Infamous Cousins

bruce gerald historical marker

It seems my great great great great grandfather had a grandson. Judge George Bruce Gerald was the grandson of Gabriel Gerald, my great great great great grandfather and the first of my line of Geralds to move to Mississippi. Judge Gerald was the son of George Gerald, and George’s brother William was my grandfather’s great grandfather.

Excuse me while I attempt to get this straight in my own head. Gabriel was the father of 14 children (even now I think it would be appropriate to say a prayer for his poor wife), among them William and George. William was the father of Sumpter, who was the father of Albert, who was the father of Claudie, who was the father of Billy, who is the father of Sharon. That’s how I find my way back to this tenuous connection to Judge George Bruce Gerald, who has a marker in his name in Waco, Texas because he shot two men cold dead and then got himself reelected afterwards.

You can read the story here and here.

I stumbled across all of this last night because I was reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. This novel is set in the fictional location of Gerald County, Mississippi. I thought that was hilarious. We Mississippi Geralds are now Tom Franklin’s own personal breed of Snopeses. Somebody has to be, I suppose, and we probably fit the part as well as anyone’s family.

I got so distracted by the words Gerald County that I couldn’t keep reading the book. Instead I Googled Gerald County, Mississippi even though I knew it wasn’t a real place. What I found was this article from Ancestry.com about Gabriel Gerald and his descendents.

Note the description of Gabriel:

(1) Gabriel Gerald was a Baptist Minister of Irish descent. His Father’s name was Fitz-Gerald, an Irish Patriot who, being sought by the British, emigrated to America and settled in North Carolina. To avoid detection (The colonies were still under British rule) he dropped the “Fitz” part of his name and was known as Gerald, which has since been the Family name.
His Mother was of Irish descent but American born. His wife, (2)Elizabeth White was of Welch descent, her ancestors having some to this country from Wales in 1670. Rev. Gabriel Gerald moved his wife and other members of his family by covered wagon from North Carolina to “Amite County, Mississippi in 1810.
He resided about five miles south-east of Centerville, Mississippi where the Old Family burial ground is located.
My source says that his wife and sons. Drs. Robert H. Gerald and Samuel Gerald, along with other members of his family, are buried there. Although it does not say, I assume he is also.
Gabriel Gerald had advanced ideas regarding Christian observance of the Sabbath. For putting into practice some of these ideas, he was tried by Church Officials and temporarily silenced from preaching. He also published a pamphlet on his views, which no doubt did not help his case.
There were 13 children born to them:
(A)Benjamin – 2/23/1774
(B)Gabriel Jr.- 1/13/1775
(C)William – 7/10/1776
(D)Elizabeth R. -12/ 22/1777
(E)Richard L. -3/ 25/1779
(F)Mildred -1780
(G)James – 12/25/1781
(H)Jessie -6/ 30/ 1783
(I)Samual- 1/ 2/ 1785
(J)Charles-11/ 18/ 1786
(K)George 11/18/1786
(L)John- 5/ 21/1788
(M)Robert H -10/ 23/1791
(N)John G -10/ 23/1797

The part about him being a Baptist preacher of Irish descent does not surprise me. I knew that already. I also knew about changing the name from Fitzgerald to Gerald. I didn’t know about the 14 children. I’ve copied the list of their names over just so my nieces can enjoy gawking at the rate of these births and wondering how on earth. The part that really tickled me, however, was “Gabriel Gerald had advanced ideas regarding Christian observance of the Sabbath.”

My great great great great grandfather was a radical. Who knew? I wish I knew just what his ideas were. I wish I could see the contents of one of his pamphlets. I’d also love to know how it came to be that Gabriel Gerald, the rebellious Baptist preacher, had a grandson who ended up as a Judge in Waco, Texas, and who wrote a pamphlet supporting a newspaper called The Iconoclast, that, as far as I can tell, existed to irritate the Baptists.

It’s doubtful that a whole lot of records exist for Great Great Great Great Grandaddy Gabriel. He was an obscure Baptist preacher in an obscure Baptist town. Cousin Judge George Bruce is another matter. He was an infamous public official with practically a blog of his own (note the handbills he passed out when he got angry with people).

So it’s in that spirit that I’ve dug up this gem of an obituary written by Judge Gerald for his friend Brann the Iconoclast. If he were alive today, I would link to his blog. I would be his Facebook friend. I would vote him back into office after he shot someone cold dead in the town square. I think he was brilliant even if possibly slightly insane.

That’s how we like them here. Welcome to Gerald County.

***

PS — I’ve also just located this book of poetry by Florence Gerald, Judge GB Gerald’s daughter. It was originally published in 1880 and has recently been reprinted for its “cultural significance,” something I can tell you no poet would ever expect to happen.

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41 Responses to Infamous Cousins

  1. Barbara Bowie-Whitman says:

    I too am a descendant of Gabriel Gerald, through his son Samuel, his son Granville Clifford (referred to as Clanville Trevesant in the article you quote by Cathy Berthelson Hilley, which was posted on Ancestry.com), his son Samuel Robert, his daughter Velma, and her son Robert Gerald Bowie (my father.) My grandmother, Velma Folsom Gerald Bowie, was very close to her cousin Geraldine, one of the grand daughters of Judge Gerald. (Geraldine’s mother was Maude Gerald Richardson) I have been working Gerald genealogy and found your post this morning. I would love to be able to post a photo of that historical marker on my family tree website. I have entered you on my tree from what you have in the post. If you share your email with me, I will invite you to have a look at the site.

