04 June 2018

Madness Monday - Jerry Roe Mystery Solved!

I started the Madness Monday movement in 2009 and my third Madness Monday brick wall was Jerry Roe. I have been searching for so many years for the parent's of my great great grandfather, that I thought I would never solve this mystery. Today I am jumping for joy and screamed for joy so loudly that I started my daughter, who indulged me by sitting beside me while I explained to her how the documents I just found ties it all together and brought my brick wall crumbling to the ground!

I first wrote about this mysterious family in 2008 in my post "Where Were Your Ancestors 100 Years Ago? 1908." At the time I knew very little about my great grandfather Frank Roe other than finding him in the 1910 census with his brother Pier, whom we knew about, a younger brother, who was a discovery to us, and his parents Jerry and Rachel Roe living on an Indian Reservation in Ote, Oklahoma. At that time I was shocked to discover that I had a great great grandmother, Rachel, who claimed to be half Chippewa Indian. DNA and eventual research when that brick wall would break would dispell that myth as well.

Then in 2011, I wrote about this family again when a cousin to my husband and whose husband is a cousin of mine, Jeanette Perrin Coaly, made a find that teased me for the next six years. I wrote about this find in my post Madness Monday - Jerry Roe. She had helped me find Jess Roe, that later would be confirmed as a connection with DNA, and the marriage record of Jerry Roe and Rachel Mason which was finally online. But like always it just wasn't enough, and for the next six years, their ancestry would elude me.

Then in the spring of 2017, my mother did her DNA. Little by little I have been chipping away at that wall. First I began to look at all the Roe connections she had, and those that had trees far enough back all lead back to one particular Roe ancestor. His name was Jeremiah Roe born in 1750 believed to be in Ireland and immigrated to Pennsylvania in the late 1700's. That was a long way back and was going to take a lot of work, but what the heck, I hadn't solved this mystery any other way. So I began to research all of Jeremiah's descendants and I've been focusing on just this line for the better part of the last year. I've learned a lot about the Roe's. I have a lot of lines completed of his descendants, and again thinking I may never solve this because I still wasn't finding the connection.

One of the techniques I used was to search through my mother's DNA connections for connections with surnames that belonged to wives and mothers of Jeremiah Roes sons and grandsons. There were two of Jeremiah's sons that I showed a very strong DNA connection to their descendants and shared the surnames of their wives.

The first was Jeremiah Roe who actually had six wives that I could find of whom three gave him children. I had shared DNA connections with the surname Selbee or Selby, which would have come from his wife Ursula, so I traced their only son, George to find that there was no direct link there with my great-grandfather. Now his first wife was Mary Jane Emily Grove, and again I found Grove's in amongst my already established Roe connections, though not strong connections. In the end, I could only find the name of one son. Jeremiah "Mize" Roe III, who again I was able to establish I did not connect to. I know Jeremiah II and Mary had four other boys based on the 1820 and 1830 census, but to date, I've not been able to discover their names.

The second matching line belonged to Jeremiah I's son, Johnathan Roe, which for one caught my attention because even though my great grandfather name was spelled Jothanan on the delayed birth certificate of his son Pier Roe, I was certain it was probably meant to be Johnathan. Johnathan Roe was married to Lucretia Van Valkenburg. Wait, that might explain where my mother's 5% Scandinavian DNA comes from, that I've never been able to explain!

Here is where the research got hard. Johnathan and Lucretia had eight children, three were girls, so even though I did find some records on them, I knew they wouldn't pass on the surname. I began to focus on the boys. The story turned sad very quickly, and also may help explain why records on this family are so hard to find. Johnathan died in December 1838 and Lucretia died in 1839. It is believed by some that they died of the flu, though I've not confirmed that. I started with their son Michael Van Valkenburg Roe because his name, being so unique, made it easy to find records on him. I didn't rule him out completely, but I believed that his first son was Charles D. Roe who was born in 1861, about two years after my great great grandfather was born, so even though there was still the possibility that he had a son before Charles, it wasn't looking likely. The family was also consistently in Indiana and then Michigan and never seemed to leave Michigan where all their children were born. My great great grandfather was born in Iowa, so this wasn't looking likely.

The next son I looked at was Jonathan Roe born in 1825 in Fayette, Indiana. It was easy to find so many records of this family, that I was certain that if my Jerry was his child, then he would have shown up in one of the many records. Also, this family went to Michigan as well and remained there the rest of their lives and all of their children were born in Michigan. 

