07 August 2017

Madness Monday - My Gypsie Roots

Family roots are never simple lines, they are always tangles. Recently my mother did her DNA, and her ethnicity was really no surprise to me. Though I had not found her Irish immigrant ancestor, I didn't doubt that he and/or she was back there somewhere. A short red head with a fiery personality and a maiden name of Roe screamed Irish to me. It turns out that yes she is about one-quarter Irish, but the question was, from where?

The research began years ago on my mother's paternal line. One of my first posts about my grandfather Von Joseph "Rusty" Roe was the WWII Records, 1973 Fire, written in February 2007. Sadly the discovery of this news closed some doors that would have afforded me the opportunity to get to know the man I never knew. I was about two years old when my Grandpa Roe died, so I do not remember him. I did, however, learn bits and pieces from my mother, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Dawna, his three daughters. Through them, I was able to compile the details in the previously mentioned blog post. I knew his father was Frank Roe, and through Aunt Mary I learned that Frank had a brother Piere, but we didn't know who their parents were.

In March of 2009 some two years later I made a small break through. I found a census record, which did finally tell me Frank's parents were Jerry and Rachell Roe, and that he had one more baby brother we knew nothing about. Though from the census I now knew there were still two more siblings we didn't know. I had spent countless hours researching this family over those two years, and all I came up with was a census record?! Seriously, I was perplexed. This was the only line of my family at this point that I wasn't at least four generations deep from my parents! I was frustrated. That's when I wrote my fourth "Madness Monday" post "Madness Monday - Jerry Roe born abt 1861". By this time I was seriously mad with frustration. 

This family was so elusive that I couldn't seem to find anything more. I sent off to Oklahoma archives trying to locate possible death records, birth records I knew would be useless, and even obtained a copy of the Dawes Rolls to search, since Rachell, the mother of my great-grandfather Frank, had claimed to be half Chippewa Indian. That's right, if this were true, this fair-complected red-head would be 1/32 Native American. 

For years this really seemed to be a mystery I would never solve. A year or so after I found the census record I finally came across a marriage record for a Rachel Mason and J.J. Roe in Missouri. I knew in my heart it had to be them, but there was still no definitive proof. Then suddenly in 2012, there was a Find-A-Grave memorial for a Rachel Roe in Ponce City, Oklahoma. Finally, something more. This told me she was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1861, which I knew from the census that she was born in Canada, but still nothing on Jerry. Even to this day, I have never found what happened to Jerry.

Once again my research would stall for years, then I lost my job, went back to school, and life got crazy. Recently, however, the brick wall has begun to crumble. I bought a DNA test through Ancestry.com and asked my mom if she would do a DNA test. She was more than happy to do so, as she had been curious recently and was hoping I would find more. While we waited impatiently for her tests to come back this past spring, I had spring break where I finally had some time away from homework to do some research. 

I began looking at Piere and Frank's brother Jaybird, the baby. I never understood why my mom and her sisters never knew anything about him. In the recent years, Missouri has done a fabulous job of making its records available online. In my week of research, I came across a 1930 census showing Jay Roe as a patient at the Central Oklahoma State Hospital. I also found his death certificate in Missouri showing that he had died 27 May 1932 in Vernon, Missouri. He died of Tetanus, caused by an accidental burn on his lower limb, and once again his residence was at the State Hospital #3 in Vernon, Missouri. I knew there had to be a story on this. I then looked for a newspaper article. I can't find it today, but I do remember reading that he had a seizure and fell in the fire, burning his leg severely, which would later result in his death. 

Well, that explained what happened to Jaybird and why the sisters never knew about him. It's very likely my own grandfather didn't know about his uncle. That still, however, didn't shed any light on who Rachell and Jerry were or where they came from. For that answer, I would have to wait until we got back my mother's DNA test.

Finally, after waiting two months we had her DNA test back, but as luck would have it, I was in the middle of finals so it would have to wait. Mid-May came and I was now a graduate with a degree as a paralegal, now it was time to get back to my real passion. One of the first mysteries I tackled was my mother's paternal line. 

First I connected to a 2nd cousin to my mother, only to not hear from her after a short while, but then came the most important connection, Ronda Krug. Ronda showed up as a 3rd - 4th cousin. There wasn't a lot of names on her tree, but one certainly caught my attention, Jess Johnathon Roe. When I contacted Ronda she responded back and was excited to compare notes on our Roe ancestry. However, she asked me one strange question that caught me off guard, "did your mom speak Romani and was your mom and dad both gypsy?" Did my family what?! Are you serious? I wasn't put off by the idea, it actually intrigued me, but I would have never thought to even look in that direction because my family had never spoken of it. 

The more I thought about what she asked, the more it began to make sense. It was that one little question that got me thinking and prompted me to look at my mother's paternal line in a whole new light. One that would bring the wall crashing down. Now it all made sense. I always wondered why and what would prompt my mother's great grandparents to move all over the country. Rachell was born in Canada, Jerry in Iowa, they were married in Missouri, Frank was born in Iowa or Missouri, Piere was born in Minnesota, and Jaybird was born in Kansas. That has to be it. They were Gypsies!

