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Alfred Gaumer


Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo
Courtesy Jay Boone, Find-a-Grave

Alfred Gaumer was born in 1841, the son of Augustus and Rebecca (Hontz) Gaumer. He grew up in Mahoning Township near Mauch Chunk and Lehighton, Carbon County, PA.

Alfred wedded Mary Everett (1844- ? ).

The couple is believed to have produced four children, Rebecca J. Gaumer, Augustus Gaumer, Hattie Cordelia Voeste and Harry Thomas Gaumer.

During the Civil War, Alfred joined the Union Army, enlisting on Sept. 16, 1861. He first served in the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, and held the rank of corporal. His elder half-brother Franklin eventually joined the Army and also was assigned to the 81st Pennsylvania, but the two brothers were never with the regiment at the same time.

Alfred reputedly was wounded at Malvern Hill on June 26 or July 1, 1862, with clues hinting that he received a shell wound in the hip. More research will determine more details around the wound.

After recovering, he was transferred to the 4th United States Artillery, Company C. In all, he served a term of three years and was discharged on Sept. 5, 1864.

Tragically, Alfred's brother was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor, VA on June 3, 1864.

After the war, Alfred obtained a pension as compensation for his wartime disabilities. [Invalid App. #197.852 – Cert. #185.269]

For many years, he was employed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad as an engineer. When the federal census count was made in 1870, Alfred and Mary dwelled in Mauch Chunk.

By 1890, he had relocated to Buffalo, Erie County, NY. He is enumerated there in the special census of Civil War veterans of 1890.

An unusual story was printed in the Pike County (PA) Dispatch in which Alfred and his wife played a prominent part. Headlined "The Prodigal's Return," and published on Oct. 15, 1891, it read:

Seventeen years ago there lived in Mauch Chunk a man named John Billingsley, who had a wife and three children. During the strike of 1875, when it was announced that the Lehigh coal and navigation company would not resume operations until the following year, Billingsley became despondent and with a friend he started for California to find a new home. A few weeks later the friend sent word back that Billingsly [sic] had been drowned and the body could not be recovered. The wife mourned the loss of her husband for six years and then married Alfred Gaumer, an engineer on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He shortly afterward got in trouble, deserted his wife and is in Buffalo, N.Y. Billingsly has reappeared to furnish an Enoch Arden romance.

Later in life, Alfred's address in Buffalo was 540 Willett Street.

Alfred died in Buffalo in late November or early December 1920. Interment of the remains was held in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, with members of the Grand Army of the Republic conducting the funeral service. The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Record noted that his daughters traveled to Buffalo for the services.

After Alfred’s death, Mary filed a claim for his pension, but it was not approved. [Widow App. #1.168.405]


~ Daughter Rebecca J. Gaumer ~

Daughter Rebecca J. Gaumer (1866-1955) was born on Dec. 9, 1866 in Mauch Chunk.

Rebecca became a nurse. She never married.

Circa 1920, living with her widowed sister Hattie Voeste in Wilkes-Barre, she was not married and used the name "Gaumer."

Her residence in 1930 was as a roomer in the house of William and Stella Beltz in Wilkes-Barre.

In the 1950s, her address was 450 Carey Avenue in Wilkes-Barre. Toward the end of her life, she went to reside in the Home for Homeless Women in the city.

She suffered a heart attack at the age of 88 on Nov. 4, 1955, in Wilkes-Barre, and was dead within minutes. Burial was in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Hanover Township.


~ Son Augustus Gaumer ~

Son Augustus Gaumer (1868- ? ) was born in about 1868 in Mauch Chunk.

His fate is not yet known.


~ Daughter Hattie Cordelia (Gaumer) Voeste ~

Daughter Hattie Cordelia Gaumer (1870-1969 ? ) was born in Jan. 1870 in Mauch Chunk, Carbon County.