That left two more sons to research, Joel and Richard. Richard, I have yet to find any records on him. I was not even able to determine how old he was when his parents died. His name came from other researchers that claim that Johnathan and Lucretia had a son named Richard.

Joel was fun to research. It was a case of multiple Joel Roe's born roughly about the same time and trying to keep them straight. I was finding records and would have to compare where each Joel (and they were all cousins from the other lines) was at in certain points in their life and who they were married to in order to keep the records straight.

I finally weeded out all the records for Joel R Roe born in Ohio and live in Iowa and Missouri and compiled his family. I used census records from 1870 to 1900, Iowa Marriage records to his wife Julia Ann Richardson, Civil War Records, Military Disability Records, Missouri death certificate, and newspaper articles in Missouri newspapers. Here is what I came up with as his family.

Joel R Roe was born 19 December 1832 in Ohio to Johnathan Roe and Lucretia Van Valkenburg. I don't know how he ended up in Iowa or what family member took him in after the death of his mother, as he was only about four years old. He married his wife Julia Ann Richardson in Clayton, Iowa on the 15 Oct 1857. They had eight children Josiah born 1859, Eugenia Ellen born 1867, Rossen born 1869, Lawson born 1871, Joel P. born 1873, Sarah Angeline born 1874, Susan born 1877, and Julia born 1880. Yes once I discovered Josiah I was on pins and needles because I had a feeling he was a missing piece of my puzzle. He's the right age, born in Iowa, his name is just spelled differently. I kept digging and trying to find information on Josiah born in 1859, but the trail seemed to run cold. Just like I could not find anything on my Jothanan Jossiers "Jerry" Roe prior to his marriage in Missouri to Rachel Mason, I couldn't find anything on Josiah after his childhood. Could he be my great great grandfather? Here are the other interesting parallels; Josiah was born in Iowa, same as Jerry, then the family moved to Livingston, Missouri, the same location where Jerry married Rachel. Too many coincidences.

I kept researching the other children, hoping that one of them would lead me back around to Josiah or another connection to my Jerry, but one thing kept bugging me. What if whoever transcribed the record that gave me the name Jothanan Jossiers Roe had transcribed it incorrectly because the name was so unusual and I had never found the name like that again in any of the other records where I either found him as Jerry or J. J. Roe. I knew then I needed to find the original.

I went back to my records of Jerry Roe and went through them one by one to see which one gave me that name. It was Pier Roe's delayed birth certificate, which is suspicious in its self because of it far removed from the event. At the bottom of the record on anestry.com is source information. I learned that there was an FHL number 1673333. I wasn't sure if I would be able to access it online, but I looked up the roll on Familysearch.org anyway. I was in luck. I could access it, it just wasn't index. Oh, so much fun! I determined the volume that would likely contain his record based on his year of birth, Births 1897-1898 vol 6, now the fun part, all the counties. I went back to my research on Pier again to see if I had his place of birth. I had the city as Minnesota Lake. Well, that didn't give me the exact county but gave me two counties to look at. The most likely being Faribault, which according to Google contained the majority of the city. So I started there. Oh, that's sweet, at least the records are in alphabetical order. It wasn't long until I finally found the record. Followed by a deep sigh of disappointment. There in black and white typed, unmistakable letters, is his father's name as Jothanan Jossiers Roe. There was no mistake made. I don't know what possessed me to do it but I scrolled down just a bit more and that's when I screamed. Below the title "Certificate of Parent or Other Informant" is the signature of Jennie E Norton, Relationship - Aunt! Jennie Norton is the sister of Josiah Roe who as a child was known as Eugenia E Roe who then married Carl E Norton and often went by Jennie in many records. Jennie, you were the final pieces, and guess what is even more ironic, she lived her life and died just thirty minutes from where I live now, in Spokane, WA! Jennie, I will find the time to go visit your grave! I may never have solved this mystery if you had not signed Pier's delayed birth certificate.

I now know through DNA and through the paper trail that I descend from Jeremiah Roe who was possibly born in Ireland in 1750 and immigrated to Pennsylvania in the late 1800's. More than then years of research waiting on that chance discover that was not transcribed or records on the ancestry.com and could have only been discovered by seing the orignal. Lesson in this is never rely on transcribed records. They are a source of information, but always go to the orignal source to ensure you are getting the entire story, like who his Aunt is!




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