There was still a part that was nagging me that didn't make sense. The distant cousins that my mother shares DNA with that are Roe descendants of one Jeremiah Roe born in 1750 Ireland were well-established members of society and none of them show signs of being Gypsies or even moving much. Most of them settled in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. Well, there are those two states again, Minnesota and Iowa, but for the life of me, I still have yet to discover how and where my Jerry Roe fits into this family tree. I have rebuilt a family tree for the descendants of Jeremiah Roe, well mostly, it's still a work in progress, and yet I still don't see a connection; however, I share a connection with many descendants of Jerimiah Roe. 

Eventually, I decided the Roe's were not my Gypsie roots. It had to be Rachel that came from that life style. I then turned my attention to Rachel Mason. After I compared more DNA matches, I was convinced that Rachel was the daughter of Frederick Mason and Sarah Rinehart I also looked at Rinehart DNA connection and a few have their Rinehart line that traces to John Rinehart 1814-1881, and some of them have Sarah the wife of Frederick Mason in their tree. The most important connection was Nancy, who not only matched my mom, but also matched Ronda. Her family had put down roots, but she remembered the Mason "traveler cousins" as she called the coming to visit on their way back and forth from Canada to Oklahoma. I shifted gears and focused on the Mason line in the hopes that it would lead me to our connection between Jerry Roe and his ancestors I know he descends from Jeremiah Roe the Irish immigrant. 

When I came across this amazing gem, it all made perfect sense.

Then when I read the margin I wrote this to Ronda and the rest of my cousins who had been following my journey at this point;
OMG! OMG! I'm doing the happy dance and my co-workers are laughing at me! This is Rachel Mason's family. She is on the first line of the next page, but I copied this page because of what it says in the margin, "These families have been camping here for the last few weeks." OMG! Ronda Krug this is more proof of the gypsie connection and now I believe my theory is correct. I think Jerry Roe was not a Gypsie because I'm finding no evidence of any of the Roe family being gypsies. For generations, they were well-established members of their communities, but I suspected that Jerry married a gypsie and then began to travel with her family. The Mason's are where our Gypsie roots come from!!!!!!!!!
It got better when I read the margin on the next page:

"These families have been camping in the city for some weeks. Some of them claim to be Cherokee Indian and others claim to be gypsie. I perhaps one many may be Indian. The women are all darker than the men. They may be Indian and gypsie mixed."
There it is, not only the Gypsie, but the Native American connection. My mom's DNA tells me she wasn't Native American, but this tells me that she likely could pull it off because of her looks.

It was a beautiful moment. The journey will continue, but I may never have made this breakthrough without DNA. 

10 June 2017

I'm Back! And This Time Armed with DNA!

Life sometimes has a way of throwing you curve balls and you either strike out or you knock it out of the park. Two and a half years ago it was announced that my current employer would be closing our plant. I had a choice, either I could go on the hunt for another job and likely lose ground with the kind of pay I was making at the time, or I could put in two years of hard work, work part time for lower pay, tighten the budget, and get my degree so that I would finally have a chance at a better future. I choose to go back to school. With the help of my wonderfully supportive family I made it, and now I have an amazing future and I love what I'm doing as a paralegal.

The hardest part of going to school was resisting the urge to be pulled into solving another family mystery, especially when my in-law and then my parent's DNA tests came back before I was done with school. That was so hard to not dig in and focus on my priorities first.

Having our autosomal DNA done has begun to break down some brick walls, not only for us but for other people as well. The first wall to crumble was for someone else. His name is Anthony and he contacted me about eight months ago. I explained to him that I was focused on school, but certainly willing to help him if he could wait until I was on Winter Break. He agreed and patiently waited for me to get back to him. While I was on Winter Break he and I emailed almost daily regarding the Ward's in my father-in-law's family. He had told me that he and several other family members had done their DNA and had a surprising story to tell me. It turned out that one of my father-in-law's ancestors had left his first wife, which explains why I could never find his death record, changed his name slightly and had a whole other family with another woman. He probably would have never been able to solve that mystery if it were not for DNA.

The next mystery on the demolition list was my father's 2x great grandfather. He was a man that ran away from home and disowned and even denied his parents. Through DNA we have proven the connection to his Aunt's descendants. I still want to try and get the descendants of his half siblings to do DNA to have a more definitive connection, but I'm pretty certain we have proven who the parents of William G Woolsey are because of DNA.

Right now I am eyeballs deep in a new mystery that seems to crumble a little more each day. I have been searching for my mother's great grandparent's families prior to their marriage. When my mother did her DNA, I was able to find that all Roes that we connected to descended from one Jeremiah Roe who immigrated from Ireland where he was born in 1750. Right now I am compiling a tree of all of his descendants. It's hard because I have some gaps between siblings where I think there are other children that I am missing because the records were very sparse then. So far I have not been able to find the exact branch of the Roe family that my 2x great grandfather Jerry Roe belongs to, but I will. I have, however, had a breakthrough on his wife, Rachel Mason.

DNA helped me make a connect with several Roe cousins, very closely related actually. I started a facebook group for all of us so that we could exchange stories and photos. One of the things I learned is that the oldest brother of my great-grandfather continue to live the Gypsie life that he had learned from his parents and passed it down to his descendants, unlike my great grandfather who left that life behind. Well heck, that explains it all! No wonder I couldn't trace the family or find them in most census records, and the children I knew of are all born in a different state! With that in mind I also used our DNA to see who we shared in common with the last name of Mason, and again a particular family kept popping up. This family turned out to be Rachel's parents, and the best part is I finally found a census of her with her parents, and in the margin was a notation about a group of families that were traveling together as Gypsies! That's it!