On June 14, 1893, when she was 22 or 23 years of age, Hattie was united in marriage with Oswald C. Voeste (Oct. 20, 1869-1916), a native of Tannery, near White Haven, PA and the son of Edward and Julia (Eck) Voeste, the father an immigrant from Germany. The nuptials were held in Carbon County.

Known offspring born to this union were Dorothy Gaumer Snyder, Edward Alfred Voeste, Madeline Voeste, Robert P. Voeste, Florence G. Voeste, Ruth V. Voeste, Charles Oswald Voeste, Harriet "Hattie" Voeste and John Howell Voeste.

The Voestes made their residence on Sambourne Street in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County. Oswald was employed with the Lehigh Valley Railroad, beginning his work in 1887 as a freight brakeman. His father, a fireman with the Central Railroad of New Jersey, had been killed in an engine explosion some years before, circa 1880.

In his free time, Oswald was active with the Dieu le Veut Commandery of the Knights Templar, Landmark lodge of the Masons, Shekinah chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, the Irem Temple of the Shrine. His name often was printed in the Wilkes-Barre newspapers for his leadership roles with these groups. The family belonged to the Central Methodist Episcopal Church.

In June 1905, the Wilkes-Barre Record said that Hattie and Oswald had "gone to New York and Coney Island for a few days" in company with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Flower of Mason City, IA.

Oswald after many years of working in passenger service with the LVRR was promoted in February 1909 to conductor of the Bowman's Creek Branch. The news was reported in the Pittston (PA) Gazette, which noted that the promotion was "deserved." Then in 1912, he was assigned to the Jersey City to Suspension Bridge route, and the Record opined that he was "one of the Lehigh Valley's popular through passenger conductors."

Once again, Oswald's name was in the news in October 1912 when one of his passengers jumped from the train when it was moving at 50 miles per hour east of Wysox. Some of the women passengers became hysterical, said the Record, and Oswald slammed on the brakes. The passenger, an Italian immigrant named Luigui Roderro, told reporters later that he "thought he was on the wrong train and as he had been on the road from California for seven days he thought surely he must have passed New York, whither he was bound, to board a ship for his native land."

Oswald received another promotion in June 1913 when he was named as conductor of the No. 7 train running west through Wilkes-Barre and then on the Black Diamond heading back east. Reported the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, "It is not so very long ago that Mr. Voeste was extra baggage-master and passenger conductor under such veteran railroaders as William Deterline, Charles Hufford, John Sweeney and the late Michael Gillespie of Pittston. When first placed in charge of a train he showed unusual efficiency as a conductor and his superiors have advanced him right along, thus showing that his services are appreciated."

Another promotion followed within a year or two, and Oswald now ran what the Scranton Times-Tribune called the "most important train on the road, the fast express between Jersey City and Buffalo."

Sadly, on or about Nov. 11, 1916, Oswald was stricken with appendicitis which led to peritonitis, a deadly bacterial infection of the abdomen. He was admitted to City Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, where he underwent surgery, but nothing could be done. Said the Record, "It was found that the disease had progressed to such an extent that the case was considered critical. The best medical attention was given him but the disease had made such inroads on his system that he was unable to withstand the complications that followed." He succumbed to his illness at the age of 47 years, 26 days on Nov. 15, 1916. Burial of the remains was in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre, following funeral services conducted by his pastor, Rev. William H. Lindemuth.

In a lengthy obituary, the Record said that Oswald had been "possessed of a genial, companionable disposition that made a host of friends for him, not only among his neighbors, but also with fellow employees and the general traveling public. He was always careful and thoughtful on duty, strove to do his best for the company's interests in looking after the comfort and safety of the passengers entrusted to his care, which made him one of the most popular conductors on the entire system."

In another twist of fate, Oswald's step-father Philip Saar, a station agent with the Central Railroad of New Jersey, was killed by a moving freight train near White Haven in February 1918.

The widowed Hattie outlived her spouse by more than half a century. She resided in Wilkes-Barre in 1920 with nine children under her roof, ranging in age from seven to 25, in addition to her unmarried sister Rebecca Gaumer. In December 1920, Hattie and Rebecca traveled to Buffalo for the funeral of their father.

