Augustus Gaumer was born on April 24, 1816 in Macungie Township, Lehigh County, PA, the son of Mathias and Christina (Eigner) Gaumer. He was baptized on June 30, 1816 in the Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church in Alburtis.
He was twice married. With his first wife Christina Sterner they bore a son, Franklin Gaumer.
He married again circa 1840 to Rebecca Hontz ( ? -1900).
They produced even more offspring of their own – Alfred Gaumer, Cornelius Gaumer, Henry Gaumer, Henrietta Gaumer and Urilla Gollus.
When the federal census enumeration was made in 1850, the family resided in Mahoning Township on the outskirts of Lehighton and Mauch Chunk, Carbon County, with the family surname spelled "Garmer." That year, Augustus earned a living as a boatman, likely on the Lehigh River.
By 1860, the Gaumers had moved into the Borough of Mauch Chunk. Augustus' occupation that year is illegible in the census record.
During the Civil War, two of the Gaumer sons served in the Union Army as members of the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry. The family was plunged into grief when son Franklin was killed in action at the Battle of Cold Harbor, VA.
After Franklin's death, Rebecca would pay her visits in Mauch Chunk to see how she was getting along.
The 1870 U.S. Census, of Mauch Chunk, shows the 54-year-old Augustus working as a railroad clerk master.
Augustus passed away in Mauch Chunk on Sept. 11, 1877. Burial was in Mauch Chunk Cemetery.
Rebecca outlived her spouse by 23 years. She joined him in death on Jan. 2, 1900.
~ Son Franklin Gaumer ~
Son Franklin Gaumer ( ? -1864) was born in (?), the son of Augustus Gaumer and stepson of Rebecca Gaumer. He was a casualty of the Civil War, one of many within the extended Meinert-Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor family.
When a young man, Franklin dwelled in Mauch Chunk, Carbon County, PA.
On April 22, 1860, Franklin was joined in holy matrimony with widow Salinda (Blose) Seltzer (Nov. 15, 1832-1918), a resident of Lower Towamensing Township near Mauch Chunk. She was the daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Beltz) Blose, with her named spelled at times as "Celinda." The wedding ceremony was performed in the residence of Rev. E.A. Bauer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lehighton, Carbon County.
Franklin's family seems not to have attended the wedding. He later "brought her home and introduced her as his wife," his brother Alfred recalled.
Salinda and her first husband, German immigrant Henry Seltzer Sr. ( ? -1852) had borne two children, Harriet Walck and Henry Seltzer Jr.. Tragically, he drowned in a canal along the Lehigh River near Bowmanstown on July 8, 1852, when Salinda was only age 19.
Salinda could not write her name, and signed it with an “X.”
The couple made a home in Mauch Chunk. During their brief four years of marriage, they did not reproduce.
After the outbreak of the Civil War, Franklin in 1844joined the Union Army. He was assigned to the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, commanded by Capt. John Patton. His younger half-brother Alfred also served in the same regiment.
While in action at Cold Harbor, VA, part of General Grant’s “Overland Campaign,” Franklin was killed on June 3, 1862. The Union Army sustained heavy losses in that battle but emerged victorious and led to the siege of the key Confederate cities of Petersburg and Richmond. Franklin is believed to be buried in the vicinity of Cold Harbor, and perhaps in its national cemetery, but the exact location is lost to history.
The 32-year-old Salinda thus was rendered a widow for a second time. She immediately submitted a claim to be paid a soldier’s widow’s pension for her loss of income and support. Her application was approved on Jan. 11, 1865. [Widow App. #56.899 – Widow Cert. #37.623]
When her former brother-in-law Alfred Gaumer came home from the Army at the end of September 1864, he found that Salinda was residing with another woman whose husband was away at war. Once the woman’s husband returned, she moved in with him, leaving Salinda alone.
Salinda then apparently found another place to live and asked her former brother-in-law Alfred Gaumer to help move the furniture. She soonafter took in a boarder, blacksmith James P. Smith (March 4, 1834-1903). To generate additional income, she took in washing work.
The landlord and tenant got along apparently joined themselves in marriage after that, circa 1866. Recalled daughter Harriet, "Mother and Mr. Smith went to Rhode Island on a trip - were gone a couple of weeks and when they came back said they were married."