Now I have a theory I'm pursuing on my Roe connection to solve who the parents of Jerry Roe were. I hate to keep all of you in suspense, not really I've been in suspense for twelve years, but I'll have to report back when I do finally solve this mystery and I'll have to write more about Rachel's story.

14 July 2016

Don't Like the Background? Change it!

Often times we have pictures that we love for one reason or another, but at the same time hate for another. What do you do? Change it.

Case in point. Recently, the company I am a receptionist for had a group photo done. We wanted an outdoor photo of the group, but there wasn't a perfect location for that, so our wonderful photographer at The Big Picture found the best possible location, while knowing that the background could be altered if need be. In our case, we ended up with a washed out parking lot on one side of the background, but when I was done with it, there was a beautiful background full of nature and color with just the right amount of light.





I currently working on another photo taken of a bride by her relatives. Though she liked the photo of herself the door in the background screams amateur photographer and is distracting. She wants to have the photo blown up to wall size and hang on her wall. Plus she wanted her skin tone evened out. The lighting in the room made her look blotchy. With a little clean up of her skin and a completely new background that makes it appear that her photo was taken in a professional studio, she will have an image ready to blow up and hang on her wall.

There are many times when the perfect action or the perfect smile are captured, but something in the background is very distracting or in some way steals away from the beauty of the photo. We don't have to put up with that anymore. It can be changed!

Visit my gallery at Untangled Family Roots


06 July 2016

The value of Alien Cases Files

It's been a rough year watching a dear friend of my husband's suffer and succumb to his fate of cancer. After his death, his wife asked me to do some research on his family. Many of his family heirlooms that he has kept and stored over the years, such as a car his mother drove and a horse drawn carriage his grandparents were married in, and other farm implements will be displayed in various locations, but primarily in a museum that we hope to see open in Hayden. The curator is currently looking for an ideal venue. Anyway, his wife asked me to do the research in order to compile the family history to add provenance to the items when they go on display.

Gary Rowles 1951-2016 was the son of Sidney Rowles and Clara Marie Neustel. Gary knew his mother and her family. He even grew very fond of and loved his step-father, Victor Ferdinand Wycoff, dearly, but sadly did not know his father Sidney Rowles very well. Gary's wife was curious about Sid, which sparked a curiosity in me to find out more about this man. What was known about Sid is that he was from Wales, but little else was known about him, beyond his marriage and ultimate birth of two sons in Coeur d'Alene, ID.

As with every genealogy project I undertake, I started with the latest generation, Gary, and worked my way back. Gary's mother's line quickly expanded into a full grown tree with many documents that were easy to find. It's rarely difficult to compile a tree on a family when they remain in one location for generations and establish themselves as part of the community.

Gary's father on the other hand would prove to be almost as elusive in documents as he was to his son. I did the usual research of census, birth, death, marriage and other common records often found on sites like familysearch.org and ancestry.com.

I found Sidney's death index in nearby Spokane, WA. Which was surprising considering he lived and (we thought) died in Coeur d'Alene, ID. Another lesson in the importance of considering neighboring counties and states when searching for elusive ancestors. Spokane is a big city compared to Coeur d'Alene, and even more so back in 1965. It's very likely Sid had a long term illness that took him to the large hospital in Spokane where he then passed. Unfortunately the index didn't tell me much other than his death date and location. I'll work on obtaining a death certificate later.

I continued to dig until I came across an index for another set of records I wasn't very familiar with, the Alien Cases Files archived in Kansas City. This time I read more of the details below the index information. Since the index only gave me name, birth and country of birth I still didn't have much. Below the index was a bit more information on the index, but still just source information. Then I seen the link that said "learn more". When I clicked on the link I went to a search screen for the index, but I kept scrolling, and to my surprise I found an email where I could send off for the records I had found in the index for Sidney Rowles.

I emailed Afiles.KansasCity@nara.gov right then and anxiously awaited their response. I was so excited to open the response the next morning. After a few emails I had paid $20 for the entire packet and received it that day via email in a PDF file. Talk about exciting! In the packet was a photo of Sid, boy did Gary look like his father. Digging deeper through the file also revealed his parent's names as well as a copy of his father's naturalization record!

Armed with the new information I was able to find his parents in Pennsylvania and slowly piece together the story of Sidney Rowles. Sidney was born 27 Sept 1903 in Aberdare, South Wales, Great Britain to James Farmer Rowles and Elizabeth Ann Lewis. At the age of eight he left from Liverpool England on the Baltic with his mother to join his father who had already come to America in 1910. They settled in Lackawana, PA as evidenced in the 1920 census. His mother passed away on 17 Mar 1930 in Scranton, PA. As of yet I have been unable to find a death record of any kind for his father and his paper trail goes cold after Elizabeth's death. Shortly after Elizabeth's death, Sid left PA and by 1935 had settled in Rimrock, ID where he would start a family.

The Rowles family story ends here for now. Now the challenge will be to research Walsh records. I have found them in census records for England, but nothing more.

31 January 2016

Untangle Family Roots Photo Restoration and more

It's time to finally time to create a website and start putting myself out there as a restoration artist. I've always enjoyed restoring photos to their original beauty. On top of that, my passion for genealogy and writing can all come together in one place. I'll add more services to my website for genealogy research and digital scrapbooking. I'm still perfecting those service details and will add them soon. Basically, my idea is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to preserve and compile the stories of their ancestry.

