52 Ancestors: #13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is my 13th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891

Do you remember when you were young and one of your parents wanted to scold you and ran through the names of all your siblings before they got to yours? Image what it was like for Milla’s father, “Cynthia, Henry, Zachariah, Stephen, Mary, Jonathan, James, Jane, Martha, William, Peninah, Sallie, Joseph, Moses, Kesiah, Mandy, Callie, Elizabeth, Nannie, Milla!!!

Her siblings:
Child 1: Cynthia Peters (1819-?) born 18 October 1819 Franklin
Child 2: Henry T. Peters (1821-1890) born 17 March 1821 Franklin
Child 3: Zachariah Peters (1822-1899) born 14 May 1822 Franklin
Child 4: Stephen Peters (1824-1869) born 13 March 1824 Franklin
Child 5: Mary Peters (1825-1856) born 6 August 1825 Franklin
Child 6: Jonathan Peters (1827-1910) born 23 April 1827 Franklin
Child 7: James Peters (1829-1880) born 25 January 1829 Franklin
Child 8: Jane Peters (1831-1867) born 23 June 1831 Franklin
Child 9: Martha Ann Peters (1832-1902) born 19 January 1832 Franklin
Child 10: William Edward Peters (1834-1863) born 2 October 1834 Franklin
Child 11: Peninah Peters (1839-1859) born 14 November 1839 Franklin
Child 12: ___ Peters (1841-1841) born 1 July 1841, died 1 July 1841 Franklin
Child 13: Sarah “Sallie” Peters (1842-1899) born 2 November 1842 Franklin
Child 14: Joseph W. Peters (1844-1862) born 12 May 1844 Franklin
Child 15: Moses Samuel Peters (1846-1915) born 25 January 1846 Franklin
Child 16: Keziah Lucy Peters (1847-1934) born abt 1847 Floyd
Child 17: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” Peters (1850-1895) born 2 October 1850 Floyd
Child 18: Caroline “Callie” Peters (1853-1930) born 13 June 1853 Floyd
Child 19: Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS (1856-1891) born 6 December 1856 Raleigh
Child 20: Elizabeth F. “Emma” Peters (1860-1944) born 22 March 1860 Floyd
Child 21: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” Peters (1864-1942) born July 1864 Franklin

The 19th Child of Twenty-one

Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS was born 6 December 1856 in Raleigh County, (West) Virginia to Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) and Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899).1 She was the 19th child of her 60-year-old father Jordan2 and the 7th child of her thirty-something 39-year-old mother Rachel.

Millie has been incorrectly seen as Willa or Willie in online GEDCOM files. Her 1856 birth record clearly shows Milla S. On the 1870 census I compared names beginning with M and W on the same page and her name was written as Millie Susan. B. P. Elliott, the enumerator of the 1870 census, was also the clerk who filled out the 1880 Marriage License for Milla. The handwriting is the same and it is an M and not a W. Millie is seen on the 1880 census. Her son George’s death certificate has her name listed as Millie Peters. Son Walter’s 1971 death certificate has Mary Peters listed, an obvious error. The persons who gave the information on her younger sons Charles and James’ death certificates did not know the name of the mother. I rest my case.

Family on the Move

Milla’s parents seem to have been constantly on the move. They were married in Franklin County, Virginia, in 18413 and by 18504 were living in Raleigh County, formed on 23 January 1850 from portions of Fayette County, then a part of Virginia, now West Virginia. Their daughters Mandy and Callie were born in Floyd County in October 18505 and June 18536 per their marriage records. Jordan was in Raleigh County in June 1855 when he testified to claim the bounty land due him for his service in the War of 1812.7 In September 1856 he was in Floyd County when he received a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres.8 By December 1856 he was back in Raleigh when his wife Rachel gave birth to Milla. After her birth, they moved again and were in Franklin County in 1860.9

1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin > Long Branch > Page 35 HH #234-231

Milla Lives Through a House Fire

In February of 1865, a major event took place in the life of 8-year-old Milla Susan PETERS. According to statements made by her parents, their house “got burnt up” in Floyd County and all of her father’s papers, including the family bible, were lost.10

1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Jacksonville > Page 29 Sheet 57A HH#213-201

Was the place of residence in 1860, 1865, and 1870 the same? A portion of Franklin County was added to Floyd County in 1870. I wonder if the changes in the county line between Floyd and Franklin may make it appear that the family was moving around when they were actually in the same place.

Milla Marries a Younger Man

Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia, at her father Jordan Peters’ residence.11 The bride and groom, or whoever gave the information, were not honest about their ages. Milla’s age was given as 20 but she had turned 23 the month before and Gordon’s age was given as 21 although he was 17 and would not turn 18 until four months later.

Photocopy of Marriage License obtained by Louise Roop Anderson Akers on 24 Feb 2001 from the records of the Circuit Court, County of Floyd, Virginia. Louise sent the original certified copy to me in April 2001.

Milla and Gordon were first seen together in the 1880 census. They lived on Alum Ridge in Floyd County near the Montgomery County line.12

1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59

 Milla and her husband Gordon didn’t wait long to start their family. She gave birth to five children, four sons and a daughter, in ten years:

Ch 1: George Washington ROOP (1880-1950) born 19 September 1880in Floyd County, Virginia.13
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.14
Ch 3: Charles Turner ROOP (1885-1966) born 15 June 1885 in Montgomery County, Virginia. The father’s residence at the time was Raleigh County, West Virginia, and the birth was recorded there.15
Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.16
Ch 5: _____ ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.17

After the birth of her only daughter in 1890, Milla’s father Jordan N. PETERS died on 14 October 1890 in Nettle Ridge, Patrick County, Virginia.18 His wife, Milla’s mother, Rachel PROFFITT died there on 5 March 1899.19

Second House Fire is Fatal

Milla Susan ROOP, née PETERS, died at the age of 34 with her only daughter, an unnamed baby, in a house fire in 1891.20 Family tradition is vague and does not tell us enough of the story. I cannot imagine the horror of living through one house fire and then perishing in another twenty-six years later. How was the fire started? Was it during the day or at night? Who else was in the house? When the fire broke out, where were Milla’s sons, aged between 10 and 3 years, and her husband? If it happened during the day, had the boys been playing outside? Did she save her sons from a fiery death? Was she overcome by smoke and flames? Was she suffocated or burned to death?

