennington, Vermont, June 29, 1911
Turner Theater, Ulm, Brown County, Minnesota, October 25, 1911
The Colonial, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, October 25, 1911
Auditorium, Brattleboro, Vermont, November 4, 1911
Pember Theatre, Rutland, Vermont, November 7, 1911
Opera House, Bennington, Vermont, November 8, 1911
The Auditorium, Brattleboro, Vermont, November 10, 1911
The Opera House, Newberry, South Carolina, February 27, 1912 (with “Ed Gilmore”)
The Grand, Abbeville, South Carolina, February 28, 1912
Lyric, Virginia, Minnesota, September 4, 1912
The Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, October 7, 1912 (Ed Gilmore)
The Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, January 14, 1913 (Ed Gilmore)
The Lyric, Virginia, Minnesota, February 7, 1913
Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, February 27, 1913
Empress Theatre, Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 12, 1914
Turner Theater, New Ulm, Brown County, Minnesota, December 2, 1914
Turner Theatre, New Ulm, Minnesota, December 2, 1914




 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Earl Morrison Gill, Sr (52 Ancestors; #8)


The Eldest Son - A Hero


Earl Morrison Gill (1889-1913) was the oldest son of David Richard Gill and Ellenor Morrison, who emigrated from Wales in 1879.  He was born June 9, 1889, in Ogden, Utah.

Like many of the Gill men, Earl worked in the newspaper and printing business - he was a printing pressman his whole life.  He was only 23 when he died of abscess of the liver. 

Earl married Veda L Raeburn in 1912.  Their son, Earl R Gill, was born in 1914, 4 days before Earl died of abscess of liver.


He did have one claim to fame, as a young man he saved a boy from drowning in the Jordan River.  The Salt Lake Tribune carried the news on July 12, 1908. 
Earl's good deed got 8 double-column inches in the Tribune. His heroic efforts are recounted In four paragraphs in florid detail, down to the "convulsively-tightened fingers" on Earls' ear, "which bears the scars of his fingernails." 
Much detail was given to the thought that the youngster was fooling - "crying out that they are drowning when they are perfectly safe, but only looking for the satisfaction of yelling "Rubber!" should anyone heed the cries."
Sadly, little boys have left off yelling "Rubber" when they fool someone. 

The same paper ran three different articles on Earl's health and death in 1913. 

Earl and his parents rest in section L-13-1 of Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Electric Aunt Ora .(52 Ancestors, #8 Ora Elanor Gill 1891-1948)


Ora Elanor Gill was born in Ogden, Utah, on 10 May 1891.  Her parents, David Richard and Ellenor Morrison immigrated with their parents – her father from Wales in 1878 and her mother from England in 1879.
The 1900 census places the family in Salt Lake City at 147 Seventh West Street, her father is a journalist, her mother “Nellie” is 29, Earl, 10; Ora, 9; Richard, 6; Harry, 3; and George is 1 year old.

By 1907 the Gill family is at 824 Hoyt Avenue, where three generations lived for many years.

A 1910 city directory and census list Ora, 18 years old, a bookkeeper for M J Hardin, and living at home on Hoyt Avenue.

Salt Lake Tribune November 19, 1910 – Ora gets the shock of her life.  I’ll bet she wasn’t “thrilled.”

Ora Elanor marries Gerald Alexander McNay on October 17, 1911, in Salt Lake City.  The marriage license lists her as “single.”

The Tribune ran a December 1911 article about Ora singing in church: “Prof Charles Kent and his pupils will give a Christmas song service at the Twenty-ninth ward chapel, in which Ora sings “Glory to God in the Highest.”
The couple’s first child, a daughter, dies.  Mildred Eleanor Mcnais was born August 2, 1912, and dies on August, 13, 1912.  The name spelling – Mcnais - is clearly written on the death certificate.  The handwriting on the information side of the certificate is all by one person and Ora is listed as the informant.  Maybe the person filling out the form heard McNay as French and spelled it Mcnais.  The burial record used the Mcnais spelling.   
A son, Gerald Gill McNay, is born on September 23, 1914, in Salt Lake City.

The discovery of copper in Nevada in 1906 drew workers from all over the world.  The 1910 census reads like a world history book.  One boarding house had 175 Japanese laborers; plus laborers from Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Mexico.  The copper boom is the reason I was born in Ely, Nevada.

My father, Frank, and his sister, Ora, and her husband, Gerald McNay, moved to Ruth, the town right on the edge of the gigantic open pit operated by Kennecott Copper.  The “Company” built a small town – population about 1,500 - and provided housing, wood, and coal at a reasonable price.  Everybody had the same house in the same place on the lot, with a wood/coal shed, and a driveway for the family auto.  You could choose your color, as long as it was blue, yellow, white, light green, or dark green.  Ruth became New Ruth when the Company picked the whole town up, house by house, and moved it two miles when they wanted the ore body under the town. 

The 1920 Ruth census lists Ora, son Gerald, and husband Gerald A, where he is a telegraph operator for the Nevada Northern railroad.  The next listing on the census page is Gerald’s father Charles H McNay, wife Alpha, and daughter Mildred next door at the Depot where he is the Station Agent. 

