Jesse Gomer -- originally spelled "Gaumer" -- was born on Feb. 2 or Feb. 6, 1835 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA, the son of Charles and Sarah "Sally" (Shoemaker) Gaumer. He was a veteran of the Civil War whose six months of wartime service caused more than six decades of pain and suffering.
As a young man, Jesse was a farmer. He stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighed 130 lbs, and had a fair complexion, light hair and brown eyes.
Jesse married Malinda Kendall (April 1850-1929).
Their children, born between 1870 and 1889, were Wilson Gomer, Sarah Anne Keefer Kindall, Ezra Mannassa Gomer, Rachel Missouri Shoemaker, Charles Edward Gaumer, Ida Belle Atchison, Cora Alice Shoemaker, James G. Gaumer, Earl Gaumer and Mary P. Gaumer. (These names are taken directly from a handwritten list made during Malinda's lifetime, but with spellings used by each individual in adulthood.)
During the Civil War, on Oct. 24, 1862, Jesse was drafted to serve in the 171st Pennsylvania Drafted Militia. He was assigned to Company H, and joined the regiment in Cumberland, MD. Also serving in this regiment, in Company K, were distant cousins Henry A. Miner and Charles Rose, also of Somerset County.
On April 20, 1863, while the regiment was in North Carolina, he contracted typhoid fever and "cerebro spinal meningitis," breaking out in "fever sores." His right arm became partially paralyzed. He was treated in Stanley General Hospital in New Berne, NC. He was so ill that he was discharged from the Army two months later, on June 20.
Back home in July 1863, Jesse contacted Dr. John P. Cover for a consultation. Dr. Cover found him "suffering greatly" and followed his case for many years. Other physicians who examined him said his "brain seems sluggish ... he is slow to answer [questions]."
Jesse returned home to Somerset County and resumed farming. He and Malinda were married several years later, but sources differ on the actual date. Various papers provide four different dates -- June 1867, March 1868, Nov. 13, 1868 or June 1870. Jesse was 15 years older than his bride. Justice of the peace James Devore performed the ceremony, held at Kennells Mill, near Hyndman, Bedford County, PA. Recalling this event later in life, she said, "At the time of ... marriage in Pa, no marriage license was required, therefore no public record of [the] marriage exists."
The federal census enumerations of 1870 and 1880 show the couple living on a farm in Southampton Township, Somerset County, near the post office of Wellersburg in 1870. They were longtime and faithful members of the White Oak Evangelical Church.
Circa 1888-1890, they resided in Wittenberg, Somerset County. Jesse was counted among Civil War veterans in special census of 1890 and disclosed that he had "paralysis in right arm."
Malinda lost her eyesight as she aged. Jesse once wrote, "My wife is blind and can't see to do no work." They needed to pay someone to help with housework, baking and cooking. A friend said she "is blind and uneducated. Can not read or rite."
Circa 1909-1921, Jesse resided along Rody Road in rural Sand Patch, Larimer Township, Somerset County. He suffered from impaired vision and hearing, stiff knees, deformed right hand and incontinence. After examining Jesse in 1921, a surgeon wrote: "I have known Jesse Gaumer for about 40 years and he has been an invalid all this time. He has all appearance of one who was grossly neglected after if not during a severe illness... He cannot descend the steps from the house for daily purposes."
Alzheimers apparently set in. Another neighbor, justice of the peace J.L. Kendall, observed that Jesse "frequently wanders from his home, necessitating search for him... It is unsafe for him to be alone at any time."
By 1915, Jesse noted that his eldest son Wilson and youngest daughter Mary were dead, but dates are not known.
