52 Ancestors: #23 Emaline LESTER abt. 1836-1877

“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 entry #23 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#23 Emaline LESTER abt. 1836-1877

My great-great-great-grandmother Emaline LESTER was the firstborn child of Jacob LESTER (1812-1842) and Cynthia SUMNER (1815-1880) who married 4 September 1834 in Floyd County, Virginia.1 Following Emaline’s birth in about 1836 her brother George Washington LESTER was born in about 1837. Emaline and George, the only children of Jacob and Cynthia, were both born in Floyd County.

When Emaline was about 6 years her father Jacob died of unknown causes. There was a delay of two years in settling his estate during which time his widow Cynthia married John W. COX.2

In 1850, while her brother George was with his LESTER grandparents, Emaline was living with her step-father John W. COX, mother Cynthia, and half-sister Susan.3,4 On the 21st day of August 1850, the enumerator Joseph Howard, Ass’t Marshal, filled in North Carolina for the state of birth of John W. COX and then “do” (ditto) for the rest of the family. This is an error as Cynthia and her daughters were born in Virginia. The next household was that of Emaline’s grandfather Owen SUMNER. Everyone in his household was born in Virginia but they also had the “do” (ditto) indicating that they were born in North Carolina.

1850censuscoxlester
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > District 15> Page 431 > HH #758-758

George Washington LESTER, although younger than his sister Emaline was the first to marry on 23 March 1855 to Amanda “Manda” ROOP (1831-1894).5.6 A year later, on 10 March 1856, Emaline LESTER married Amanda’s brother Gordon H. ROOP.7 Both the couples were married in Floyd County, Virginia.

Emaline gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP (1857-1937) on 24 February 1857.8 A little over two years later she gave birth to a son John Thomas ROOP (1859-1902) on 6 March 1859.9 Emaline is seen with her husband Gordon and their two children in the 1860 census of Floyd County. She appears to have been better educated than her husband who was listed as not being able to read and write.10

1860censusroopgordon
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Page No. 101, Sheet No. 535 > HH #723-680 [Ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2014]
Following the 1860 census, times were harder for the little family. Emaline was expecting her third child when her 22-year-old husband Gordon enlisted in Jacksonville as a private on 10 September 1861 in Company A, 54th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, for one year.11

Emaline’s half-sister Susan had married earlier that year and was expecting her first child.12  Susan gave birth to a daughter on 7 November 1861.13 Baby Cynthia died of diphtheria when she was 17 days old.14 Her mother Susan died the next day of the same illness at the age of 16 years.15 One female relative less whom Emaline could rely on while her husband was gone.

While Gordon was fighting in Virginia and Kentucky, Emaline was going through her pregnancy and caring for her two young children, Dollie age 5 and John age 2. Without the help of her little sister, she may have relied on her sister-in-law Mary BLACKWELL, whose husband Floyd ROOP had also enlisted. Mary and Emaline’s families were living next door to each other in 1860. Her mother Cynthia also lived in Alum Ridge and likely helped out as did others who lived with her.16 Cynthia had in her household in 1870 her pregnant baby sister Jane age 23 and Jane’s one-year-old daughter Elizabeth as well as a 15-year-old girl Dolly Ann ELDRIDGE whose relationship is unknown.17

Emaline gave birth to my great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP on 6 May 1862.18,19,20 She now had three young children to care for while her husband was away serving in the Confederate Army.

On 1 November 1863 Emaline became a war widow at the age of 27 years. Her husband Gordon H. ROOP died in Flewellen Hospital in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.21 I have no idea how long it took for the news to reach her back in Floyd County, Virginia.

A little over five years after the death of her husband, Emaline ROOP, née LESTER, age 32, married Pleasant D. EPPERLY (1848-1920), age 21, on 8 February 1869 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were married by Owen Sumner.22

Being a young widow with little children, did she resign to live her life without a husband before she “robbed the cradle?” There were not many single men her age after the recent war. Nearly 620,000 men were killed in the Civil War, approximately the same amount of deaths as in all other American wars from the Revolutionary War to the Korean War combined. As the death rate was especially great in the Confederacy, the number of men of marriageable age may have been quite low in Floyd County.

