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Generation Five

     35. Lorene Emma5 Gifford (Arthur4, Benjamin3, William2, Benjamin1); born 24 January 1886 in Roscommon, Roscommon Co., MI;131,114,158,130,141,108 married , as his second wife Leslie Allen Goss, son of John Charles Goss and Mary Jane Allen, 3 April 1911 in Detroit, Wayne Co., MI;52,52 she died 28 September 1966 in Panorama City, Los Angeles Co., CA;114,141 buried 4 October 1966 in Glen Haven Memorial Park, San Fernando, CA.114

     Lorene Emma (Gifford)  Goss.

     No official record of the birth of Lorene Emma Gifford has been found. However, a charming newspaper announcement of her birth exists. "On Sunday night to Mr. and Mrs. A. Gifford was born a daughter, weight 8 pounds." 108 That Sunday night's date was 24 January 1886, the date matching that given on her death certificate. However, no name is given in this announcement. Apparently, her birth name was not Lorene, but Louise. She appears as Louise A. Gifford in her parents' 1894 divorce decree120 and in her father's 1944 will.122 However, by 1900 she was using the name Lorene, appearing as "Lerina" in the 1900 Detroit census enumeration of her stepfather's household.130

     The year 1886 marked the end of the lumber era in Roscommon and the beginning of harder times in the community. In Roscommon Village the population dropped from a high of 737 in 1884 to 407 twenty years later.159 Adults may have found life more difficult, but the young Gifford daughter seemed to enjoy it. In an extract from a 1966 letter to a granddaughter, she describes her memories of Christmas as a young girl.

When I was a little girl we always had a Christmas tree which was lit with tiny candles. That was really the nicest part of Christmas along with candied fruit. We didn't receive many gifts - a stocking filled with good things to eat - always a big orange which was very scarce at that time and usually one good gift. One year a rocking chair and another year a nice doll dressed very nicely.160
During her childhood, Roscommon had one two-story schoolhouse which served grades one through ten. A photograph of the school and its students probably includes Lorene, but individual identifications would be impossible!

     Lorene was eight years old when her parents' divorce became final 8 August 1894. Custody was granted to her mother who married David S. Wright about a year later. Her father also remarried in about a year and moved to Loveland, Colorado. The 1907 Fort Collins and Loveland City Directory lists "Rena Gifford" at the residence of her father and stepmother, A. H. and Lena Gifford. However, no other evidence exists to indicate that father and daughter were ever in contact again. In fact, his 1944 will effectively disinherits her: I make this my Last Will and Testament with the full knowledge and recognition that I now have a natural daughter who was christened Louise A. Gifford who, according to my last information, resides in Detroit, Michigan, but with whom I have had no association or contact since her early childhood..122

     Her stepfather, a railroad conductor, removed his new family to Detroit where they are found in the 1900 and 1910 Detroit censuses.130 131 By the end of 1904, Lorene had acquired three half-siblings and in 1911 she acquired a husband, marrying Leslie Allen Goss as his second wife, 3 April 1911.

     The couple were married 18 years when his early death due to pulmonary tuberculosis left Lorene a widow with five children. It also left her facing the Depression on her own. Lorene obtained a job on the Leland Hotel staff in Detroit; and this job, with help from her older children and family and community members, enabled the family to survive.

     Lorene moved to Panorama City, California, in 1944.114 Here, she lived the rest of her life. Although raised a Catholic, she became a Christian Scientist. Her daughter-in-law recalls that during a 1952 stay with Lorene in California, she developed a severe headache. Lorene promptly called friends for doctor recommendations. She then drove her daughter-in-law to the doctor for treatment and was very surprised to hear that this behavior was completely unexpected. "Of course, I wouldn't impose my religion on you," she said.

     Lorene (Gifford) Goss never remarried. She died 28 September 1966 at the age of 80 years after a fall from a ladder to the swimming pool deck. The accident resulted in a skull fracture with cerebral contusions.114 She was buried at Glen Haven Memorial Park in San Fernando, California, a week later.

     Leslie Allen Goss was born 17 September 1882 in Detroit, Wayne Co., MI.158,130,52,161 He married (1) Bertie J. Henwood, daughter of Josiah Henwood and Mary A. Thompson, circa 1905.131 He died 27 October 1929 in Detroit, Wayne Co., MI.52 He was buried on 30 October 1929 in Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne Co., MI.52 Leslie Allen Goss and Bertie Henwood.