Jesse finally passed away at home near Glencoe, Somerset County, at the age of 90, on Nov. 4, 1925. He was just three months shy of his 91st birthday. Funeral services were held in the Gomers' church, led by Rev. M.V.B. DeVaux and Dr. H.C. McKinley. DeVaux's sermon featured commentary about "Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and the great debate between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas," reported the Meyersdale Republican, "and of the early manhood, bravery, courage and faithfulness of Jesse Gomer as a soldier of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865." McKinley, who "sat back of the pulpit with Rev. DeVaux," made remarks "which tuched the hearts of all present. He told of Jesse Gaumer's soldier life, after which he read the solemn touching ritual of the Grand Army of the Republic as used at the funerals of old soldiers." The Republican added that he was survived by four sons and two daughters and that a son and three daughters had "preceded him to the grave." His remains were buried at Temple Cemetery in Meyersdale, Somerset County. [Find-a-Grave]
After his death, Malinda had no source of support, and decided to apply to the government for her late husband's pension. This task was quite difficult, said friend Kendall, because "all papers relative to pensions were strayed, lost or stolen, she can not say." Fortunately, her application was approved, and she began receiving $40 a month, later increased to $50.
By March 1926, Malinda had moved into the home farm of son Earl near Frostburg, Allegany County, MD. A friend wrote, "She does not live in the town of Frostburg but a little ways outside of the town limits, and not on any R.F.D. Route." She apparently suffered a stroke, as she was paralyzed for about a year prior to death.
Malinda passed away on May 13, 1929. She was buried at Temple Cemetery near Sand Patch.
~ Son Wilson Gomer ~
Son Wilson Gomer (1867- ? ) was born in about 1867 in Somerset County, PA.
In about 1888, when he would have been about 21 years old, Wilson was united in the bonds of matrimony with Ida Albright (Oct. 5, 1867-1940), daughter of Jonathan and Julia Ann (Hutzell) Albright of Meyersdale.
The couple bore 11 children. In what must have been a never ending parade of heartache and grief, four died by 1900, and eight by 1910. The known names were J. James Gomer, James Gomer, Rose Marie Gomer, Malinda "Linnie" Gomer and Zura Gomer.
Wilson earned a living over the years as a farmer and coal miner. In 1907-1908, while making a home in the small community of Berkeley Mills, he was employed in the Goodtown coal mine. One day at work in January 1908, he "narrowly escaped death" in the mine, reported the Meyersdale Republican. "He had just finished loading a car and was in the act of pushing it to the heading when several tons of roof fell down, and but for having sufficient presence of mind to crouch close beneath the sloping sides of the car, thus breaking the force of the fall, it is said he might not have escaped with his life. As it was he received some ugly cuts and bruises on the back of his head."
As Wilson recovered from his injuries, he felt that a change of scenery might be good. He told a newspaper reporter that he was considering selling out and moving to the eastern shore of Maryland, so as to "avoid this dangerous occupation" of mining. And in fact, in February 1909, he sold his home at Berkeley Mills to George Tedrow, and relocated not to Maryland but rather to a farm near Wittenberg in Larimer Township on the outskirts of Meyersdale, Somerset County. The Republican said their new home was "in the land of their nativity."
The family is shown in Larimer in the 1910 U.S. Census, and a gossip column item about Ida, Rose and Malinda in the Republican in 1911 states their home location as "Plum Bottom."
Wilson is believed to have died by 1915, as per notes of his father's. There is some discrepancy, as circa 1925, a "Wilson Gomer" of Somerset County is known to have secured more substantial employment in an automobile factory in Detroit. After he had become settled there, his wife joined him in about July 1925. Who was he?
The widowed Ida dwelled with her newlywed son James in Masontown, Fayette County in 1920, and then by 1930 was back in Meyersdale, living by herself.
In her later years, Ida boarded in the home of her sister Mrs. Joseph Beal at 235 North Street in or around Meyersdale. Suffering from hypertension and heart disease, she died there on May 23, 1940. Preaching the funeral sermon was Rev. H.K. Hilner of the Zion Lutheran Church, with interment of the remains in Temple Cemetery near White Oak. An obituary was published in the Republican.
Son J. James Gomer (1883- ? ) was born in Feb. 1883 in Somerset County.
Son James Gomer (1891- ? ) was born in about 1891. As of 1910, when he was 19, he labored on his father's farm. He married Florence (1895- ? ). The couple migrated to Masontown, Fayette County, PA, where James mined coal as of 1920. That year, his widowed mother and sisters Rose Marie, Malinda and Zura lived in their household. He is believed to have lived in Akron, OH in 1940.