A year later, Pleasant and Emaline were together with her ROOP children in the 1870 census in Alum Ridge in Floyd County.23 Once again Emaline appears to have been better educated than her husband Pleasant who could not read or write. Dollie, 13 at the time, could not read or write and John, 11, could not write. This makes me wonder if these children had to work to help support the family instead of attending school before their mother remarried. In later census years, Dollie and John are seen as being able to read and write.

1870epperleyroop1
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13
1870epperleyroop2
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13

In the 1870s Emaline’s children began to marry. Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP married her 2nd cousin once removed Giles SUMNER (1855-1920) on 7 November 1873.24 John Thomas ROOP married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858- ) on 16 November 1876.25 Both marriages took place in Floyd County.

This left only my great-great-grandfather, Gordon, at home with his mother and step-father. A year later he became an orphan at the age of 15 when Emaline died on 3 December 1877 in Floyd County of consumption.26

Emaline was survived by her husband Pleasant D. EPPERLY; her daughter Dollie SUMNER; her two sons, John T. ROOP and Gordon W. ROOP; her mother Cynthia COX; her brother George W. LESTER; a granddaughter Hattie SUMNER; a nephew James Russell “John” LESTER; and a niece Cordelia Ann LESTER.

Her widower Pleasant D. EPPERLY remarried nearly 11 months later on 29 October 1878 and fathered four children with his second wife.27,28