    I am not sure I buy the Fitzgerald/Irish explanation. My grandmother always told me she thought the family was of French origin. There is another school of thought which says that the Irish legend was just a typical 19th century way of explaining a dead end in genealogical research by presenting an “immigrant ancestor” myth when you hid a dead end. I have found this in many of my family lines. So I always take the immigrant ancestor stories with a grain of salt. The other school of thought on the Geralds is that they were French Huguenots.

    I do not do Facebook or any other “social” sites. Just email. I would be happy to hear from you.
    Barbara Bowie-Whitman – gggg grand daughter of Gabriel Gerald, and your 5th cousin

  2. Barbara Bowie-Whitman says:

    Gabriel never made it to Mississippi as Cathy claims in her Ancestry/Rootsweb article. Gabriel died in South Carolina. Elizabeth and MOST of her children went to Mississippi. Benjamin and Gabriel Jr did not go. Gabriel Jr died before Elizabeth and the 11 others left for Mississippi, and Benjamin stayed in South Carolina. The records of Gabriel’s will establish that Cathy’s account is a little off. It does, however, have a lot of useful info.
    Judge Gerald’s death in January 1914 got front page coverage in the Waco Semi Weekly Tribune. It refers to Florence as Florence Gerald Clarke. I assume she divorced Mr Clarke at some point or she would not have been buried under her maiden/stage name. There is a posting about descendants of Elizabeth Anderson, grandmother of Omega HINDA Melton, which gives information about the children of the Judge and Omega who died very young. They actually had a total of 10 children.

  3. Sharon Gerald says:

    You seem to know a lot more about this than I do. I just used the Ancestry.com article and my great-grandfather’s name to figure out the connection. I’ve heard the story that Gabriel Gerald was the first Gerald to come to Mississippi and that he was of Irish descent and formerly a Fitzgerald all of my life, but I don’t know it’s origins.

    I do plan to visit the Gerald cemetery in Amite County soon. I’ll send you pictures if you want to keep in touch. The picture above of the marker in Texas is not mine. I just linked to it on another site. Here’s the link to where I found it– http://rehtwogunraconteur.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Gerald-Harris-Shooting-Historical-Marker.jpg

  4. Sharon Gerald says:

    My email address, by the way, is sharon dot gerald at gmail dot com.

  5. Larry Gerald says:

    I also descended from Gabriel and would like to stay in touch with both of you- by private email rather than public posting.

    I have see different opinions on the death and burial site of Gabriel- some say SC, others say MS.

    I have attended the Gerald reunion for the past few years. There is a GERALD cemetery at Smithdale. Thomas Sumpter Gerald and his third wife Nancy are buried there.

    with the help of an Amite Co historian, we found the GERALD FAMILY BURIAL GROUND, referred to by attorney Eugene Gerald. Eugene did his work ca 1920. The GFBG is located on private property, and I had permission to search for it. The cemetery is overgrown with poison ivy and briars, and I have plans-with the landowner’s permission- to go there about jan-feb 2012 to do a clean up and try to id some stones.

    I would like to swap info with both of you regarding our family.

    I live in Newton Co Tx- where do you live?

  6. Sharon Gerald says:

    Hey, Larry! I live in Hattiesburg, MS. I have a brother named Larry Gerald. I thought you were him at first.

    I’d love to meet up with you at this Gerald Family Burial Ground. I could probably organize some local Geralds to help with clean up, and I would definitely bring a camera.

    • Michael Stewart says:

      Hello Sharon,
      I am also researching the Gerald line. My Grandfather, Curtis Sidney Gerald, was from Hattiesburg by way of Moselle and other parts. He was the son of Albert Sidney Gerald who was the son of Thomas Sumter Gerald. My family has for years been instrumental in the Gerald reunion that used to be held in Mcomb at the state park. I would love to be able to get in touch with you to see what all we can come up with. You can email me @ diamond.sconst@yahoo.com if you wish.

      • Sharon Gerald says:

        Hi Michael! Your grandfather was my grandfather’s brother then. I’d love to come to the Gerald reunion. I haven’t met many Geralds beyond my first cousins.

  7. Doug McDurham says:

    Greetings!

    I live in Waco, TX, on a lot that was once home to Judge George Bruce Gerald and his family. The marker on the location of his gun battle is visible from my office, as is a bridge over the Brazos River that has a plaque noting that he was preset for the opening of the bridge. I can take and send pics of either if anyone wants. Hia gun is in a museum here in Waco.

  8. Keith Gerald says:

    Wow, Sharon, you have unearthed some Geralds we didn’t know about…. and some family history we weren’t told about either. I think we could get a group of local Gerald’s to go to either of the two Gerald Burial Grounds in Amite Co, and work to clean them up. I have been to the one at Mars Hill, close to Smithdale, but never to the one south of Centreville. Set a date and we will bring clean up implements…..

