Friday, June 7, 2013

The Tuder Letters - Part One

The Tuder Letters - Part One : The First Letter

Last winter I visited one of our Gailey cousins, Eva Louise (Fry) Stork, and she was kind enough to let me look through her family folders for any information that I might not have in my records. After looking through countless articles I came across a folder labled "Tuder Letters". Could it really be? Could this folder contain letters from our Tuder ancestors back home, describing their hardships, what their life was like? Surely they are not the letters I had come to the realization that just didn't make it out of that era? To my surprise, what I found in that folder covered all of the above and then some. I found the folder to contain six letters ranging from the late 1870s to the early 1900's from each of the three Tuder brothers, N.F.M., W.H., and J.E.D., who were brothers of J.W. Gailey's mother Permelia Jane Tuder.
 
To set the stage the Tuder family migrated to Texas from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in the mid to late 1850s. The patriarch of the family was William Tuder, the father of Permelia Jane, Nicholas Francis Marion (NFM), William Henry, James Edward Daniel, and Rosannah Millianna. Along with them was William's second wife Sarah (who was the mother to Rosannah), Sarah's son Etson Campbell from her late husband, and Permelia's new husband Asa Lomax Gailey (whom she met along the way). William's first wife was Jemima Brown and based on new findings in the letters, she may have actually died after the family left Kentucky. 
 
When the family left Kentucky, William's parents (William and Permelia) were still very much alive along with roughly 8 siblings. William was the oldest, and his closest in age brother was Hezekiah, who was four years younger. Hezekiah who stayed in Muhlenberg County was the recipient of the mentioned "Tuder Letters". 
 
A lady by the name of Willa Dean Noffsinger, a descendant of Hezekiah, discovered the letters from Texas when going through an old cabinet years ago. Sometime in the 1970s or 1980s one of the early Gailey historians (either Edna Smith Fry or Zina Gailey Betsill) made contact with Mrs. Noffsinger and she was gracious enough to share copies of the letters.  
 
I will share the oldest letter first and share the other letters in subsequent parts. From reading the letters we know there was prior communication between the Texas Tuders and their Kentucky relatives. While there is no date on this first letter, it can be derived that it was written around 1874-76 based on a couple of clues in the letter. This would have been within the first five years of the family living in Eastland County, Texas, after their ten year stay in Bell County. Below is my transcription of the letter complete with all of its misspellings. Being that the letter has a couple of illegible words I tried my best to fill in the blanks. The underlined words are left to be determined. The actual letter will appear below the transcription.
 
 
Address W.H. Tuder of
 
Stephenville
 
Erath County
 
Texas
 
 
I forgot to tell you what killed mother, it was the measels. She all ways said if she ever got them they would kill her. Rosannah has got them now Permealia Jayne's oldest daughter has them and I am losing every day when I will take them. There is three families of us, 14 in  all and three out of the 14 that has had them. We are looking for all to be down with them. I don't expect that Father will be there soon for he continues  ill nor gets well, as a _______ in some way. We have a late spring cold weather is lastin well, I will close again,
 
 
W.H. Tuder
 

 
We learn in a later letter that Hezekiah likely asked William to return to Kentucky to help settle his share of their father's estate.
 
More letters are coming soon. Check back for The Tuder Letters Part 2.
 
 
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Asa Lomax Gailey Story - Part Two

Part Two - Life After The War

It was June of 1863 and Asa Lomax Gailey was a free man. He had endured the harshest of conditions of the Civil War and as a prisoner of war at Camp Douglas in Chicago. At the time of his release around two thousand prisoners had died while imprisoned. Asa was likely traumatized by the entire situation and was released at Chicago with nothing more than the clothes on his back. It is unclear if the released were given money to start with or possibly a direction to go in to find work.
 
To date there is no documentation on the whereabouts of Asa from his release to August 10, 1865, the date of his marriage to Mary Louise Murray in Kane County, Illinois. Several versions of a story that involved Asa returning to Texas have surfaced among the Texas Gailey descendants. The stories are consistent in that they state he did return to Bell County but hastily returned to Chicago after learning of his wife had legally declared him dead. It is believed that after the battle at Fort Hindman, Asa was reported dead to the family by his fellow surviving soldiers. Permelia would marry a sergeant from Asa's company almost exactly one month after Asa's marriage. 