At the age of 99, Hattie died at home on Nov. 28, 1969. A brief death notice was printed in the Schuylkill Haven (PA) Call.

Daughter Dorothy Gaumer Voeste (1895- ? ) was born in about 1895. At the age of 25 and unmarried, in 1920, she resided with her widowed mother in Wilkes-Barre and earned a living as a stenographer and as a pianist with a theatre. Later that year, in July 1920, she was joined in holy wedlock with Walter Scott Snyder ( ? - ? ) of Philadelphia, the son of Harrison and Lula (Kensey) Snyder. Their wedding nuptials were held in the Voeste residence, led by Rev. William "Gray" Jones of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church. In reporting on the event, the Wilkes-Barre Evening News said that a "screen of flowers and palms furnished a background for the event... The bride wore a beautiful gown of embroidered georgette and carried a bouquet of bride roses... The bride is one of the city's most  popular young women and is a graduate of the local high school." Walter was an alumnus of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. At the time of marriage, he was employed as an income tax auditor. The couple made their residence on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Son Edward Alfred Voeste (1898- ? ) was born in about 1898. In 1920, when he was 22 years old and a bachelor, he resided with his mother in Wilkes-Barre and earned a living as a mining engineer with a coal company. He entered into marriage with Olga Hankey ( ? - ? ). The pair made a home on West Broad Street and then on Hanover Green.

Daughter Madeline J. Voeste (1900-1984) was born in about 1900 in Wilkes-Barre. She was employed as a clerk in a Wilkes-Barre axle works in 1920. In about 1928, at the age of 28, she wedded 33-year-old salesman Lloyd J. Johnson ( ? - ? ), son of Herbert R. and Carrie L. (Ahlum) Johnson of Wilkes-Barre. Officiating was Rev. William "Gray" Jones. The couple together produced a son, Kent Johnson. For 17 years, from 1952 to retirement in 1969, Madeline was employed by Hess Department Store in Allentown as an assistant buyer. She held a membership in the Order of Eastern Star. Toward the end of her life, she was admitted to Cedar Brook Nursing Home in Allentown. She died there at the age of 84 on March 3, 1984. An obituary was printed in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice. Interment of the remains was in Grandview Cemetery in Allentown.

  • Grandson Kent Johnson was married and had two children. In 1984 they dwelled in Allentown.

Son Robert P. Voeste (1903- ? ) was born in about 1903. He earned a living circa 1920 as a tin factory laborer in Wilkes-Barre. He worked as a railroad baggage handler in the early 1920s at the Lehigh Valley East Market Street Station. Then in 1925, he resigned to accept new employment in Buffalo with an automobile firm. From there he relocated to Detroit where in 1927 he earned a living with a large department store. He is known to have spent vacations back in Wilkes-Barre to visit his mother and family. He returned to Wilkes-Barre by 1929 to work as a shipping clerk. On Sept. 18, 1929, at the age of 27, he was united in wedlock with 21-year-old Hazel K. Lenhardt ( ? - ? ), a resident of Keokuk, IA and the daughter of John and Blanche (Kensey) Lenhardt, also of Keokuk. Leading their wedding was Rev. George S. Connell.

Daughter Florence G. Voeste (1906-1992) was born on Jan. 11, 1906 in Wilkes-Barre. She was employed in young womanhood as a stenographer. At the age of about 23, on May 25, 1929, she married 26-year-old clerk Archie W. Weale ( ? -1978). He was a native of Geneva, NY and the son of Jacob H. and Anna (Inscho) Weale of New York City. Rev. Charles S. Roush officiated. At the time, Archie lived in Wilkes-Barre. The Weales resided for years in Wilkes-Barre, including at one time in South View Manor. Three offspring were born to their union -- Robert Weale, Fred Weale and Lois Thomas. The Weales were members of Firwood United Methodist Church, and Florence belonged to the Order of Eastern Star. Sadly, Archie died in 1978. She succumbed to death in Valley Crest at the age of 86 on March 20, 1992. The Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice printed an obituary, which noted that she was survived by five grandchildren and four grandchildren. Rev. Bette Poe, of the family church, presided at the funeral, followed by interment of the remians in Oak Lawn Cemetery.