Untangled Family Roots Photo Restoration and related services.

29 January 2016

Photo restoration and a mystery

I've done a few wonderful photo restorations this week. One was using two different photos of a building and scenery to restore a building to its original beauty. The other photo was an absolutely destroyed wedding photo. Both turned out amazing.


This lovely photo comes with a little mystery as the caption states. The bride Winifred Baker was born Anna May Corbett in Bridgeport, CT. The family has been searching for years for her roots with no such luck. Maybe one of my genealogy buddies will see this and know who Anna was and where she came from.


This photo was a lot of fun! First the customer wanted the storefront returned to its original grandeur of the early 1800's According to his research the building was a tavern around 1804. It was later turned into a store front, which is what you see in the photo in the top left which was taken in 1938. The building was then demolished in the '70's. As part of my customer's research, he wanted a photo of the building that would appear as it did in 1804. With his input from his research, I was able to recreate the front of the building and then with using a period photo from the area I was able to place the building into it's surrounding area. Viola! We have the old tavern in PA circa 1804 on the right. According to the research, if the building were still standing it would be one of the oldest buildings in PA. Research and original photos provided by Mark Jaskolka. Thank you, Mark for a wonderful opportunity to show my skills.

19 May 2015

Black Sheep of the Family

I think I've actually written about my great grand uncle before. I never even knew about Leonard Rollett until a few years ago when I finally broke through who his parents were and subsequently discovered him as the brother of my great grandmother May Rollett.

Leonard Rollett was born 7 Jan 1908 in Missouri to David Rollett and Rosa (Clark) Rollett. He died at the young age of  21 on 31 July 1931. When I discovered this it automatically had my attention. I've come across other family members that died at young ages and I find myself digging for answers. How did they die? Why so young?

The one thing I love about doing research on my Missouri ancestors is the availability of birth and death records at Missouri Digital Heritage. I found Leonard's death certificate while searching through looking for any records of his father, mother or siblings. On his death certificate for cause of death was "homicide, fire arm" and for contributory "shot by officer." Knowing that there had to be a story, I went searching for newspaper articles. In this case I was not disappointed.

 
 
And there you have it. I have a robber in my family tree. This is a story I can tell to my kids to remind them the crime doesn't pay. His partner in crime, Flutty, received 5 years for his involvement in the crime.
 
Leonard's sister May left behind her husband and four children and never looked back (as far as I know). I really would like to know more about this family. Crime and irresponsibility seem to be a part of their lives. 

12 May 2015

So Young, Yet Such a Man

Once again it's time for another #52Ancestors post. I've written about my 3x great grandfather many times. First because he was such a mystery to all of us, but now that I've solved the mystery, I write about him because his life was what novels are made of.

William George Woolsey was born in Iowa on 15 Dec 1865 to Richard W Woolsey and Charollette Ann (Beck) Woolsey. William refused to talk about his parents or his family. When asked by his children and grandchildren where he was from or who is parents were his response was, "I was born in Iowa and ran away as a young lad from an abusive Irish step mother, and that's all I'm going to say about that." Well he was successful in keeping the family, for generations, from finding out about his past until a couple years ago when someone saw a post I put on a forum and knew about a William Woolsey in their family who was born in Iowa and ran away from home. When we began putting the pieces together we all understood why.

In order to understand William's hatred for his parents we need to back up in time a bit. At the time of William's birth the Civil War had just ended. Charlotte lost her first husband and the father of her first three  children on 3 Apr 1863, John Nolan. Richard Woolsey, too, had suffered the loss of his first wife Alice Susan (Buck) Woolsey in 1862. Richard and Alice had six children. It would appear from the trail of records that Richard and Charlotte were devastated and lost after their first spouses died.

Richard then married Charlotte on  6 Sep 1863 in LaGrange, IN. Then William was born two years later into a very large blended family. I'm not sure what went wrong, but by 1870 Richard is no longer in the picture. He and his six children are living in Creswell, Cowley, KS. Shortly after this Richard built the first hotel in Arkansas City, KS known then as the Woolsey House and he in turn was endearingly known as Uncle Dick. I have never found a record of divorce, but clearly they were no longer together because Charlotte was living in Lincoln, Linn, KS with her four children, William being one of them and only four years old at the time.

By 1875 Charlotte is still living in Lincoln, KS, but now under a new name. She is in the home of James Kennedy (Kenneda). She is listed as C.A. Kennedy. James has three children from a previous marriage, Charlotte has her three Nolan children and William Woolsey and then together James and Charlotte have an eight month old Ella. Dear Lord, talk about a blended family of monstrous proportions. Poor William must have really felt left out, being the only Woolsey in the home. Charlotte then died in Linn County on 13 Apr 1876 at the age of 38.

At this point William is left without a mother and has a father chasing gold across the country. William is only 11 years old at this point. Even if his father was not a part of his life it became clear that at least his Woolsey half-siblings were when I found him in the 1880 census living in the home of his half sister Eva (Woolsey) Brown. In this census he is enumerated by his middle name, George. What I find strange is that he is listed as a boarder instead of half-brother-in-law. Then again when you look at that title I can see why, boarder was just easier to record. He at one time in his life mentioned that he named two of his daughter after his sisters, Eva and Minnie, however, Minnie turned out to be a niece, a daughter of his half-sister Caroline, but close enough. 

