A Gauger Family History
On the 15th of September 1912, Karl Frederick Gauger arrived at the port of New York aboard the SS Barbarossa from Bremen, Germany intent on starting a new life in America. He made a home in Rochester, NY thus laying roots for the Gauger family to grow - and grow it has.
Karl began work at the McCreedy family farm on McDonald Rd at the southern part of Town of Riga, NY (southwest of Rochester). Two plots down the road one could find the Boyd family farm. David and Corrine Boyd had 8 children and Karl took a liking to their daughter, Louise Alice Mildred Boyd. They were married on August 24th, 1915 at Silver Lake, Churchville, NY.
Karl and Louise went on the have seven children, the sixth being born May 3rd, 1932 and named Eugene Boyd Gauger, my grandfather, and the man who built The “G” Lodge.
Eugene Boyd Gauger and his wife Nila Fay Hungerford Gauger
Gene had met Nila Fay Hungerford in grade school when he was about fourteen and she was twelve. They were sweethearts for several years until they graduated in 1951. Shortly thereafter they were married on Fay’s parents’ lawn. Gene was eighteen years old and Fay had just turned sixteen, three days before.
As a young man, Gene worked at a local bowling alley as a pinsetter. This was long before there were machines putting the pins in place. He has mentioned that sometimes the bowlers threw the ball so hard that pins would fly up and hit him in the legs and that other “smart-alecs” would bowl the ball before he was done setting the pins.
Wanting to earn more money, Gene learned about sheet-rock and house-building. Seeing a large building boon all over Central New York, he built a company he called “Big G Drywall”. Over the course of 54 years, he worked on thousands of homes and would go on to teach all of his sons this important family trade.
In 1957 Gene bought a trailer park property on State Route 176 in South Hannibal, NY and put a house trailer on it for the then family of four. He pulled in rental income off the property and saved to buy 40 acres across the woods in South Hannibal from Adelbert “Del” Keller for which Keller Rd is named. Gene moved the trailer and the family to the new property in 1959 and began adding on extra rooms to accommodate his fast-growing family. In October of 1961, Gene and Fay welcomed the birth of their sixth child, Darren Karl - or as you may know him - That Dude. I just call him Dad.
Even more space was needed to house all of those dang kids and in 1962, my grandfather put the finishing touches on ‘The Big House,’ which is where he still lives today. He went on to purchase more property from a neighbor farmer “Bob” Haws. And when Bob retired, Gene purchased the farmhouse too. Through the years, he went on to build and build some more all while buying up more properties.
Once he purchased the fields and wooded area between The Big House and the Haws farmhouse, he decided to build his “Big G Lodge”, a space designated for family events and his long-running poker nights. This building was next to a small pond which had a pump that supplied water to the farmhouse. He filled this large building with antiques and oddities, tools, taxidermized animals, and things he picked up from the auctions he loved to frequent. A “gun room” was also included to store the varied collection of weapons he had acquired through auctions and purchases from friends.
One morning, someone saw smoke coming from The Lodge and found it engulfed with flames. It was found out later that some sparks from the fireplace had come through the screen during the night and caught the wooden structure ablaze. Very little was able to be saved from the conflagration.
A great insurance policy allowed for a speedy rebuild and that is The “G” Lodge as we have it now.
Darren keeps busy at the property, always with a hammer in hand. He has added a back porch, two stages and a balcony which serve to provide comfortable spaces for our many summertime events. And there are no signs that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
We invite you to come out and visit The “G” Lodge this season.
Have a look at our 2019 Event Listings:
Thank you for taking the time to read about our family!
We look forward to seeing you at The “G” Lodge this year,
Cheers, Gabi Gauger
Karl’s Naturalization Document
Gene’s Brother Fred during WWII
“Big G” Sr. and “Little g” Jr. 1954
Fred Gauger after a SQUIRREL hunt 1944
Nila Fay Gauger 1939
Gene’s brother Al 1943
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Eugene Boyd Gauger, Sr.
April 29th, 2019
Obituary written by Craig Gauger:
Eugene Boyd Gauger, Sr., 86, died April 29, 2019 at Oswego Hospital (Oswego, NY) after several months of declining health.
“Gene” was born on May 3, 1932 at home on the family farm in Town of Victory, Cayuga County, NY. He was the 6th of 7 children to Karl Friedrich Gauger and Louise Alice Mildred (Boyd) Gauger. They lived in a rural area west of Cato, NY. They had a small farm and Gene did his share of chores.
In School, Dad lettered in 3 sports, Football, Basketball, and Baseball. He was also active in Future Farmers of America (FFA).