  9. Larry Gerald says:

    Please see my comment about the GERALD FAMILY BURIAL GROUND above- that’s the one near Centerville. It was ‘lost’ for lots of years. I strongly suggest waiting til winter to do the cleanup- several reasons: 1) deer hunters have begun to plant crops and set up stands and they don’t like folks messing around their lease 2) heavy undergrowth leaves will be mostly gone in winter, 3) it’s darn hot right now. I have the contact person, and promised her that I would not go on her property without permission! Some states (Texas for Example) require landowners to give permission to cemeteries- Mississippi does not make that requirement. I am looking forward to meeting and working with you-all and sharing family info. There aren’t many folks attending the Gerald reunion every year, but for your info, It is held April each year (should be Apr 21, 2012).

  10. Carmen Dunphy says:

    I fortunately stumbled across this site. My sister and I are doing family research on the Gerald family, as well. We were talking about going to Amite, Mississippi one day to find the family homestead. Would love to help with the clean up and view the burial site. Judge George Bruce Gerald was my great great great grandfather. My grandmother and her sister kept a photo of him at the house. They spoke of their aunt (Florence Gerald) that was an actress in the play Tobacco Road.
    Thank you Cousin Sharon for posting this information on the internet. I live in Slidell, LA. and I would love to keep in contact will all of you.
    My email is carmencm@charter.net

  11. Carmen Dunphy says:

    Sharon, there is a town named after Judge Gerald called Gerald, Texas:

    http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/…/hrgyz

  12. Sharon Gerald says:

    Hi Carmen! I have a book of poetry written by Florence Gerald. You can order it from Amazon. Also, someone left a note on my blog recently saying that she was one of the first people ever to stage a play about Jack the Ripper. I’ve been meaning to do more research on her, but I’ve just been busy.

    • Carmen Dunphy says:

      I have an orginal signed copy of her poems from Cathy Bartleson Hilley. She wrote the Ancestry.com article about Gabriel Gerald and his descendents. Cathy’s grandmother was a Gerald and they were kind enough to pass the book and Florence’s photo on to me. Cathy has done extensive research on the family. We all need to come together and share our findings. I’m sure that each of us have Gerald family information that the others did not know.
      I didn’t know that Aunt Florence’s book was republished. I plan to order it. I read that there’s a signed copy of it in the Baylor University library.
      Have you seen this article about her:

      wacohistoryproject.org/Moments/geralds.html

  13. Sharon Gerald says:

    I had seen that, Carmen. Very cool!

  14. Sharon Gerald says:

    If anyone is interested in sharing family research, I just created a message board for that — http://sgerald.net/genforum/index.php

  15. Larry Gerald says:

    Re: Gerald burial ground south of Centerville, Ms.

    As I mentioned above, I’m trying to put together a clean up day for the Gerald family Burial Ground. I have contacted the land owner about going in there Jan 19, 20, & 21, with an alternate date (because of bad weather) of Jan 26, 27, & 28. She will let me know in few days if those dates are good with her family.

    I am suggesting three days because It’s very hard to know how much time is needed to complete the job. I would like to do it in the first two days, and be able to drive back to Texas on Saturday night so I can go to church on SUnday, but will work all three days if necessary.

    I think we should concentrate first on actual brush removal, then after that is done, concentrate on finding old headstones that have been turned over and/or buried. There were last year two stones visible.

    WOuld you guys try to make a worker list, make contacts, and give me an idea of how many can show up? we will need tools: chain saws, axes, machetes, loppers, shovels, pry pars, picks, etc. Also, because from the county road to the site is about 3/4 mile with a couple of mud holes, anyone who can bring a 4 wheeler or UTV, would be nice. Walking 3/4 mile is not bad, but walking 3/4 mile with a load of tools is bad! I suggest long sleeve shirts, tough briar resistant pants, good gloves, eye/ear protection, etc. Bring trash bags to carry out any trash we generate- drink bottles, food wrappers, etc. Any brush we cut, we will plan to leave stacked neatly in the area- nature will take care of that.

  16. Larry Gerald says:

    The dates above are good with the land owner.

  17. Larry Gerald says:

    I haven’t heard from anyone on this site regarding meeting at the Gerald Burial Ground, near Centerville Ms for the weekend of Jan 19-21, 2011.

    I have three others who have offered to help- Billy Parsons and Mike & Bonnie Gerald. I really need a few young folks to help us old poots.

  18. Carmen Dunphy says:

    If my work schedule permits, my husband Jack, my mother, and I would like to help. Would love to meet our new found cousins. Larry, my email is posted, would you mind contacting me?

  19. Barbara Bowie-Whitman says:

    The article about Judge Gerald from the Waco newspapaper follows below. (It took forever to type it. Scanning was impossible with the 98 yeard old paper.

    The Waco Semi Weekly Tribune January 24, 1914 Page 1, continued to page 6
    Top center third of page is a photo of the judge, 3 of 7 columns below the fold, full length, and two columns for 2/3 of their length on page 6 are devoted to the article. An editorial about the Judge on page 6 takes 2/3 of the first column, and 1/3 of the second. In column inches, the Judge got 1/12 of the newspaper that day. The Judge’s coverage adds to a full page of the 12 in the newspaper. Original newspaper saved by the Judge’s first cousin twice removed, Velma Folsom Gerald Bowie.
    The Passing of Judge George Bruce Gerald
    Serene End of a long and notably useful life – Biography and Memories of his last days here – Tender and Beautiful Service – Honor for the Dead – Love for his loved ones – Some Personal Tributes

    “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?”

