Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Adult Life of Gerald Gilbert Warner

In my previous post (The Childhood of Gerald Gilbert Warner) the letters written by Gerald’s mother played a major role in giving me a glimpse of his childhood. I still had many unanswered questions about my Great Uncle. So, I asked my father and several of my second cousins and I was able to gather some more information. What I learned was Gerald went to college in Ct, met someone from South Dakota and decided to move there. He was a farmer and never married.

I always like to use these family stories as starting points. I thought that must have been very adventurous of him in the early 1900s to just pick up and leave his family and move to South Dakota. I’m guessing he mainly communicated via mail. Then I dove into online data bases and newspapers. Here is what I was able to learn about the man that Gerald became:

  • In The County Review dated 19 May 1911 in an article entitled Good List of Entries for Athletic Meet-Twelfth Annual Field Day in Riverhead Promises to Break all Records- Riverhead’s Many Entries-Splendid Lot of Trained Athletes From Several High Schools Will Take Part in Numerous Contests I find Half-Mile Run-Harold Downs, John Burgess, Jr., Francis W. Reeve, Harrison Tyte, Gerald Warner, Riverhead…”. Interesting to learn that Gerald was an athlete and participated in distance running.
  • In The County Review dated 12 April 1912 under Baiting Hollow “Mrs. Harold W. Young entertained a large party of friends at Rose Manor, last Thursday evening, in honor of her sister, Miss Viola A. Downs, of Killingly, Conn. The evening was pleasantly spent playing games and dainty refreshments were served. Among those present were the Misses Amy Prince, Marjorie Young, Ada Wells Prince, Marjorie Young, Ada Wells, Emma Munro, Florence Munro, Eleanor Warner, Clara Culver and Josephine Howland. Mr. and Mrs. Harold Robinson and Messrs. Harrison Tyte, Claude Hulse, Dan Warner, Gerald Warner, and Charles Fordham.”
  • In The County Review dated 31 May 1912 under Baiting Hollow “Miss Louise Volecker entertained a party of friends at the home of her sister, Mrs. John J. Wicks, on Wednesday evening, of last week. Music, dancing and games were enjoyed until 11:30, when dainty refreshments were served. Among those present were the Misses Sadie Wells, Ada Wells, Gertrude Squires, Amy Prince, Clara Culver, Emma Munro and Josephine Howland. Messrs. Claude Hulse, Charles Kuff, August Lewin, Austin Luce, Gerald Warner, Daniel Warner and Kenneth Terry.” How interesting to see that Gerald was out at social events (until 11:30 at night, oh my goodness) and to see who was also at these parties.
  • When Gerald was 18 years old according to The County Review 30 August 1912 under Baiting Hollow, “Stanley Munn and Gerald Warner left this morning for Mt. Hermon, Mass., where they will attend school the coming year.” When I searched Mt. Hermon, Mass. I found a school entitled The Northfield Schools. At the time there was a school for boys and one for girls. Founded by the Protestant evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody. Moody viewed Christian religious education as an essential objective of his schools. I wonder if this is where Gerald went and for how long? What did he study? This may have just been a prep school for boys.  Hmm, further investigation is needed.
  • In The County Review dated 1 August 1913 under Baiting Hollow, “The Christian Endeavor society will enjoy a basket picnic at Roanoke beach, Thursday afternoon, August 7,…Christian Endeavor meeting at 7.30 p.m. Topic, The Ideal Christian-His Perseverance. Assigned leader, Gerald Warner.” The Christian Endeavor Society was the first national church youth organization.
  • The 1915 South Dakota, State Census lists Gerald as 21 years old, Single, Race- White, Nationality-American, Arrival year in State-1912, Religion-Congregational. I find it interesting that it states he arrived in SD in 1912 when above it states he was going to school in Massachusetts, hmm?
  • 5 June 1917 U.S., World War I Draft Registration Card Gerald Gilbert Warner, Marital Status-Single, Birth Date-15 August 1887, Age-29, Farmer, Self-Employed, Birth Place-New York, Residence Place-Kimball, Brule SD, Do You Claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)-Bad eyes, near sighted, Tall, Slender build, Eyes-Brown, Hair-Brown, Bald-no. Interesting that the year of birth is written as 87 when it should have been 84.
  • The US Federal Census 17 March 1920 for Plummer Township, Brule County, South Dakota lists Gerald as Single, 30 years old, able to speak English, Farmer, General Farm Industry, worked for himself, Rented his home and had a 62 year old boarder named Henry Bickner.
Gerald’s father, John B. Warner died on 20 June 1920 in Aquebogue, New York. John was reported ill for about six months before he died.
  • In The County Review newspaper on 2 July 1920 under Aquebogue, “Gerald Warner, of South Dakota, is spending a few days with his brothers in this place, having come east to attend the funeral of his father, John B. Warner. Although unable to reach Aquebogue in time for the funeral, he was present at the burial, which was postponed until his arrival on Thursday.”

I have had and known about a picture of all six brothers for as long as I can remember. I never really thought about when the photo was taken until I started working on writing about the life of Gerald.

back left to right : Olin, Hollis Gerald
front left to right: J. Wesley, Milton, Terry

One of my cousins has a copy of the photo with 1920 written on the back. I was able to find no record in the local newspaper of Gilbert visiting the family in 1920 before he came for his father’s funeral in June 1920. Was the picture taken then, after the burial, when all the brothers were together or some years earlier? I cannot find any mention of Gerald visiting his family after he left for South Dakota until he came for the burial. Brother Terry would die tragically in October 1921. It is possible Gerald came and it was not recorded in the newspaper. Are all the issues available online? My grandfather (Olin-back left) was 15 years old when his father died. I think he looks younger than that in the photo? Milton (front middle) would have been not quite 13 years old in 1920.  Or I wonder if it was taken perhaps years earlier when Gilbert left for South Dakota?  I wonder what the lapel pins are that Milton and Olin are wearing?