Daughter Rose Marie Gomer (1903-1923) was born on April 6, 1903. Rose Marie was "badly burned when 6 yrs. old," wrote a physician, Henry S. Kimmell, MD, "losing her nose, sight of one eye & greatly disfugured." At the age of 20, in 1923, she shared a home with her parents and was burdened with heart valve problems. On the fateful early morning hours of Nov. 5, 1923, she was found dead in bed. Funeral services were held in the Gomer home, led by Rev. A.F. Richards of the Meyersdale Evangelical Church. She was laid to eternal rest in Temple Cemetery, with an obituary published in the Meyersdale Republican.
Daughter Malinda Gomer (1906-1929) was born on March 31, 1906 or March 30, 1906 in Somerset County, the 11th of her parents' children. Dr. H.C. McKinley assisted in the birth. Malinda contracted epilepsy and never married. In early adulthood, she was admitted to the Somerset County Home and Hospital for treatment, under the care of Dr. Henry Wilson of Somerset. She died there on Feb. 26, 1929, at the age of 20 (or 23) years, 10 months and 28 days. Interment of the remains was in White Oak Cemetery.
Daughter Zura Gaumer (1913- ? ) was born in about 1913. Evidence suggests that she married Harry Shumaker ( ? - ? ) and made a home in 1940 in Akron, Summit County, OH.
~ Daughter Sarah Anne "Sadie" (Gomer) Keefer Kindall ~
Daughter Sarah Anne "Sadie" Gomer (1869-1918) was born on April 25, 1869 in Somerset County, PA.
She was twice-wed. Her first spouse was David Keefer (Sept. 1863- ? ).
The known children born to this union were Wilson Keefer, Jesse Ezra Keefer, Anna Logan, Bertha Keefer, Goldie Stockton, George Keefer, Daisy Keefer and Elmer Keefer.
David earned a living as a day laborer.
The Keefers separated by 1900, with the children remaining in David's custory. Circa 1900, he and the offspring lived together near Sand Patch, Larimer Township, Somerset County, with 19-year-old house keeper Maggie Waller in the household.
Sarah's second husband was Lemuel B. Kindall ( ? - ? ), also spelled "Kendall."
The second marriage appears to have been troubled. Sarah moved out in early 1907 and began to share a home with Lewis Martin in nearby Fairchance. Lemuel then placed a notice in the Uniontown Morning Herald, saying she had "left my bed and board, without cause, [and] I hereby notify the public not to harbor or trust her on my account." Sarah and Martin were arrested and charged with adultery, and assessed court costs of more than $50. A friend of the pair, living in Dunbar, came forward and paid the costs on their behalf.
Federal census records for 1910 show the 42-year-old Lemuel boarding in the home of William and Sarah Swearingen in Dunbar, Fayette County, and earning a living as a coal mine laborer.
In the late 1910s, she resided in Mount Braddock near Uniontown.
Sadly, she was burdened with fibroids in her uterus which led to cystitis and kidney infection. After suffering for more than three months, she succumbed to death in Mount Braddock on July 13, 1918 at the age of 49. Funeral services were held in their home, led by a distant cousin, Rev. David Ewing Minerd, the famed "Blacksmith Preacher" of Fayette County. Her remains were shipped to Connellsville and thence to the home of her parents for additional services. Interment was in Temple Cemetery in Meyersdale, Somerset County. An obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
Son Wilson Keefer (1887- ? ) was born in Aug. 1887. He lived in Marietta, OH in 1918.
Son Jesse Ezra Keefer (1887-1945) was born on Sept. 3, 1887 in Connellsville. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I as a member of the 145th Regular Infantry. He was united in matrimony with Rose Drenner (1899-1963). They were the parents of Raymond Edward Keefer, William James Keefer, Genevieve Moore, Evelyn Dolores Fincham and Charles David Keefer. Jesse made a living as a coal miner for Castle Coal Company. In the mid-1949s, his address was House 243, Coverdale, near Pittsburgh. Grief blanketed the family when he suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed at the corner of Maple and Main Streets in Bethel Township on June 1, 1945 at the age of only 48. His remains were interred in Chartiers Cemetery in Carnegie, near Pittsburgh. His year of birth as marked on his gravestone is 1896, off by nine years. Perhaps reflecting his parents' separation, Rose was unable to name the mother on Jesse's death certificate.