    These words of David, Shepherd King, his eloquent tribute to a great Captain of Israel, whose genius and courage he so admired, might well have come to mind for the people of this community last Wednesday, when they heard that George Bruce Gerald was no more – for truly a man among men, a heroic figure, an impressive personality had passed away. He was a man to be remembered and with honor by the people among whom he had dwelt so long. And the sentiment found response in the hearts and minds of that people, for the death of Judge Gerald did impress them. It brought realization that a leader, a useful citizen, an upright man, had joined the silent majority – and thus realizing, the people bowed their heads in reverence and in affectionate and admiring spirit thought of him and what a man he had been. They thought of his courage, his absolute personal integrity, his loyalty to is home and people, his service to the state, his loyalty to friends, his devotion to loved ones. It was the tribute of a community to personal and civic worth and virtue.
    Judge Gerald’s death occurred at his home, No. 2222 North Fourth Street shortly after one o’clock Wednesday morning January 21. It was not unexpected, for it was generally known that he was in greatly impaired health, and that fact, coupled with his advanced age, had in a measure prepared the community for the end. The news spread quickly through the city, and the expressions of regret, of honor for the dead man were universal, coming from all classes, all ranks of life – for all knew and honored Judge Gerald. All day Wednesday and Thursday expressions of sympathy came to the saddened home – verbal messages, telegrams and telephone messages. Many friends called in person to voice their interest and sorrow, and floral offerings in profusion were sent to the home. Many of these tokens were of striking taste and beauty.
    A Long and Eventful Life
    Judge Gerald was seventy-eight years of age and had spent over forty of those years in this city. His life was useful and eventful, for he had served the state and society in many capacities.
    George Bruce Gerald was born and reared in Yazoo county Mississippi, passing his boyhood on large Southern plantations. After the usual routine of country school life, he left home, at the age of fourteen, in the year 1850, to attend Eureka college, Mississippi. Passing through that institute very creditably, he then went to the State university of Indiana. He there completed his literary course in the nineteenth year of his age. In 1855 he entered, as a law student, Cumberland university at Lebanon, Tennessee, and graduated in the law department in 1857. After passing an examination before the judges of the supreme court, he was granted license to practice law in the circuit and supreme courts of Tennessee. He then returned to his home, ready to meet the responsibilities of manhood. On the 17th day of November, 1857, in the twenty second year of his age, he was married to Miss Omega Melton of Madison county Mississippi, a young lady whose natural gifts and personal accomplishments gave her prominence in the polite society in which she moved.
    He was admitted to the bar in Yazoo City Mississippi in December 1857.
    When his native state seceded from the Union, he donned a “jacket of gray” and was received into the state service. In May, 1861, he was mustered into the service of the Confederate States, at Corinth Mississippi, as Captain of Company F, Eighteenth Missisippi Infantry. He arrived in Virginia with his command the next month and commenced a brilliant military career by his gallantry in the opening glories of the First Manassas. He was in all the battles and skirmishes in which his command participated, excepting three.
    Colonel Gerald commanded the eighteenth Mississippi regiment nearly two years, and the last year of the war commanded Humphery’s brigade of Longstreet’s corps, to which the eighteenth Mississippi belonged. He was wounded four times, first in the battle of Savage Station, and second in the battle of Cedar Creek in the valley of Virginia, where his division (Kenchman’s) had been sent to reinforce General Early after his disaster at Winchester and Fisher’s Hill. In this battle he received three wounds. The last ball struck him after he had rallied his brigade on the retreat of the line of battle from the position so gallantly won on that morning by the Army of the Shenandoah. His brigade and Ramsey’s division were the only troops engaged in the battle that made a second stand and struggled to save the honors won in the morning fight. He was in the Virginia army until the final surrender, and his record as a brave soldier and a gallant leader is bright.
    After the close of the war he returned to his desolated home and commenced anew the duties of the citizen. He engaged in various enterprises and succeeded in 1865 and 1866 in amassing a comfortable fortune, but the greater part of it he lost with the misfortune of Mississippi in the year 1867.
    In 1869, losing all hope in the future prosperity in the future of Mississippi, he, with his wife and four children, bade adieu to the scenes long loved and cherished and came to Texas. He arrived in Waco in July of that year and has since been a citizen of this place.
    For several months during the year 1872 he was associate editor of the Waco Examiner. In the fall of 1873, after the election of Judge Richard Coke for Governor, he was again called to the editorial chair of the Examiner, and the editorial columns of that paper during the political campaign are proof beyond question of his ability as an editor. In January, 1874, he purchased the Waco Advance and edited it during that year. The Advance, while conducted and controlled by him was one of the ablest and most interesting newspapers in Texas. It was enthusiastically Democratic, and at the same time dealt blows without mercy to corruption wherever found. He sold the Advance in January 1875.

