Albert Gee came to Preston with the first group of settlers who arrived in March of 1898. His wife Martina, affectionately known by all as "Tina" or "Teenie", came a year later in the spring of 1899. This couple played a very important part in the settling of the little town. They came from Moroni, Utah.
Albert had some ability with carpenter tools, so along with other men helped build many log homes. He built the four roomed house he and Tina lived in for the many years they lived in Preston. He had a carpenter shop where he did much of his work. He also went to homes and did carpenter work. One person tells of Albert working at their place. It was his birthday so she asked her mother to make him a birthday cake. She was about seven years old and proceeded to spank Albert for his birthday as was the custom. After a number of spats she decided her little hand was not up to it. Later she decided Albert knew what was coming and had put pliers and other tools in his back pockets, which hurt her hand as she spanked him. Albert made many pieces of furniture for different families. He also made many coffins for some of the early deaths.
Albert and Tina took many of the school teachers to board for the school term. Miss Fannie Daniel was one in about 1914. Tina once told about having one of the Indian women, either Lizzie Lee or Mary McQueen, stay at her home one night. The guest just took a quilt and rolled up in it on the kitchen floor. When Fannie and her escort, Clarence Jensen, came in later that evening they stumbled over the sleeping lady. They were all three very startled.
Tina had a candy store in her home at one time. Occasionally she would sell ice cream on Sundays. This was a special treat for young and old.
Tina was very clever with her crocheting and used her ability to make their home attractive. Their living room had a hand loomed carpet on the floor. Once a year she would take it up and put fresh straw from the threshed grain under it. Then she would tack it back down with carpet tacks. Their home had old-fashioned kerosene lamps with pretty flowers painted on the glass shades. On the bed in the spare bedroom there was a crazy patch quilt made from odd shaped pieces of silk. Tina embroidered the initials of many of the people in town in each of the pieces. Many of the children chose the pretty piece of silk for their initials. What fun it was to go into that special room and find your own initials as well as those of your family and friends!
Albert and Tina had a garden and an orchard. They raised much of their food. They also had a farm. In later years Albert was custodian for the church buildings and for the school.
He had one of the first Model T Fords in Preston. One day when all the women of the town had gathered at Tina's to celebrate her birthday two men drove up in the first automobile anyone there had ever seen. The men took everyone for a ride who wanted to go. One woman tells that she was a widow with two small boys and she was game to take a ride in this contraption. Some made fun of her and others told her she was crazy because if she went her boys would be orphans. She went and lived to tell of this choice experience.
Albert and Tina made many trips up White River in their Model T. They enjoyed these fishing trips very much. They also enjoyed many of the young folk's camping trips which they chaperoned.
At many of the dances Albert called the changes for the quadrilles. It has been said that Tina taught every child in the town to dance. She went to all the children's dances and started the tiniest folks out in her little circle. The circle grew larger as she enticed the shy and quiet child tojoin the group. Around and around they went in the little "dancing circle". Soon each child was brave enough to venture out with a single partner and Tina would continue to recruit other young and shy ones.
Albert William Gee was born April 16, 1862 in Hyed Lankeshire, England to Joseph and Clara Staford Gee. He passed away in Preston in 1934 after a short illness. Tina was born in Denmark June 14, 1870. Her maiden name was Sorensen. She came to America when just a small child. She once told about how sick she was on the ocean trip. They thought she was dead and the captain wanted to bury her at sea. Her father begged him to wait just a little longer and ina little while she rallied. Everyone was thankful that her life was saved. After Albert's passing she lived alone in their home until September 22, 1948, when a neighbor found her in bed. She had left her light as a signal that she needed help. When the neighbor arrived she had passed onto join Albert. They are both buried in the Preston Cemetery and although Tina's headstone says "Albertina", her name was "Martina".
Albert and Tina were truly pioneers of Preston. They came and they stayed. They worked and took part in church and civic activities. Albert and Zephaniah R. Bradley were Ward Teacher partners for years and Tina was a faithful Relief Society Teacher.
Ida J. Gubler
Vonda W. Rogers & Ida J. Gubler