THE HISTORY OF A WILBRAHAM FAMILY
This story is of a family,
all of whom have played an active part in the history of
Wilbraham. Pierre and Sophie Gebo brought their family to the
area from Plattsburg, N.Y. around 1900. It was their son
Theodore who came to Wilbraham with his wife Carrie. They
bought a home on the Northwest corner of Tinkham and Stony Hill
Roads and opened a blacksmith and ferrier business across the
street. The family grew to seven children, and the business
grew until larger quarters were needed. When Chauncy Peck,
(famed author of Peck’s 1913 History of Wilbraham), put his
blacksmith and carriage business at 380 Main Street up for
sale, Theodore decided this spot , being near to the center
would be a good move. He bought a home for the family at 393
Main Street and moved the business to 380 Main Street.
The shop was a two-story
building with the blacksmith shop on the first floor, and the
carriage painting and refinishing on the second. The carriages
were hoisted up stairs by a series pullies. Theodore’s brother
Napoleon, ran the carriage business. Unfortunately the paint
shop upstairs caught on fire, and the top story was destroyed.
Napoleon then changed his occupation and opened a shop on
Bridge Street in Springfield, becoming a very fashionable hair
dresser and the “in” place to have your hair done!
The Gebo family thrived, and
Theodore’s children all became very active in the Town and
church activities. All of the brothers and sisters attended
The family name was
originally spelled Gebeault, and according to legend, shortened
to Gebo to make it fit the side of a furniture wagon by one of
Theodore’s brothers. In 1926 the family members felt the name
should be more reminiscent of its French ancestry, and legally
changed it to Gebeau.
Through the years the
horseless carriage became more popular, and blacksmith shops
throughout the country evolved into auto repair shops. This of
course was true in Wilbraham. Two of Theodore’s sons, Wilbur
and Ellery had worked for their father through the years, and
stayed on after their dad retired.. They carried on a thriving
Chevrolet-Oldsmobile agency called Gebeau’s Garage.
Many of the Gebeau children
continued to live in Town. Eva married Raymond Gurney who was
Postmaster here for many years, and whose father owned Gurney’s
General Store. Eva took lessons from her uncle Napoleon to
become a hairdresser. She had a wonderful little shop at the
back of the family home next to the Village Store. This large
house was made over as a two family, and their son Frank and
his wife Viola lived there too. Eva and Ray’s granddaughter
(Mrs. John Tousignant) lives there still with her family. Ann
is on the staff at Minnechaug and John, her husband, is a
friend to us all at the post office.
Era married Raymond Beach who
served for many years as our State Representative to Boston.
Their children were Alegra and Raymond, Jr. Alegra married
Arthur Putnam whose family lived here for many years. One of
their sons, David, and his wife Judy are still residents.
Raymond, Jr. and his wife Carol Ryder are both very active
here. Raymond having been a Fire Commissioner for many years,
and also a post office member. Carol is a retired kindergarten
teacher who ran her own school here for many years.
Wilbur married Ruth
Dickinson. Ruth worked with Wilbur in the auto business and
carried on after his death for many years, becoming the first
woman automobile dealer in New England.
Ellery married Audrey Genge,
daughter of Reverend Genge of the Methodist Church, and the
lady in “The Love Story”. They had two sons, Theodore Wilbur
and William Quenton. Theodore also spent much of his life in
the dealership and carries on his grandfather’s name. He
married Jane Ward.
Much of the family is
scattered now, but we who still live here are hopeful they will
all always remember this beautiful New England town and their
A LOVE STORY
“Today I need to have you go
up to North Wilbraham, to the depot to pick up the new minister
and his family when they get off the train from Maine. You had
better take the big rig as there will be Rev. Quinton Genge,
his wife Alma, and their three young daughters, plus all their
baggage.” (The railroad station was located where Wilbraham
Mobil is today).
This request was made by
Theodore Gebo who ran the blacksmith shop and automobile repair
shop at 380 Main Street to his l8 year old son Ellery.
Ellery was born in Wilbraham.
He had worked in the family business all his life, and along
with his brother Wilbur carried on after their father retired.
They ran a thriving Chevrolet-Oldsmobile agency called Gebeau’s
Garage for many years.
Ellery was used to that run
to the railroad station, but on that day in 1921 he could not
possibly know the impact this day’s trip would have on his
The train was on time, and
out stepped Reverend Quinton Genge, his wife Alma, baby Enid,
13 year old Lorna, and then ---and then 16 year old Audrey.
Audrey was adorable. She was
so pretty, curly hair, lovely eyes, and the cutest little nose
you ever saw. Ellery was tall, dark and handsome—his hair
slicked back and parted in the middle in he rave style of the
Bells rang, whistles blew,
and it wasn’t just the train pulling out. Audray and Ellery
took one look at each other, and it was love a first sight!
Their eyes met and a fate was sealed.
Audrey was born in Bermuda to
Alma and Quinton. They had come to Ireland Island, Bermuda
where Quinton was stationed at the Royal Navy Dockyard as
Chaplain to the British Navy.
It was preferred that
Methodist ministers go to the Conference every 4 years to be
installed in a new church; so the Genge family moved very
often. From Bermuda they went to Maine where they lived in
several parishes, before coming to Wilbraham.
The Wilbraham Methodist
Church was the stone church at the corner of Main Street and
Mountain Road. The parsonage was across the street at 35l Main.
The Methodist Society of
Wilbraham shared its church with Wilbraham Academy, and it was
twice to welcome the Congregational Society after two separate
devastating fires at their churches. They worshipped together
for many years. In winter at the warmer Congregational church,
in summer at the cooler Stone church. The Stone church was
deeded to Wilbraham, Academy in 1941, and the two societies
joined as the Wilbraham United Church.
Audrey and Ellery were
married in 1924. They produced two sons, Theodore Wilbur and
William Quenton. Many children and grandchildren have followed,
and hopefully will continue on and on.
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