Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mary's Siblings: Gorgeous Gordon, Part 2

After my grandmother's brother, Gordon Waggoner and Ethelyn VanWert Costello married on April 26, 1915, they stayed in the panhandle of Idaho. Piecing together the next six years of Gordon's life has been a challenge, but I have found a few significant clues. 

By 1916, a new city directory for Shoshone County, Idaho, records Gordon's name as J. Gordon Wagner. This is another piece of evidence that helps to confirm my conclusion that James G. Waggoner is the same person that I had thought was named Gordon Grady Waggoner.
1916-1917 City Directory for Shoshone County Idaho, see Wagner, J. Gordon.

This record states that Gordon was a miner. Maybe this was about the time the photo of the copper miners was taken. Also, this directory gives Gordon's address as "Riverside Av W," which I assume means Riverside Avenue West, in Kellogg, Idaho. I'm not sure what "cor Hill" means. Finding the abbreviation guide in this directory is difficult. I'm not sure why Ethelyn is not listed with him, as they were married by the time this directory was published.

During this time, Europe was embroiled in The War to End All Wars, and it wasn't long before the United States entered the conflict. For almost all young men of this era, you can find a WWI draft registration. Gordon is no exception. Interestingly, this document says that Gordon is a carpenter working for the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company.
James Gordon Waggoner, World War I Draft Registration. Note that Gordon is medium height and build, has blue eyes and black hair. This gives his wife's name, his occupation, and his address.
Taken two years later, 1920 census of Couer d'Alene, Idaho, offers more clues as to what was going on in Gordon's life. For one, his occupation has changed from miner in 1916, to carpenter in 1918, to laborer in a logging camp. For Ethelyn's occupation, it says "Rooming house." Did she work in a rooming house? In what capacity? Living with them is their 1-year-and-three-months-old son, James G. Waggoner, born in Kellogg, Idaho, and a nine-and-a-half-year-old step-daughter, Erma Costello, born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Ethelyn's daughter. They live at 202 Front St. and they rent their home.

Wondering where Ethelyn's two sons from her first marriage were living, I checked the 1920 census for William J. Costello and found him in Sandpoint, Bonner County, Idaho, at age 48, with his sons Earle, age 12, and Van, age 11, and a 31-year-old servant, named Lola Rood, probably a cook, housekeeper, and caretaker for his children.

The next major event in their lives was Gordon's death in February 1921. (Gordon's Find A Grave memorial.) What a great source of grief for my grandmother Mary this was, and  for the rest of the family, I'm sure! Gordon was the first of Eli's and Rachel's adult children to die, and the only one to precede both of them in death. And for Ethelyn, baby James G. and Erma, what would happen next?
One last photo of forever young and handsome, James Gordon Waggoner.
Frustration! I have not been able to determine the exact date nor the cause of Gordon's death. After making several contacts in Idaho and running into huge roadblocks--for one, Idaho will not release death records to anyone who is not a direct descendant of the deceased, even though he has been dead for 92 years--I have finally found someone in Idaho who is going to do some research for me. I'm hoping to be able to report the findings by next week, but we'll see what happens.
James Gordon Waggoner's tombstone in Forest Cemetery, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Note the Odd Fellows symbol on the gravestone.
Photo courtesy of Michael Young, Find A Grave contributor.
For J. Gordon Wagner in 1916: Shoshone County Directory, 1916-1917, Spokane, Washington: R. L. Polk and Company, 1915. U. S. City Directories, 1821-1989; digital image (, accessed 27 August 2013), "Wagner, J. Gordon."

“U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www., accessed 13 August 2013), card for James Gordon Waggoner, serial number 2654, Local Draft Board, Shoshone County, Idaho.

For James G. Waggoner and family in 1920: 1920 U. S. census, Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai  County Idaho, population schedule, Coeur d'Alene Precinct, p. 309 (penned), enumeration district (ED) 206, sheet 5-B, dwelling 15, family 15, James G. Waggoner family; database (, accessed 3 September 2013), NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 291.

For William J. Costello and family in 1920: 1920 U. S. census, Sandpoint, Bonner  County Idaho, population schedule, Sandpoint Precinct, p. 3181 (penned), enumeration district (ED) 30, sheet 4-A, dwelling 73, family 74, William J. Costello family; database (, accessed 3 September 2013), NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 289.

1 comment:

  1. Zola, nice blog site. Glad you found someone in Idaho to help. the University of Washington has a good collection of resources for Idaho. If you need anything let me know. I would definitely go for the obituary. I can access NewspaperArchive and GenealogyBank through my library cards. One or the other should have the paper. If not or if you don't have access, let me know and I will go through the microfilm for you. Nice site. Keep up the good work.