    The “Reconstruction Era” was in fullest evidence when Colonel Gerald came to Texas, and in those trying times he had part and parcel in notably active and effective manner, as would have been expected as a true Southerner. Thus he aided in placing the social and political status of this state on a sound basis, bringing restoration of good government. Contemporaries in that work were men, some of whom still live, but most of them preceded him to the grave. Among those who are yet here, of this group of splendid men, we recall (as we try to think of them) Judge George Clark, J.M. Killough, John F. Marshall, Eugene Early, Benjamin Haber, H. Hutchenrider, Colonel E.J. Gurley, James B. Baker, Capt. R.S. Ross, D.A. Kelly, W.S. Plunkett, Henry J. Caulfield of McGregor, Henry Williams of Lorena, Ben Kennedy, Senior, of China Springs, J.U. Clabaugh of Ross. The list of the dead is too long to hope to remember even a tithe of the sturdy men of the time, but we think of Shapley P Ross and his two sons, L.S. and Peter F. Ross; Henry Lazenby, J.H. Baker, Richard Coke, C.B. Pearre, Dr. Thomas Moore, Wiley Jones, M.D. Herring, Thomas H. Killingsworth, Dr. J.H. Sears, Capt. David R. Gurley, B.F. Richey, J.W. Speight – but the list is too long. It were difficult to recall and name here the sturdy men of those days. In Colonel Gerald they found a worthy compatriot.
    Colonel Gerald, as has been said, was a lawyer by profession, and after retirement from newspaper life he devoted some attention to law. The people recognized his ability and integrity and in 1876 they elected him county judge of McLennan County, when the old court house was erected at the corner of Franklin and second streets, the building now being occupied by a laundry. He held this office for eight years. He was a member of the Twentysecond legislature, and his services in behalf of his adopted state, which he loved no less than his native state, Mississippi, are known to all.
    In 1885, when Grover Cleveland was elected President of the United States for the first time, Judge Gerald was appointed Postmaster here. At that time the Post Office was located at the corner of North Fourth Street and the alley between Washington and Austin Streets, in the McClelland hotel building. Appointed for four years, Judge Gerald resigned before the expiration of his term, refusing to serve as an office holder during a Republican administration.
    Judge Gerald, in 1900, was again elected county judge of McLennan county, when the taxpayers of this county decided to erect the magnificent court house now located on Washington street. The opening part of this important work had already commenced under the administration of County Judge J.N. Gallagher. Judge Gerald was presiding officer of the commissioners’ court during all the time contrscts for the building were carried out, and had supervision of all money in connection with the construction of this beautiful temple of justice. Judge Gerald, following his election to this office in 1900, served four years, retiring in 1904. It should be added, in connection with the construction of the new court house, that he had the valuable service, in supervising capacity, of the veteran architect, Major W. C. Dodson. This honored citizen still abides with us, in the evening of a serene old age, following a wonderfully useful life, respected and beloved by all who know him.
    It was also during Judge Gerald’s latest administration that McLennan county participated in the building of the imposing cantilever bridge across the Brazos at Waco, as well as the construction of a new county jail.
    For the past four years, Judge Gerald has been in feeble health, and for the past month he has been unable to leave his room. So long as he was able, his tall, commanding figure was a familiar sight on the streets of Waco. It became necessary, in 1897, to amputate his left arm, a bullet having passedthrought that member of his body during the war. He was also wounded in the same place, in Waco, in 1897.
    About three o’clock Tuesday afternoon Judge Gerald had a sinking spell. He retained consciousness until about two hours before his death.
    He is survived by his devoted wife, who has in very truth been his helpmeet and comrade. There were born to them four daughters and two sons> Both of the sons, Bruce and Littleton (Erin) Gerald, are dead, as is Mrs Alpha Gerald Brooks, who died last year in New York. She was the wife of Belvidere Brooks, vice president and general manager of the Western Union Telegraph company. The living children are: Mrs. Florence Gerald Clark of New York, Mrs. Kate Gerald Weaver of Waco, and Mrs. Maud Gerald Richardson of Beaumont.
    The last hours of Judge Gerald were eminently peaceful and free from pain. He went to sleep, as it were, and did not wake again. Around the bedside were the faithful wife who had walked by his side for more than a half century, his devoted companion and wife in the best sense of the words. They had known sunshine and clouds, prosperity and adversity, trial and triumph together, and when the supreme moment came, she was there holding his hand. Literally she walked with him down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death. With her and him it was “until death us do part.” Two of the daughters now living, Mesdames Florence Gerald Clarke and Charles A. Richardson of Beaumont, were not privileged to be with their mother in that last moment. Mrs. Richardson reached Waco Thursday morning and is now with her mother, but Mrs. Clarke was too far away to come. Around the bedside, too, were grouped other loved and loving ones – members of the family circle and a few friends. It was a death scene alike impressive and tender, the culmination of a long and strenuous life. The sunset was all of peace, no tremor of apprehension as to what lay beyond.

