First of all: what a captivating photograph, yes? It’s a photo of the person who would become “GG”: Mary Edna Carter Gates, wife of John Howard Gates, mother of Beah (and Hobart and John), grand-mother of Nancy Rust, great-grandmother of the Rust kids. My earliest memory of GG is from when she had broken her shoulder and had her arm in a cast in a kind of statue-of-liberty pose (how did she managed to sleep at night?), about which I’m famous for having observed “GG broke!” That was when we lived in the “old house,” so I would have been six or younger.
A biography of John Howard Gates (here) provides a sketch of GG’s biography:
On the 13th of November, 1899, Judge Gates was married to Miss
Mary Edna Carter, a native of New London, Wisconsin, and a daughter of
Jervis W. Carter, a pioneer of Dakota territory who served as district
attorney under Judge Kidder in territorial days. Judge and Mrs. Gates
have three children: Beatrice, John Carter and Hobart Hare.
Beyond those marital and dynastic details, we also know that even though GG’s given name was Mary Edna, she liked to go by Edna Mae, and even though she had many brothers and sisters, her family found a way for her to go to Boston to study music, which was her passion. When her family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, though, Edna Mae went with them and that’s where she met John Gates. The rest, as they say, is history!
One further note, though: further research inspired by a photo featured on this site a few weeks ago (this one here) has confirmed that both GG and Nanny (Blanche Shuttleworth)–Nancy’s two illustrious grandmothers–were born in 1869.