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