  • 17 December 1920 in The County Review newspaper under Aquebogue states “Gerald Warner, of South Dakota is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Warner.”
  • The 1925 South Dakota, State Census lists Gerald as 34 years old, Single, Race-White, Ethnicity-German, Years in the State 13, Arrival Year 1912, Religion-Congregational, parents’ birthplace-New York. Well, the Ethnicity is definitely not correct.
  • The US Federal Census 18 April 1930 for Plainfield Township, Brule County, South Dakota lists Gerald as Single, 43 years old, can read and write, a Farmer, in the General Farm Industry, works for himself, is not a Veteran, number of Farm Schedule 17.
  • The 1935 South Dakota, State Census lists Gerald as 47 years old, Single, Event Place Plainfield, Brule County, South Dakota, Post Office-Kimball, South Dakota.

  • The US Federal Census 16 April 1940 for Plainfield, Brule County, South Dakota has Gerald as 51 years old, Single, Highest grade completed College-2nd year, Farmer, property is a Farm, Hours worked the previous week-38, Weeks worked in 1939-52, yes-Income from other sources, Rented his home and is living with a 58 year old laborer named Fred French. Number on Farm Schedule 7. I wonder what the other income was? Investments, perhaps?
  • 27 April 1942 U.S., World War II Draft Registration Card lists Gerald with a birth date of 15 August 1890, and 52 years old, Residence-Plainfield, South Dakota, Mailing Address R. F. D. 3 Kimball, SD, Self Employed, Height-5’10”, Eye Color-Blue, Hair Color-Brown, Weight 196, Complexion-Ruddy, Name of Person Wo;; Will Always Know Your Address-Olin Warner, Calverton, NY. Again the birth year is wrong?
  • The 1945 South Dakota, State Census lists Gerald as 54 years old, Single, Parents both born in New York, Event Place-Plainfield, Brule County, South Dakota, Post Office-Kimball, South Dakota.
  • The Country Review reports on 8 April 1948 under Calverton “Gerald Warner of Kimball, SD, spent a few days last week with his brother, Olin Warner and family.” This was also at the time of the wedding of Gerald’s niece Betty Warner who married Robert McMurtrie.
  • 16 November 1949 the Argus-Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota reports in an article entitled Shrine Class Here Biggest Since 1920 and that there were 186 men initiated by El Riad Temple at their Fall ceremony held the night before and that this was the largest according to Masonic officials. Among the candidates listed was Gerald Warner, Kimball. This would explain the picture I found among my grandparents’ things:

I wonder if El Riad has any information on Gerald?
  • 30 March 1950 in The County Review newspaper under Aquebogue states “Gerald Warner of Kimball, S. D. who has been spending the Winter in Florida, has been visiting his brothers in this vicinity before returning to his home. He spent Wednesday night with his brother Wesley and since has been with his other brothers. Mr. Warner who has been living in South Dakota for some time, operates a large ranch there.” and “Gerald Warner of Kimble, S.D., visited his aunt, Mrs. George Billard [Ella Terry Billard] part of last week, after spending the winter months in Florida.”

Gerald died in 1951 in ?. The Florida Death Index has a Gerald G Warner Death date 1951 with Death Place as Palm Beach, Florida. I also find a South Dakota Death Index with a Death Date as 24 March 1951 and a Death Place as Brule, South Dakota.

  • Which one is right? Definitely more research needed on this mystery.
  • I did a little ‘quick’ digging and I did find a Gerald G Warner listed in the City Directory for 1944 living in St. Petersburg, FL with an occupation of US Army. That is definitely not my ancestor and may answer the confusion about the 2 death listings.
  • I was told a family story that Gilbert left SD for FL and became ill. Did he go back to SD or did he make it to FL and die there? If he died in FL would both states issue death certificates? I think I need to get a copy of the SD death certificate.

2 stories I was told Uncle Gerald shared were:

  • The snow in South Dakota got so high one winter about 10-15 feet that Gerald had to go out the second story window in the house and across the snow and go in the upper door of the barn to get to the animals so he could feed them.
  • Gerald took his horse and wagon in to town to do things.  When he was headed home he would wrap up in a blanket and lay on the floor of the wagon out of the wind and elements and even sleep.  He would tell his horse to go home and let the horse go on his own to take them home.

These stories give me a little more of about his daily life in South Dakota.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. I love how thorough your research is. As always, looking forward to your next chapter.

  2. Thank-you so much! Next Chapter is posted and I hope you like it.

  3. Debby, A number of years ago I was at a "estate" sale in an old farm house on Sound Ave, a bit west of Briermere Farms pie and vegetable stand. So the address of this house would be Riverhead, but close to Baiting Hollow/Calverton. The house was very old, I estimate well over 100 years and apparently owned by a Warner family. There were letters scattered all over the floor as if someone emptied a drawer onto the floor. I scooped some of them up and looked at the postmarks, many from 1930s-1950s. I felt bad that letters that old were discarded, so I carried them down to the person in charge of the sale and asked if she thought the family wanted them or are they for sale? For Sale! she said, So I paid one dollar for them. I am not sure how the letter writers relate to your Warner line, but I can go back and see who they mention. Some letters came from a daughter who married and moved upstate NY and she went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment. Do they sound like your relatives? You can contact me offline from the blog at

    1. Thank-you for the information. It's so hard to believe that others would not see the importance of the letters...any letters. I would love to know more about the letters. Sent you an email.