    Carrying out his Requests
    Judge Gerald regarded cremation as a wholesome and in all ways fitting disposition of the human body where such procedure is practicable, and long before his death he had made the request that his mortal form should be cremated, and the family were diligent and loving in faithful observance of his desires. Arrangements were at once made looking to the conveyance of the body to St. Louis, where it will be created today. The ashes in an urn will be brought back to Waco for final disposition, of which mention is made later on. A grandson, Walter Gerald Weaver, — son of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Weaver – accompanied the body to St. Louis and will see that the wishes of his grandfather are executed in literal manner.
    There were no funeral services as that term is generally used in connection with the death of and last honors to Judge Gerald. This was in accordance with his desire, made known before his demise. This phase of his character, which was in line with his attitude regarding religious matters, is referred to in more detail in another article on the editorial page of this paper. But if the funeral rites so familiar to all were lacking, there was no lack of impressiveness and duty and appropriateness in the services that did occur at the family home at three o’clock Thursday afternoon. It was the desire of Mrs. Gerald and the family that friends and acquaintances should gather there at that hour, and this they did in large numbers. It was an ideal day as to weather and nature seemed in affectionate sympathy with the last simple rites. Long before the hour named, friends had begun to arrive, and the rooms of the house, galleries and to some extent the front yard were crowded with the friends and neighbors of the eminent dead, who had come to give evidence of their love and esteem.
    On the front gallery of the beautiful home Alessandro’s full orchestra was seated, and there for more than an hour rendered appropriate and touching music. In making selections for this music, Professor Alessandro displayed taste that was appreciated by the family and all who listened. As friends entered the house they were greeted by members of the family and all who desired to do so had opportunity to take a last affectionate look at the face they had known so long. The stately casket in which the body reposed was banked and covered with flowers of rare and beautiful hue and design, but leaving ample room to view the face of the honored dead.
    Looking at the face, there in the casket, there was all the dignity and serenity on the lineaments. That magical touch of death, which doth so lovingly erase traces of age, or pain, or aught of human trial or stress, had done its kindly work on this much loved face, and to those who looked it was wonderfully natural, the face of the man as they had known him through the years – dignified, kindly and serene. Many of those who thus came were accorded a privilege that all were grateful for, that of meeting MRs. Gerald and the daughters above mentioned, who were there with their beloved dead – sad in heart of course, enduring great trial – but dignified and quiet, even with tear-stained faces that told of their tribulation. These ladies could but remember the loving, the long and useful life, the honorable life of their beloved dead – how he had lived without reproach. They knew he had done his duty in this life as he understood it; that he faced the future without any apprehension, and, proud of their dead, they greeted those who they knew had loved him, greeted them with all the dignity and grace of true Southern womanhood.
    It was half past three o’clock when the funeral cortege left the home to proceed to the railway station, the start for the long journey to St. Louis, where cremation will occur today. It was indeed a long cortege, in numbers and personnel testifying to the esteem of this people for the dead. Alessandro’s band went in advance of the body, and when passing through the streets to the cemetery rendered dirges and funeral march in impressive manner. As the cortege moved along the crowded business streets, thousands of people halted and stood in reverent attitude, listening to the solemn music as the procession passed by. Many men lifted their hats and stood bare-headed as they noted the progress of the man they had honored to the final scene in his earthly career,
    Prior to his death Judge Gerald had indicated to his family the names of a number of long time and valued friends, from which he desired at least six active pall bearers to be selected. He made a list larger than that number as a precaution, lest some of those might be unwell or for some valid reason unable to serve in that (capacity.)

    Editorial from the same Newspaper
    George Bruce Gerald
    Another stalwart, even a heroic figure of local life has passed on, and the people with whom he dwelt so long are talking and thinking in reverent and earnest spirit and words of his life and his work. There is always much of awe and mystery in the fact of Death and the separations that it orders, the ties that it severs. Those who loved and were loved are saddened and sometimes they are grieved and crushed. That is natural and right. The impression on those who survive is shaped by the conditions. There are times, though, when the fact of death and separation, even if it moves to sadness and a flow of memories, does not bring grief or regrets, because of the realization that the fiat of Nature has come I orderly, logical way and is wise, perchance beneficent.
    It may be doubted if even those who were nearest and dearest to Judge Gerald are sorrowful that he has gone hence. There is naught of the tragedy of death or the grief that tugs at heart-strings in his going for it was time for him to go. He was ready to depart and he confronted whatever the future holds without apprehension – just as in life he had ever faced duty, responsibility, danger or stress, for the man was brave. He had lived up to his ideals, which were elevated. He had followed duty as he saw it, and so he had no fear or concern. “If my existence shall persist after death,” he had said, “I hope to make my way as I have done here.” What the future holds he did not assume to know, but it was given to him as it is given to all of us to hope – and he did hope. And his ideals, as to the life beyond, even if based only on hope, were lofty. He hoped and he imagined that – as a great thinker of this day has said – his noblest aspirations might greet him on the further shore. Those who knew him bestdo not need to be told that those aspirations embraced loved ones and friends of this life – ideals that go with the conceptions of supreme wisdom, love, justice and mercy. What need to say more? There are those who will understand.
    His best beloved and his friends were able to think of Judge Gerald’s departure in spirit of calm and acceptance. He had lived to old age. His life work, as to material activities or effort, had been finished, and it was a record complete and symmetrical. It was a record of duty perforemed to his loved ones, his friends, to the state and to society. There was so much in the record to arouse loving pride, grateful appreciation. With him, honor, truth, honesty, courage, fidelity to duty, loyalty to country were as the breath of his life. It was an illustration of “noblesse oblige.” As a soldier he had been faithful and brave. As a citizen and a publicist he had been capable and useful. As husband, father and friend, he had measured up to high standard. The infirmities of age and physical weakness came to him, as they come to others, and withal he was growing old. Nature’s laws are the wisest, for they are the laws of God. The sturdiest oak in its time decays and falls. Why should there be protest, why grief or concern, when such a life comes to a close? It is the blessed privilege of all who come in contact with such a life to reflect on its completeness, on its logical finale, to think with loving pride of achievement, to recall sacred, tender memories of the days and years gone, and in calmness and with hope say, “It is well.”
    And so it is our estimate of this man (and we knew him well) that all in all he was a manly man, who loved his family, his friends and his country with all the fervor of a passionate nature; who followed the right as it came to his judgment, and followed it with rare courage; who was eminently useful in his day and time. Elsewhere we have presented the details of his life and the end.
    A perfect man? No, he was not that. We have failed to find men who are that. This man had convictions and traits that projected much of strenuousness and storm, at time, into his life. It could not be otherwise with such a nature. He knew this and he did not shirk from any consequence, any resultant ordeal. But take his life as a whole and it reveals so much to commend, to appreciate and admire.
    He has gone hence, as all of us will go. If he owed a debt here, material or moral, he paid it in full. If there is on the other side any rendering for him, he will not evade or murmur. He did not claim to know, as we have said, what the other life holds. But he did not put Hope aside without a hearing. And if there shall come (as we believe will come) vindication of hopes, then –on the further shore – this man will find scope and opportunity for realization of love’s fondest dream, of exalted ideals, of lofty aspirations. He is at rest and it is all right.