I don't find Richard in the 1875 Kansas State Census, probably because he has caught "gold fever" and is off chasing his pot at the end of the rainbow. In 1880, however, Richard is in Sauk City, Whatcom, WA. He is just one of the many miners hoping to strike it rich. I don't know when Richard left Sauk City. What I have been able to determine is that the original Sauk City was destroyed by fire (all except the general store of George Perrault) in 1889. I wouldn't be surprised if Richard through in the towel and took off at that point, but unfortunately that is likely lost with time.

Sometimes before 1900 Richard starts mining in Faulkner, Sierra, New Mexico where he was enumerated in 1900 on the US Census. I think it's very likely that he had been there for many years. He had an established mine and was again well known in the area. In some newspaper account Hillsboro is mentioned. Faulkner no longer exists and Hillsboro is an unincorporated town, basically a ghost town. I'd love to go visit this old mining ghost town some time. It's where he spent his last years until he fell ill. He was then brought home to Arkansas City, KS by his children where he died 21 Oct 1908. In his obituary each of his children is mentioned, including William, who's "whereabouts unknown."

At no point do I ever find any indication that Richard was involved in his life. At least Eva was, though no one knows for how long he was able to be with his Woolsey siblings. This mystery drove me crazy for years, and if it hadn't been for someone from the other side of that story in the family, I may never have solved it. Message boards have brought about such break throughs on more than one occasion. When you have a mystery, don't forget to use the message board. You never know who will be reading and knows the other half of the story you are looking for.

The amazing part is that John Woolsey who solved the mystery when he found my post was also born and raised in the same town in Modesto, CA as I was. He told me one time that he had asked his dad before if he was related to the Woolsey's in the phone book, and it turns out that he was. The Woolsey names he had seen and asked about where my grandfather and father (and his siblings). It makes you realize what a small world we live in and that we may be more closely related to our neighbors than we realize.


28 April 2015

Life Wasn't Easy

As part of this week's #52Ancestors "Where there's a will" I will write about my husband's grandmother. I have written about her many times. She is a dear sweet woman who has lived through some very difficult times, especially in her childhood.

Estelle Conner was born the 25 May 1929 in Hollis, OK in a little one room wooden shack to Ernest Ghamo Conner and Flora Mae Manning. She was a twin, but her twin brother died shortly after birth. By 1930 Ernest had picked up his small family and moved to Brown County, TX. He was likely following work, which he would do for a large portion of his life.

Let's back up and understand Ernest a bit. He wasn't called Ernest by his family. He was known as Joe Conner. He was born in Williamson, TX to William Monroe Conner and Laura Alice Barnett in 1898. They would spend the next 20 years moving around Texas. They were farmers after all and likely following farm work, but not having land of their own. Eventually they settled down in Harmon County, OK and owned a farm of their own. Unfortunately after William's death in 1936 Laura would loose the farm due to taxes. Ernest had 14 siblings. Can you imagine having that many siblings to share with?! As if life in rural Texas wasn't hard enough, I'm sure it was made more difficult by the shear number of mouths to feed. Yet somehow they came together and remained a very tight and loving family.

Rumor has it (according to Aunt Mattie) that Flora's family disowned her because she married an Indian (Ernest). My research isn't turning up enough Indian in the family to actually call Ernest Native American. Just speculation on my part, but I'd say it had more to do with their age than the fact that he had a small drop of Indian blood in him. Ernest was 13 years her senior and when Estelle and her twin brother were born, Flora was only 18 years old, so she was likely around 17 when they were married. I have yet to find that record.

Anyway Ernest and Flora end up in Amarillo, TX. In 1940 he is listed as a "common laborer" for the WPA. That was farm labor or ranching. Since the rest of his life involved moving farm to farm as a farm laborer and grandma never mentioned him as a cowboy, I'd say it's safe to say he was doing farm labor.

Ernest and Flora would go on to have four more children all born in TX: Mattie Josephine, Lotti "Laura" Bell, Billie Joe and Geneva. Geneva and Flora died shortly after Geneva was born due to complications of the birth in Mar 1940.  In the 1940 census taken on April 13 Ernest is renting a home in Amarillo. In the household are his four living children, Laura (his mother) and his two youngest sibling. What is unknown is how Ernest and his mother end up back in Hollis and the children removed from him. It may be that Laura traveled to Amarillo with her last two children still at home to help him with his children after the death of his wife and was in the process of bringing him and the children back to her home when the census was taken.

Regardless of how or when, Joe's children were taken from him and put into an orphanage in Tipton, OK. She wasn't in the home for long. It wasn't a bad place to live, they just missed their dad. He wanted his children back and the only way to do that was to get married again. Supposedly in that day people in the infinite (misguide) wisdom thought that a father was not capable of raising children on his own. So he married a widow who had a fifteen year old son. Her name was Bernice. Joe was able then to get his children back, but life with Bernice was anything but good. Estelle's only fond memories in that home was of a colored maid who loved the kids. She couldn't remember her name, but loved her. Joe finally had enough of this woman and how she made the children feel, so he packed them up and snuck away in the middle of the night. He went back to Oklahoma about 80 miles from his mother where they all helped him pick cotton on a cotton farm. From then on the children would go with him, living in tents on farms and help him with farm work.