     Some historical events have a great effect on the imagination. The sinking of the Titanic might come first to the mind. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is another that has always affected me. When I first read of this catastrophe as a little girl, I imagined a great crack in the earth and the entire city of San Francisco falling into the flames beneath. I had never thought that an ancestor of mine might have been caught in this event. However, evidence now suggests that Leslie Allen Goss and his family lived in San Francisco and experienced both quake and fire first hand.

     Like his older brother, Leslie worked for his father's tent and awning company as an awning salesman in 1900.130 Unlike his brother, he did not remain long in Detroit. By 1902, he had moved to San Francisco and was living with his great-uncle Joseph Goss at 58 Shotwell Street, probably completing an informal apprenticeship in sail making. In 1903 and 1904, Leslie and his great aunt and uncle resided at 130 Capp St. But in 1905, Leslie is living at his own residence, 10 Elgin Street, employed as a sailmaker.162

     Given the 25 September 1905 birth of daughter Lorna,163 it seems safe to assume that this move to his own residence was a result of Leslie's marriage to Bertie J. Henwood, also the offspring of English immigrants. The record of this marriage has not been uncovered, 164 but information included in the 1910 Detroit census enumeration of this family states they had been married for five years narrowing the marriage date to late 1904 or early 1905.131

     At 5:12 a.m. on the 18th of April, 1906, San Francisco was rocked by a large magnitude earthquake. Modern reconstructions estimate the surface wave magnitude to have ranged from 7.5 to 8.3 on the Richter scale and the total length of the crack was an enormous 290 miles. Fires broke out in several parts of the city and burning continued for four days. At the end of the catastrophe, two to three thousand people had died, many more were injured, and hundreds of thousands were homeless. 10 Elgin, the home of Leslie and his young family, appears to have been within the area of the Great Fire.

     Joseph Goss and wife Elizabeth rebuilt their lives in Marin County north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, but Leslie Allen Goss appears to have returned to his Detroit home. He and his family are enumerated in the 1910 census of Detroit renting the home at 275 Pennsylvania Avenue next to his parents.161 Leslie is still in the canvas trade listing his occupation as "mechanic and sail maker."

     In less than a year, Leslie Allen Goss had married again and Bertie J. (Henwood) Goss and daughter Lorna had returned to San Francisco. It is not known how much contact was maintained between father and daughter. However, on her 1993 death certificate her stepson lists her father as "Unknown."

     The marriage of Leslie A. Goss to LoRena E. Gifford took place on 3 April 1911 in Detroit, Michigan. The couple was married by Rector G. F. A. MacKelsan; witnesses were Malcolm Wright and Hattie Jewell.52 Neither witness has been identified, however Malcolm Wright is probably related to Lorene Gifford's stepfather, David S. Wright. The couple's first child appears to have been named after this witness.

     Census information and the birthplaces of their children show another difference in the Goss brothers' personalities. Joseph remained in and near Detroit, Michigan, most of his life. Leslie did not. The couple was in Detroit for the birth of their first child Malcolm in 1912. Daughter Gloria was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1914; daughter Virginia in North Hollywood, California, in 1917. They appear in Inyo County, California, in the 1920 federal census158 and are in Oakland, California, for the birth of daughter Mary Jane later that year. The family comes full circle, returning to Detroit, Michigan, where the last child, Arthur, is born in 1924. Pictures of several family homes exist, but one of the most fascinating is this stark photograph, probably the family residence in Inyo County. Notice all the awnings!

     Not only does his residence come full circle, but his occupation does, too. On his travels, Leslie Allen Goss reports his occupation as variously as "electrician at the soda plant"158 and "commercial photographer at the American Triona Company."165 However, his death certificate lists his occupation as "sail maker."52 The interest in photography is shown by several well-composed photographs of his wife and children probably taken by Leslie.

     Leslie Allen Goss died in Detroit on 27 October 1929 at the age of 47 years 1 month 10 days. The cause of death is listed as pulmonary tuberculosis of 2 years' duration.52 He left behind a wife and five children ranging in age from five to seventeen years. He was buried three days later in Woodmere Cemetery. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 had begun the day before.

     The five known children of Lorene Emma5 Gifford and Leslie Allen Goss were as follows:




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Susan Goss Johnston, copyright June 2001, revised August 2002