The Gorman Residence
By Andrew Pouncey
Patrick Gorman (b. 1811) of Tipperary, Ireland, married Caroline N. Burns. Patrick died December 19, 1845, at 34 years of age, in LaGrange, Tennessee. Their son Edward W. Gorman, born August 23, 1838, married Fannie T. Edmondson, and they had seven children: June (1867-1878), Edward (1869-), Nellie (1872-1878), Lexie (1876-1936), Patrick 1877-), Edmund (1880-) and Patrick “Pat” Edward (1886-1935).
E.W. (Edward) Gorman, fought in the Civil War as a member of the 13th Tennessee Regiment. His home in Germantown stood where the Checkerberry Shop once stood (2247 Germantown Road South).
Edmund Gorman subscribed to the Germantown Relief Fund during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878. Journalist Sallie Eola Reneau, writing for The Appeal, on October 3, 1878, reported that their daughter Nellie had died September 26, 1878, and their son June would die before the next writing of October 3rd. Both were buried in the Germantown Cemetery on McVay Road. No markers exist today.
Sallie Eola Reneau, a nurse, and journalist writing for The Appeal said that “Nellie was an unusually intelligent and sprightly child in school and out, and she was a little sunbeam in her family household. There are few ties, stronger and tenderer than that which binds a fond father to his only daughter, and it was peculiarly touching to see the bereaved father, just up from an attack of the fever, though accompanied by a sufficient number of friends and the ever-faithful minister, following his little girl to the grave. He left sick in his house his wife, his little son June, his wife’s sister, Miss Ellen Edmonson, Mrs. Rogers (whose husband died at Mr. Gorman’s on the fourteenth), and their niece, Miss Willie Allen.” June M. Gorman and Miss Ellen Edmonson would be added to the death toll by the time it was published on October 3rd.”
The house on the southeast corner of North and West Streets, known more recently as the office of The Germantown News, was built in 1905 by brothers Lexie A. and Patrick E. Gorman, sons of E.W. Edmund and Fannie.T. Gorman. This location may have been influenced by the location of their parents’ home around the corner on Germantown Road (or Bridge St.)
The house’s beginnings are recorded in a copy of the sales slip for the materials used in the house from C.M. Callis Lumber Company in Germantown. The sales slip tells us that the first lumber, nails, etc. were bought in August 1910; the last items and their cost were bought in November of that year.
Both Lexie and his brother Pat were rural mail carriers in the area and had badge numbers 2 (Lexie) & 3 (Pat). Lexie’s daughter Lorene married Sam Oakley. Lexie and his wife Valera Estelle (May) also had a second daughter, Nellie Ray (1922-May,16, 2002), named after Lexie’s sister Nellie who died of Yellow Fever in Germantown. She married Reggie Moore.
Lorene Gorman’s husband Sam, worked on Cotton Row in Memphis for 11 years after returning from the Korean War and following that he worked 29 years as a city carrier for the U.S. Postal Service before retirement. Sam Oakley’s father had Oakley’s Mercantile Shop, next door to where the Checkerberry Shop was located. In retirement, he worked with Nancy at the Checkerberry Shop. Nancy and John Grider’s Checkerberry Shop was sold in 2016 and they moved out in 2017 before it was torn down and became a parking lot.
Patrick registered for the draft in WW1. Pat married Vernon C. Gillum and they lived on #43 Bridge Street with his brother Lexie, and his aunt Jennie Rogers. 10 years later in 1930, Frank W. Gillum, his Father-in-Law lived with them. Vernon passed away at the age of 44 on August 16, 1930.
A sad moment for the Gorman house was when Lexie Gorman, dejected by losses he sustained during the Great Depression in 1929 and 1930, died by suicide in 1936 at age 59 years old. Sam Oakley confirmed that Gorman threw himself off the Wolf River Bridge and drowned. Lorene was “three or four” at the time and her sister Nellie Ray was a few years older.
Photo of Old Iron Bridge across Wolf River (circa 1925). The couple standing on the bridge is Louis and Elizabeth Tillman who owned a grocery store at 2285 S. Germantown Road near Depot – Aunt and Uncle of Kay Miller
The bridge from which Gorman jumped was not the Wolf River Bridge on the outskirts of Germantown that we know today, but an older iron bridge located on old Cordova Road, further to the west. “He had invested heavily in oil in Winkler County, Texas, and lost just about everything he had,” Oakley explained.
Sam and Lorene lived in the house for 24 years, until Lorene’s death from cancer on May 11, 1980. The two sisters, Lorene & Nellie Ray, sold the house in order to settle the estate, and it has been used for business purposes ever since.
During those years, Sam and his brother-in-law Reggie Moore did a lot to work on the house, putting up sheetrock and installing flooring. He fondly remembers that his mother-in-law Estelle loved flowers and had two large banana trees planted in the backyard, surrounded by clumps of cannas. Every fall, he had to take the trees up and put them in number two wash tubs and bring them in for the winter. The rest of the backyard has been paved as a parking lot.
Sam said that before the house was an office, it was much like it is today. The porch that ran across the front once had a swing at each end. It was finally enclosed with glass and wood. Counters were built to enclose two desk areas near the entrance for a business to welcome customers.
After passing through this office, the larger room to one’s right was the living room, and the similarly-sized room to the left was the dining room. Double French doors divided the two, and they are still intact. In the living room is the original fireplace and mantel. Behind the living room were two bedrooms, adjacent to one another. The bedroom to the right had a rear door opening to the bathroom. Behind the dining room at left was a small breakfast room with a single French door, and behind it was the kitchen. Another porch ran across the back. A door opened off the back porch and stairs led up to a large, open loft that was probably used for storage.
The Germantown News was approved for occupying and remodeling the building by the Germantown Design Review Commission on November 24, 1986. In 2020, Frank Uhlhorn purchased the structure, remodeled it, and plans to lease it to a business.
- Maxine Hunter, The Germantown News, Wednesday, February 25, 2009
- Sallie Eola Reneau, The Appeal. September 28 & October 3, 1978
- Memorial Park, Memphis, TN