Family lore has it that all was not happy at home, that in spite of the card games and socials, Ora was restless.  It was whispered around town that Ora had met her true love and was having an affair! Gasp!  And she ran off with him but he dropped dead of a heart attack!  Lordy!
The 1926 Salt Lake directory lists “Mrs Ora McNay, clk Tribune rms 258 N 8th West”.  Later that year, she marries Gerald A McNay on July 3, 1926, in Salt Lake City.  Both are listed as “divorced”.
An article in The Reno Evening Gazette, September 8, 1930, writes that a singing competition is judged by Mrs. Gerald McNay of Ruth.  So – she’s back in Ruth with Gerald.  This potboiler is not finished.
The 1940 Census lists Gerald A McNay and wife Rae E McNay, living with his parents Charles and Alpha, with grandson Gerald, Ora’s son, in Ruth, Nevada.
About 1945, Gerald was in very poor health and moved back to Salt Lake.  He died in July 1946 from pneumonia.  Ora signed his death certificate.  Her address is 258 North 8th West – the long-time family home of her father and grandfather.
Aunt Ora lived alone the rest of her life.  About a year before she died, she told Aunt Lil and my mom she had breast cancer.  Ma said “it was hard as a rock.”  Yikes!  Ora died in Ruth in 1948 and is buried in Salt Lake.  Ora and Gerald are buried next to each other in Salt Lake City Cemetery West Plot L_13_1_1, 2 & 3 (3 is Baby Mildred of the misspelled name).

Go here for photos of Ruth, Nevada:  http://www.ihpworkshops.com/newsletter_august_2006.html

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

 A Great Basin Cemetery (#52 Ancestors, #7)


Not all cemeteries are a green oasis.  Nevada, the central state in the Great Basin, is a land of high mountain ranges, wide basins, and scant rainfall -  about 13 inches a year.  Vast fields of alfalfa are irrigated from abundant basin groundwater supplies.  Not the local cemeteries.

Highway 50 passes through Dayton, Stagecoach, and Silver Springs in the western part of the state.  Each town has a small cemetery.  Desert Memorial Gardens is in Silver Springs.

I pass through on my way to my hometown and usually stop to enjoy the wide open spaces and the creativity of the memorials.

Cemetery guidelines call for a certain type of manufactured brick edging. There's little natural resources to work with.  White rocks, brown rocks, and sand are standard decorations.  And unlike many cemeteries, plastic flowers are allowed.  A single spigot is the only water source.  Feel free to take a load off on the wagon-wheel-themed bench.

Here's Roy William Franklin, "Beloved Son, Brother, Father, Uncle & Friend," with plastic daises and gold bowling pins knocked down like his last strike - his favorite sport and his final mark.

Nevadans are known for toting a special rock from a special place to a special grave.

Many Special Rocks!




- Side by Side in the Great Basin -









Desert Memorial Gardens is in the pink square.




Uncle David: Tall, Dark, and Handsome! (52 Ancestors #5)

My grandfather emigrated from Wales with his parents in 1878.  David Richard Gill and Ellenor Morrison had six kids—five boys and one girl.  My Uncle David Richard Gill (1894-1963) is one of this first native-born generation in my family.  He carries the family tradition of son with the same name as father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; his son and grandson.  All of the other sons have their mother’s maiden name as their middle name.

Uncle David Richard Gill was born February 25, 1894, in … Ogden?  Salt Lake City?  He lists Salt Lake on his WW I draft registration and Ogden on his WW II draft registration.

Six-year-old schoolboy David lives with his family at 147 7th West Street, Salt Lake City.  The 1910 census puts 16-year-old David at 824 Hoyt Ave, as an “apprentice tire maker” and “driver”.  A 1912 city directory lists 18-year-old David as chauffeur, living at 824 Hoyt Avenue, about the same time that John Jacob Astor went down with the Titanic.

Somehow, David makes his way to the Snake River basin – a country of wide, arid plains and rolling hills, bordered by high mountains.  The Snake River is the boundary between Idaho and Washington.  David lived in Lewiston and Nez Perce, Idaho; Clarkston and Highland, Washington.  Lewiston is in Nez Perce County; Nez Perce is in Lewis County, Idaho; Clarkston and Highland are across the Snake River in Washington.  Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery named these places.  The Lewiston ferry crossed the river until 1913, when the tolls were removed from the Lewiston-Clarkston bridge in 1913.

At the outbreak of World War I, the United States pursued a policy of non-intervention, but was eventually drawn into it.  President Wilson called for war and the U.S. Congress declared war on April 6, and passed the Selective Service Act on May 18, and 2.8 million men were drafted.

David registered for the draft, June 5, 1917.  His World War I draft card
23 years old; Home address City Hall, Lewiston; car tire repairman, Kaddatz Tire Vulcanizing Co at 311 Main Street, Lewiston; single, tall, slender, blue eyes, light hair. 
One week later, he marries local girl Mable Adams on June 12, 1917, in Nez Perce, Idaho.  The war ended in summer 1918, and David and Mable head back to Salt Lake City, where a 1919-city directory places them at 258 N 8th West, with his parents.  The 1920 census places David, Mable and their 2-year-old daughter, Geraldine, with his parents in Salt Lake City; he’s 25, a mechanic at Karl Winger auto shop.

