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It is so important to talk to the relatives now!
Column published: 08 December 2009
By: Shirley Gage Hodges   Biography & Archived Articles

My grandfather Jasper Gage has given me some genealogical challenges over the years. He and my grandmother Mandana had 4 children. You can imagine my confusion when I discovered the birth record for my dad's oldest sister, Eva Gage who was born in 1886. She was my aunt and was my father's oldest sister. As you can see on this birth record, her parents were listed as Jasper and Izora Gage. That birth certificate destroyed my calm for months. Who in the heck was Izora? I knew that my grandparent's names were Jasper and Mandana. On my father's and his two other sisters the records all showed Jasper and Mandana as the parents.

Now my grandfather Jasper has always given me problems. To the best of my knowledge he was born in Lapeer County, Michigan and moved to Lakeview which is in Montcalm County and never left there until the day he died. You can imagine my shock one day when I was in the courthouse in the neighboring county, Ionia, and I found a marriage record for a Jasper S. Gage and a woman who was not my grandmother nor was she Izora! Well that was quite a shock to my constitution but then I discovered my Jasper would have only been 13 at the time. I'm still working on the other Jasper. Pretty neat old guy, he designed the Ionia county courthouse and was a Civil War veteran. I have never proved any relationship but I am sure that since he and my Jasper even share the same middle initial that they were related.

But back to Izora. Since Eva was the oldest child it was possible she might have had a different mother. I searched all the records and could not find any record of a marriage. Everyone I talked to thought he had been married once to my Mandana who was usually referred to as Dana. Finally I was able to talk with my 91 years old Aunt Blanche one month before she died. She said, "oh didn't you know, Mother's name was Izora but no one ever called her that." Every record that I have ever seen called my Grandmother Mandana. There was not one other living person who would have known that my Grandmother's first name was Izora. You can understand why it is so important to talk to the relatives now!

My brother didn't get off Scot-free either when it came to our grandfather. When he was in the second grade he wasn't very politically correct. He went to school at the height of World War II and told everyone that his grandfather was Japanese. Well, you can imagine that living in a small town (population 800) everyone knew everyone. The teacher told my brother that his grandfather was not Japanese. He was rather indignant about it. He knew he was right. The teacher told him to go home and ask his father about it. Well my brother came home and checked it out. Our grandfather had always been called by his nickname, "Jap". This was a nickname that had been acceptable years before but it proved to be inappropriate in later years.

Back row: left to right. Jasper, Eva and Dale Gage     Front row: Hazel and Ethel Gage

I am very proud of Jasper. He died before I was born so I never got a chance to know him. He raised 4 children by himself from the time that my father was six months old.

Until next time :)

Shirley Hodges, biography & genealogy lectures; email:

Editor's Note: Shirley Hodges is the author of the popular Guide to United States Census, 1790-1930

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