The union was never lawfully recorded, and she never notified any other government authorities. For all intents and purposes, after a period of time, the Smith marriage was considered common law in Pennsylvania. Her action should have been grounds for her to lose her widow’s pension.
After Salinda wedded Smith, she sent her son to live with her parents, some seven or eight miles from Mauch Chunk.
Alfred later wrote that he considered Smith a “rather worthless character” and that “after Salinda took him up the Gaumer family dropped her and had but little to do with her…” Smith's real name was Robert Priestley and had been born in England. He and his brothers George and Emanuel all had run away from home and made the ocean crossing to Massachusetts. During the Civil War, he changed the name to Smith and enlisted in the Union Army at Fall River, MA, for which he was paid a bounty. He was placed in the 3rd heavy Artillery, and served from April 30, 1864 to Aug. 16, 1864, at which time he deserted. A slip of paper later was found saying he had been discharged from the Army's quartermaster department at Nashville in December 1864, but its authenticity could not be verified.
Once she had accumulated the first lump sum funds from the the pension, on Sept. 3, 1867 (her daughter's 16th birthday), Salinda and Smith relocated to nearby Indian Hill in Franklin Township near Weissport, Carbon County. There, she had bought a small farm from Thomas Solt. They remained on the tract for the balance of their married years. Their home consisted of a small farmhouse with five rooms. Her brother Wilson Blose boarded with them for a number of years.
With the pension in hand, she is known to have loaned $58.25 to her former father-in-law, Augustus Gaumer. Once Smith entered the picture, he pressured Salinda to get the funds back. On Dec. 22, 1866, Smith sued Augustus, but as Smith was not the lending party, the case was thrown out. So on Dec. 29, 1866, Salinda as the lender of record file her own claim and won. The Gaumers never forgave her for that.
Over the span of the next 41-plus years, she continued to collect monthly pension payments, in the grand total amount of $4,894.00. She received the checks at Mauch Chunk, under the name "Gaumer," while obtaining all other of her mail in Weissport, under the name Smith. To get from her home to Mauch Chunk, said local justice of the peace Stephen Ziegenfus, "She would have to come right by my house to Weissport and if she drove all the way would also have to go through Lehighton and Packereton, or if she took train she would come to Weissport, and go by Jersey Central to Mauch Chunk. There is hardly any other way she could get there."
Both Salinda and Smith were members of the Weissport Evangelical Lutheran Church under the pastorate of Rev. Edgar P. Xander. At some point Smith transferred his membership to the Long Run Church, also led by Rev. Xander.
Smith occasionally borrrowed money from his stepson Henry Seltzer to use to rebuild the little farmhouse. The amounts, spaced over time, totaled no more than $300, at five percent interest, with about $75 repaid during Smith's lifetime. Then after Smith's death, Salinda gave her son another note, but never repaid a cent.
Local auctioneer and insurance agent J.H. Rothermel, who knew Smith, said he "was a cripple - had but one leg.... Once in a while he would come to town and get a little full and the boys would say he must have drawn his pension."
Smith died in Long Run, Carbon County on April 29, 1902, ending their common law marital union which had lasted for 37 years. Rumors abounded that Salinda sent a note to Rev. Xander, the preacher, asking that he avoid mentioning her in the sermon so as to not jeopardize the pension. Interment of the remains was in St. Matthew's Cemetery in Lehighton. Salinda purchased a grave marker to honor his memory. Inscribed on one side, at her instruction, were the words “Salinda, wife of James P. Smith, born November 15, 1832.”
About the time of Smith's death, Salinda's son purchased his old horse for $25. Salinda decided to keep their cow.
The federal government eventually learned that Salinda had been drawing her pension illegally, and conducted an investigation. Special examiner R.A. Hales interviewed Salinda along with family members and witnesses in Mauch Chunk and Buffalo, NY to learn whether the marriage to Smith was legitimate. He even went so far as to search the pastoral records of the German Lutheran Church in Mauch Chunk to see if evidence could be found. Salinda herself denied that she and Smith had married. She told Hales that "I was told that so long as I never married again I could continue to draw the pension.... God knows I was never married to him." But all others said that her reputation as Smith's wife and identity as "Salinda Smith" were widely known. Hales finally wrote to his superiors, "She has virtually been playing the game of 'Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde' for over 40 years."