Daughter M. Bertha Keefer (1889-1980) was born in Aug. 1889. She dwelled in 1918 in Layton, PA. She was joined in the bonds of marriage with William H. Whiffen (1892-1970). The couple made their home in Mesa, Maricopa County, AZ. William died on June 29, 1970. Bertha survived for another decade-plus. She joined in him in death on Dec. 9, 1980. They are buried in the City of Mesa Cemetery.
Daughter Anna Mae Keefer (1890-1959) was born on May 15, 1890 in Somerset County. She was married twice. She first wedded (?) Logan/Logue. The couple produced one known son, James Logue. Their home in 1918 was in Garrett, Somerset County. Later, she was joined in wedlock with Norman Boden ( ? - ? ). Children of the second union were Mrs. John Boden, Clifford Boden and Arthur Boden, among others. The couple lived in Bobtown, Greene County, PA at 164 Larimer Avenue. Sadly, at the age of 68, Anna Mae was stricken with pancreatitis. She was admitted to Greene County Memorial Hospital, where she succumbed on Feb. 16, 1959. Interment was in Greene County Memorial Park, with an obituary published in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
Daughter Goldie Keefer married (?) Stockton. They made a residence in Mount Braddock in 1918 and in Uniontown in 1959-1965.
Son George Keefer ( ? - ? )
Daughter Daisy Belle Keefer ( ? -1965) was born on Sept. 22, 1908. She wedded James Reggie Harrison Twigg Sr. (1897-1973), son of William H. and Eliza (Leasure) Twigg of Bedford County, PA. Eight offspring were born to this union -- William Harrison Twigg, Irene Clites, Catherine Clites, Delores Juanita Welsh, Marion Kahl, Mrs. Gerald Steadman and James R. Twigg Jr. The couple lived in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD with their home along Hazel Road. James earned a living through his work at Welsh Flower Shop. They were members of the Elliott Methodist Church. Daisy Belle died at the age of 57, in a hospital in Baltimore, MD, on March 21, 1965. Funeral services were held in the family church, led by Rev. Joseph R. Gardiner, and burial was in the Centenary United Methodist Church Cemetery in Cumberland. A short obituary appeared in the Connellsville Daily Courier. James outlived his bride by eight-plus years. He passed into eternity in Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland on Oct. 30, 1973. He left behind 27 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.
Son Elmer Keefer ( ? - ? )
~ Son Ezra Mannassa Gomer ~
Son Ezra Mannassa Gomer (1871-1958) was born in about 1871 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA. His name also has been spelled "Manezra."
On July 1, 1895, in a wedding held in the Presbyterian Church of Cumberland, Allegany County, MD, Ezra married Isabell (Jan. 12, 1879-1956), a native of Mt. Savage, MD.
The offspring born to this union were Walter J. Gomer, Verda Hill, Leona Stevens and Ivy Leidy.
The Gomers are known to have lived for decades in Juniata Township near Altoona, Blair County, PA. Ezra earned a living for 33 years as a conductor with the Pennsylvania Railroad and was a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen lodge in Altoona. They belonged to the Methodist Church, and their address from 1911 to 1946 was 413 Sixth Street, Juniata.
After retirement from the Pennsy, Ezra worked as a caretaker for the First National Bank's Juniata branch.
In 1945, the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary by hosting a dinner in their home followed by an open house.
In about 1946, the Gomers relocated to Randolph, Portage County, OH, and remained for the duration of Isabell's life.
Sadly, after enduring a lingering illness, Isabell passed away in the home of her daughter Ivy Leidy in Suffield, OH on March 28, 1956. Her remains were returned to Altoona to rest in Grandview Cemetery.
Ezra outlived his wife by only two years. At the age of 86, he joined her in death on Jan. 17, 1958. Rev. Fenton of St. John Church preached the funeral sermon, which the family thought was kind and comforting. A short death notice was printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Later that week, the family took out an advertisement of thanks in the Akron Beacon Journal to all who had shown support.
