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

52ancestors“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.

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

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

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. 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 Virgina but they also had the “do” (ditto) indicating that they were born in North Carolina.

1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > District 15> Page 431 > HH #758-758 [Ancestry.com : accessed 3 Jun 2014]
George Washington LESTER, although younger than his sister Emaline was the first to marry on 23 March 1855 to Amanda “Manda” ROOP (1831-1894). A year later, on 10 March 1856, Emaline LESTER married Amanda’s brother Gordon H. ROOP. Both of 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. A little over two years later she gave birth to a son John Thomas ROOP (1859-1902) on 6 March 1859. 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.

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 a period of one year.

Emaline’s half-sister Susan had married earlier that year and was expecting her first child.  Susan gave birth to a daughter on 7 November 1861. Baby Cynthia died of diphtheria when she was 17 days old. Her mother Susan died the next day of the same illness at the age of 16 years. One female relative less whom Emaline could rely on while he 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) ROOP, whose husband Floyd 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 most likely gave her support her as she did others. 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.

Emaline gave birth to my great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP on 6 May 1862. 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 Flewellan Hospital in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia. 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 Michael Howry.

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 left 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. 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.

1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1646unit#page/n5/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1646unit#page/n6/mode/1up : accessed 19 March 2014

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. John Thomas ROOP married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858- ) on 16 November 1876. 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.

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.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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.


    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?


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