|Completely Different: It's all in the family|
|April 06, 2012 Elizabeth Gross|
Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen
Final resting place of Harry and Anna Gross at West Lawn Cemetery in Gering.
In celebration of Gering’s quasquicentennial celebration, once a month I will be doing a column exploring fun facts about Gering and the surrounding community. These will be small tales of the people and culture of our area. My hope is that you find these stories enlightening and will look on your town with a different light. We are all in this together, the moving history of the people of the Valley. Without the personal history of the people within a city, there can be no such thing as community. As a history lover, I have looked into my own family history and have found many interesting things. This week I would like to share with you the family history of my grandpa Gross.
The Gross family begins with Daniel and Catherine Gross. They lived in Pennsylvania. My grandpa Norman told me that his dad always told them that they were Pennsylvania Dutch. Before Daniel and Catherine, there seems to be no known record of the family’s history. It is known that many of the settlers in Pennsylvania who referred to themselves as Pennsylvania Dutch were from southwestern Germany or Sweden. Many members of the Gross family still live there to this day.
Daniel and Catherine had a son, Wendell Isaac Gross, in 1840. Wendell later fought in the Civil War. Lieutenant Gross fought in the 201 Infantry in Pennsylvania. He married Catherine Nisley and they had a son, Harry Gross, who was born in 1867.
Wendell passed away in 1926, with Catherine passing on in 1932.
The members of the Gross family who settled here were Pioneers who may have come on the Oregon Trail but it is not certain. It may have been Harry and Anna Gross that were the first to settle in Scotts Bluff County or it may have been Wendell and Catherine. We do know that Harry and Ana Gross’ marriage was third ever to be recorded in Scotts Bluff County. They were married May 16, 1889. If you were visit their graves at West Lawn Cemetery, their headstone gives credit to that. Harry and Anna had thirteen children, including my great-grandfather James Randall.
Their other children included: Wendell, Jennie, Josie, Fred, Gertrude, Harry, Carita, Lois, Robert, Marry, and Nellie. The family lost three children. During those challenging times, it was very easy for a child to die because of simple illnesses. People were also at the mercy of the traveling doctor if they lived in the country.
There is also the family mystery about Walter. According to the records at West Lawn Cemetery, there is a mention of a Walter Gross who was born in 1893. The records say that he lived to be 39 years old; however, it is family speculation whether or not there was ever really a Walter. No one remembers him! The family seems to have no records or photos of Walter.
Harry and Anna Gross passed away in 1941. Harry was very ill at the time of his death. When Harry passed Anna passed away the very next day. She was not even ill. My grandpa remembers to this day, going to the church seeing his grandpa and grandma always side by side.
One of my grandfather’s uncles was named Wendell Gross. Wendell was a son to Harry and Anna, and established the first blacksmith shop in Gering. The founder of the Gering Courier, A.B. Wood, and Wendell Gross were friends. After Wendell passed, A.B. Wood wrote an article about him in the Gering Courier, talking about the friendship they shared and the man Wendell was. My grandpa Norman would later graduate high school with Wood’s granddaughter, Carol Ann.
My great-grandfather was James Randall Gross who married Isabell. I never knew James or Isabell but I do know that Isabell was the curator of the North Platte Valley Museum in the 1960s. They had two sons, my Grandpa Norman and my great-uncle Neal.
I have a large extended family with what I consider a very rich history. Learning about my family history has always given me a sense of pride. It also has given me the opportunity to connect with my family at a much deeper level.
If your family is from the area, check out places like the North Platte Valley Museum, the Farm and Ranch Museum, even the local library. Make learning about your family history an exciting conversation with your relatives. I guarantee it will create a deeper connection for all of you.
Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen
Harry and Anna Gross’ final resting place at West Lawn Cemetery in Gering.
Read more by Elizabeth Gross