A photo I restored of Grandma Estelle and two of her siblings: Laura (L) and Billie (R). Grandma is in the center.
Estelle never got more than a fifth grade education. She was too busy working on farms with her dad to survive and helping her dad raise her younger siblings, that education wasn't that important. I know at this point some of you may be thinking they were right to take the kids from him, but it only broke his and the children's hearts to be away from each other. Life was hard, but it made grandma and her siblings strong, independent, self sufficient people.

When he went back to Amarillo, TX he meet Curley, the woman he would later marry and spend the rest of his life with. The kids all loved her. Grandma missed her mother, but Curley was her second mother and she loved her just as much.

Joe was never able to afford a headstone to put on his wife or baby girl's grave. Several years ago my mother-in-law took Grandma on a road trip before her memory became too bad. They were able to visit the graves of Flora and Geneva Conner. Grandma was so moved that not only did they not have a headstone but the little bricks with their first name had to have layers of dirt removed before they could be seen. Grandma went that day and paid for headstone to be put on their graves.

10 April 2015

Living 100 years

Can you imagine it? Few can even imagine living to be 100 years old, but Emily Lutitia (Scott) Hoard experience exactly that and she lived in two centuries at that. Can you imagine all that she saw and experienced in her life time?

Let me put her life time into perspective. Emily was born 1 Sept 1848 in Metamora, Franklin, Indiana. Now let's think about that for a minute. She would have been 15 when the Civil War began. Knowing what I've learned about this side of my family I believe they were very loving and very likely against slavery. When she was a child slavery was still legal, travel was horse and wagon, the west was still being discovered!

In 1850 Emily is found in the census as a two year old living with her parents and her maternal grandmother in Center, Marion, IN. Next we see the family in the Iowa state census for 1856 in Union, Lucas, IA. There are now two more family members; A.F who is 5 (Alexander) and M.E who is 2.

So far no more records have been found for any of the family members between 1856 and 1866 when Emily shows up on 12 Jul 1866 in Platte City, Platte, MO where she marries James W Hoard.  According to a deposition Emily gave for her pension file they left for Jackson co., MO in 1868 and then back to Platte co., MO in the spring of 1869.

There are then no records found for George and Aner, or the boys, until 1880. In 1870 Emily and James are in Carroll, Platte, MO. It's very likely that George and Aner are in this part of Missouri at this time, just no records have been located. In 1870 census Emily and James have two boys; Thomas - 3 and George - 1. During this time period she would have likely heard of many of the Indian wars that happened in and around the states she was living in. As much as I believe the US government wronged the Native Americans I can also understand the fear of Indian attacks that someone like my 3rd great grandmother would have felt. One of the saddest and most disturbing Indian battles was the Battle of Wounded Knee, which occurred on 29 Dec 1890. It's likely Emily and James would have been in NE or MO at that time. I would have loved to have known how this effected her.

In 1880 George and Aner are living in Plum Creek, NE while 160 miles away Emily and James are in Vesta, NE. Vesta is just over the MO border from where George and Aner are buried in Mulberry, Crawford County, Kansas, USA.

Emily would then live out the rest of her life in Kansas from 1900 until she dies in 1948. She lived in Harvey, Latham and Union, Kansas. In 1903 the The Wright Brothers Make the First Flight at Kitty Hawk and the First Silent Movie, The Great Train Robbery comes out. I wonder if she would have seen it, or maybe her boys and their families? Her husband, James Hoard, died on the train to Arkansas to visit family on 14 Jun 1911. A year later The Titanic Sinks. She would have witnessed both World Wars and seen sons and grandsons go off to war. She must have been a woman with wonderful Karma because from what I've seen all of her sons and grandsons that would have served returned home to have families and live long lives. In many cases her sons and daughters lived into their 80's and a couple of the daughters to 98. I'd say the longevity gene was strong in her family.

In the 1920's she would have seen the beginning of Prohibition in the U.S., The First Talking Movie, The Jazz Singer, and First Mickey Mouse Cartoon. In 1920 she is living along at the age of 71 in Union, Butler, KS. In 1929 the Great Depression began. I do not know where she was in 1930 after the Depression began. I can only imagine that she must be living with one of her children at this point, but my 1940 she is once again living along in Latham, Butler, KS. Though Roy is living near by it is still amazing that a 91 year old woman is living on her own. In 1934 she would have been in the midst of The Dust Bowl and yet she stayed. The Hoard family was not one easily driven out of the Great Plains.

I've often been asked if I could go back in time and spend time with an ancestor, who would it be? Emily would be one such ancestor. I can only imagine the stories that she could have told. 100 years of life spanning the most volatile, industrious, changing, progressing two centuries in American history.

Emily died, just shy of her 100th birthday on 28 Mar 1948 in Wichita, Sedgwick, KS. She was then laid to rest beside her husband, James in the Latham Cemetery in Latham, KS.

In the photo L to R: Emily (Scott) Hoard, Thomas Hoard, Roy Hoard and Fontana Hoard. 4 generations of Hoards.

31 March 2015

Never forget

This week's challenge in #52Ancestors is "Favorite Photo." I would have to say of all the photos I now have of my ancestors one of my all time favorites is not what you'd expect. It doesn't have someone's face, but tells me so much about my great grandfather, General Martin Hayes.

