Saturday, May 17, 2014

52 Ancestors, Week 13: Frank T. Gleeson

I found a reference to a database being kept by Judith Irons on the construction workers of the Hoover Dam. I remembered reading that one of my grandmother’s uncles worked on the Hoover Dam. So I contacted Judith to inquire about the CD database that is for sale, wondering if he was on it. She had no reference to Frank but asked me to give her a biography and the source of the work for the Hoover Dam. So here is the story of Frank as I know it from research I have done.

Francis Thomas Gleeson, my great-great uncle.

Frank was born Francis Thomas Gleeson on 29 Dec 1878 in Carleton County, Ontario, Canada to John Gleeson and Margaret Tierney. He was the youngest of ten children who included 5 boys and 5 girls. His oldest sister, Anna was my great-grandmother on my father’s side. His siblings were all baptized at St. Phillip's Church in Richmond but there is no record for Frank.  The family arrived in the United States through Port Huron sometime in 1879. Perhaps they waited until later to baptize him.

Frank grew up in Mitchell, Davison County, until about 1893 when he and his sister, Margaret, moved to Anaconda, Montana where they lived with older sisters for a while.[1] Newspapers often give good account of social activities and Frank was listed in one in October 1899 where he was part of the floor committee at a dance at Turner Hall in Anaconda.[2]

He must have returned to Mitchell as he graduated from Mitchell High School in 1896.[3]  It is interesting though, he is one of many who were enumerated in more than one census for a given year. He and his sister, Margaret were listed with their parents in Mitchell, South Dakota, as well as living in Anaconda, Deer Lodge Co, Montana in 1900.[4] Frank was working as a clerk for the railroad office in Montana.

By 1910, Frank was found in the King Co, Washington census at Meadows Gardens precinct, working as the Superintendent for the railroad.[5] Many hired men were enumerated with him, covering the rest of the page and into the next page.

In September 1918, Frank filed his World War I draft card in Burns, Harney County, Oregon. It was interesting that he stated he lived at the Elks Club in Portland, but his occupation was ranching with the Gleeson Brothers in Lawen, Harney County.  His nearest relative was Mrs. John Gleeson, who was his mother.
WWI Draft - see the signature of Frank

However, the next time Frank appeared in a record I have found was the 23 Oct 1927 obituary of his brother, William C. Gleeson.[6] It stated that Frank T. Gleeson lived in Portland. A 1928 Portland city directory had Frank T. and wife Elsie listed at 1305 E. Davis and he was a contractor.[7] Here is the first indication of a job close to construction work. They appeared in the 1929 directory at the same place but were gone from Portland in 1930.

The 1930 Los Angeles County federal census however had a likely candidate for Frank and Elsie: Frank T. Gleason and Elsie Gleason.[8] He was 49 years old and she listed as 39 years. It appeared they had been married about 8 years previously. Although his birthplace was listed as Illinois, his parent’s birthplaces were correct and his occupation was a superintendent in construction paving.
1930 census in Los Angeles. For date of marriage, subtract age at marriage from age, making their marriage about 1922.

The 1940 census showed Frank and Elsie living in Redding, Shasta County, California.[9] There was a supplemental line for him and the occupation on that line read “Foreman construction work” for “contracting highway work.” They rented and lived with a few families at 1160 Trinity Street. In 1935, they were living in Los Angeles.