Milla’s grief-stricken husband Gordon Washington ROOP placed his sons George, Walter, Charles, and James with two Snuffer families until he was able to care for them.

This Post Was Updated on 27 March 2022: Missing source citations were added and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 71, Raleigh County Register of Births, page 10, line 44, 6 Dec 1856, Milla S. Peters, citing Hughes Creek, Raleigh County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00071.jpg : accessed 23 June 2014). 
  2. Jordan N. PETERS married first Mary “Polly” TROUP on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County. They had 10 children. Polly died on 5 January 1837 in Franklin County. Jordan married second Sarah COX (?-1841) on 15 August 1837 in Franklin County. Sarah died on 8 July 1841 in Franklin County a week after giving birth to her second child. Jordan married third Rachel PROFFITT on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. They had 9 children. 
  3. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), roll: RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 972, Virginia, Raleigh County, District 59, Page: 10B, lines 29-37, household 135-135, Jordan Peters (accessed 17 May 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 31345, Reference ID: P42 E26. William Beverly, male, single, age 28, born 1845 in Amherst Co., VA, father Mat., mother Elizabeth, married 20 Feb 1873 in Montgomery, Virginia, spouse Amanda Peters, female, single, age 21, born 1852 in Floyd Co., VA, father Jordon, mother Rachael (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2016). 
  6. Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner of “Families of Floyd County, Virginia”, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/BarbR_FCVAResearch/zz_marriages.htm), transcribed from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” film 31345 items 1-3, DGS 7578964, microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse, FCVA1877_0085 Register: 3. Page: 54. “Edward Clark m. Callie Peters 11-03-1877 at the bride’s residence, Floyd Co., VA by John K. Harris. He 22 yo single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Baxter & Margaret Clark. She 22 yo single w/f, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jordan & Rachel Peters.” 
  7. War of 1812 Pension File of Jordan N. Peters, image 30 of 208. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  8. Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story” revised version dated 2/2/2012, © 2012. 
  9. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1346; Family History Library Film: 805346, Virginia, Franklin County, South Western District, page 35, lines 17-25, household 234-231, Jordan N. Peters (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  10. In 1977 Paula Kelley Ward obtained Jordan’s complete War of 1812 file from the National Archives and Records Administration. From the information gleaned from the file, she wrote “Jordan’s Story” included on pgs. 24-29 of Whenever We Wander, compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce. 
  11. Barbara Reininger, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, FCVA1879_0137, register 3, page 61, “Gordon Washington Roop m. Milla Susan Peters 01-01-1880 at Jordon Peters’, Floyd Co., VA by William L. Simmons. He 21 yo single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Gordon & Emeline Roop. She 20 yo single w/f, b. Raleigh Co., VA & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jordon N. & Rachel Peters.” 
  12. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1365, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, enumeration district 25, sheet 264B, line 44-45, household 59-59, Gordon Roop (accessed 1 February 2022). 
  13. “Birth records (Virginia), 1853-1896; indexes, 1853-1899; delayed birth indexes, 1912-1950,” (index and images), FamilySearch, Virginia. Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2046936, DGS 4284999, image 540 of 641, Virginia, Floyd County, Register of Births, 1880, line 120, George W. Rupe, 19 Sep 1880. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YR-DCZS?i=539 : accessed 31 January 2022). 
  14. Ibid., Film 2046951, DGS 4254461, Montgomery County births, 1853-1896, Montgomery County Register of Births 1883, page 177 (stamped), image 364 of 595, line 152, 16 April 1883, Walter F. Roop, Montgomery County, Gordon W. Roop, farmer, Milly S. Roop. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5WT9-9?mode=g&i=363 : accessed 26 January 2022). 
  15. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 232, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1885, line 239, 15 June 1885, Charles T. Roop, citing Montgomery County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00232.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  16. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 249, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1887, line 230, 30 May 1887, James Roop, citing Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00249.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  17. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 408, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Register of Births 1890, line 46, June 1890, unnamed female Roop, citing Cabin Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00408.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  18. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow, (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  19. Ibid. 
  20. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (revised copy dated August 2000), page 104, family Rflec, Gordon Washington Roop, a family tradition shared by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994). “Milla and the young daughter died in a house fire in 1891.”
    Concerning this source: Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) on a family book in the early 1990s. In the summer of 1994 she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002. 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891”

  1. Good grief, I had a long comment written and couldn’t post it from my ipad. Now I’m on my computer. There are so many questions about Milla’s death. I am also curious about answers to these questions. That poor woman. And the baby, too. What a tragedy. What I am imagining is that the husband was busy pulling the boys out of the house, but couldn’t get to wife and baby in time.
    Now that 23-17 difference is a little creepy by today’s standards, but in those times? I guess it was a good mix for baby-making hah. Which, now that I mention it, what was with her father? He certainly had no troubles in that area. His poor wives. Whenever I think I miss the “old days,” I have to remember all these horrors.


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