Son Walter J. Gomer was married and lived in Akron.
Daughter Verda Gomer wedded A.H. Hill and dwelled in Cleveland.
Daughter Leona Gomer married D.r. Stevens. They established a home in Atwater, OH.
Daughter Ivy Gomer was joined in marriage with Myrl Leidy. Circa 1956, they were in Suffield, OH.
~ Daughter Rachel "Missouri" (Gaumer) Shoemaker ~
Daughter Rachel "Missouri" Gaumer (1873-1939) was born on May 12, 1873 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA.
She wedded Sylvester Shoemaker (Jan. 1, 1869-1950), also spelled "Shumaker" in older records.
They were the parents of John Shoemaker and Mrs. Nelson Bowman. Four others died young and are thought to have been Jessie Shoemaker (Jan. 8, 1896-June 9, 1896) -- Artie Shoemaker (died at age one day, March 30, 1902 -- Bessie Mae Shumaker (a lifetime invalid, Dec. 23, 1905-Jan. 28, 1931) -- and one unknown.
The Shoemakers maintained a home in Glade City.
As her health declined, Missouri was admitted to Memorial Hospital in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD. The Angel of Death carried her away at the age of 66 on Oct. 7, 1939. Burial was in Temple Cemetery near Meyersdale, following funeral services held in the White Oak Evangelical Church, co-officiated by Rev. W.M. West and Rev. O.A. Lorenz. An obituary was printed in the Meyersdale Republican.
Sylvester outlived his wife by 11 years. He passed away on March 18, 1950 at the age of 81.
Son John Shoemaker lived in Accident, MD in 1939.
Daughter (?) Shoemaker married Nelson Bowman. In 1939, their home was in Meyersdale.
~ Son Charles "Edward" Gaumer ~
Son Charles "Edward" Gaumer (1876-1953) was born on March 12, 1876 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA.
Unmarried in 1920, when he was 44 years old, Edward dwelled with his parents and worked on their farm in rural Sand Patch, Larimer Township, Somerset County. He continued this occupation for the rest of his life. His home was in White Oak in 1939.
Circa 1941, he was diagnosed with senile psychosis. Then in about 1950, he was admittd to the Somerset State Hospital. He spent the final three years in the institution and, after developing pneumonia, succumbed to death there at the age of 77 on Oct. 11, 1953. Mary Garlitz of Meyersdale signed the Pennsylvania certificate of death. Burial was in the Temple Church Cemetery.
~ Daughter Ida Belle (Gaumer) Atchison ~
Daughter Ida Belle Gaumer (1879- ? ) was born in about 1879 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA.
She was joined in holy wedlock with (?) Atchison ( ? - ? ).
Her home in 1925 was in Frostburg, MD.
~ Daughter Cora "Alice" (Gaumer) Shoemaker~
Daughter Cora "Alice" Gaumer (1880- ? ) was born in Oct. 1880 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA.
Unmarried at the age of 19, in 1900, she lived at home and worked as a servant.
Alice married Henry Shoemaker (1873- ? ) in about 1904, when she was age 24 and he 31. They were nine years apart in age.
The couple made a home with Alice's parents in 1910 as shown on U.S. Census returns.
~ Son James G. Gomer ~
Son James G. Gomer (1881- ? ) was born in Aug. 1881 in Somerset County, PA.
He grew up in farming and also learned the trade of carpentry.
On Nov. 18, 1906, at the age of 23, he wedded 20-year-old Nora Meyers (1886- ? ), daughter of George and Sarah Meyers of near Sand Patch, Larimer Township, Somerset County. The wedding service was held at the home of Rev. J.H. Wise, who officiated.
They produced these known offspring -- Jesse G. Gomer, Ethel Johnson, Harvey Gomer, Harry Gomer, Mary Gomer, Walter Gomer and Edward Gomer.
The federal census enumeration of 1910 lists the family on a farm in Larimer Township, Somerset County.
During the 1920s, they relocated to Frostburg, MD, and were there as of 1930. Their residence in the mid-1950s was the Borden Mines community of Frostbug.
