Time is flying by while I’m researching and writing about my paternal ancestors. This is my entry for Week 7 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.
52 Ancestors: #7 Rebecca Jane CLONCH 1888-1950
This week I’m doing the fourth and last of my paternal great-grandparents. Rebecca Jane CLONCH was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, midwife, avid gardener, and an inspiration to her husband Walter Farmer ROOP who wrote poetry about her after her death in 1950. She was Grandma Roop to her grandchildren and Aunt Becky to her nieces and nephews.
A Tribute to Rebecca
Walter Farmer ROOP loved his wife so much that he wrote at least five poems for her in 1950 following her death: “The Letters You Loved and Kept”, “That Darling Pal of Mine”, “Admiration”, “My Garden: Gethsemane”, and an unnamed poem which begins with “Dear heart, since you have gone to rest I only think of you”.
The first poem, seen below, tells of the letters, written by her husband, that she loved and kept. Walter placed the letters, tied with a blue ribbon, on her breast as she lay in her casket.
After reading the poem one can only imagine the wonderful things Walter wrote about in the letters Rebecca took with her to her grave.
Born January 6, 1888 as seen on her grave marker?
Rebecca Jane CLONCH was born Friday, the 6th of January 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia, to Alexander “Alex” CLONCH (1842-1910) and Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY (1861-1913). She was the fifth of nine children of this marriage and the ninth of thirteen children for Alex who had previous relationships. [to be discussed in 52 Ancestors #14]
Lack of records complicate matters
Unfortunately a birth record has not been found for Rebecca to prove the date and place of birth seen on her death record and marker. She has not been found in the 1900 and 1910 census. In the 1900 census, the only one to show month and year of birth, we should be seeing her with her parents and siblings. We know:
- where her siblings were born but not all can be confirmed with birth records
- that the family lived in Arbuckle, Mason County, West Virginia, when the father Alex applied for his Civil War Pension in April 1887
- Alex was in Arbuckle when he was enumerated on the 1890 Veteran Schedule
- the family was living in Bell Creek, Clay County, West Virginia, in 1893-1894, when two children were born
- Alex was living in Dixie, Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1898, when he filled out Civil War papers [I’ve contacted the researcher who obtained copies of the Civil War records and shared the information with Ralph Hayes, a Clonch researcher. She has offered to dig out her genealogy files and help me if she can. I will discuss this further in 52 Ancestors #14]
And the records found cause a problem
A closer look at Rebecca’s siblings has turned up another problem. Let’s take a look at her, her parents, and siblings:
- Alexander CLONCH married 19 August 1880 Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio, Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY [page 193; license #576 bottom of page]
- Sib 1: Timothy CLONCH (1881-1898) birth 20 December 1881 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [entry 7] and [right page, line 13]; Alex did not mention him in his Civil War papers therefore it has been assumed that he died bef. 1898
- Sib 2: Lorena Ellen CLONCH (1883-1961) birth 10 March 1883 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [right page, line 16]. Alex wrote 10 March 1882 on his Civil War papers
- Sib 3: Frances “Fanny” CLONCH (1885-1943) birth 30 April 1885 Mason County, West Virginia NO BIRTH RECORD FOUND. Alex wrote 30 April 1884 on his Civil War papers
- Sib 4: Bertha CLONCH (1887-1898) birth 9 December 1887 Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia [line 14] and [right page, line 19]; Alex did not mention her in his Civil War papers therefore it has been assumed that she died bef. 1898
- Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950) birth 6 January 1888 NO BIRTH RECORD FOUND; Alex wrote 6 January 1886 on his Civil War papers
- Sib 6: Sarah Ann “Sallie” CLONCH (1890-1979) Birth 20 June 1890 Mason County, West Virginia NO BIRTH RECORD FOUND; Alex wrote 20 June 1890 on his Civil War papers
- Sib 7: Harrison Sanders CLONCH (1893-1970) birth 11 February 1893 Beech Hill, Mason County, West Virginia [Clay Co. entry 25] [Delayed Cert. of Birth]; Alex wrote 11 Feb 189_ (illegible) on his Civil War papers
- Sib 8: [–?–] CLONCH (1894-1894) birth 6 October 1894 Clay County, West Virginia [entry 32]; died 13 Oct 1894 Clay County, West Virginia [entry 13]
- Sib 9: Ida Bell CLONCH (1896-1981) Birth 5 March 1896 Smithers Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia [line 63]; Alex wrote 5 March 1896 on his Civil War papers
[Alex’s Civil War papers: Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions, 15 Jan 1898, reply dated 4 Jun 1898. Alexander Clonch of Dixie, WV, provided information]
Can you see the problem I’m having? Rebecca was born a month after her sister Bertha if we believe her husband Walter F. ROOP who was the informant on her death record. That doesn’t work for me. Let’s look at her marriage record. Rebecca Jane CLONCH married 12 July 1903 in Fayette County, WV, Walter Farmer ROOP [line 5]. She was 16 years old, born in Fayette County (sic), which would mean that she was born in 1887 and not 1888 as seen on her death record. Her father wrote 16 January 1886 however he had her two older sisters Lorena and Frances each born a year earlier than they actually were. Could she have been born in 1887?
Early years of married life
Let’s get on with the story. Rebecca and Walter had their first child, Lacy Shelton Roop (1904-1937) on 7 Feb 1904 [line 37] in Pond Gap, Kanawha County, West Virginia. A little over a year later the second child Piercie Roop (1905-1905) joined the family for a short seven weeks. He is buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive, with the dates: 15 March 1905-5 May 1905. My grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP (1906-1997) was born 26 March 1906 when the family was living in Belva. We see the family moving around in the northwestern corner of Fayette County as two more sons are born: James Henry Roop (1908-1957) on 11 February 1908 in Marting and Walter Gordon Roop (1910-1984) on 9 March 1910 in Mount Olive. Birth records for James and Walter have not been found.