    • Carmen Dunphy says:

      Thank you for taking the time to type and share this information with the family. Would love to see the in the photo that was in the newspaper article. I only have two photos of Judge Gerald and would love to see more.

  20. Nydia Leyva says:

    Barabara Bowie – Whitman,

    Do you know if judge Gerald and his family ever resided at 518 11th St. , Waco, TX? Also if they did do you know the time frame in which they lived there, and when they accuired and built the house?

    Thanks you,
    Nydia Leyva

  21. Gerald Richardson says:

    Judge George Bruce Gerald was my great grandfather. His daughter, Maud Gerald Richardson, was my grandmother and my father was Gerald Richardson, Sr. I believe that I can shed some light on a few things. My aunt, Geraldine Richardson Goodhue, and her cousin, Bruce Brooks (his mother was Judge Gerald’s daughter, Alpha), did extensive Gerald family research in the 1960’s. They also arranged for the old Gerald family graves to be moved into a churchyard not far from Yazoo City. I can give directions, etc, later, but that info isn’t with me now.

    According to Geraldine’s research, Gabriel Gerald died in South Carolina. After his death his wife, Elizabeth, came with most of her children by covered wagon to Mississippi. We have a wonderful painting of Elizabeth Gerald said to have been done by an itinerant artist. We also have a folding wooden rocking chair that came with Elizabeth from South Carolina when she made her trek to Mississippi. I have letters and other information that helped Geraldine and Bruce Brooks in their research which I would be glad to share if anyone is doing research.

    By the way, I live in Beaumont, Texas.

    • Larry Gerald says:

      I would be interested in a copy of the painting of Elizabeth. I live near Buna, and would like to visit with you sometime in Beaumont. Please email me direct.

    • Daphne Gerald Miller says:

      We Gerald women must like the name Gerald. I noticed that Maud Gerald married Gerald Richardson. My husband’s first name is also Gerald. My older son’s middle name is Gerald.

  22. Martin Gerald says:

    After seeing an article on the Texas Back Roads site recently, in reference to Judge Gerald’s duel marker in Waco, I found this site with a simple google search. I am Larry’s Gerald’s son… looks like he found this site 3 years ago. So, I am late to the party. Very interesting family history…

  23. Paul Gerald says:

    Please add me to your e-mail comments and post on FaceBook.

    Facebook – Gerald Family
    Pat.williams40@aol.com
    Lynda_mccarty@aol.com

  24. Pingback: Teacherly Tech » Every Day I Write the Blog

  25. Hello, my name is Aamon Miller. I was born and raised in Chicago Heights, IL, 42 year old, Black man currently residing in Glen Allen, VA. Allow me to introduce myself by way of lineage…

    My Mother: Deloris Miller (Gerald)
    Grandfather: Harden Gerald, Sr.
    Great-Grandfather: Hubbard Gerald
    Great-Great-Grandfather: Charlie Gerald

    Charlie Gerald (October 1835 or 1845 depending on the Census record) was the son of Colonel George Bruce Gerald and his family’s Black cook/maidservant, name unknown. Charlie and Bruce Jr, reportedly accompanied GB Gerald in travels. Bruce learning military related information, Charlie carrying equipment and shining boots & shoes.

    Eventually, they returned to Mississippi. Colonel Bruce, his wife and children moved to Waco. Charlie stayed in Yazoo with his mother. Bruce would return occasionally to visit Charlie, ultimately leaving him a parcel of land and a house.