The couple is in Clarkston, Washington, in 1929, where 11-year-old Geraldine dies January 18, 1929.

The 1930 census lists David and Mable on 8th Street in Highland, Asotin County, WA; he’s a Fireman. 

David marries Katherine Shepler on March 17, 1934, in Spokane.  He’s 40, she’s 30.  In 1940, they own a home at 301 5th Avenue with 2-year-old Richard David (aka Dee Richard Gill, 1938 - 2009).

As with WWI, the United States stayed out of World War II until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  Although he’s 42, David has to register for another draft.  His draft registration card:
Idaho; April 27, 1942; 301 5th Ave, Lewiston; telephone 292 R, 47 YO, spouse, Mrs. Kathryn S Gill; Employer, City of Lewiston, City Hall, Idaho.  5’11-3/4, 158 lbs, blue eyes, dark brown complexion; burn on inside left leg, scar on upper lip.  He signs the card “D. Richard Gill”.
David was a member of the Lewiston Fire Department for 38 years, retiring in 1959 as chief of the department.  A post in the local paper reports David in the ER for a "laceration on face", which could explain the scar on upper lip.

David died on May 25, 1963, 69 years old, in Lewiston, Idaho.  He is buried in the Normal Hill Cemetery, where he and wife Kathryn (1906-1994) share a red granite double monument along with Stacy Jean - wait, who’s Stacy Jean – haven’t found any information.  She was born after David Richard died.

Kathryn was a member of Order of Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, past president of Ladies Auxiliary of Western Fire Chiefs and secretary to the Idaho State Senators in 1965.  The two symbols above her name are the five-pointed star, the symbol for the Order of the Eastern Star (letters OES around the star); the scimitar and rose, the symbol for Daughters of the Nile - an International fraternal organization for women who are related by birth or marriage to a Shriner or Master Mason. 

David was a Freemason (square and compass with the letter G). I do not know what the little cross with rose and leaves represents.  

The single rose above Stacy Jean represents purity or death in childhood.

My summer road trip will be to Lewiston.  It's beautiful country with loads of history.

Monday, February 3, 2014


A Plethora of David and Richard (52 Ancestors, #6)

My grandfather emigrated from Wales with his parents in 1878.  David Richard Gill and Ellenor Morrison had six kids—five boys and one girl.  My Uncle David Richard Gill (1894-1963) is one of this first native-born generation in my family.  He carries the family tradition of son with the same name as father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

There are nine men named David Richard on the paternal side of my family tree:  great-grandfather, grandfather, uncle, paternal first cousin, first cousin once removed, second cousin once removed, cousin Earl’s son, cousin David’s son, and a half-brother – five generations of Gill men.  And most of them have blue eyes.

If a boy isn’t named David Richard, he has his mother’s maiden name as his middle name.  That’s just how it’s done, and it’s how you keep the child-mother connection straight in cases of plural marriage or second, third, and fourth marriage.

This handsome guy is great-grandfather David Richard Gill (1838-1906).  He emigrated from Wales to Utah with five of his 13 children. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Uncle Harry with the Transposed Numbers (52 Ancestors, #4)

1896-1986, transposed or for real?  For real.  Harry Morrison Gill was born December 16, 1896[1], and died November 1, 1986[2], both in Salt Lake City.  Young Harry finished high school and worked a few jobs before becoming a mechanic and starting his own garage (Old Mill Garage) in 1922.  He was a garage owner and operator his whole life. 

Like most of the men in the family, he had blue eyes.  He registered in June 1918 for the World War I draft but was not called up.  His signature on the draft card is very stylish with flourishes on the “H”
Two months later, Harry and Chirl Edna Smith married on August 26, 1918.  Their first child, a daughter, was stillborn September 17, 1919.  They went on to have two more children: Lois Elaine (1920-1994) and Dee Morrison Gill (1924-2009). 

Chirl died from breast cancer in 1936, she’s only 34.  Chirl has a nice memorial page on Find A Grave (#119284059).  She is linked to her parents and son, Dee Morrison Gill, but not to husband Harry.  There is no grave marker.
I have not found any record of marriage, but the 1939 city directory lists Harry & Mary at 303 W So Temple, the address of the garage and home for the last seven years.  The 1940 census shows Harry and Mary renting at 342 West South Temple.  He’s 42, she’s 26.  The city directory lists them until 1960.  There are no further records for Harry until his death in 1986 in Salt Lake City.  No burial record has been found.  Ditto for Mary nee: ????.


[1] "Utah, Salt Lake County Birth Records, 1890-1915," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11708-27027-22?cc=1464677&wc=11059666 : accessed 28 Jan 2014), 004121037 > image 350 of 405.
[2] "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J1BV-YMC : accessed 28 Jan 2014), Harry Gill, November 1986; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).