The pension officially was dropped on May 4, 1907. But the matter did not end there. Some 16 months later, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Sunbury notified the U.S. Pension Commissioner that it planned to sue Salinda for fraud and to recover the funds. All dates and amounts of pension payments were requested as evidence. The pension commissioner immediately replied, stating that the records in question were in the custody of the Auditor for the Interior Department.
The case was filed in the U.S. Circuit Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, No. 167 December Term 1908. A special examiner in the case noted that Salinda at that time was “an old and enfeebled woman, without property that could be levied upon under an execution…” The court ruled on behalf of the government. The matter became further entangled in bureaucracy because while the court decision occurred in Lackawanna County, it was not entered into formal Carbon County records, where the property in question was located. For all intents and purposes the judgment was rendered null, as there was no way Salinda could have repaid what she owed.
For eight years, until about 1917, Salinda rented two rooms in or near Weissport. She spent her final six months in her daughter's residence. There, she passed away on May 6, 1918. Her remains were lowered into repose in the Lutheran Church cemetery in North Weissport. Her son Henry did not attend the funeral but was able to go to the burial. She did not leave a last will and testament.
Stepdaughter Harriet Seltzer (1851-1925) was born on Sept. 3, 1851. She was a year old when her father drowned. Harriet married William H. Walck (Jan. 4, 1848-1911). The only known son born to this union was James Edward Walck. The Walcks were involved in the general coverup of the fact that Harriet's mother was not married to James P. Smith even though they lived together for decades as man and wife. When questioned by Rev. Edgar P. Xander, after Smith's death, William replied, "Say as little as possible ... it is no body's business." Circa 1907, they dwelled in rural Lehighton. Sadness blanketed the family when William died on Feb. 18, 1911. In her widowed years, she made a home with her daughter-in-law in the Lehighton area. Swas burdened with heart disease and hardening of the arteries. After being stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage, on Christmas Day 1925, she died four days later. Interment was in St. Matthew's Cemetery in Lehighton.
Stepson Henry Seltzer Jr. (1852-1932) was born on March 28, 1852 or 1853. He was united in wedlock with Catherine Moyer (1853-1933). She may have brought a son to the marriage, James Stonebader. The couple bore five known offspring -- William Henry Seltzer, Milton Lewis Seltzer, Albert F. Seltzer, Harry A. Seltzer and Mrs. Fred Hofacker. For years, Henry was employed as a trackman with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. They lived in rural Lehighton, Carbon County in 1907. Retired in 1925, when questioned by government authorities, he was almost blind. Having suffered with hardening of the arteries for several years, he suffered a stroke in late April 1932 and died a week later on May 1, 1932. His remains were laid to rest in Union Hill Cemetery in Weissport. An obituary in the Mauch Chunk Times-News said he "was an employee of the Lehigh Valley Company for fifty years and for the past eight years had been living retired." Catherine only outlived her spouse by a little more than a year. She passed into eternity at home in North Weissport, at the age of 81, on Aug. 5, 1933. The Times-News named her living siblings at the time -- William Moyer of Palmerton and Lydia Schoenberger of Weissport.
~ Son Alfred Gaumer ~
Son Alfred Gaumer (1841-1920) was born in 1841. He grew up in Mahoning Township near Mauch Chunk and Lehighton, Carbon County, PA.
He wedded Mary (1844- ? ).
The couple is believed to have produced four children, Rebecca Gaumer, Augustus Gaumer, Mrs. Oswald Voeste/Vost and Harry Thomas Gaumer,
During the Civil War, Alfred joined the Union Army on Sept. 16, 1861. He first served in the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, and held the rank of corporal. He 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.
After recovering from his wound, 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. His brother Franklin eventually joined the Army and also assigned to the 81st Pennsylvania, but the two brothers were never with the regiment at the same time.
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 Gaumer (1866- ? ) was born in about 1866 in Mauch Chunk. Circa 1920, she was not married and used the name "Gaumer."
Son Augustus Gaumer (1868- ? ) was born in about 1868 in Mauch Chunk.
Daughter Hattie Gaumer (1870- ? ) was born in about 1870 in Mauch Chunk.
Son Harry Thomas Gaumer (1872?-1906) was born in about 1872 in Mauch Chunk. He relocated to Buffalo, NY with his father. He 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.