  • Grandson Robert Weale lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1992.
  • Grandson Fred Weale relocated to Buffalo, NY.
  • Granddaughter Lois Weale married Robert Thomas. They made a home in Hanover Township near Wilkes-Barre in 1992.

Daughter Ruth Virginia Voeste (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA. She became a registered nurse, working in Wilkes-Barre. She did not marry until reaching the age of 41. On Oct. 29, 1948, she was joined in the rites of matrimony with 44-year-old Philip John Geib ( ? - ? ), son of Jacob W. and Emily Elizabeth (Harris) Geib. A native of Bethlehem, PA, Philip was a fireman and had been divorced in July 1948. Rev. Carl O. Trexler officiated their nuptials. Ruth's home in 1986 was in York, York County, PA.

Son Charles Oswald Voeste (1908-1986) was born on Sept. 8, 1908 in Wilkes-Barre. Circa 1934, when he would have been about 25 years of age, he is believed to have been joined in wedlock with Gretchen B. Shanks ( ? - ? ) of Hanover Township. News of their marriage was published in the Wilkes-Barre Evening News. Whether or not the couple actually tied the knot is not known. During World War II, Charles joined the U.S. Armed Forces and was sent to the European Theatre with posts in England and France. In time he was united in matrimony with Kelsey Hill ( ? - ? ). They did not reproduce. Their final years were spent in Florida in the community of Winter Park. Charles passed away on Jan. 22, 1986, in the Winter Park Care Center. The Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice published an obituary.

Daughter Harriet "Hattie" Voeste (1910-1994) was born on Aug. 9, 1910 in Wilkes-Barre. She did not marry over her long lifetime. She earned a living as a secretary for 42 years with the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. Circa 1938, as clerk of the superintendent of buildings, her annual salary was $1,020. She belonged to Wilkes-Barre's Central United Methodist Church. In later years, she dwelled with her niece Virginia Bauer in York, York County, PA at the address of 3325 Harrow Gate Road in York, York County, PA. She died in York Hospital at the age of 84 on Sept. 22, 1994. Officiating at her funeral was her pastor, Rev. Mark R. Terwilliger. Burial of the remains was in Oak Lawn Cemetery, with an obituary appearing in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice.

Son John Howell Voeste (1913-2006) was born in about 1913. He entered into the bonds of marriage with Isabel M. Hock (Jan. 26, 1921-2012), daughter of Christian and Isabel (Reibel) Hock. The pair did not reproduce. They resided near the Luzerne County Prison at 30 Priestly Street in Wilkes-Barre. Isabel worked for 26 years in the garment industry. During an escape in November 1981, a prisoner took refuge in the Voeste home and savagely beat the 69-year-old John. For the rest of their lives, they lobbied and sued for better protections. The prison installed sirens for alerting the neighborhood to escapes, and allowed the Voestes to stay safely behind locked doors during another incident in 1983. In February 1983, John died on July 6, 2006. Isabel outlived her spouse by a half-dozen years and became a resident of Keystone Garden Estates. At the age of 91, she passed away on Dec. 27, 2012. An obituary in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice said that burial was in Oak Lawn Cemetery.


~ Son Harry Thomas Gaumer ~

Son Harry Thomas Gaumer (1872?-1906) was born in about 1872 in Mauch Chunk.

He relocated to Buffalo, NY with his father.

Harry was a member of the Buffalo Lodge of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Foresters of America.

Sadly, he died at the age of only 34 on May 17, 1906. A death notice appeared in the Buffalo Enquirer, which asked the Wilkes-Barre and Mauch Chunk newspapers to re-publish.


Copyright 2020-2021 Mark A. Miner