20 March 2012

Fearless Females - March 20; My Brick Wall

I previously posted this as my Madness Monday post back in June 2009. Nothing has changed in the story as I've not had a chance to look into her life further. It's sad really that she seemed to just disappear from her family. I do know that I need to send off for Social Security records and death certificate. I will soon, but hear is May Eliabeth Rollette Roe's story as I know it today.

Now this is one that truly drives me crazy. My mother knew a few basic details, but the family didn't really talk about her.

Here is what I have found.

  • May Elizabeth Rollette was born 5 Apr 1899 in Missouri. I still don't know where in Missouri or exactly who her parents were. The date and place comes from her California Death Record 1940-1997.
  • May married Frank Roe. Based on the 1920 census they were married around 1919, most likely in Missouri.
  • Then they had the following children, all born in OK: Rachel and Hazel born about 1921, Von Joseph Roe born 10 Oct 1924 and died 3 Mar 1976 in Modesto, CA, Clarence Roe born 13 Oct 1926 and died in Alameda Co., CA 4 Apr 1974, (the information on these two come from their Social Security Death Index), and James Roe born about 1930. (the other birth dates are based on the 1930 Census)
  • She died 22 Dec 1949 in San Fransisco, CA. She died young. She was estranged from the family. We don't even know if she had any family with her as she was dying of a brain tumor. I've also noticed that so far no one in the family has a picture of her either.
Family tradition is that shortly after the 1930 census May went to take care of a sick sister. Now what we don't know is if they at that point had agreed to separate. What we do know is that with out May's return, Frank picked up the kids and left Oklahoma for California. From there Frank and his son lived the end of their lives in and around Turlock and Modesto, CA. Clarence known as Charlie I see ended up in Alameda County, CA. The rest I'm still not sure where they ended up. Frank remarried six more times, and from what I can see May never married again.

Possible Theories:

  • May possibly was the child of a David and Rose Rollette of Missouri. In her California Death Index it list her father's surname as Rollette and mother's maiden name as Clark. In 1920 I find Frank and May in St. Joseph City, Buchanan Co., MO in the home of John W Stephens at 519 Maple St. They are just boarders and are both working in a local box factory. (this can be found on sheet 9, enumeration district 109, supervisor's dist 4?, Dwelling 189, family 206). Living in the same county and city at 227 South 13th St is a Rosa Rollette with sons Ralph, James, Leonard, and daughter Pearl (sheet no 7, enumeration district 117 and supervisor's district 4, dwelling 195, family 157). This in it's self doesn't say much, but if I go back to the 1910 census I find a David Rollette and Rose with children and daughter, May! In 1910 they are in Platte Twnp, Clinton Co., MO (sheet no 5, enumeration dist 40, supervisor dist 3, dwelling 117, family 112).
  • May and Frank divorced, but the divorce records have not been found. Either that or she just left and there was no divorce, but there had to of been if he was able to remarry legally six more times.
  • I'm sure she was buried somewhere in San Fransisco, but I have yet to find her burial. Though if she were alone with no family and no estate it may be possible that she is buried in one of the many unclaimed persons cemeteries and that may be why I can't find her. I need to contact funeral homes next.
I have the source information listed above with the details but an overview of the records I have are:

  • 1910 Census of Platte Twnp, Clinton Co., MO in relation to the Rollette family
  • 1920 Census of St Joseph City, Buchanan Co, MO for both the Rollette family and Frank and May
  • 1930 Census of Port of St Louis Twnp, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma of Frank and May with children.
  • California Death Index 1940-1997 for May Elizabeth Roe
  • Social Security Death Index for Frank and Clarence Roe
Also found is a record that as far as I know does not fit May. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 Record for Elizabeth Roe born 1899, State California, County or city Los Angeles, enlistment date 27 May 1944, branch Women's Army Corps...... Education 2 yrs of college, civil occupation aerial photographer, single without dependents. The last part really doesn't fit, unless she considered that her status because she had nothing to do with the children and as far as we know she never went to college or was a photographer. As far as my mom knows she never was in the army and she didn't use her middle name. She always went by May.

According to the family they never saw her again after she left Oklahoma. What was she running from or to? Was the brain tumor a long term thing that effected her judgement? Did Clarence become a part of her life in the end? Did he forgive her? From what I understand my grandfather never spoke of her. I'm sure he never forgave her. But is there more to the story and her reasons for leaving that we never knew? This is a mystery that I will forever look to solve. If anyone out there knew her or knew of her I would sure love to know more.

Future research will be of the San Fransisco funeral homes until I find a record there, a possible birth record in MO, a divorce record in OK or CA for May and Frank, and there will be more as I get deeper into this mystery.

Since I orignally made this post I did find out more about May's family, but I still have not been able to do more research on her. I'm hoping the 1940 census will be of some help when it comes out in April. I can't wait. She will be the first one I look for.

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