Taking an educated guess, Asa did not attempt a return to Texas. The climate following the war was a hostile one, especially in the southern states in the direction of "deserters". Being that he took the oath over a painful death he was seen by many as a traitor to the CSA. He would have endangered himself and likely his family if he had returned to them. He may have felt that his wife Permelia was better off without him and that she was in a good location living next door to her parents and siblings. There is obviously a lot of room for speculation concerning Asa's decision.
 
Being that Asa married Mary Murray in Kane County, Illinois leads us to believe he must have settled west of Chicago during the two years he was unaccounted for. The couple made their first home together in the town of Elgin. It is unclear what line of work Asa did at this time but one could speculate that he may have started working for the Chicago and Northwestern Rail Road Company soon after marriage. 
 
Mary gave birth to the couple's first child together on April 13, 1868, a girl they named Lola Maude Gailey. She was likely born at the family's home in Elgin. Sometime after her birth the Gaileys moved to Ellsworth, Iowa for Asa's work with the railroad.
 
The couple produced their second and final child, a boy named Lester Ellsworth Gailey in April of 1871. Within the next four or five years the family would relocate back in Elgin, Illinois. They appear on the 1880 U.S. Census in Elgin with Asa listed as a bridge builder, his job with the railroad. Mary’s sister Harriet Murray lived with the family at this time.

Asa appears in an 1883 Chicago & Northwestern Railway Officers, Agents, and Stations book as being with the Northen Iowa Division. He is listed as the official in charge of buildings and bridges and shows working out of the Eagle Grove, Iowa depot. It is likely that the family lived in or near Eagle Grove during this time.


 
By 1885 the Gaileys had moved to Webster City, Iowa. It was another railroad position Asa took that improved his pay grade.  The family appears on the 1885 Iowa State Census in Webster City as follows: A.L. Gailey 45, Mary L. Gailey 36, Lola Gailey 18, and Lester E. Gailey 14. 
 
It was likely during their time in Iowa that Lola gained love for music. She developed as a musician and singer, and would soon become a very popular soprano. It is known that Asa had been detailed as a musician during the Civil War and it would not be hard to imagine that the Gaileys were a musical family as a whole.
 
At Webster City, Asa became a Knight Templar, joining the local Triune Commandery. The organization was rooted in an ancient Christian military order style and is considered to be a form of Masonry.
 
On August 11, 1887 it was announced that Asa was promoted to the Chicago and Galena Division of the railroad. This new position would move him and his family into Chicago. An article from the Hawarden Independent newspaper read as follows: A.L. Gailey, superintendent of buildings and bridges on the Northern Iowa division, has been promoted to the Chicago and Galena division to take the place of John Hickey, deceased. George Kosier, Mr. Hickey's assistant takes the Northern Iowa.
 
A November 20, 1887 Webster City, Iowa newspaper listed that the Gailey family attended an Alpha party back in Webster City noting they were previous residents of the community. By all accounts the family was a well liked and social one as several newspaper articles mention their social activities through the years.
 
The family moved to the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, IL in mid April of 1888. Their residence was on Park Avenue near the railroad tracks in a home formerly owned by a Mr. Watson. The family lived in Oak Park for around three or so years. With the promotion came more money and the Gailey Family lived well during these years. Lola became a local celebrity with her regular singing engagements all over town. Her activities were well documented in the Oak Park newspaper. During this time she took several trips, including one on the Mississippi River.
 
In 1891 the family had moved to Linden Park, another Chicago suburb. Their residence was located on the Northwest Corner of Lydiard and Chestnut, now known as Leamington and Ferdinand Streets. The two-story home still stands today and appears in the photo below courtesy of Sean Barlow.


 
Asa Lomax retired from his high position with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in early 1892. His first order of retirement was a trip back to the south and to the home of his boyhood. It is unknown where exactly Asa went on his trip but it likely included the area of Hall County, Georgia and Craighead County, Arkansas. His boyhood was spent in Georgia; however his mother and remaining siblings lived near Jonesboro, Arkansas, where they moved prior to Asa leaving home. One could speculate that he attempted to locate his children in Texas on this trip. A factor that would have made it a difficult task was that the family had since moved from Bell County to then sparsely populated Eastland County.
 
