Fred R. Nason

Fred Nason was born on January 27, 1861 in Girard, Pennsylvania. His father was David Nason, who was born in Otego, New York.  David Nason married Eunice Godfrey of Girard, Pennsylvania in 1842.  They had nine children.  “Godfrey” was one of my father’s names:  Eugene Nason Godfrey Doherty.  Girard is located on the shore of Lake Erie.  In 1860, the census recorded a population of 616 people.

Fred Nason married Florence Curtis in Chicago, Illinois on February 14, 1885.  They had nine children:  Fronie, Florence, Frank, Margaret, Genevieve, Edna, Lillian, Edward, and Gertrude. My grandmother was Edna Nason Doherty. Fred and Florence Nason made their home in Hammond, Indiana, and many of their children and descendants did too.  My father, Eugene N. Doherty, was born there in 1923.

Fred Nason and his wife were killed in an avalanche in Colorado on February 4, 1907.  The six youngest children with them (Florence, Margaret, Genevieve, Edna, Lillian, and Edward) were dug out alive and sent back to Hammond, Indiana with the bodies of their parents. Read the story of the Monarch Slide here.

Two of the girls, Fronie and Genevieve, went into religious life. Fronie taught school in Indianapolis, and Genevieve entered a Carmelite convent in or near Chicago.  My mother told me stories of Gramsey (Edna) visiting her sister where they were separated by a screen.  Gramsey asked Genevieve if she ever regretted becoming a nun. She said if she had to do it all over again, she wouldn’t have entered the community, but she also said that she had enjoyed her life as a nun. She played the organ and piano for the hymns and chants. Margaret was the grandmother of my cousin, Lenore. Edward ended up living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had a daughter named Susan. My grandmother felt close to him. The oldest son, Frank, was killed riding a freight train on July 26, 1909. He was nineteen. Frank was headed to Denver, Colorado with a friend, Lester Vaughn, the son of his employer. The oldest girl, Florence, around 21 years old, had been married just six weeks before the death of her brother.  The Hammond Times, reporting on the incident in its July 27, 1909 edition, called the violent accidents “The Nason Nemesis.”  The article described Frank’s death by the freight train; his father’s death (Fred) killed by a snow slide; and the deaths of both of Frank’s grandfathers:  David Nason fell from a ladder and was killed; and Philander Curtis, his mother’s father, was killed in a coal mine near Joliet, Illinois.

I have little information on Fred Nason so I must rely on guesswork, imagination, and what I can intuit from the pictures of him that I have.  Fred and Florence Nason had a respectable life in Hammond, with a lot of family members nearby. But they must have wanted something more, and Fred had the restless streak of the Nason family to move after one or two generations in one place.  He must have heard of the silver mining boom in Colorado and longed to be a part of it. Fred and Florence pulled up stakes and headed west to a new frontier and adventure in a silver mining camp.  They opened a rooming house and saloon, met and befriended miners and entrepreneurs who wanted more out of life than a comfortable existence.  Every morning they opened the door to the beautiful mountain vistas of Colorado. What a change from the green, pleasant fields and hills of Indiana.  What a terrible surprise and shock to die when an avalanche crushed and destroyed their home.

Fred R. Nason and Florence Curtis Nason are buried in Saint John and Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Hammond, Indiana.






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By Karen