Ida (Gause) Beeson

I don’t know what my 2nd great-grandmother did in a previous life to get saddled with the middle name Maudina but whatever it was must have been a doozy. Ida Gause was the only child of Solomon and Mary (Doyle) Gause. Solomon was a carriage trimmer who contracted tuberculosis at Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. He died not long after being released when Ida was only 11 years old.

Mary ran a boarding house to support herself and Ida until she married the widower, Joseph Modlin. The photo below shows Ida seated in a chair at the college she attended in Ohio with her mother on the ground behind her.

Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio

I assume it’s common knowledge that Chalk and Ida were introduced by Chalk’s youngest sisters, Tura and Mary, but there are definitely conflicting stories about Ida’s 1876 arrival in Dodge City. The details in the story by Eloise Holbrook were provided by Ida’s son and my great-grandfather, Merritt Beeson.

Ida’s telling of the tale is similar but she cleverly omitted a few details.

I think many Dodge City natives are aware that Ida was a talented painter and pianist. Most of her artwork at Boot Hill Museum is confined to flowers and fruit but she also did portraits. She had painted “a most life-like picture of Bishop Thomas” that had been displayed in a window at the Bee Hive Store until it was shipped to St. John’s Military School in Salina. The school later developed a nasty reputation but at the time, it was highly regarded. Merritt and several of his schoolmates attended.

Speaking of Boot Hill, you’ll see this china pattern sprinkled throughout the museum complex. All of those pieces belonged to Ida.

With Chalk being a 33rd Degree Mason, Ida belonged to the Social Order of the Beauceant as well as the Order of the Eastern Star. She was elected Worthy Matron of the St. Bernard Chapter No. 97, OES in January of 1896.

During the Spanish Flu epidemic, Ida’s illness progressed to severe pneumonia and she nearly died. According to my grandmother, a live-in nurse literally saved her life.

Although Ida usually appeared somewhat stern in photos, she had tons of friends and loved to travel. She played bridge and often followed her youngest son, Otero, to his long-term musical engagements. It was very common for her to spend winters in Miami, Los Angeles, Excelsior Springs, or at the Eastman Hotel in Hot Springs. Her mountain cottage near Colorado Springs was regularly used by the family during the summers…especially Uncle Ote while he was organizing the military band during WWI.

She was also extremely involved in her granddaughters’ lives. Here’s Ida with my grandmother’s older sister, Betty:

After Chalk died, Ida bought a house on Central Avenue just south of her beloved Presbyterian Church. Betty lived there with Ida during high school, partially because it was much closer than Merritt’s house south of town and partially because of their strong relationship.

Here she is with my grandmother, Irene, outside the Chalk Beeson Theater:

Irene told me that Betty called Ida Granny but Irene started calling her Nannie and she seemed to enjoy her new name very much.

I was very confused when Irene told me that Ida had smuggled alcohol for Uncle Ote in her luggage during Prohibition. She had famously insisted Chalk exit the saloon business because she disapproved of the drinking and the gambling, et cetera. Irene explained that Ote was Ida’s favorite. She had lost three children and Ote was her baby. That settled it.

Ote was playing at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City when Ida died suddenly on June 15, 1928. It was a shock to everyone, as she had been in good health until about an hour before her death from a paralytic stroke that morning. She had lunch plans that day with Mrs. L. J. Pettijohn who was visiting from Washington.

Ida was the last living charter member of the First Presbyterian Church in Dodge City. My grandmother remembered her grandmother’s Sunday School classes in a small room at the southeast corner of the church as a circle of old ladies in dark colored dresses who made her feel right at home. It’s impossible for me to pass by that building without thinking of Ida.

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