My favorite photo is a photo of this cabin where Martin Hayes was born. And to make it an even great treasuer, on the back in my great great grandmother's, Mary Jane (Vest) Hayes, writing is a note to him. "To Martin a Reminder Mother." She was reminding him to never forget where he came from.

General Martin Hayes was born 4 Apr 1907 in Hominy, OK to James Martin Hayes and Mary Jane (Vest) Hayes. Martin lived in and around Hominy until he was in his 30's. The last known record of him living in Hominy is the 1940 census. Though his obit states that he moved to Turlock, CA in 1941. On 17 Oct 1943 Martin enlisted in the Army to serve in WWII from Sacramento, CA. Note that he was given the name of General Martin Hayes as a child. He was not a General in the army, at least not that I know of.  By 1950 he moved his family to Modesto, CA. He died on 17 Dec 1960 in Turlock, CA.

This photo will always be a treasure as it truly represents many of my family lines and the hardships they endured. It just shows where my strength and ambition comes from.



26 September 2014

A Case of Murder

It all began with a death certificate. My Woolsey ancestry can drive me crazy sometimes when I hit brick walls, so I've gotten in the habit of looking at everyone and trying to find everything possible even on distant connections. I was looking at the family of Minnie Agnes (Woolsey) Tandy, my grandfather's aunt when I stumbled across this death certificate for her daughter Amie Urisa Tandy. Normally I would just capture the dates and places and move on in order to establish connections to my direct line, but then I notice the cause of death "punctured lung - gunshot wound, Hemothorax and Severed Spinal Cord" That alone just sounded so sad. I realized though that there had to be a story to this, so I began to search for newspaper articles on Newspapers.com.
 
I was shocked to discover that my grandfather's very own cousin was shot and murdered by her own husband Leo Nichols. Leo had come home drunk and began taunting his son Bobby Jack by shooting at him! I can only imagine the horror a mother must feel to witness her husband shooting at their own child. She confronted Leo and he turned his attention on her. He began shooting at her. Bobby Jack recalls on the stand that he saw his mother jump. He thought at first she had jumped out of the way, but in fact she had been shot and the impact of the bullet threw her body.
 
The Sheriff would later recall that he came to the home to find a woman moaning. She lay on the floor in her own blood screaming.
 
Leo Nichols was found guilty and given a life sentence. I never could find anything more on Bobby Jack Nichols. I can only imagine how hard it would have been on a little boy to witness his father shoot his mother. Bobby was only eight years old at the time. This was a sad sorry to discover in my family.
 
Amie Nichols, Ancestry.com. Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.


16 July 2014

Sarah Ann Revell 1838-1892

I've been writing lately about my great grandmother May Elizabeth Rollett and her ancestors, but I've really focused on her grandmother Sarah Ann Revell. I'm lucky that her father was one of the original members of the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo, OK. As a result there are many records available to me.

The biggest challenge was not being able to find a husband with her in any of the census I found. She was always in the home of her parents Thomas Revell and Elizabeth (Brierly) Revell. In my previous post I showed her with her parents in 1870 and 1880. Between 1870 and 1880 Brierly was born with the same last name as the older children. So where was this elusive husband?

I had read in several accounts of the LDS that her husband's name was Elmer Rollett. One record Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is recorded that Elmer Rollett died in 1866. So if that's the case he can't be the father of Brierly Rollet who was born in 1871. At this point the only thing that I can figure is that Sarah did remarry after Elmer's death to another man by the same last name as Rollett, who according to Brierly's death certificate is named Phillip Rollet born in France. It's likely they weren't even related as Elmer was born in England. I still am searching for records on this Phillip Rollett.

Finally I found Sarah with her first husband in 1860 census in St Louis, MO. They had another child I wasn't aware of, Elmer F Rollett. He is 8 months old. It's likely he died before the 1870 census. Elmer is 43 years old and Sarah is only 22. Elmer was 21 years her senior, but I have yet to find any indication that he was ever married before Sarah.

I did find an Elmer Rollett age 32 in Northern Lights, Philadelphia, PA in 1870 census in the home of John Edgar. I'm not certain, but this could be my Elmer. I've not found any others that match.

I also found Elmer and Sarah's marriage. They were married 16 April 1858 in St Louis, MO. Elmer's first name though was recorded as Abner, or at least that's the way it was transcribed on Ancestry. I'll have to find a way to see the original.

So now to find the second husband Phillip Rollett. This woman's life is getting so interesting.

14 July 2014

May Elizabeth Rollett and Ancestors Part II

I haven't had this much fun researching one of my family lines in probably more than a year, but once again I'm being sucked into the genealogy vortex and I just can't seem to pull away.

I wrote last week about a little minor detail that had gone unnoticed preventing me from discovering my Rollett ancestors in May Elizabeth Rollett and ancestors. Now that I've put the puzzle pieces together here is a bit more about her family. So far I'm able to trace May's father's side back to her great grandfather, Thomas Revel.

Thomas Revel was born on November 4, 1813, in Radford, England. He was married Elizabeth Brierly 28 Jan 1838. He died on April 24, 1896, in DeKalb, Missouri, having lived a long life of 82 years, and was buried there.

