Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 138
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Pvt. Lawrence Gage
November 7, 1914 - January 1, 1945
That 1945 would also be a deadly year for Colorado County servicemen was
signalled on the first day of the year, when Lawrence Gage, who had strong ties to the
county, was killed. Gage had been born on November 7, 1914, the son of Ben and Dora
Webster Gage. He had married Bernice Clayborne and lived in Columbus for some time
prior to entering the service. In December 1944, he was stationed at Deming Air Field
in New Mexico when he was called home to Columbus on account of what the
newspapers would report as his wife's illness. In fact, he had been called home so that
he could be present at the birth of their child, Ada Jewell, which occurred at eight o'clock
on the morning of December 30, 1944.62
His death, less than 48 hours later, was the result of a bizarre and tragic
accident. He was found dead on the highway east of Weimar at 6:30 a. m. on January
1, 1945 by an oil field worker on his way to work. Gage was lying on the pavement with
his hands still in his overcoat pockets. Justice of the Peace A. J. Ratliff held an inquest
at the scene and stated on the death certificate that Gage was "hit in back of head by
some moving vehicle, not known by driver." The death certificate also states that Gage's
body was removed to Beasley for burial, with Ben Davis Funeral Home handling the
transport. However, a diligent search of the area failed to turned up Gage's gravesite.
The fact that Gage was a black man, and that no black person seems to be buried in
Beasley, leads local blacks to surmise that if Gage was buried in the area, he must have
been buried in Kendleton. He may be buried there, however, his grave has not been
located. In the 1940s, there was a small church on Hamlink Road outside Beasley that
was mostly attended by blacks. Locals report that there are unmarked graves on the
church site, but if it had a cemetery at all, none of the graves were marked. The church
itself has recently been removed to George Ranch Park as a historical building. Gage was
one of at least four Colorado County black men killed in the war, and is numbered along
with Austin and Schobel as the local men who died at home during the war. Gage,
however, is the only one of the three who died in the county to be included on the
courthouse plaque. In addition to his wife, Gage was survived by his three children,
Lawrence Edward, Miller Ray, and the newborn Ada Jewell, and a sister, Estella Dorn
of East Bernard.63
Sgt. Fred E. Estlinbaum
Died January 10, 1945
The air war against Germany continued to increase in ferocity as the Allies
sent ever-increasing numbers of planes on raids deep into the heartland of Germany.
Casualties continued to mount as bombers and their fighter escorts went down over
foreign soil. Fred Estlinbaum, who entered the service June 5, 1943, had been stationed
in England, serving as a radio operator aboard a B-17 bomber, for only six weeks when
62 Weimar Mercury, January 12, 1945; Colorado County Birth Records, vol. 12, p. 283.
63 Colorado County Death Records, vol. 6, p. 211; Weimar Mercury, January 12, 1945.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995, periodical, September 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151395/m1/30/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.