Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: John Frederick Gibson

Today's spotlight focuses on my great-grandfather, John Frederick Gibson. Fred was born 21 Jan 1884 in Saint John, New Brunswick to John and Catherine (Cain) Gibson. John and Catherine were both children of Irish immigrants and were married in Cathedral, a Catholic church in New Brunswick (pictured at left) a few years before in 1879. Fred had an older sister, Annie, an older brother named Thomas, and a younger brother named David. One other child was born to the family, but I haven't been able to find records of him/her, only a mention in a census record of Catherine bearing five children with four surviving. All the children but David were born in Saint John. When Fred was very young, perhaps only 1 or 2 years old, John and Catherine moved the family to Helena, Montana, where David was later born. To the right is a photo of Bridge St. in Helena, taken about the time of John Gibson's arrival to Montana.

Fred lived and grew up in Montana with his family, including his grandfather Dennis Cain (who joined them in Montana in 1891), who lived with them until his death in 1906. Fred's mother was Catholic, and attended the local Catholic church. Fred's father John, who had been attending the Church of England while living in Canada, would wait outside the church and go home with Catherine afterwards. Catherine died in 1907 from pneumonia, and Fred's father John died in 1914.

Fred worked for the railroad for a good part of his life, as did his brothers David and Thomas, and his father-in-law, Samuel Joseph. Fred lived for a while with his sister Annie, who had married William Condon, until he met and married Augusta (Joseph) Staffan, widow of Charles Staffan, on 13 June 1923. They had a son, whom they named Frederick Joseph Gibson (my grandfather). Augusta died in 1931, following a hysterectomy. Fred Jr. stayed with his aunt Pat Walsh for a brief time while Fred Sr took care of things after Augusta's death.

Fred married Emma Kitzel about 1932 (you can see their picture at the top of this post). She was a clerk at the railroad where Fred worked. They later joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1951, and stayed active in the church for about five years, until Emma's death in 1955. Following Emma's death, Fred married Ethel Lindberg, a Catholic, and began attending the Catholic church with her. According to his son, Fred attended just about every church around.

Fred passed away on 5 August 1967 at the age of 83 in Butte, Montana. He is buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Butte.

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