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Dr. Joseph A Gates

September 11, 1870 - June 15, 1922

Dr. Joseph Gates

Joseph Gates was born in Olmstead County in 1871 and raised in the city of Rochester, Minnesota. His parents were Elnathan Johnson Gates and Susan Jane Waldron.

He then attended the University of Minnesota, graduating from the college of medicine in 1895. Joseph was the class president for his final year of University and also the student delegate to the national republican convention.

"He has made a stern and righteous presiding officer, and has developed a smoothness of political method which marks him a worthy disciple of David B. Hill. If he manipulates medicine with the same skill he does politics, he will some day be able to buy a seat in the U.S. Senate with the proceeds of his practice."

The Gopher - University of Minnesota
1896 yearbook, page 117

Dr Gates advertisement

After graduation, Dr. Gates opened his practice in Kenyon, Minnesota.

Clark - Gates wedding

In 1896, Dr. Gates married into the Clark family marrying Jenny Clark on June 10th in a small ceremony in the parlor at her home attended by intimate friends and family. Jenny's sister Edith was the Maid-of-Honor and a Dr. Marshall was the Best Man. They had a honeymoon tour of Minnesota.

The 1907 edition of "The Book of Minnesotans, a biographical dictionary" states that Joseph A Gates was quite involved with other activities besides being a community doctor. Dr. Gates was a

Dr Gates was a republican member of the Minnesota State Legislature for Goodhue County from 1905-1914. He was so popular that he as selected as the republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 1912.

During World War 1, he was a captain in the medical corp of the army despite being well past the normal age for military service. He served in Texas, Kansas, and Maryland. Following the war he was involved in organizing the American Legion and was elected to a national position of senior vice commander.

Dr. Gates enjoyed the outdoor life of travelling hunting and fishing. One such adventure may have been the impetus of his desire to establish telephone service for the farmers of the area. While out fishing and camping in May 1903, their horses wandered off overnight. One of their group walked seven miles to Faribault to call Kenyon for a livery team to pick them up. The horses were found at a farmer's house the next day.

Dr. Gates was a member of the Masons, Shriners, Elks, and Woodmen, and also involved with the A.O.U.W. lodge.

Tragedy struck the family and community on June 15, 1922. Dr. Gates was only 51 years old when he died. He appeared to have lost control of his automobile and run into the side of a train while on his way to a medical house call.

"Thursday morning when news came to us that Dr. J.A.Gates, who had left our midst but a few minutes before, had met with a terrible accident and was gone from us for his earthly life we could not believe it -- the shock was so great and when we found it was true we gave ourselves up to our grief. Never in the history of our community has such a pall of sadness settled upon the entire population. From the youngest child to the oldest inhabitant all have gone about with white and saddened faces and there was no attempt at our accustomed lightheartedness. It was not only Kenyon that was affected in this way. Before noon the local papers were called again and again by neighboring towns and even by those far away, they feeling that our loss was theirs."

from the Kenyon Leader- June 1922

Dr. Gates was so popular in the community and indeed throughout the state that there were over 5000 people at his funeral which was held on the front lawn of his home. Many prominent in public life attended, and the family received condolences from many, including the Minnesota state Governor. The downtown of Kenyon was closed down and draped in crepe for the funeral procession

"Dr, Gates was not only the physician but the friend and brother in numerous homes. He was a helper of the poor and needy and went about doing good. In politics he was a strong Republican and very active in public life. In the home he was kind, loving and devoted to Mrs. Gates and the family. A truly great and good man has passed from our midst and his loss is an irreparable one."

Kenyon News - June 22, 1922

Family Roots