Thursday, March 30, 2006

How the Gamble Letters were Found

Today I received an email from a decendent of Mary Ann Gamble, the woman who wrote these letters; the email was from her great, great granddaughter, Lori(Kohut)Bianco.

Lori has this to say, including how the original letters were found...
My uncle forwarded your blog link to me a few weeks ago when you published the photo of the St. Vincent school children. I checked back today & was thrilled to see you have found the Gamble family letters. I'm Neill "Bo" Gamble's granddaughter (William Gamble's great-granddaughter & Mary Ann Neill Gamble's great-great granddaughter...)

Beaverton [one of the towns mentioned in the letters that the Gambles had moved from...] is only about an hour from where I now live & we've been there a few times. Margaret Neill, the "Maggie" referred to in the letters, lived alone there after the death of her parents until she died in 1949 & is buried in the cemetery in the yard of "the Old Stone Church" (St. Andrew's). When we first visited Beaverton in 1984, people still remembered Maggie Neill & the house she lived in had only been torn down a few years previously. She died a spinster, & as we understand it, my grandfather's cousin, Warren Griffith (son of Jane/Jenny), went there after her death & rescued the letters from the trash heap. Unfortunately, we do not have much contact with the Griffith side of the family (it's possible you know them better than we do!), so we do not know whether they are still in possession of the originals.

Your theory that the Gambles were of "Irish stock, if not native, then one generation removed at most" is correct -- both Mary Ann & Alexander Gamble were born in Ireland, but (from what little we know), they emigrated to Scotland (exactly when, we do not know). There are references in the letters to "Dundee" & one of my mother's cousins found Mary Ann & Alexander's marriage certificate from there. From Canadian census records, I've determined that Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, was apparently born in Scotland, but Alex Jr., the oldest son, was born in New York State. The rest of the children (including my great-grandfather) were born in Beaverton, except for Sammy, the youngest, born in St. Vincent. There are various family stories/theories about how the family came to be in New York, one being that Alex (and possibly his brothers -- there is a reference in one of the letters to "sister Ellen in Philadelphia") came to America at the time of the civil war to weave cloth for uniforms for Union soldiers.

The links you've added to explain the various references are fascinating. The one about Hamilton House, in particular -- I had no idea it was in England. Re: the Orange Lodge, my mother has Alexander Gamble's Orange Lodge songbook (!) from the 1860s, it's quite a read!! My grandfather told me he used to have his sash too, but unfortunately it has disappeared.

Your blog is a treasure in itself. I'll continue to read it with interest.
I thank Lori for the kind compliments. I feel privileged to be learning from this project, and am thankful to be able to share it with others, especially those that have roots from our area...