F. E. Gores, City Grocer

My great-great-grandfather, Judge F. E. Gores (1866-1936), had a considerable reputation. A real estate company in Wadena, MN, that he founded is still named The Gores Company, precisely because of his reputation. A considerable portion of his good reputation was earned in the Great Depression, when the stock market crashed and panic caused citizens to run to their banks to try to withdraw their money. At many other financial institutions, people found their savings and investments were gone. Every last person who came to the F. E. Gores Mortgage Company asking for their money, however, had their money fully returned to them.

In addition to being in the Mortgage business, he was a real estate investor, the Mayor of Wadena, a prohibition judge and a probate judge. But before the successes of his later life, Fredrick Eugene (“F. E.”) Gores, the son of central European immigrants, had a very different career path. He was a grocer and a merchant. He ran a business called City Grocery, and he apparently specialized in teas and coffees.

Note: I was given permission to scan the photos featured in this post by the kind folks at the Wadena County Historical Society Museum. The first photo (that of the grocery wagon) is #2285 from the Wadena County Historical Society’s photograph collection. The second photo (of the coffee exhibit) is # 1673 from their photograph collection.

Fredrick E. Gores grew up in a devoutly Catholic home (in fact, his younger sister Rosa became a nun—Sister Bernarda). Fredrick was the second son and a middle child (fourth born of eight children) of Prussian immigrant Francis “Frank” Gores (1826-1899) and Luxembourger immigrant Margretha “Maggie” (Wolf) Gores (1833-1910). His father immigrated to the U.S. in 1855, and his mother immigrated in 1859. They married in 1859, soon after her immigration, and their first child was born in May 1860.

His father, Francis, had been a farmer in New Trier, Dakota County, MN, for two decades, but in 1886, when Fredrick was 20 years old and newly married to Veronika Evertz, his father moved his family to Wadena and opened a general merchandise store. Fredrick and his new wife came to Wadena as well. His father continued as a merchant for about eight years until his retirement in 1894. Fredrick succeeded his father in the mercantile business for a few years and later established a farm mortgage business in 1898.

The photos in today’s post are from the period during which Fredrick was a grocer and a merchant—from about 1886 until the early 1900s, a few years after he began his farm mortgage business.

The first photo is a black and white photograph of an as-yet-unlocated original (I don’t know who has the original, but I’m sure the WCHS has this info in their collections database). This photo shows a young-looking man, who I presume is F. E. Gores, in a grocery wagon with five other people whose identities are as yet unknown to me. According to the WCHS caption on the back of the photo, this is of the F. E. Gores City Grocery parade float. From the signage on the wagon, it appears that he runs a fancy grocery that carries teas and coffees.

The next image is of a cooperative exhibit by the F.E. Gores Company and the Meyer and Coon Merchantile Company, shown at the Wadena County fair. According to the late Bob Zosel, the Meyer & Coon Mercantile Company was one of the earliest Wadena businesses, founded in 1879.

The large boxes of coffee beans, as well as the advertised Phosphates, are products of Griggs, Cooper and Company, which was founded in 1882. The assortment of “Home Brand” products seen here were also made by them (more info here).

I presume the man on the left is F. E. Gores, as he looks very much like the only definitively identified photo I have of him. I originally guessed that he looks about 30–35 in this photo, placing the photo around 1896–1901. A note on the back of the photo reads “Rose Hall—right, 1905”. If this date is correct, F. E. Gores would be 39 years old in this photo, which seems plausible.

I have so far been able to find little else about F. E. Gores’ time as a grocer. I did find one interesting tidbit, however: F. E. Gores apparently issued tokens for his store, as here’s one for one 5¢ glass of soda water:

6 thoughts on “F. E. Gores, City Grocer

  1. Greetings, I ran across your blog while doing some updating on my Gores family research. F. E. Gores of your blog had a cousin, Christopher Gores, living in Wadena Township, Wadena Co., Minnesota. Christopher purchased his farm land in section 13 from his uncle and aunt Frank and Margaret Gores (the date is not handy right now but it was about 1891-1892); Records indicate that on October 1893 Christopher took out a mortgage against his 120 acres; a second mortgage was taken out in 1894 from Francis Gores. The June 1895 Minnesota census shows Christopher and Susan Gores residing in Wadena Township with three children: John age 2, Verona age 1 and Frank age 6 months. Christopher would die six months later at his parents’ (John/Johann and Veronicka Gores) New Trier, Dakota Co., Minnesota home from consumption.

