A Gleasure Family Story

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week I wrote about Ben Naylor’s letters from the Gleasure Family in Ireland and the photos in the collection. Here’s more of the story.

When Frank Gleasure emigrated to Natick, Mass., about 1900, he left behind a number of younger siblings.

For several years, his brother Joseph wrote letters imploring his big brother to let him move to America, too. He told of studying so he’d be ready for an office job. His dream was to move closer to his brother and seek his fortune in Massachusetts.

Joseph Gleasure Litowel2.jpg
Joseph Gleasure, circa 1905

On Dec. 13, 1905, Joseph wrote: “I expect you will take me out to America about next March or April. I would not stop here any longer, I am totally sick of it. If I stopped here any longer I would be getting too old nearly to be taken in an office. I am always thinking of what kind of a job I would get after landing. I would like to be in the Excise or Customs or some job you would be sure of. I think it is easy to get into the Excise or any Government position. Any how, I must till I get over first and then I would know what would be best.”

Two years later, Frank finally agreed that his brother could join him in America. The 21-year-old Joseph arrived in Boston May 10, 1907. He didn’t find his dream job in Customs or Excise. He ended up working on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in Boston.

Not every American dream brought fortune and happiness. Often, immigrants found economic disappointments and tragedy. Only a few months later, Frank had to write to his family and provide sad news. While coupling cars at Boston’s South Station on Dec. 19, 1907, Joseph was caught between two cars that collided, killing him instantly. The newspapers reported that his death was one of two similar incidents that day.

You can read more about the incident on Ben’s blog.

By searching the letters, Ben found the first mention of a camera. Joseph took the candid pictures featured in last week’s posting. In his Dec. 13, 1905, letter he sent his brother Christmas greetings and enclosed a few pictures.

You can search the Gleasure Letters by using the Blogger search box in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album