10 May 2011

My Happy Dance!

For Mother's Day I gave myself my favorite gift, another break through. My husband got to witness my happy dance (or happy claps) for the first time. He probably thinks I'm a nut, but loves me anyway.

My mother as she is only six year younger than her mother was when she died of colon cancer has become more curious, not of her genealogy, but of the life span and causes of death of her ancestors. So on Saturday we were looking at her lines. We notice that the two generations before her of all four of her lines had short life spans. The youngest died at 49 and the oldest of her parents and grandparents was her mother at 62.

The youngest was her grandmother, May Elizabeth Rollett whom I've written about before. She is still a serious mystery to us. We do now know enough to continue on with the line, but it's her life that I would still like to solve the mystery of.

Here is a complete look of what I previously knew:

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

Now the fun was to find more. I pulled up all the tabs of my regular hot sites; Footnote, Ancetry, Rootsweb, Find-A-Grave, to name a few. I did a few of the usual searched on Ancestry and Footnote to see if anything new appeared and then went to Find-A-Grave. The first thing I noticed is that they have changed their search. You can now search by a range of years. Which was perfect in this case, because a range is all I had. Without definite dates I had not had any luck in the past. So I searched first for David and hit the jackpot. Not only did I find David, but his wife Rosa, one son, and Rosa's parents! This was the point I said YES! and started clapping. I got "have you fallen off your rocker" look from my husband.

I found David's memorial here. Linked to it was Rosa's here. From these memorials it appear that David Rollett was born 26 Jan 1866 and died 3 Feb 1913, likely in Missouri where they lived and where he is buried. It's unknown based on this where he was born, though in the 1910 census he gives his birth place as IL. Rosa was born 16 Dec 1876 and died 24 April 1932 in Chillicothe, Livingston, MO. Again the memorial did not give a place of birth, but according to the 1910 and 1900 census she was born in MO. Interesting to note that she remarried after David's death. Her second husband was Arthur Rifingburg Wilson a WWI vet. This may explain why I couldn't find her in the 1930 census even though she was still living.

Rosa's father was Elias Franklyn Clark born 10 September 1839 in VA and died 25 Apr 1914 in Buchanan County, MO. Her mother was Margaret (maiden name unknown) born 10 Sept 1846 and died 1 March 1922. There is no photo of her headstone and the information is sketchy at best. Either her birth date is an error or she shared a birth day with her husband, interesting to say the least.

From this I was able to report to my mother that yes this line of her family lived short life spans. We knew that May was 49 when she died of a brain tumor. Now we know that her father was 47 and her mother 56 at the time of their deaths. I need to send off for their death certificates now. It would be interesting to know what they died so young of. I'll work now to find out about David's family as well. Now Rosa's parents were both 76 at the time of their death. Why is that? In my mom's family every line barely lived to 60 and most died in their 50's for about three generations then four or so generations back are longer, sometimes even 100 years, life spans. My theory was they were smokers, but then I found out that my grandfather was not a smoker and grandma quit smoking until after he died. I'll know more when I send off for death certificates.