When he was 14, he met the love of his life, Nila Fay Hungerford; she was 12. They married in August of 1950 just 3 days after Fay turned 16. Gene Gauger, Jr. was born one week shy of a year after their wedding.
In the afternoon, after school, he worked at a bowling alley setting pins. This was way before the pin setting machines did it automatically. He picked them up and set each pin one at a time.
After high school, Gene was hired on at the Bitz family’s Plainville Turkey Farm. He was the one who zapped the turkeys as they were hung by the feet and traveled past him so that they could be processed for slaughter.
When the Korean Conflict broke out, he tried to join the Army, like many of his siblings and other young men of the time. He was categorized as 4-F due to 2 ruptured ear drums, a double hernia and a mostly missing big toe on one foot due to a lawn mowing incident when he was 8 years old. He cut it off while mowing with a rotary mower barefoot. The toe was saved by his brother and sewn back on, losing most of the nail.
He wanted to do other things with his life and be his own boss. Eventually he learned about this new process called sheetrocking which was rapidly replacing the old lathe and plaster method of creating walls and ceilings in buildings. He worked with someone else till he thought that he knew enough to make a go of it.
The post-war (WWII) building boon was still going on. Baby Boom was in full swing. Many people needed homes, homes with room for growing families. He found his niche and eventually he employed many crews of sheetrockers and finishers. 10s of thousands of homes have been built by Big “G” Drywall and Gauger and Sons Drywall through the years. His specialty was to create “swirl ceilings” with thinned down drywall mud. He was well known for his accuracy in lining up the design for best effect.
These homes stretch from all over Syracuse, Auburn, and west to Williamson, Webster and many other communities. He also worked some commercial buildings and many, many apartment buildings. He taught all of his sons, quite a few nephews, and a few grandchildren how to hang and finish sheetrock. He ran this business for 54 years.
Gene Jr., Tim, Ted, and Darren all had his own drywall business at one time; Ted and Darren still work it as TCG Drywall and Big D Drywall, respectively. Craig has used his skill in drywall with Habitat for Humanity homes and rebuilding after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Tim ran the Gauger Drywall for many years. Todd worked for Dad and various brothers finishing drywall.
Gene also had a lot of side interests including building and running a restaurant in Meridian, NY which employed many people for years. That building was renovated to become the Pine Hill Medical Center in use still. He was always trying to help the communities of Cato and Meridian.
While his restaurant was in business, the new Cato-Meridian Lions Club was chartered and met there. A few months after their beginning, he was asked to join. He remained a Lion from 1973-2013. He held most offices at the club level and was also a Zone Chair and a Regional Chair at the District level. He was awarded a very high honor for his diligence and became a Melvin Jones Fellow in 1997.
He strived to keep a diner of sorts to always be open. Partly as a place for his work crews to gather, partly for a place for the Lions to meet, and thirdly to help the local economy. He also owned the former Goetze’s Fish Stand renamed “Mel’s” in Fairdale, NY. Our sister, Melissa and Mom ran that for several years.
A lot of time and effort were donated to keep the Federated Church in South Hannibal going. Several projects were accomplished without charge to the church. A new roof, the lowering of the sanctuary ceiling, and others were done by Big “G” crews.
During his children’s youth, Dad volunteered to be a baseball coach in Hannibal’s “Little League” for many years. He also sponsored a team at Weedsport’s “Rainbow Lanes” for quite a few years. There was also a BIG “G” softball team for many years.
In their younger times Mom and Dad sponsored clam bakes at the house inviting many friends and family to join in. Lots of clams, salt potatoes, and sweet corn were consumed. In his off-time, he enjoyed playing cards with friends and family. He liked the challenge of poker, but also played fun games of cards.
In the 1960’s he bought land in northern NY and built a “camp” for hunting bear and deer. The original building was small and used leftover wood from some project. Eventually, a larger “A” Frame building was erected further into the woods. It’s a nice place to get away though there is no electric or running water. Propane is used for lights and cooking. A lot of people have enjoyed many a weekend at “camp” near Harrisville. Looking at some of the family living rooms and Dad’s “Lodge” in South Hannibal, one can see many bear and deer trophies. Just ask about the great venison and bear meat consumed through the years.
Family reunions were held at the Gauger house and later the Big G Lodge. Family was important to him. He would help anyone in-need. He enjoyed seeing his many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. He and Mom had 7 children, 21 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and 5 great great grandchildren.
His health declined since January this year, he was having memory issues, physical, and mobility issues. He was deeply saddened by the loss of Mom nearly 8 years ago; she kept him focused, losing many other friends and family in recent years, and not being able to remember his cards were big contributors to his decreased health and unhappiness.
He will be remembered by many and missed throughout central New York. He made his mark!