It has been shared that Asa had contact with some of his family in Arkansas prior to his trip south. One of his nephews, John Lomax Gailey, went to live with Asa and family around 1882 to get an education, possibly funded by Asa. An account of this was passed down on John Lomax's side of the family. Many years later John left behind a signature book from his time with the Asa Gailey family, which included signatures from Asa and Lola. 
 
When Asa Lomax returned from his trip the city of Chicago was engulfed in preparations for the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The fair was a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World 400 years prior. It was an event of gargantuan proportions, one that changed the lives of Chicago’s residents, inspiring and enlightening them.


 
Through a very descriptive obituary for Asa Lomax, we learn that one of his reasons for his retirement was to perfect a patent he had invented. What was this idea or invention? Did it have to do with his line of work with the railroad or could it be related in some way to the Chicago World’s Fair? So far, we have yet to learn any details on his patent. The search will continue on.
 
Lola married George Brownell Chace at her parents’ home on October 19, 1892. Mr. Chace was a Wyoming native and had made his way to Chicago to seek a better life. The 1900 U.S. Census lists George as working for the Bridge Department of the Chicago & N.W., the same office that Asa had retired from. George either met the Gaileys through the railroad job or Asa hired him or helped him get work after the fact.
 
On the afternoon of Tuesday November 21, 1893 Asa Lomax Gailey was out clearing the sidewalks around his home of recently fallen snow. This was likely a chore he had done many times before living in the Illinois and Iowa area for the past 30 years. Snow was something that was highly uncommon for him in his youth and it may have still been something that he appreciated. On this day it would lead to his demise. After a clearing the sidewalks around his yard he walked to his garage in back of his home and suffered a massive heart attack. He was only 56 years old. 
 
He had only been able to enjoy his retirement for a little over a year. His patent work was left unfinished and likely unpublished. He left this earth with a loving widow and five of his offspring; however the three in Texas knew nothing of their half siblings in Illinois at the time.
 
Asa's obituary reads as follows:
 
A.L. Gailey, for a quarter of a century superintendent of bridge construction of the C. & N. W. Ry. Co., and for many years an honored citizen of Austin (IL) , dropped dead Tuesday afternoon at his home in Linden Park. A strong, stalwart specimen of manhood, in the prime of his life, his death was entirely unexpected. Only a year ago Mr. Gailey resigned his position with the company to devote his entire time to a patent which he was perfecting. At the time he left the railroad company, he was the recipient of gifts and testimonials from employees and officials all of whom loved and respected him. Tuesday he cleaned off the snow from his walks, went to the barn to replace his tools, when without a cry, he dropped dead.
 
The funeral will be held tomorrow from his late home and will be conducted by the Rev. Frank O. Ballard, formerly of the Presbyterian Church, now of Indianapolis. The remains will be borne to Turner, Mr. Gailey's former home for interment. A special car has been placed at the disposal of the family and friends by the Northwestern Company, for this last sad journey. At Turner the Masonic fraternity will conduct the services. Mr. Gailey leaves a widow, a son Lester, and a daughter, Mrs. George B. Chace.

The obituary, which is usually prepared by the immediate family, makes no mention of his Texas children, Jane, J.W., and Asa Nelson. Some events that followed Asa Lomax's death indicate that while he may not have shared his secret with his children, his wife likely knew.
 
An interesting bit of information was unearthed in the estate settlement paperwork concerning Asa’s ex-brother-in-law and fellow Civil War soldier Nicholas F.M. Tuder, who passed away on August 3, 1895.  Nicholas had migrated to Texas with his family and brother-in-law Asa in the 1850s, their first stop being in Bell County and later to Eastland County, where he remained until his death. In Nicholas’ possession at death was a newly published book called “Columbus and Columbia” which documented the Chicago’s World Fair and the history of America to that point. This clue may indicate that Nicholas may have had contact with Asa Gailey or may have at least known about him or his whereabouts. It could have been just a coincidence.
 
We do know that the Texas Gailey’s did learn about Asa’s “second life” in Illinois just a few years after his death. They may have believed up to that point that he had perished in the war. What a surprise it must have been.
 
Check back for Part III, where we will look into the lives of Asa Lomax Gailey’s Chicago family and their ties back to Texas.