Rebecca and Walter’s family was growing when the 1910 census was enumerated on the 15th of April 1910. As mentioned before neither Rebecca and her young family nor her parents were enumerated. It would have been the last census that Alex CLONCH would be seen on as he died 9 June 1910 and was buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery, Mount Olive.
Rebecca gave birth to her second daughter Edith Estelle “Edie” Roop (1913-2003) on 9 June 1913 in Marting. Six months later her mother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY died on 16 December 1913 and was buried next to her husband Alex in the Clonch Family Cemetery.
A treasure that Rebecca’s daughter Edith shared with her family was this antique chiming mantel clock. Edith’s grandson Robert wrote, “The clock is one that my mother says she remembers seeing on the mantle when she ‘visited Grandma Roop.’ It still runs. My mom had it cleaned years ago but just doesn’t wind it up….the ‘tick-tock tick-tock’ she says it’s too loud. I told her after a day or two she wouldn’t even notice it. As I recall it does chime too. Scratched on the back, about an inch high, is ‘1914’. On top of the clock is the [winding] key and the pendulum weight.”
Rebecca has her last child at age 31 or was she 32?
World War I (1914-1918) came and went before Rebecca gave birth to her last child Alfred Lee Roop (1919-1981) on 22 August 1919 in Jodie were the family had finally settled. By 1920 the complete family was finally seen in a census: father, mother, and their six living children.
Rebecca becomes a mother-in-law and grandmother at 35 (or 36?)
Myrtle Hazel ROOP was the first of Rebecca’s children to marry on 20 January 1923 in Fayetteville, Fayette County, WV, to Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY (1899-1975). Rebecca, a midwife, was present at the births of all of Myrtle’s children, her grandchildren: Thelma 1923, Lois 1925, Leona 1927, Doyle 1931, and Fred 1935 in Jodie, as well as, Leland 1941 and Lloyd 1944 in Victor.
Edith Estelle “Edie” Roop, seen above with her parent, was the next of the Roop children to marry. She married James David Ramsey (1907-2001) on 23 December 1929 in Fayetteville.
By 1930 Rebecca’s older boys were working and only her youngest Alfred was still going to school.
Three of Rebecca’s sons married in the 1930′s: Walter Gordon married 18 July 1931 Ica Laurel CARR (1913-1993); Lacy Shelton ROOP married 28 March 1932 Lulu Irene HAYS (1915-1992); and Alfred Lee ROOP married 15 May 1937 Lorena Lea ELSWICK (1918-1992)
Rebecca’s oldest son Lacy Shelton ROOP was killed on 8 July 1937 in Sprague, Raleigh County. “He was crushed by a giant lump of slate 18 feet long which broke loose from the mine roof. He had finished his day’s work and was starting the gathering motor to take his load of coal to the tipple.”
On the 1940 census we see Rebecca and her husband on their own. From this census we learn that Rebecca had six years of education.
Rebecca Jane CLONCH died the evening of February 3rd, 1950 at her home in Belva. Her cause of death was arterial thrombosis due to arteriosclerosis and cardio-vascular and renal disease. Surviving were her husband W. F. Roop; two daughters, Mrs. Fred Dempsey of Victor and Mrs. Edith Ramsey of Russellville; three sons, James, Gordon and Alfred Roop, all of Jodie; three sisters, Mrs. Sallie Krise of Belva, Mrs. Ida Auxier of Marting and Mrs. Lorena Tomshack of Glen Easton; one brother, Harrison Clonch of Belva; one half brother Joe Clonch of Marting, twenty-five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Rev. Benton Simpson officiated at the service held on Sunday afternoon in Bell Cree Community Church. She was laid to rest in the Clonch Family Cemetery in Mount Olive.
Postscript: A couple of great-grandchildren and a grandson shared the following memories shortly after this post was published.
Becky, a great-granddaughter, wrote:
“I was indeed named after her but I don’t know a whole lot about her. My mother adored her; I think she first taught my mom how to crochet and do needlework, which my mother enjoyed all her life. She always related one story about her. She said that she took me to see Great Grandma Roop when I was about 6 weeks old. She was on her deathbed at that time. As Grandma Roop was holding me, she said to me “Just don’t let them call you Becky.” Which of course, I have always been called by family. That remark makes me wonder if she liked her nickname. I think she died as a result of a blood clot (in the leg I think) which resulted from a fall.”
Linda, a great-granddaughter, and wife of Larry, a grandson, wrote:
“Larry was very sickly when he was small, as his mother had had measles before he was born. He had to have an operation on his ear when he was 6 or 7 (he is not sure how old he was). He was told to eat a lot of iron rich foods as he was anemic. His Grandma saved all the cream from her milk for him, because he needed to gain weight. She pampered him by making him fishhooks out for straight pins and taking him to the little creek to fish! She saved her wooden thread spools and made him little wheeled cars to play with.
Larry remembers them talking about going to Summersville in a model T and having to stay the night and make the return trip the next day.
Granddaddy called his beloved wife ‘Jack’. He loved her deeply and she was the perfect companion. She kept chickens and sold the eggs to get household money. She sewed her clothing, and I know of at least one instance when she decided she wanted a cabinet for her kitchen and she gathered the materials and built it herself!
Larry remembers going to their home and a grand table set with dishes Grandma had prepared. She cooked a giant breakfast, a feast at lunch time and covered the leftovers with a tablecloth for the evening meal. Granddaddy would go to the table in the evening saying he was getting a ‘Jack bite’.
I am lucky enough to be in possession of one of her cookbooks, which contains handwritten recipes. She was a remarkable lady and one that I truly wish I could have known.”
© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey