My Col. Gimperling Journey-part 12; Mystery Solved

On February 18, 2017 I received the following email concerning the blog I did way back in 2011.
—– Original Message ——-
From : Cynda Eades
Sent : 2/18/2017 4:37:00 PM
To :
Subject : RE: Need info on Anna’s Place
”Actually, I am contacting you in hopes that you are the Steve who wrote the blog about Col. T.N. Gimperling. If so, please reply. He was my great-grandmother’s
brother, and I may have an answer to one of your lingering questions.
Cynda Eades”

And here is my reply to her identity question about the author of My Col. Gimperling Story:
“On Saturday, February 18, 2017 11:13 PM, “” wrote:
”I am that Steve. I had a wonderful journey researching his life and family. Along the way I learned much about our US history, I did not know. I look forward to learning what you have to share.

So what was my lingering question? It was contained in my blog posting on November 27, 2011 My Col. Gimperling Story – Part 10 – The Rest of His West Point Story. You can go back and read the second half of that blog to understand what I’m writing about. The basic story is that in Dec. 1903 “The Gimp” was caught trying to have some liquor smuggled in to him and he was caught, eventually charged and found guilty of violating ten cadet honor code rules. The results of the court martial ( it’s all spelled out in blog 10) was that it was recommended he be dismissed (booted out) of the USMA at West Point NY. Well, he was not. The President reversed his prior recommendation, and he was to graduate with his class of 1904 in June but would remain at West Point until he had completed his disciplinary tours. The Gimp left the Point in August to eventual end 


“Dear Steve,
Here is what I can add to your research on Col. Thomas N. Gimperling. My great-grandmother, Eleanor Gimperling (MacGregor), was Thomas Gimperling’s younger sister. She always told the following story of how she saved her brother’s military career, and I believe it answers your question as to how he survived the court martial.

As you know, he was found guilty on all charges and was originally sentenced to dismissal. “Miraculously” his sentence was commuted and his career was saved. Well, here’s the rest of the story, which also tells how President Teddy Roosevelt got involved. Apparently Thomas’ sister Eleanor decided to take matters into her own hands. She traveled to Washington, DC where she went to the White House and demanded an audience with the president. She refused to leave and sat waiting all day until Teddy Roosevelt relented and agreed to speak with her. We will never know exactly what was said, but in the end the president was so impressed that he agreed to intervene on her brother’s behalf. Thomas was allowed to have a long and successful army career.

My mother always said her grandmother (Thomas’ sister) was “quite something.” I know Thomas’ classmates really liked her, including Douglas MacArthur who had a crush on her at one time. And given how Thomas’ career developed, he must have been equally likable. Unfortunately, he died before I was born, so I never got to know him except through family stories.
I do have one token of his life. I will take a picture with my iPad and send it in a separate e-mail. It is a Red Cross medal awarded to Thomas for his work as attaché to the Cuban embassy in the 1930s.

I can’t thank you enough for posting your research on line. It let me know how well respected Thomas Gimperling was. For me, he was always just “Nana’s brother Tom” who fought in the Spanish-American War and then went to West Point and got into trouble. I had no idea he impacted so many lives.
I do, however, think his experience at West Point caused his sister to have a negative attitude toward military academies because she refused to allow her own son (my grandfather) to attend the Naval Academy when he graduated high school. But I think my grandfather may have had a bit of his rebellious uncle in him. He ran off and joined the Coast Guard instead! When his mother protested, he went to college but joined the Navy during WWII and served in both WWII and Korea, eventually retiring as a captain.

This may be more information than you needed, but it tells a bit about Thomas’ family relations as well as his military career.
Cynda Eades”

So what did this career saver look like? On her passport application dated April 14th 1905 she made from Berne, Switzerland she was 5’6” tall, high forehead, blue eyes, small nose, regular mouth, round chin, blond hair, fair complexion and an oval face. Sounds pretty nice to me. I can understand why Douglas MacArthur might have been interested in her at one point.  Cynda thought Eleanor might have looked something like this in 1904.


From her passport application it appears she had left the United States on 15 November 1904 and was presently staying in Lucerne, Switzerland. How she was able to travel in Europe without a passport is a mystery to me.
In the May 1903 Colorado Springs City Directory Eleanor and her much older brother John Jr. were both residing at 1431 N Tejon in that city. She was listed as a boarder. So did she travel from Dayton or Colorado Springs to Washington D.C. to change President Roosevelt’s mind about her brother Tom’s military career? I guess we will never know.

In order to give this lengthy account of Col. Thomas N. Gimperling’s life closure, here are a few remaining items.


Here is a testimonial written by Dennis E. McCunniff USMC class of ‘13 on Tommy Gimperling. It’s a short but well written story about his military career.

If you click on the head stone above you will be taken to the “find a grave” site and the Col.’s headstone. You can also then search for some of your family’s headstones too.

In 1969 or 1970 (you will find both dates) Gretchen Tritch Singles died. She had married 2nd Lt. Gordon Singles USMC class of 1931 on July 7th 1931 at Ft. McKinley, ME. Probably Gordon’s first duty station after graduation.

Here is the testimonial for Col. Gordon Singles USMC class 1931. Gordon, like his father-in-law was a good person and a great soldier.

image  image

Eleanor Gimperling MacGregor died in 1977 and here is her headstone from “Find a Grave”.


I’m sure if I kept looking I would find more information on Col. Gimperling’s life and career. It seems, each year I find more information on the Col. as the data on the Internet becomes more robust. One of the side benefits to my research on the Col. has been all the side trips I’ve taken. And to think it all started from one tag on an old padlock from the Gimperling boathouse.

I thank Cynda for finding my blog and sharing a little more history about Tommy Gimperling with me. It certainly filled in the missing piece.

Thanks to my good friend Bob Jackson for his gift that fall September day so many years ago when he gave me that box of padlocks.


This entry was posted in historical, Historical Information, US Army Military History. Bookmark the permalink.

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