    A series of transactions take place in records to foreclose the Christopher Gores farm. Three family members worked together for three years to sort through the foreclosure action: Frank Moris, Susan’s father; F. E. (Fred) Gores, owner of a mortgage company in Wadena, and cousin of Christopher Gores; and Nicholas Gergen, a banker and Gores cousin-in-law from Hastings. The transactions are summarized in Wadena County Deed Book Q, page 336 as follows:
    Whereas Christopher Gores and Susan Gores his wife made and executed certain mortgage to Francis F. Turner bearing date of October 1893 and recorded in …Wadena Co., on 10 Oct 1893 in Mortgage Book M, page 168. And whereas Frank F. Turner duly assigned said mortgage to Frank Moris by an instrument bearing date 17 Jul 1896 and recorded …8 August in Book K of Mortgages, page 486. And whereas mortgage covers E1/2NW and W1/2W1/2NE Section 13, T134, R35 containing 120 acres and whereas Frank Moris duly foreclosed by advertisement…and said premises duly sold 29 Sep 1896 for $607.29 and where as the Sheriff Certificate of Sale and other papers evidencing said foreclosure proceedings the said sale was heretofore and on the 6th October 1896 duly filed…And whereas the said Christopher Gores and Susan Gores, his wife, have duly made and executed their certain other mortgage to Francis Gores bearing date 22 Aug 1894 and recorded…Wadena County…Book P of Mortgages, page 37 which said mortgage was thereafter duly assigned by Francis Gores to Frank Moris by an instrument in writing bearing date of February 23, 1897 and recorded 1st May 1897 in Book K of Mortgages, page 509 and whereas the said last named mortgage is still owned by Frank Gores and still remains unpaid and unsatisfied now therefore the said Frank Moris does herby given [sic] notice that he intends to redeem the above described land from the Mortgage Sale hereinbefore…and for the purpose of enabling him to redeem from the said Mortgage Foreclosure Sale…[ ]

    The last transaction in this series occurred 15 Dec 1898 when Frank and Helena Moris sold the 120 acres of land in section 13 to daughter Susan Grow for $500 thereby completing the return of the original land purchase of Christopher Gores to his re-married wife, Susan (Moris) Gores Grow.

    It took me awhile to sort through the Gores family connections to make sense of these transactions. My main line of research is the second family of Susan (Moris) Gores Grow; and the Yours, Mine and Ours history of Susan and her second husband Orville N. Grow who was a widower with young children living on a farm across the road from the Christopher Gores family.

    It appears that Susan Moris may have met Christopher Gores via Christopher’s half-brother Father Frank Gores. Frank Gores (~1855-1909) was educated at St. John’s University and Montreal Seminary; saying his first mass at St. Mary’s Church, New Trier, Minnesota on New Years Day 1885. His first charge was at Oakdale, Washington Co., Minnesota; while serving there he performed the marriage of his half-brother Christopher to Susan Moris. Frank is recorded as a Catholic pastor in the 1895 Minnesota census for Oakdale Township, Washington Co., Minnesota.


    • Dear Lisa,

      This is great stuff. I’m in the midst of some extreme nesting at the moment (today: replacing bathroom subfloor…), so my genealogy time is sadly limited, but I’ll try to set time aside fairly soon to incorporate your info and get back to you.



    • My goodness, how time got away from me! I’m finally diving back in to our Gores line with gusto. Let me know if you’re still working on Gores genealogy—if so, I’ve got some questions and information for you.

  2. Hello Michael,

    found this Website accidently on researches to the name `Gores’.
    Have this name in my own family-database, too. Also with origin Schönecken (or Schoenecken).

    Do you know this Website:

    You will find there Frank Gores named as ‘Franz Gores’ and many other Gores who have immigrated to the U.S.A. .
    Franz is the German form of Frank.

    Greetings form the other side of the great pond ;-)
    Norbert Kappes

    • Hello Norbert, and welcome! Did you mean to paste another website link in your comment? I ask because the link you pasted is to my own site! I’d love to learn more about how we might be related. Do you have a tree on any of the usual sites? If not, would you be willing to send me a GEDCOM of your tree?

    • Hi Norbert, are you still interested in Gores genealogy? It’s taken a while for me to get back into the habit, but I’m now working on the Gores genealogy and would love to trade notes if you’re still interested.

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