Two years later, he filled out the World War II draft card.[10] He was living in Redding at 1833 Grace Ave. The nearest relative who knew his address was his sister, Mrs. M.M. [Mary Martha] Gilbert, at 821 So. Lake Street in Los Angeles. He worked for Atkinson Kier Company in Redding as the foreman at Keswick Dam. This dam was part of the Central Valley Project.
WWII Draft Card - He worked at Keswick Dam
Frank died in his home at 829 S. Lake Street, Los Angeles, on 29 Nov 1942.[11] His obituary stated he “was a superintendent during the construction of Hoover Dam and more recently worked on the California Central Valley project.”[12] He left two sisters, Mrs. W.E. Gilbert and Miss Helen Gleeson. There was no mention of his wife, Elsie, just as there had been no mention on his draft card.
"Frank T. Gleeson.  Requiem mass for Frank T. Gleeson, 64, dam construction engineer, who made his home in Los Angeles for 24 years, will be celebrated at 9 a.m. today in the Church of Immaculate Conception.  Rosary was recited at the Edwards Brothers Colonial Mortuary yesterday.  Gleeson died Sunday at his home, 829 S. Lake St.  He was a superintendent during construction of Hoover Dam and more recently worked on the California Central Valley project.  He leaves two sisters, Miss Helen Gleeson and Mrs. W. E. Gilbert, both of Los Angeles."
Frank was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles on 2 Dec 1942.[13]
Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
 I still have questions. I've ordered his death certificate from the Los Angeles County. Will it mention his wife? What happened to Elsie Gleeson after the 1940 census? I found her death 4 Feb 1966 in Bend, Oregon. Were they divorced or separated?

I still haven't answered the question of whether he worked on the Hoover Dam as the obituary suggested. He did seem to work on the Central Valley Project as the 1940 census and the WWII Draft registration suggested. But I still have nothing about his time between 1930 and 1940 other than his address in Los Angeles in 1935 (from the 1940 census). I hope I can find records of personnel who worked on the dam.

[1] "In Social Circles," The Anaconda Standard, 13 September 1893; online images, Chronicling America ( : accessed 22 June 2012), Historical American Newspapers; p 12, Margaret & Frank Gleeson.
[2] “Large Crows Attend at Turner and A.O. H. Halls,” Anaconda Standard, 25 Oct 1899, online images, Chronicling America ( : accessed 22 June 2012), Historical American Newspapers; p 5, Frank T. Gleeson.
[3] “Mitchell High School Graduation Classes, Davison Co, SD,” posted by the Davison County Genealogical Society, 2001, : accessed 15 May 2014. Sister, Maggie graduated 1892.
[4] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Davison Co, South Dakota, digital images,, (, ED 112, Sheet 12a, p 45 (stamped), Mitchell Twp., household 173, fam 185, John Gleeson; and 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Deer Lodge Co, Montana, digital images,, (, ED 16, Sheet 5a,  Anaconda City, line 36, Frank T Gleeson as a roomer.
[5] 1910 U.S. Federal Census, King Co, Washington, digital images,, ( : accessed 15 May 2014), ED 17, sht 10b, dwelling 82, family 82, F.T. Gleeson.
[6] "W.C. Gleeson Was Active in Early State Projects," The Oregon Sunday Journal, 23 October 1927, William C. Gleeson.
[7] Polk’s Portland City Directory 1928, R.L. Polk & Co, publisher, digital image, ( : accessed 15 May 2014), p 677, Frank T. Gleeson.
[8] 1930 U.S. Federal census, Los Angeles Co, California, digital images,, (, ED 19-3, sht 22a, p 35 (stamped), Los Angeles City, block 30, household 158d, family 204, Frank T Gleason,
[9] 1940 U.S. Federal census, Shasta Co, California, digital images,, (, ED 451a, sht 5b, Redding, household 135, Frank Gleeson.
[10] “World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942” index & digital images, ( : accessed 15 May 2014), card for Frank Thomas Gleeson, citing NARA, Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration, Record Group No. 147.
[11] “California Death Records, 1940-1997,” database, ( : accessed 15 May 2014), entry for Frank T. Gleeson, 1942.
[12] “Frank T. Gleeson,” obituary clipping, Los Angeles Times, “Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, and Death Announcements, 1851-2003, Los Angeles Times,” ( : accessed 1 Jul 2012).
[13] Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, Section N, L76, grave 10, photo of tombstone, Frank T. Gleeson taken by author, 1 Aug 2008.

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