Ms Buckingham was a friend of my family from a few generations ago in New York. My parents inherited an inscribed copy of Poems at Random when my grandmother passed away about eight years ago, but I had not heard of her until then. I was also fortunate enough to receive several unpublished poems, both typewritten and handwritten, as well as some journal entries.
I am attempting to locate any surviving family for permissions as well as more complete biographical information and photographs. In the meantime, I’d like to share what I do know for those of you who are interested.
Gertrude was born on June 26th 1880. I’m assuming that her maiden name was Tooley and that she was an only child, to very loving and hard-working parents. When she was 17 she studied for one year at the Conservatory of Music in Detroit while staying at the home of her cousin. She and her husband were both engaged to other people when they fell in love. She married Samuel L. Buckingham (birth c.1875) on October 21st 1903. They had two daughters, Doris (c.1910) and Lorraine (c.1913). All were born in New York, and they lived on Northern Avenue which in 1938 was renamed to Cabrini Boulevard. Gertrude’s special interest was music, Sam liked sports and games, and Lorraine was a secretary at a bank. Gertrude and Sam had three grandchildren: two girls and a boy.
Around 1939, the family sustained a great loss when Doris was taken from them through an accident. A few months later, Gertrude received from Spirit the gift of poetic talent. She became what we could call a medium poet, as she heard the words spoken in her head and saw them pass in front of her eyes, sensing what she was to write. She was about age sixty at the time. Poems at Random is dedicated to Doris. See photos below.
Gertrude, a homemaker, and Sam, an undertaker, were married for 54 years before he passed away. She refers to them in her journal as soul mates, and six years after his death writes “My great love for Sam will never die as I’m sure his love for me will always live.” I know that Gertrude lived until at least 1964, but I’m not sure how long after that.
Here are the names with which she is associated: Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, Gertrude A. Buckingham, Gertrude T. Buckingham, Gertrude Buckingham, Gertrude A. Tooley, Gertrude Tooley, Mrs. Sam Buckingham, Mrs. Samuel Buckingham, Mrs. Sam (Gertrude) Buckingham, and Gertie Buckingham.
I am hopeful that her family will be receptive to my posting of Gertrude’s lovely words on The Quote Garden and that they will be pleased knowing that her writing can live on, along with the memory of beautiful Doris and all the family as well.
|Poems at Random, 1948,|
by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham
|Inscription in Poems at Random|
by Gertrude Buckingham, 1948
|Doris Buckingham dedication in Poems at Random|
by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, published 1948
“[M]y prayer is that many of the poems in this book may help to bring joy and peace and understanding to those souls who may be grieving for loved ones whom they call ‘dead’ but who, in reality, are still living in a real world of beauty, being able to manifest to their dear ones of earth when the door is opened for them to come in.” ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Preface,” Poems at Random, 1948