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Jerome, Alonzo

Alonzo Wheeler Jerome was born on March 8, 1834 in Four Mile Point, New York.  


In September, 1863, he was drafted into the Union army during the Civil War, where he served as quartermaster, attaining the rank of quartermaster sergeant.


In April, 1865, he was transferred to Company C of the 26th infantry regiment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) under the command of Colonel William B. Guernsey, on Long Island, New York.  The 26th USCT served under the Department of the South (Union Army) in South Carolina.


In August, 1865, he was mustered out of the army as a 2nd Lieutenant at Hilton Head, NC.


He returned to Mineola, New York, where he worked in a factory that manufactured agricultural machinery.  It was here that Jerome played his first Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), against G.J. Dougherty.


He moved to Paxton, Ford County, Illinois in 1868 where he became manager of a hemp and flax company.


On March 6, 1873, he married 21-year-old Jane “Jennie” A. Ostrom, of Paxton.  Alonzo was almost 39 years old at the time.


In 1874, one of his games, a King’s Gambit, appeared in the March 1874 issue of the Dubuque Chess Journal.


The Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) was first published in the Dubuque Chess Journal in April 1874 (Volume VI, No. 50, pp. 358-359, edited by O. Brownson).  It was called Jerome’s Double Opening under an article called the “New Chess Opening.”


The July 1874 issue of Dubuque Chess Journal carried the first Jerome Gambit game that he played against William Shinkman.


In 1876, he played a correspondence match with the Jerome Gambit against Lt. G.N. Whistler, secretary of the Lexington, Kentucky Chess Club.  He also played a correspondence match with D.P. Norton of Des Moines, Iowa.  In 1876, the Dubuque Chess Journal stopped publication, and was replaced by the American Chess Journal.


In 1880 (some sources say 1885), Joseph Henry Blackburne was faced with the Jerome Gambit at Simpson’s Divan in London, and won with mate in 14 moves against an amateur (Millner?).  He called the opening the Kentucky opening.


In the 1890s, Alonzo moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he was working as a guide in the Illinois state capitol building.


In 1899, he wrote s souvenir book for those he escorted through the state capitol building.  He titled it, The Great Debate, which covered the debates between Lincoln and Douglas.


In 1899, he applied for a disability pension, citing diabetes and heart problems.


He died at 9 pm on Saturday, March 22, 1902 at his home, 812 South Third Street in Springfield, Illinois after complications of a gastric ulcer.  He was 67.


His obituary appeared in The Illinois State Journal in Springfield, Illinois on March 23, 1902 (page 6, column 3).


Alonzo’s widow filed for a survivor pension after his death.


Thanks to Rick Kennedy for providing much of this info.



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