Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Introducing Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

A few months ago I posted to The Quote Garden some excerpts from the poetry of Gertrude Tooley Buckingham. Mrs Buckingham was a friend of my family a few generations ago in New York. My parents inherited an inscribed copy of her 1948 book Poems at Random when my grandma passed away about eight years ago, but I had not heard of Gertrude until then. We also received a few unpublished poems, journal entries, and letters.

Gertrude was born on June 26th 1880 in New York City. Her maiden name was Tooley and she was an only child to very loving and hard-working parents, Spencer F. Tooley and Fanny Angell. 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 became a music teacher. She and her husband were both engaged to other people when they fell in love. She married Samuel L. Buckingham (1875–1958) on October 21st 1903. They had two daughters, Doris (b.1909) and Lorraine (b.1912). All were born in New York, and they lived on Northern Avenue which in 1938 was renamed to Cabrini Boulevard. Gertrude became a housewife but maintained a lifelong interest in music; Sam liked sports and games; and Lorraine was a bank secretary.

In 1939, the family sustained a great loss when Doris was taken from them through an accident, at the young age of 29. 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.

Gertrude and Sam, who was 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.” They had three grandchildren: two girls and a boy. Gertrude passed away on August 4th 1971.

Gertrude Tooley Buckingham signature

Here are the name variations I’ve come across:  Gertrude Tooley, Gertrude A. Tooley, Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, Gertrude A. Buckingham, Gertrude E. Buckingham, Gertrude T. Buckingham, Gertrude Buckingham, Mrs. Sam Buckingham, Mrs. Samuel Buckingham, Gertie Buckingham

I’ve not yet been able to find any of Gertrude’s family, but I’d love to ask for a photograph of her and any other information they can provide. If you are related to this lovely author, please contact me.

Update, April 2020:  added Gertrude’s year of death, name of parents, profession, and daughters’ birth years

“My 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, Poems at Random, 1948