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As It Was: Letters Trace the Pace of Romance to Marriage

In April 1911, a paving crew worker in Ashland, Ore., 20-year-old George Gabriel Geil, fell in love with 23-year-old Lorena Belletta Mingus, who was staying with her grandmother in Ashland.  Their romantic correspondence traces the pace of the courtship.

On April 27, Mingus wrote, “Dear Friend George” and signs off with “Lora.”  He replies with a bad poem and the greeting, “Dear Lora” and signs off, “Your Friend George.”

By mid-May he wrote, “To My Little Girl,” ending with, “Your same, George,” and she wrote, “My Dear Boy,” closing with, “Goodnight Dear, Your Babe.”

As the romance warmed up, he wrote at the end of May, “To My Sweetheart,” from, “Your same little Gab,” his family’s name for him.  She responded with, “Dearie,” and closed with, “Your promised Girlie, Babe.”

Mingus visited her parents in Idaho in August, who approved of their marriage, and Geil got his parents’ blessing for the union.  Their letters are filled with love and longing to be together. 

They married on Christmas Eve 1911, and stayed together until Mingus died 58 years later.

Source: Southern Oregon Historical Society MS491, letters between George Gabriel Geil (1891-1975) and Lorena Belletta Mingus (1888-1969) from April 27-December 20, 1911.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.