Sumner Gage

As mentioned in Edward Gage’s post, he did not speak much about his parents to his grandchildren (our grand-parents), but he must have told his children something because they knew enough to name his parents in his obituary and his place of birth as New Hampshire. So, I looked in New Hampshire.

The record of birth for Edward (see Edward’s post), records his name as Julius Edwin Gage and has a birth year off by one compared to his obituary, but his parents’ names were corroborated – Sumner Gage from Lyme, New Hampshire and Caroline A. (Emery) from Topsham, New Hampshire. I did look for other Edwards with parents named Sumner and Caroline but found none, so I accepted this was our Edward’s birth record.

I found four more vital records assigning children to Sumner and Caroline:

  1. Henry E. Gage was born in Orford, New Hampshire to Sumner Gage (born in Orford, New Hampshire) and Caroline (born in Salem, Massachusetts). This child died at 8 months and 24 days old on 10 February 1863 in Orford, New Hampshire.
  2. William H. Gage was born in Orford, New Hampshire to Sumner Gage of Lyme, New Hampshire and Caroline of Salem, Massachusetts on 20 January 1865. He is recorded as their 2nd child.
  3. Baby Gage was born in Orford, New Hampshire to Sumner Gage of Lyme, New Hampshire and Caroline of Topsham, Vermont in May 1872. His birth was recorded as live but for some reason, his given name was not recorded. He is listed as the 4th child as was Edward, but was born after Edward and two more brothers so should be the 7th.
  4. Ida Mabel Gage born 18 September 1876 in Orford, New Hampshire. Identified as the 6th child born to Sumner Gage of Lyme, New Hampshire and Carrie Emery of Salem Massachusetts. Since she was born after a brother, Charles, she should be the 8th.

I found additional children through the 1870 and 1880 census.

  1. Isaac Gage born about 1869 in New Hampshire
  2. Frank Gage born about 1870 in New Hampshire
  3. Charles Gage born about 1872 in New Hampshire (this is probably baby Gage, #3 above)
  4. Elmer Gage born about 1879 in Illinois
Image record for the 1880 U.S. Census showing Sumner Gage’s household, 

Next, I found a couple of different versions of marriage records, one filed in New Hampshire and one in Vermont.

Vermont record
New Hampshire record
This version is a transcription split between two cards; a card for the groom and a card for the bride.  

In this version, the card for Sumner Gage records his marriage to Caroline Emory on 3 July 1861 and names only his mother as Ruth (Gage).  

The marriage was officiated by Rev. L.H. Patridge, F.W.B. Church in the town of Orange.  

The groom was a resident of Topsham and is aged 34.
F.W.B. could mean Free Will Baptist Church.

This version is also a transcription on a double-sided card.  

This record has an S____ Gage who married Caroline A. Emery (note each card spells Caroline’s maiden name differently).  

The groom’s residence is Orford and his birthplace is recorded as Lyme, New Hampshire and this is his first marriage. 

The date of marriage is 1 July 1861 in Topsham, Vermont by Patridge (a clergyman), but he reported the marriage from Orford, New Hampshire.  

On the back of the card S’s parents are named as Isaac Gage and Olive, not Ruth.

Is your head spinning yet?

Ok, I have to get ahead of myself. There actually is a couple named Isaac and Olive Gage in New Hampshire, but they were Sumner’s grandparents. Sumner’s father was also Isaac, the younger. Somewhere along the line some wires got crossed and Olive was substituted for Ruth on New Hampshire’s version of the marriage record, perhaps the clerk was familiar with the family and wrote Olive automatically. Olive died before Sumner married in 1861.

Also, there is a difference in the marriage date. Often records are dated by the date of the entry and confused by later scribes as the event date. I believe that the marriage took place in Vermont on 1 July 1861 and the marriage return was filed in Vermont on 3 July 1861. This is supported by New Hampshire’s version specifically reporting that the marriage was performed in Vermont and reported from New Hampshire. Without seeing the original records, I can only guess.

