THE TRAGIC STORY OF STEPHEN GARVEY (Dutch Pete Garvey)

Dated June 13, 2001 - as submitted by Michael Gervay at gervay_mike@jpmorgan.com

Stephen Garvey froze to death in early April 1924 on Little Mountain near Kane
Wyoming. He is buried in the Kane cemetery together with the baby of his wife
Elizabeth Thoman. Stephen and Elizabeth had a cabin up on Little Mountain. One
day in the winter Stephen went out to hunt and get food. He never returned
to the cabin. Two weeks after he left, Elizabeth (pregnant) made her way down to
the bottom of the mountain. When she was found nearly frozen to death, she had
delivered a dead, premature baby. After the funeral of Stephen and the baby,
Elizabeth went back to St. Louis with her family.

In 1924 many papers including The Lovell Chronicle and Casper Tribune had
stories about Stephen's death.

My family and I actually were in Lovell last summer and visited the Kane
cemetery, and met Anna Parks at the Lovell senior center. She was actually at my great uncles funeral in 1924 and does not remember much of what happened to my great uncle.  I was not able to pinpoint my great uncle's grave in the Kane cemetery.  Many of the headstones have been knocked down or disappeared.

If you know anything about Stephen Garvey, Elizabeth Garvey, where he is buried
in the cemetery, please contact me. I would greatly appreciate it.

Michael Gervay
gervay_mike@jpmorgan.com

 

Dated May 1, 2002 - as submitted by Michael Gervay at gervay_mike@jpmorgan.com

Stephen Gervay (aka Dutch Pete/Pete Garvey) 1886 ? 1924
                           By Michael S. Gervay

Stephen Gervay (aka Dutch Pete / Pete Garvey) was born into nobility in
1886 in Austria Hungary.  The Gervay family was bestowed a baronship by the
emperor of Austria Hungary in the late 1700s.  Stephen had a younger
brother and sister and their mother died when Stephen was six years old.
After a third attempt to run away from home (the first two attempts were
unsuccessful as his father caught him), Stephen's father gave him 18 gold
pieces and said goodbye.  Stephen went to Trieste, a port town in Italy,
and from there he traveled around the world three times, working upon
different ships.  During his travels he spent time in London, Germany,
Australia, and New York.  A visit to New Orleans prompted him to stay in
the United States.  To make ends meet, he spent a year as a soldier at the
Mexican-American border working with artillery.  After that, he hitched
rides around the country to find work.

In 1912, Stephen walked from St. Louis, Missouri to Kane, Wyoming.  While
there, a friend contacted him, asking Stephen to move back to St. Louis and
marry his daughter, Elizabeth Thoman.  Now this was an interesting
situation given that Elizabeth was pregnant by another man, but Stephen did
marry her and they returned to Kane (now Lovell) in 1923.  Stephen built
the cabin on Little Mountain, nestled in the Big Horn Mountains, where he
and Elizabeth lived.  The map of the Big Horn Mountains in the Big Horn
Ranger's Station shows a canyon called "Pete's Canyon."  This is the canyon
Stephen walked through to get from his cabin to Kane.

Unfortunately in March 1924, Stephen froze to death while hunting for food.
When Stephen didn't return to the cabin after several days, Elizabeth set
out for Kane with her little black dog. The trip took almost two days.
Tragically, she lost the baby due to exposure.  A search party (Earl
Snelling, Norman Hoffman, Elmer Dorn, and Ed Massick) found Stephen's body,
with a deer strapped to his back, in Devil's Canyon. One of Stephen's legs
was broken.

According to Anna Parks (who attended the funeral as a little girl and
later wrote an article about Stephen for the Lovell Chronicle), he  was
buried in a square coffin with Elizabeth's baby in the Iona Kane cemetery.
The coffin was square because his body was frozen and could not be bent to
fit in a normal casket.

Ironically, Stephen's half brother Joseph Edmund Gervay (father to Joseph
Edmund Gervay Jr., grandfather to Michael Steven Gervay) wrote to Stephen
in March 1924.  In his letter, Joseph talks about his plans leave Hungary
and go to New York.  From there his plan was to travel to Kane that summer
to reunite with his half brother.  Joseph was very excited to meet
Elizabeth and see Stephen again.  Joseph never sent that letter because he
was notified of Stephen's death before he sent it.  His son still has the
original letter.  One can only imagine the pain and disappointment  Joseph
felt when he learned of  Stephen's death.

While Stephen was the first, he was not the only Gervay to leave Hungary.
In 1956, Stephen's nephew, Joseph E. Gervay Jr. and his wife, Helen,
escaped during the Russian invasion of Budapest, Hungary.

In July 2000, Joseph, Helen, their son Michael, and his wife Nancy traveled
to Lovell and the Iona Kane cemetery. They met Anna Parks (she passed away
a year later), Dutch Hoffman, Bud Beal, Earl Meaker and Dick Fleury.  Earl
Meaker took them up to where Stephen's cabin was located in the Big Horn
Mountains.  Growing up, Earl used to spend his days in the Big Horn
Mountains.  At the cabin site they found a rusted cooking oven and a
gardening hoe.  It was known that Stephen Gervay liked to garden.  At the
Iona Kane cemetery, Michael placed a wooden plaque inscribed with Stephen's
name, the year he was born, and the year he died on the spot where they
believed Stephen Gervay was buried.  The location of the gravesite was
provided by Dick Fleury's uncle who said he knew where Stephen was buried.
The gravesite is 30 feet to the right, immediately upon entering the
cemetery.

Yet there are still a few unanswered questions?

What ever happened to Elizabeth Thoman?  I have been told she went back to
St. Louis and I have tried unsuccessfully to find any of her relatives.

Where is the exact location of Stephen Gervay's grave in the Iona Kane
cemetery?  The government scanned the cemetery with a radar technology, but
the results have not been released yet.

And the biggest question of all?

What would have happened if Stephen Gervay (Dutch Pete) never died in the
Big Horn Mountains and his half brother Joseph Edmund Gervay came to the
United States.  My father and I might never have been born and this story
never told.

If you have any additional information or questions about Stephen Gervay,
please contact me.

Michael Gervay
302-478-4501
gervay_mike@jpmorgan.com

Photo of Stephen Gervay

Wedding Photo of Stephen and Elizabeth Gervay

Photo of gravestone erected at cemetery by the Gervay family

 

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