Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Introducing Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

A few months ago I began posting to The Quote Garden excerpts from the poetry of Gertrude Tooley Buckingham. Before I did, I researched to see what was already out there on the Web. There is not a single website featuring her poetry or biographical information. The only items are a no‑preview entry for her 1948 book Poems at Random in Google Books and a poem in a couple of local New York newspapers from the mid-1900s on And there is no mention of her at all, that I can find, since the 1960s.

Mrs Buckingham was a friend of my family 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 Gertrude until then. We were also fortunate enough to receive several unpublished poems, both typewritten and handwritten, as well as some journal entries.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’ve been able to piece together for those who are interested.

Gertrude was born on June 26th 1880. Her maiden name was Tooley and 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 her writing can live on, along with the memory of beautiful Doris and all the family as well.

Update, March 2016:  I’ve still been unable to find her family but I’m going to post a few names here that I think might be relatives, in hopes they will find this and contact me: John Reynolds and wife Ann, Joan Reynolds and husband Hank, Ruth Reynolds, Joan Doris Buckingham, Lorraine Buckingham, John J. Reynolds, Lorraine B. Reynolds, Ruth Ann Tooley, Ruth Ann Angel, Lorraine Gertrude Buckingham, Lorraine Gertrude Reynolds, Lorraine Buckingham Reynolds, New Jersey, Van Buren Ave, Franklin Square, Wading River, Westhampton Beach, St Petersburg Beach, Florida. I think Lorraine passed away in 2006 and had five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Poems at Random, 1948, by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham
Poems at Random, 1948,
by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

Inscription in Poems at Random book, by Gertrude Buckingham, 1948
Inscription in Poems at Random
by Gertrude Buckingham, 1948

Doris Buckingham dedication in Poems at Random by Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, published 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