According to the book "Roots of the Reorganized Latter Day Saints in Southern Iowa" by Pearl Wilcox Thomas and Elizabeth joined the Latter Day Saints church in 1847 and came to America in 1851. They first went to Utah, but after nothing but disappointment moved to St Louis, MO where they remained until 1861. From there they moved to Council Bluff where they were one of the first to be baptized in the Reorganized Church. Thomas was ordained a elder 1 May 1862 and in 1864 sent on a mission to England. After he returned the family moved to Nauvoo, Hancock County, IL where they lived until 1890. He died in the home of his grandson Brierly R Rollett in DeKalb County, MO.

I did find the family in 1860 in St Louis, Ward 7, MO. In the home is only Thomas and Elizabeth and the name is spelled as Ravell. However they appear to have boarders, unless they are family. There are four other families listed in the same dwelling. Not sure yet if any of them are related.

By 1870 they are now settled in Nauvoo, Hancock, IL. Thomas and Elizabeth with their daughter Sarah Ann Rollett (miss spelled Ballet in the census) and two grand children Elizabeth and Isaiah D Rollett. Isaiah is David Isaiah who was May's father.

In 1880 they are all still in Nauvoo, Hancock, IL only this time there is another child, Brierly. What I find interesting is that this child has the same name as his siblings, yet two census records have yet to record the father of these children or Sarah's husband. I've never encountered this before over two census records. It makes me wonder if this is the result of a plural marriage. Was she living with her family even though she was one of many wives to an unknown Rollett? I say unknown because I have yet to pin point who really is her husband and the father of these children. On Brierly's death certificate his father was reported to be Phillip Rollett born in France. I do find a marriage record in MO of a Sarah Ann Revel married to an Abner Rollett in 1858. But then there is one more.......in
"The Heritage of Buchanan County, Missouri, 1984
Johnson, Herman, author
Stevenson family biographical information [ca. 1984]
"Faced with the responsibility of raising 6 children, ages 1 to 16, William [Stevenson] remarried on Nove 14, 1880. His second wife was Sarah Ann (Revell) Rollett, widow of Elmer Rollett. Sarah was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Revell."
So now I have another name. How can this man be known by three different names. From everything I read and find William Stevenson was only a second marriage for Sarah, so not likely that she was married to two different Rolletts, and I can see Elmer being mistaken as Abner or visa versa.

Sarah Ann Revell was born on April 29, 1838, in England, the only child (so far known) of Thomas and Elizabeth. She had three children, Elizabeth, David Isaiah & Brierly with Phillip/Elmar/Abner (to be determined) Rollett between 1862 and 1871. She then married William Stevenson and they had one child together, Joseph. She died on April 12, 1892, in Nauvoo, Illinois, at the age of 53.

I'm getting the feeling that David or at least his son Leonard was the black sheep of a strict Mormon family. Leonard if you'll recall I reported in one of my earlier post was a bootlegger shot to death by the Sheriff. A family that with in the span of three generations goes from extremely religious to outlaws. I can't wait to find more.

10 July 2014

May Elizabeth Rollett and ancestors

I have been on the search for my Rollett ancestors for years. I've written about that wonderful brick wall a few times. It's funny how sometime we consider a family line a brick wall, when in fact it's just a mater of not seeing the little details. That was the case with this family. I missed one little detail that blew the flood gates wide open when I finally saw it.

As of a few weeks ago I knew that my great grandmother May Elizabeth Rollett was the daughter of David I Rollett and Rosa D Clark of MO.  I wrote about finding her parents and siblings back in a post in 2011, My Happy Dance. Since then I found myself once again stumped, until last night! That's when I realized my brick wall was self inflicted. I simply was not paying attention to every little detail.

So how did I break through.......
  1. I opened up David I Rollett and Brierly R Rollett's death certificates. I still suspected they were brothers, but needed to connect them. Like I stated in my previous post Brierly was the informant on David's death certificate which clued me in to the possibility that they were brothers or at the very least cousins, being close in age with the same surname.
  2. While looking at Brierley's death certificate I realized (and I still can't believe that I've missed it for so long) that it listed his birth place as Nauvoo, IL. So I looked up what county Nauvoo was in. I find that by searching by city, it's too narrow as people in my family often move around in an area, usually with in a county, but often don't stay put in the same city, especially in a family where one child was said to be born in MO and the other in IL. Knowing from Brierley's death certificate that his parents are Phillip Rollett and Sarah Revel, I began to look for the family. It didn't take long really and I had found a family in 1880 census in Nauvoo, Hancock, IL that partially matched the family I was looking for.
    NameAge
    Thomas Revel 67
    Elizabeth Revel 62
    Sarah Rollet 42
    Elizabeth Rollet 18
    Isaiah Rollet 14
    Briley Rollet 9
The problem was that only two of the four names I was looking for matched and since the only one I had a birth year for was Brierly I still unsure that I had even found the right family. I was darn near ready to give up and mark it as another of many possibilities in this family, when the light bulb went on. Notice the child listed above Briley, Isaiah? I can't believe I had missed it. David's middle initial was "I" so I went back and calculated the age. Isaiah being 14 in 1880 would put his birth at 1866. My David was born in 1866!!!! They are brothers. David was just known by his middle name then!

Now I can add anther generation to my tree. I have been busy over the last two days finding more records and attaching to my tree records. My tree is once again going. Not only did this census confirm that Sarah and Phillip (based on the death certificate) were David's parents and that Brierley was his brother, but I also now know that Thomas and Elizabeth Revel were their grandparents! I'm off to do more research on another generation!

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