This Post Was Updated on 6 June 2022: Floyd County birth, marriage, and death registers were checked on Ancestry. These collections were not available online when this post was originally written. At that time the extensive work of Barbara Reininger on the families of Floyd County had been the main source used. 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. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” index and images, part of the Floyd County, Virginia, The USGenWeb Project online https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/floyd.htm, citing the images of Floyd Co., VA marriages downloaded by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia Microform and indexed by Barbara Reininger. FCVA1834_LesterSumnerBond. 1834 Jacob Lester and Sintha Sumner bond. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/1_Marriages%20of%20Floyd%20County.htm : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  2. Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (copyright 1996 Marguerite Tise, P.O. Box 343, Floyd, VA 24091-0343), pg. 20. 
  3. 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: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, District 15, Sheet 446B, household 958-958, lines 9-12, John Lester (accessed 30 October 2014). 
  4. Ibid, Roll: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, District 15, Sheet 431B, household 758-758, lines 4-7, John W. Cox (accessed 20 June 2013). 
  5. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” 1855 George W. Lester and Amanda Roop marriage. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1855/FCVA1855LesterRoopMar%20Light.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  6. Ibid., 1855 George W. Lester consent from his mother Synthy Cox. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1855/FCVA1855LesterCoxConsent.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  7. Ibid., 1856 Gordon Roop and Emeline Lester marriage. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1856/FCVA1856RoopLester.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  8. 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 Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983330, image 883, West Virginia Standard Certificate of Death 18364, Mrs. Dollie Sumner, 14 December 1937, citing Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia. Date of birth 24 February 1857. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983330/0000883.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). 
  9. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 598425, image 298, West Virginia, Raleigh County Register of Deaths, page 81, entry 56, Jno F Roop (sic), age 46 y 6 m 5 d, 11 Sep 1902, citing Beckley, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598425/00298.jpg : accessed 7 March 2022). Age at death: 46y 6m 5d, calculates to date of birth: 6 March 1856. This is off by 3 years. 
  10. 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_1345, Family History Library Film: 805345, Virginia, Floyd County, page 101, sheet 535 (handwritten), lines 33-36, household 723-680, Gordon Roop (accessed 26 February 2011). 
  11. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Infantry R Roop, Gorden Page 2. (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913746/roop-gorden-page-2-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed 12 February 2014). 
  12. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Floyd County Register of Marriages 1861, page 49, line 1, Marshal E F Moore and Susan L Cox (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  13. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/418338:62153), citing Virginia, Birth Registers, 1853–1911 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Floyd County Register of Births 1861, page 61, line 5, 7 November 1861, Cintha Moore, white, female, alive, father E F Moore, farmer, mother Susan Moran (sic), informant father (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  14. “Virginia, U.S., Death Registers, 1853-1911, ” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/250856:62152), citing original data: Virginia, Death Registers, 1853–1911 from the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Floyd County Register of Death 1861, page 20, line 24, Susan Moore, female, white, age 16, died 25 November 1861 Floyd County, Virginia, of diphtheria, consort of Elijah Moore, informant E. Moore, husband (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  15. Ibid., Floyd County Register of Death 1861, page 20, line 25, Cinthia Moore, white, female, age 21 days (sic, 17), died 24 Nov 1861 in Floyd County, Virginia, of diphtheria, parents: E & Susan Moore (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  16. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Roll: M653_1345, FHL Film: 805345, Virginia, Floyd County, page 48, sheet 482, household 345-324, lines 16-17, Cyntha Cox (accessed 4 November 2014). The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. 
  17. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, page 8, sheet 4B, household 55-53, lines 16-19, Cynthia Cox (accessed 18 October 2014). 
  18. Find A Grave, database and images, (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/209078601/gordon-w-roop : accessed 28 February 2022), memorial page for Gordon W. Roop (6 May 1862–31 Jan 1931), Find a Grave Memorial ID 209078601, citing Rich Creek Cemetery, Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA; maintained by Jennifer Nottingham (contributor 49369720). 
  19. Documentation to prove the date of birth is not accessible to me at this time. The FamilySearch collection, “Floyd County, Virginia Births, 1853-73” is only available at a family history library. May 1862 was seen on the 1900 census. 
  20. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241761, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Cabin Creek, enumeration district 41, sheet 2B, lines 87-93, household 33-33, Gordon W. Roop (accessed 2 February 2022). 
  21. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Regiment Virginia Infantry, Gordon Roop, 1 Nov 1863 in Flewellen Hospital, Cassville, Georgia. (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913782/roop-gorden-page-4-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed February 2014). Note: His name appears on a Register of Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Confederate States who were killed in battle, or who died of wounds or disease. 
  22. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Marriage Register 1869, page 88, line 12, 8 February 1869, P. D. Epperly and Emaline Roop (accessed 5 June 2022). 
  23. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, sheet 1B, page 2, lines 39-40, household 13-13, Pleasant Epperly (accessed 18 October 2014). 
  24. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Register of Marriages 1873, page 92, line 86, 7 November 1873, Giles Sumner and Dolly E. Roop (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Floyd County Register of Marriages 1876, page 119, line 84, 11 November 1876, John T. Roop and Ardelia E. Waitman (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  26. “Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Records, 1853-1912”, database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia), Film 2056980, DGS 4225427 > Floyd County, 1853-1896> image 153 of 673 > Register of Deaths 1877, line 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DRMQ-65R?cc=3940896 : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  27. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Register of Marriages 1878, page 113, line 86, Pleasant Epperly and Rowena Jane Basham (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  28. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Roll T623_1718, FHL microfilm: 1241718, Virginia, Montgomery County, Christiansburg, enumeration district 69, sheet 11B, lines 64-69, household 203-204, Pleasant D. Epperley (accessed 4 June 2022). 

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.

4 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #23 Emaline LESTER abt. 1836-1877”

  1. My, times were hard and the women had to be harder, at times.
    Wouldn’t it be something to be able to talk to some of them in person and hear the stories first hand? A diary would make for some good reading too.

    Like

    1. Thank you. Do you mean Pleasant Epperley? I’ve followed him in the census to 1920. His second wife Rowena Jane Basham must have died between 1900-1909 as he is seen with Elizabeth and married 1 yr. in 1910. What else are you interested in?

      Like

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