In the early 1880s, Frederick Manthano Pickering set out to make his fortune. He traveled more than 3000 miles by covered wagon from his hometown of Portland, Maine, all the way across the country to San Francisco. Two years later, he sent for his childhood sweetheart, Marie Gingras.
Marie’s route was more circuitous, but equally daring. Taking her Hope Chest, which remains in the family, she traveled by ship from New England to where the Panama Canal is now. She traversed the isthmus by mule train then took another boat up the coast to San Francisco, where, finally, she was reunited with Fred. The pair married in January, 1883. According to her marriage certificate, Marie was 21 at the time.
While this love story was faithfully handed down through the generations, the eastern town from which Marie originated wasn’t. Neither was her mother’s name. Knowing at least her mother’s first name would helpful because it might help identify her baptism record. Marie’s death certificate lists Quebec as her place of birth, and we know she was born Roman Catholic. Unfortunately, Quebec church baptism records from the 1860s only list the mother’s name, and many Marie Gingras were baptized around that time.
Knowing Marie’s mother’s maiden name would be a major coup as well. It could open a closed door to the family’s lineage.
All we know about Marie’s family is that her father was named Isaac (according to her death certificate) and both Isaac and his spouse were born in France (according to the 1920 U.S. Census). We also know from oral tradition that Marie was born into a large family, with as many as a dozen brothers and sisters. The 1920 U.S. Census indicates that her family may have been from Maine.
Marie was lucky to have survived her childhood, according to family lore. When she was young, her mother was taking the children by train to visit relatives or friends. They were late in getting to the train station and missed the train. Of course the mother was angry. But the train that they should have been on wrecked and everyone on board was killed.
Marie and Frederick eventually lived a properous life in San Francisco. Fred became a prominent real estate broker. They lived in a very nice house at 2750 Broadway on San Francisco’s Gold Coast, with views of the sea. The couple had two beautiful daughters, Marie Rose Pickering in 1886 and Rhoda Elizabeth in 1894, who traveled in the finest social circles.
Family peace was interrupted, however, when Marie Rose decided to marry her husband, Julius Kruttschnitt, Jr., six months ahead of schedule. The early betrothal made the newspapers. Marie Gingras was quoted as being suitably aghast that her daughter couldn’t wait until the end of her two-year engagement to marry.
Contradictory written records make it difficult to trace Marie Gingras’ past. According to her death certificate, which would seem to be the most credible source, she was 74 years, 5 months, and 28 days old when she died on February 13th, 1937. That would mean that she was born on 15 October 1862 in Quebec.
Both the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census appear to have her age wrong. So does a record for a ride aboard the Lafayette from Le Havre to New York City in 1922. Late in life, it seems, she liked to tell sources that she was 50, only adding to her mystery. Anyone with further information about Marie Gingas Pickering should contact the curator.