~ Son Cornelius Gaumer ~
Son Cornelius Gaumer (1844-1932) was born in about 1844, the son of Augustus and Rebecca Gaumer. He grew up in Mahoning Township, Carbon County, PA.
Cornelius worked as a locomotive engineer with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He moved away from Pennsylvania a few years after the close of the Civil War.
By 1869, he had been joined in wedlock with his first wife, Julia Gollus ( ? - ? ).
The couple were the parents of these known offspring -- Ellen "Ella" Butler, Mrs. Frank A. Perry and William Ellsworth Gaumer.
Cornelius worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad for 59 years, mostly in Buffalo, NY. He began in 1857, at the age of 13, and was promoted to engineer after nine years on the job. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In April 1890, as an engineer, he had the honor of piloting the maiden voyage of a new passenger engine No. 522, named after Gen. P.C. Doyle. It was built in the Hazleton shops, and then run to Sayre and thence to Buffalo. Reported the Hazleton Plain Speaker, "The engineer in charge is Cornelius Gaumer, one of the oldest motive power men in the service, he having ran passenger engines on the Northern division since 1869..."
They have not yet been located on the 1870 U.S. Census. By 1875, the family relocated to New York State.
He was married to a second wife, Catherine Klein ( ? -1932).
Among their children were Robert M. Gaumer, Gertie Gaumer, Charles Gaumer, Edna Corola Springer and Nettie Steiger.
The Gaumers' residence in 1880 was in Elmira, Chemung County, NY.
He retired in 1916 at the age of 72.
Their addresses over the years were 14 Weaver Avenue, 320 Fenton Avenue and Maple Avenue in Buffalo. In 1912, he is known to have visited with his sister Urilla Gollus in Mauch Chunk.
Sadness blanketed the family when Catherine died on June 15, 1932. News of her passing was printed in the Angola (NY) Record.
Cornelius only outlived his wife by about a month-and-a-half, afflicted with heart disease. The Angel of Death carried him away on July 30, 1932, in the home of a daughter in Buffalo. Interment took place in St. Matthews Cemetery, West Seneca, Erie County, NY, with fellow members of the Buffalo Division of the BLE conducting the funeral service.
Son William Ellsworth Gaumer (1869-1942) was born in 1869 in Pennsylvania. He married Anna Howard (Aug. 20, 1867-1944), the daughter of Frederick G. and Mary (Logan) Howard of Rush, Susquehanna County, PA. The couple did not reproduce. As with his father, he was employed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad for 51 years. He was a longtime member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In about 1931, his widowed sister Ella Burr came to live with him and remained for four years until her death in 1935. William retired in 1937 and spent the balance of his years at leisure at home in Shortsville, Ontario County, NY. Said a newspaper, he was a "quiet, unassuming type of man [and] possessed many friends." On July 31, 1942, he was found unconscious at home and rushed to Canandaigua Hospital where he soonafter died at the age of 72. Rev. Edgar L. Kinner officiated at the funeral service, with interment of the remains in Brookside Cemetery in Shortsville. Anna outlived her husband by two years. As her health failed, she was admitted to Hornell Hospital in Steuben County, NY. She died at the age of 77 on Oct. 10, 1944. A newspaper obituary reported that "Her life had been spent in [Rush], Buffalo, Manchester and Shortsville, coming to the latter village about 30 years ago." She was survived by her sister Mrs. J.J. Kelley of Hornell and nephew Earl Howard of Shortsville.
Daughter Ellen "Ella" Gaumer (1866-1935) was born in 1866. She married Charles "Burr" Butler ( ? -1918), son of Charles Warren Butler of Plainfield, NJ. The couple did not reproduce. They resided in Buffalo at the address of 794 Humboldt Parkway. Sadly, Burr died on July 22, 1918. His obituary appeared in the Buffalo Evening News. Ella survived as a widow for another 17 years. She died on Sept. 27, 1935 in the home of her brother William in Shortsville, NY, having shared a residence with him for four years. Burial was in Brookside Cemetery in Shortsville, Ontario County, NY. An obituary in the Canandaigua (?) Daily Messenger said that Rev. A.N. Walker of the Methodist Church, officiated at the funeral service.