James died at home at the age of 75 on the Fourth of July 1957. Rev. Joseph Byers officiated at the funeral, held in the Church of the Nazarene. An obituary appeared in the Cumberland News.
Son Jesse G. Gomer (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908.
Daughter Ethel Gomer (1909- ? ) was born in 1909. At the age of 19, circa 1928, she married (?) Johnson. They bore one known daughter, Katherine Johnson. By 1930, Ethel and her daughter were back in her parents' home. She remarried by 1944 to (?) Winebrenner and resided in Borden Mines.
Son Harvey Gomer (1911- ? ) was born in about 1911. He lived in Borden Mines and was frequently in trouble with the law. In June 1939, he was found guilty of motor vehicle violations and sentenced to a year in the Maryland House of Correction. After his release, he moved to Baltimore, MD. He was married. Law enforcement officials considered him a rogue and a vagabond. Nicknamed "Two Gun," he committed robbery on the eve of World War II in the Forest Park and West Arlington neighborhoods of Baltimore and was arrested in 1945.
Son Harry Gomer (1916- ? ) was born in about 1916. He relocated to Baltimore, MD.
Daughter Mary Gomer (1919- ? ) was born in about 1919. She wedded (?) Imes ( ? - ? ) and (?) Winebrenner and dwelled in Borden Mines.
Son Walter Gomer (1921- ? ) was born in about 1921. He joined the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II and was deployed in France and Italy, serving as an engineer-gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber and completing 50 combat aerial missions over Europe. He made his home in Klondike [PA?] in 1957.
Son Edward L. Gomer (1923-1944) was born in about 1923. He did not marry. Edward worked as a young adult at the Brokenheart coal mine in Frostburg. On March 9, 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was placed in the 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Edward was seriously wounded in action in France on July 10, 1944. He appears to have recovered and was shipped to England to convalesce and recover. But he was not fated to survive. Tragically, he was killed in combat in Germany on Oct. 9, 1944, at the age of 21. Word of his death was sent to his parents, and the news was published in the Cumberland Sunday Times. His remains were placed into eternal rest in Liège, Belgium in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, Plot B, Row 6, Grave 37. [Find-a-Grave]
Daughter Dorothy Gomer ( ? - ? ) married (?) Johnson and (?) Stott and lived in College Park, MD.
Son Earl Gomer ( ? - ? ) served in World War II in the Armed Forces. Later, he lived in Washington [state?].
~ Son Earl Gomer ~
Son Earl Gomer (1887- ? ) was born in Feb. 1887 in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA.
As a bachelor in 1910, at the age of 24, he resided at home in Sand Patch, Larimer Township, Somerset County, and labored on his parents' farm.
Earl tied the knot with Edith Ernst (1895-1947), daughter of George and Lydia (Lazer) Ernst. She was eight years younger than he.
The couple bore two known sons -- Irwin Gomer and Clarence Edward Gomer.
Their home in 1920 was in rural Sand Patch, where he was employed as a railroad trackman. Then by 1939, they had moved into Maryland and settled in Frostburg. Their residence in 1947 was in the community of Zihlman, a mile and a half from Frostburg.
The Gomers were members of the Church of the Nazarene.
Edith was hospitalized in Miners Hospital on Nov. 25, 1947 and remained almost a month, until her death on Dec. 20, 1947. An obituary was printed in the Cumberland News.
At his death (date unknown), Earl is believed to have been interred in White Oak Cemetery in Wittenberg, Somerset County.
Son Irwin Gomer (1914- ? ) was born in about 1914 in Somerset County. Circa 1947, he lived in Zihlman near Frostburg.
Son Clarence Edward Gomer (1917- ? ) was born in about 1917 in Somerset County. He resided in 1947 near Frostburg, in the Zihlman community. At the age of 59, in November 1975, he was injured his back and left ankle when falling from a roof where he had been working.
~ Daughter Mary P. Gaumer ~
Daughter Mary P. Gaumer ( ? - ? ) was born in (?).
She was deceased by 1915, as per notes of her father's.
Copyright © 2003, 2014, 2020 Mark A. Miner