The ROOP Couple Who Were Buried Before They Died

The Incorrect Grave Marker

In the case of Hamilton N. ROOP and Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY errors were made when the information was given for the marker placed on the grave. Who had this marker made and when was it placed on the grave? The children or well-meaning but more distant relatives?

The same incorrect years of death were found in Louise Roop Akers and Everette L. McGrew’s compilations on the Roop family.[1], [2] Did they get the dates and the name of the husband from the marker or was the marker made with the dates found in these compilations?

MRIN00478 Hamilton Null Roop and wife Mary Elizabeth Epperly grave marker
Find A Grave Contributor Roger Roop (#46830952), permission to use all FAG photos taken by contributor received 7 January 2015 per email.[3]
The certificates of death were found in the database “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014” and show these dates are correct:

  • Ham N. ROOP, as his name was recorded on the certificate, died on 8 December 1918 and not in 1919 as seen above.[4]
  • Mary L. ROOP, as her name was recorded on the certificate, died on 5 January 1929 and not in 1926 as seen above.[5]

The death certificates and the grave marker might be considered by some to not be for the same persons as the names and dates are conflicting. However documentation for the parents and children show this is the same couple.

Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY was seen in all census listings as Mary E. except in 1880 when she was enumerated as Elizabeth. Her 1872 marriage record has her full name. Her son Silas Shelburne ROOP was the informant on her death record and gave her middle initial as L.

The brother of my 3rd great-grandfather Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) was seen as Hamilton N. ROOP in early records:

  • 1860 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1870 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1872 Marriage: Hamilton N. ROOP and Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY (Marriage License/Certificate to Obtain a Marriage License/Minister’s Return of Marriage).
  • 1880 Census: Hamilton Roop (no middle inital)
  • 1890 Will of father James Roop: names son Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1900 Census: Hamilton Roop (no middle inital)
  • 1910 Census: Hamilton N. Roop
  • 1918 Death Record: Ham N. Roop (informant: son G. H. Roop)

Hamilton and his wife named a son George Hamilton ROOP. This son’s nickname was “Ham” and he signed his WWI draft card George Ham ROOP. George died in 1930. Could this be the source of the confusion concerning Hamilton’s name on his grave marker? I have found no records which show the father and son as Sr. and Jr. other than the family compilations.

Concerning the middle initial: Family tradition may be where Hamilton’s middle name being Null, a variation of the maiden name of his paternal grandmother Catherine Barbara NOLL, came from. Or is it possible an earlier family historian believed he/she knew what the middle initial stood for and made this assumption? I have found no record to prove Hamilton N. ROOP’s middle name was Null.

I changed all my records and writings to reflect Hamilton N. ROOP and made a notation concerning my doubts about the middle name being Null. How would you handle this type of conflict?

[1] Louise Roop Anderson Akers, comp., The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope  (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016).
[2] Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe  (revised August 2000).
[3] Find A Grave, database and images (, Find A Grave Memorial no. 17296789. Memorial page for George Hamilton Null Roop created by Roger Roop (#46830952) 4 Jan 2007, citing Surface Cemetery, Riner, Montgomery County, Virginia; the accompanying photograph by Roger Roop used with permission; ( : accessed 7 January 2016).
[4] “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and digital images,, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, Certificate of Death No. 40835, Registration District No. 601B. Ham N. Roop, male, white, age 63, born 10 Aug 1855, died 8 Dec 1918 in Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 9 Dec 1918, father James Roop, mother Mary Carl. ( : accessed 28 December 2015).
[5] “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” State file no. 2390, Registration area no. 600B , Registered no. 9. Mary L Roop, female, white, age 83, born abt 1846, died 5 Jan 1929 in Montgomery, Virginia, registration date 7 Jan 1929, father Allen Epperly, mother Susan Epperly, spouse Ham Roop. ( : accessed 4 January 2016).

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Hamilton N. ROOP
Parents: James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL
Spouse: Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY
Children: Giles H., George Hamilton, Silas Shelburne, John T., Mary Elizabeth “Ella”, Mattie E., and Charles Luther
Whereabouts: Floyd and Montgomery counties, Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grand uncle

  1. Hamilton N. ROOP
  2. brother of Gordon H. ROOP
  3. uncle of Gordon Washington ROOP
  4. grand-uncle of Walter Farmer ROOP
  5. great-grand uncle of Myrtle Hazel ROOP
  6. 2nd great-grand uncle of Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
  7. 3rd great-grand uncle of Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2016 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.

6 thoughts on “The ROOP Couple Who Were Buried Before They Died”

    1. The immigrant came in 1752 through Philadelphia and was settled in Maryland by 1759 when a child was baptized. Two children were born between this birth and the time they arrived however I do not know if they were born in PA or MD.


  1. It almost seems that someone misread the death certificates. It’s amazing that headstones can be wrong. My great-grandfather has two different ages for him at his death—one on his footstone, one on the headstone. GRRRR

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I asked my father about his uncles’ deaths, he had to guess the year, with WWII as a help – before, during or just after the war, and he was some years off, too, as I later found out. Sometimes with death records of old people the surname of the mother is wrong on the certificate, just because people remembered it wrong. So, it seems like the grave marker was placed later (when there was money to do it?) and they thought they remembered the dates correctly, but they didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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