This woman looks amazingly like the very faint photo I have of Edith Grace who married Dr. Carlos Shaw. Is it her? The dress looks like the right time period. Thank you, Waitsfield Historical Society.

Dr. Carlos Adams Shaw Sr. died February 17, 1950. He had been the town doctor of Waitsfield for 25 years and in the Northfield area a previous 25. Elmer Mehuron and Aurelia Shaw Mehuron were the founders of Mehuron’s Market which they established in 1941. Dr. Shaw’s wife and Aurelia’s mother was Edith Grace Henderson Minot Shaw, who preferred to be called Grace. Very little was known about her other than that she was the second of Dr. Shaw’s three wives and that is a fact we only know from his obituary. Grace didn’t have one that I can find.


But in part one of this series, I told you I found papers left by Ruth Mehuron McGill recounting Grace’s life. Born in Ohio, she lost all her siblings early in life. Her parents moved the girl to Colorado where they mined silver and gold. Then they installed her in a private convent school in upstate New York called St. Joseph’s Academy. She proved to be a brilliant student and was gifted in art and music. At 12- or 13-years-old she was sent to London to study music. It was typical to send talented males to Europe for this kind of education but not girls. So, what happened that she wound up in the rural town of Waitsfield?

Ruth Mehuron McGill wrote: “About the year 1892 in her late teens, Edith Grace met Charles Minot Gage, who also went by the name of Charles Minot.” Now here’s where Aunt Ruth begins to get evasive in reporting Grace’s life. I don’t know if it’s because her sister-in-law, Aurelia Shaw Mehuron, wouldn’t have liked people in our small town gossiping about her mother or if it’s something more deeply cultural. For I have found members of our most historic families to avoid gossip. They are as a whole, I would say, understated. For this reason, I’m going to interpret Ruth’s writing.

Ruth says, “Although Charles Minot Gage was several years older than she, they married. They lived in Lowell, MA.” What does “several” mean? Three years older? More? There is no mention of the interruption of her education and travels or how her parents felt about it. So I set about finding this Charles Minot Gage through the Lowell Historical Society, and MyHeritage. It turns out the Gages of Lowell, Massachusetts, were quite the prominent family. But the use of the term “several years older” is a misrepresentation. Mr. Gage (aka Mr. Minot) was 27 years her senior according to the Neal/Shaw family tree. 

This prompted me to dig further and I found an academic paper by Catherine A. Fitch and Steven Ruggles that said, “By 1890, however, marriage age for whites of both sexes rose still further to a peak of about 26 years for men and 22 for women.” So, a 22-year-old woman might marry a 26-year-old man, but a girl not quite 18 to marry a man in his forties? Something of a scandal. In Lowell they lived in the elegant Richardson Hotel. This is where she gave birth to her first child, a son who they named Edward Gerold Delano Minot. 


Ruth wrote, “For the next event, a daughter, Grace spent her confinement period on Hazelwood, a farm built by the Vanderbilts in Newburg, New York.” And Grace’s granddaughter told me the Charles Minot Gage was also friends of the Rockefellers. My, my. A young wife living in the lap of luxury. “This child she named Marjorie Mary Morse Minot. The next child was born in Tewksbury, MA.” There is only a 5-mile difference from Tewksbury to Lowell, so we might think of that as a homecoming kind of move. “This infant was also a daughter and was given the name Phyllis Lillian Henderson Minot.”

The children are listed with the last name of Minot, not Gage. And in Ruth’s notes it’s quite clear that the father, Charles Minot Gage often went by the name Charles Minot. It was then common for an illegitimate child to use their mother’s last name. It was also common to disguise the existence of such a child. For a well-documented family like the Gages -- Charles Minot barely leaves an imprint. At the turn of the century, 1900, Grace’s parents were living in Lowell when her father died. This left her mother, Mary Issadore, a widow. 

“About 1902 Charles and Edith Grace, because of their different outlook on life, separated.” Understatement anyone? We have a 28-year-old woman with three small children and her mother to take care of. He is not mentioned again except to say that while she remained in Lowell, “Grace raised her children without a husband.” What kind of “different outlook on life” might have occurred? I would argue that it must have been very serious for her to try to raise three children on her own in a man’s world. And she did go on to marry again, so I thought they must have gone beyond separation to divorce at some point.

But then I found an article about the burial of Charles M. Gage. New Hampshire is where he was born and where his body was returned. The Hollis Times reported in the Friday, May 21, 1920, edition that he died in New York City. They tell who was at the graveside and say, “The widow of the deceased was not able to come due to impaired health.” Yet, Edith Grace, was in fine health and had been married to another man for 13 years by the time Charles M. died.


An added wrinkle to the truth of her story is found on the Neal/Shaw family tree on as well. This is a tool that Aunt Ruth never had. On the tree is a census report that lists Edith Grace as a widow and head of the household. When Charles Minot aka Charles Minot Gage disappeared, she told people he was dead.  

The oldest child Edward, or Ned as he was called, started school. And Grace’s mother, the widow Mary Issadore Delano Henderson married again at 59 years old -- and quickly too -- in 1901. And as hard as this is to believe, she moved with her new husband, Charles Fowler, to Northfield, Vermont. For a woman who survived the deaths of a daughter and two sons, lived in New York City and then Lowell, perhaps Northfield seemed like her next great adventure.  Or maybe she was desperate to find a financially stable situation. 

The Northfield Historical Society makes it sound like the town was a going concern: 

“Sidewalks were laid down, the water department was established and the first electric plant was built (both in 1895), and the first sewer lines were laid (1901-1904). Around 1900 the police department was set up, and the two independent fire companies, which existed from the 1860s, came under village control. 

“The price of such amenities was high; consequently, as they were increasingly needed outside the village, police, and fire services were taken over by the town. The town and village highway departments were supported by taxes levied separately on the grand lists of the village and town.

“Once settlements were established, people turned their attention to making a living. Of necessity, almost everyone was a farmer first, and most lived by barter (goods and services were paid for with other goods and services). Eventually people needed hard cash, and it was this quest for individual and collective economic security that has been the paramount concern in Northfield for two centuries.”

Next time we find out what happened after Edith Grace’s mother moves to Northfield, Vermont. But you should know that just before publication of this article, I heard back from Edith Grace’s granddaughter -- Edith Grace Shaw Kiernan. It turned out that after having three children together the young Edith Grace Henderson Minot found out that she was not actually married to Charles Minot Gage because he was already married to another woman when he met her. And their marriage ended abruptly. 

Mary Kathleen Mehuron lives in Waitsfield. You may contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..