George Henry Mosher and Gertrude Wheeler Life in New York

George Henry Mosher (1865-1928/29) and Gertrude Edna Wheeler (1868-ABT 1958)

Life Begins in Oakland, New York

George Henry Mosher was born in 1865 in Oakland, New York. George’s parents were Josiah Mosher and Sarah Jane Harrington. Oakland, it is presumed, was a very small town. Neither a city of Oakland, nor a county of Oakland, can be found in Wikipedia. George moved around quite a bit during his lifetime, but there is no evidence that he ever left the state of New York.

Work, Marriage and Two Children

In the 1880 Census, George is in Burns, Allegany, New York. He marries in 1886 and by 1900, he is living with his family in Portage, Livingston, New York. In 1910, he is in Hornell, Steuben County. It is there he will remain until his death in 1929. He was a master carpenter, so he clearly went to places where he could get work. He made the checkers/parchesi board which is owned by the family and is currently in the possession of George’s great-grandson, Robert Philip Ingraham.

George married his third cousin, Gertrude Edna Wheeler, in 1886 in Dalton, New York. (George’s mother, Sarah Jane Harrington, and Gertrude’s mother, Maria Van Guilder, were second cousins and both were great-granddaughters of David Harrington, who held the rank of Captain during the Revolution. David’s ancestors, and those of his wife Waite Tripp, can be traced back several generations.) Dalton, like Oakland, was apparently a very small town and not much can be learned about it.

Gertrude was born in 1868 in Yates County, New York. She was three years younger than George. Yates County is a small county located northeast of Allegany. How George and Gertrude met is not known, but since they were third cousins, it might have been through family-related visits.

Gertrude was “a talented, temperamental soul who taught herself to play both guitar and piano, write, and had music published, spoiled her youngest daughter, and didn’t always treat her husband nicely.” (These are the words of her daughter, Ratie Jane.) Gertrude’s parents were Phillip Wheeler and Maria Van Guilder. In the 1930 Census, a year after George died, Gertrude can be found living in Hornell with her sister, Mary Allen.

George and Gertrude had two daughters:

A Grandson Remembers his Grandfather

Robert Mosher Ingraham, the son of Ratie Jane, lived with his grandparents several times during his childhood. He wrote in his autobiography that his Grandfather Mosher “worked at times in the Kayser and Merrill mills. He was a wood worker in the Elgar Mill, a large plant which made window sashes and blinds. He held his job there from the time before I was born [1911] until shortly before he died in 1928.”

Another event relating to George Mosher is mentioned in Robert Ingraham’s memoir. He wrote: “It was in 1921 that I heard my first radio. It belonged to a man named Frank Spink who owned a jewelry store in Hornell. Right after that my grandfather, who was almost stone deaf from age 30, bought a Freshman 5-tube radio with three tuning dials and he spent quite a bit of money having two antenna poles put up which had pulleys and a rope to lower it for any needed repairs or replacement. Grandpa Mosher had started to play the violin before deafness overtook him and was passionately fond of music. When he learned that he could hear with earphones all the radio programs he entered a whole new life and used to sit in the dark for hours listening to the programs from KDKA in Pittsburg, WHAM in Rochester, and the WESG station in Schenectady.

“He bought a curved neck speaker so we could hear, too, and this was my first introduction to the outside world of good music. Radio then was a far cry from the stupid caterwauling and other noise that comes out of today’s stations. Grandpa’s radio, by the way, got its power from an automobile battery. He bought a charger and had two batteries so he was never without power.”

Another day that Robert Mosher Ingraham recalls involved his grandfather: “On April 16, 1917 my mother and father left us to attend the showing of the ‘Birth of a nation’ at the Majestic theatre. My grandfather was the baby sitter. Since he was very deaf we used to mischievously play tricks on him. One of the tricks was to creep along the floor and tie cotton string around his leg to the chair. We only did this when he was asleep in the chair. Perhaps he knew what we were doing but if so he never let on he did and spoil our fun.”

A Grandson Remembers his Grandmother

Robert Mosher Ingraham was also influenced by his grandmother, Gertrude Wheeler Mosher. He wrote: “My grandmother worked at home making dresses and doing other sewing and had a water-powered sewing machine. The motor was a little turbine operated off the city water line and it was powerful, smooth, and efficient. The exhaust water ran into a funnel and down the drain. There are not too many people living today who ever saw such a contrivance.

“I used to spend rainy days sitting by the sewing machine watching that marvelous invention and became very familiar with sewing technique, terminology and machine maintenance when I was only five years old. This was very helpful in later life. After I was married I bought a used electric sewing machine and taught my wife how to operate it. Now, 47 years later I am sewing kites in my shop and I often recall how I gained my initial inspiration and expertise.”

A long, hard life

George and Gertrude never lived far from a small area in New York — from Oakland to Dalton to Portage to Hornell.

George was a master carpenter until blindness forced him to retire. He died in 1929, at the age of 64, in Hornell. His wife survived until the age of 90. She died in about 1958.

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of George Henry Mosher and Gertrude Wheeler. This page last updated on June 10, 2012.

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