Son Robert M. Gaumer (1874- ? ) was born in about 1874. He married Myrtle Penney ( ? - ? ). The only known child born to this union was Norman C. Gaumer. They lived at 70 Briscoe Avenue in Buffalo. Sadly, Robert succumbed to death on Dec. 13, 1920. An obituary was printed in the Buffalo Evening News.
Daughter Gertrude "Gertie" Gaumer (1877-1932) was born in about 1877. At the age of 26, in about 1903, she wedded Frank A. Perry (1879-1939), a native of New York. The pair produced these known offspring -- Amy Gertrude Milliron, Grace C. Perry and Franklin A. Perry. During the Spanish American War, Frank served with the 13th United States Infantry, Company G. Frank was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a signalman and then as manager of the signal corps. Their home in 1920 was in Applewood Borough near Kittanning, Armstrong County, PA. In November 1926, Frank was transferred to the Panhandle Division of the Pennsy, along a mainline running from Pittsburgh to St. Louis. Obviously the new assignment involved a relocation. A story in Simpson's Leader Times of Kittanning reported that "For the present at least the Perry family will continue to reside here. Mr. Perry's many Kittanning friends regret to have him leave town but congratulate him upon his promotion." By 1930, the still-married Gertrude and her children Grace and Franklin were roomers in the home of Howard and Margaret Parker in Kittanning. Frank's whereabouts at that time are not yet known. Sadly, Gertrude died in 1932, at the age of 55 or 56. Her remains were lowered into eternal sleep in St. Matthews Cemetery in West Seneca, Erie County, NY. Frank lived for another seven years as a widower. He succumbed to death in 1939.
Son Charles Gaumer (1879-1911) was born in about 1879. He relocated to Manchester, NY where he worked as a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad. He never married. Tragically, at the age of 33, on Oct. 14, 1911, he took his own life by shooting himself while in the home of a friend, Leroy F. Johns. Police were told that Charles had been drunk the night of the suicide, but his father denied it. After an investigation, the county deputy medical examiner released the body to Charles' parents.
Daughter Edna Corola Gaumer ( ? - ? ) was married in June 1906 in her parents' residence to James "Earl" Springer of Buffalo. Rev. Lewis G. Rogers presided. News of their wedding was published in the Buffalo Evening News, which reported that "The bride wore white silk landsdowne, trimmed in rose point, made princesse. She carried American Beauty roses and was attended by Miss Carrie Fath, bridesmaid, Miss Marion Wells, maid of honor and little Clara Randall, flower girl. The house was decorated with palms and roses." The Springers bore at least one daughter, Lois Kumpf. The Springers were in Buffalo circa 1935.
Daughter Nettie Gaumer was born in (?). She wedded Chester Steiger ( ? - ? ). Circa 1932, their home was in Buffalo, at the address of 116 Indian Church Road.
~ Son Henry Gaumer ~
Son Henry Gaumer (1847- ? ) was born in about 1847, the son of Augustus and Rebecca (Hontz) Gaumer. He grew up in Mahoning Township, Carbon County, PA.
~ Daughter Henrietta Gaumer ~
Daughter Henrietta Gaumer (1853- ? ) was born in about 1853 in Carbon County, PA.
At the age of 17, in 1870, she was unmarried and lived at home.
She died on Dec. 12, 1873. Burial in Mauch Chunk Cemetery.
~ Daughter Urilla (Gaumer) Gollus ~
Daughter Urilla (Gaumer) Gollus (1857-1925) was born in about 1857 in Carbon County, PA, the daughter of Augustus and Rebecca (Hontz) Gaumer.
She married Joseph Gollus ( ? - ? ).
They produced these children – Mrs. Edward Boyle and Mrs. William Conley.
Circa 1907, Joseph was employed as a janitor in a public school in Mauch Chunk.
Urilla was questioned in 1907 by a special examiner of the federal government in her brother Franklin's pension case. During the interview, she said that "I was young and barely remember my half brother Franklin and I doubt if I would know his wife Salinda if I should meet her, haven't seen her for years and years."
As a widow, Urilla dwelled in the home of her daughter Mrs. Boyle in Pen Argyl, PA.
She died on Oct. 4, 1925 at the age of 67 years, 11 months and 11 days. Interment of the remains was in Mauch Chunk Cemetery. An obituary appeared in the Mauch Chunk Times-News.