What about those place names? Is Topsham in Vermont or New Hampshire? I think it was in Vermont. I can’t find any modern town of Topsham in New Hampshire. Topsham, Vermont is in Orange County (one of the marriage records identifies a location “Orange”) and is a 6-hour walk from Orford. Orford is right on the state line on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River.  Lyme, New Hampshire is a 2-hour walk from Orford.

Locations of Topsham, VT, Orford, NH, and Lyme, NH using Google Maps.

His birth is calculated. I have never found a record of birth for him or his siblings. What I know is through census and marriage records. In the Vermont marriage record, his mother is identified as Ruth, no maiden name. So in 1850, in the town of Orford, New Hampshire, we find a family consisting of Isaac (58), Ruth (60), Sumner (25), Richard (23), and Henry (18). There is no other Sumner in New Hampshire. His was a wonderfully unique name. 

Since Sumner named a son Henry, the 1850 census ties four names together with the previously mentioned birth and marriage records and gives us a small family picture. By 1860 in the same location, we find Sumner and mother, Ruth, living together. Ruth is presumed to be a widow as Isaac is not found. Sumner marries the following year, the absence of Isaac in the household explains why the Vermont record didn’t name his father; he was not present for the wedding. Ruth dies a few years later.

Clipped from 
  1. New England Farmer
  2. 02 Jan 1875, Sat
  3. Page 3

On 22 December 1875, Sumner and the family suffered a total loss of household in a house fire. The article that reported this only stated that Sumner and Carrie were not at home, but implies the children were. Edward was about 6 or 7 when this would have happened. Luckily they were insured.

Sumner and Carrie moved to Brookfield township, LaSalle County, Illinois sometime after 1876. Originally, I thought it was because they found it easier to start over in Illinois, which was not as crowded as New Hampshire. But then I noticed that many of Sumner’s siblings and cousins moved to to the same area. There was a family decision made somewhere.  

1870 map of LaSalle County, Illinois. Sumner Gage and other Gages lived in Bookfield township (blue box).

Sumner died in LaSalle County, Illinois. The inscription on his headstone says he died at the age of 70 years, 11 months, and 28 days. By then, Edward had already moved to Iowa to work on his cousin’s farm. Carrie followed Edward to Iowa after the death of her husband, Sumner.

Aside from the one news article about his home burning down, Sumner and his family managed to stay out of the newspapers. As with the majority of our ancestors, they were farmers so they didn’t make much town news.

Genealogical Summary:

Sumner Gage was born about 1826 in Lyme, Grafton County, New Hampshire, to Isaac Gage and Ruth Stone.

At the age of 34 or 35, he married 18-year-old Caroline (Carrie) Emery on 1 July 1861 in Topsham, Orange County, Vermont. She was the daughter of William and Anna (____) Emery.

He died on 3 December 1895 in LaSalle County, Illinois at the age of 70. He is buried in the Galloway Cemetery in Marseilles, LaSalle County, Illinois.
Sumner and Caroline had the following children:

  1. Henry E. Gage b. in 1862 and d. 10 February 1863 in Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire at the age of 8 months and 24 days.
  2. William H. Gage b. 20 January 1865 in Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
  3. Maybe another child if we are to believe the order recorded on each birth record.
  4. Julius Edwin (Edward) Gage b. 16 November 1868 in Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire and died 5 December 1952 in Dunlap, Harrison County, Iowa. He married Luella DeJean on 29 January 1890 in Dunlap, Harrison County, Iowa.
  5. Isaac Gage b. about 1869 in New Hampshire.
  6. Frank Gage b. about 1870 in New Hampshire.
  7. Charles Gage b. May 1872 in Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
  8. Ida Mabel Gage b. 18 September 1876 in Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire.
  9. Elmer Gage b. about 1879 in Illinois.
Images of Sumner’s headstone posted on