    In this instant, the Gerald family, descending from Rev. Gabriel Gerald to George Bruce Gerald became two branches: Bruce Jr (White) & Charlie (Black). Charlie went on to have 3 (sic 4) wives and some 33 children. My family is through his marriage to Francis Harding, which produced 9 children, including one son named Bruce, after his father. Another son, Hubbard is my ancestor listed above. Here is their household record from the 1900 Census: http://www.mocavo.com/search?start=0&limit=10&dataset%5B%5D=126210&nc%5Bhousehold_id%5D=11340249

    A lot of info. But there are many, MANY Gerald descendants on this other branch of the tree. And, I too, am a radical Baptist preacher/pastor in Richmond, VA at Swansboro Baptist Church, http://www.swansborobc.com if you’re ever in the area, feel free to reach out. We’d love to have you worship with us.

    Only by the Grace of God….

    Aamon R. Miller
    aamon17@armministries.info

    • Sharon Gerald says:

      Thanks for this information! I didn’t know anything about your branch of the family, so I’m glad you found my blog. I’m sorry it took so long to respond. I haven’t logged in much lately, and I was just going through cleaning out the spam from my pending comments today when I found your comment. Welcome! I’d love to learn more about Charlie Gerald.

  26. Aamon R. Miller says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you for responding. When I looked back at the records, I was 1 generation off! 🙂 So, allow me to correct my entry…

    Charlie Gerald (October 1834 or 1835 depending on the Census record) was the son of GEORGE Gerald (1788-1869) and his family’s Black cook/maidservant, name unknown. Charlie and HIS HALF BROTHER, GEORGE BRUCE GERALD, reportedly accompanied THEIR FATHER, GEORGE Gerald in travels: GEORGE BRUCE learning military related information, Charlie carrying equipment and shining boots & shoes.

    Eventually, they returned to Mississippi. Colonel GEORGE Bruce, his wife and children moved to Waco. Charlie stayed in Yazoo with his mother. GEORGE gave CHARLIE a parcel of land and a house in YAZOO.

    In this instant, the Gerald family, descending from Rev. Gabriel Gerald to George Gerald became two branches: COLONEL GEORGE BRUCE (White) & Charlie (Black). Charlie went on to have 3 (sic 4) wives and some 33 children. My family is through his marriage to Francis Harding, which produced 9 children, including one son named Bruce, after his father. Another son, Hubbard is my ancestor listed above. Here is their household record from the 1900 Census: http://www.mocavo.com/search?start=0&limit=10&dataset%5B%5D=126210&nc%5Bhousehold_id%5D=11340249

  27. Gerald Richardson says:

    I just revisited this site after a trip to Waco to see my great grandfather’s grave (Judge George Bruce Gerald) and to look at some things at The Texas Collection which is at the Carroll Library on the Baylor campus. I found far more than I expected! Too much to tell all here and now, but well worth the time. Just a few highlights were: finding the Historical marker at the corner of 4th and Austin St. in downtown Waco where the Gerald/Harris shootout took place; finding Judge Gerald’s gun that he used in the Harris affair displayed in a local museum;seeing the old Gerald homesite though the house is long gone we got to meet the man who now lives on it with his family.

    The gun is the same gun lent to W. C. Brann that he used just 5 months after and a short walk from the Gerald/Harris encounter, to mortally wound his assailant after being shot in the back . He died the next day. An immense amount of material is available about the events leading up to and surrounding this dispute which killed four men.
    Some letters from my grandmother, Maud Gerald Richardson, were also in the materials there.

    The most amazing thing though, happened upon my return to Beaumont. My wife and I went out to eat with friends on the day of our return. A lady with us, who I have known for many years, said that she had family history in Waco too. She had recently learned that an old family home built in 1893 on N 13th Street in Waco is still there. I suddenly remembered that her maiden name was Harris. Not an uncommon name – surely it couldn’t be…..but it was! She knew little about the family but knew her great grandfather was a newspaper editor. Turns out he was James Harris, one of the two Harris brothers killed in the famous gunfight in Waco. I apologized to her on behalf of my great grandfather for over-reacting to provocations! We are still good friends. 🙂

    Also I met with Doug McDurham who previously posted on this blog and whose family lives on the old Gerald property in Waco now. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting him.

    I see that Larry Gerald had posted that he would like to speak to me, but I just found the message. I’ll put my e-mail address at the end of this letter.

    I was fascinated to read Aamon Miller’s messages. George Gerald was my great great grandfather. In 1965 my aunt and her cousin found his family graves on the old Gerald property which was still fenced but was within just a few feet of a Negro school. I’ll bet that was the property that was left by George to his son Charlie. The bodies were moved to the Ellison Methodist Churchyard in nearby Vaughan (between Yazoo City and Canton). The bodies were of George Gerald, his wife Elizabeth Gerald, Sarah Gerald, their daughter who died at age 21, William G. Gerald a son who died age 22, Catherine Gerald a daughter who died at age 14, and a baby born to Omega Melton Gerald, wife of George Bruce Gerald named Ernest who was 9 months of age when he died.

    I must correct bad info that I provided in my post from 2011. The painting I have was not Elizabeth Gerald. It turns out to be Patty Bryant Melton, mother of Omega, wife of George Bruce Gerald. I found that out in my Aunt Geraldine Goodhue’s files in which there is much more about George Gerald and even Gabriel Gerald.

    If you have persevered to the end of this tome you truly have Gerald blood flowing through your veins.

    My e-mail address is geraldr@ih2000.net

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