Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Mystery of the Youngest Harris Gammon

Presumably named after his great-grandfather Harris Gammon who fought in the Revolutionary War, the youngest of the three Harrises in my tree revealed to me that his life had been something of a mystery. These days with census records online, Harris had never been missing from my family history.

However, something that was simply a little odd to me turned out to be very important to his family. I didn't think it was terribly strange when, on the census records, Harris went from Eden, Iowa in 1885 to Aspen, Colorado in 1900, and then back to Eden in 1910. People move, right? The Gammons did it all the time. Then I came across this news clipping:

Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, January 23, 1902

HARRIS GAMMON arrived last week from Colorado to visit his brother WAYNE GAMMON and other relatives and friends. After an absence of fifteen years and not hearing from home for more than ten years, he finds many changes, but still many familiar faces. MR. GAMMON had long ago been given up as dead by his relatives and they are indeed glad to see his countenance once more, and in appearance he has changed but very little since leaving Leon.

Harris remained in Iowa with his family until his death in 1920, at which point he was interred in the family plot at Meek Cemetery.

The real mystery to me, however, is this: Why was he in Colorado for fifteen years? My guess is he went in for the last Colorado gold rush. If he did, it doesn't look like he came home rich. On the 1910 federal census he's living with his sisters Mary and Anne as well as a boarder. In the 1915 state census he's living alone, but by the federal census in 1920 he's listed with Mary and Anne once again.

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