Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Amy, Addison, Henry and his Enslaved Family

Samuel Pack (1779-1850) wrote his Last Will and Testament on 1 January 1850 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia. Three weeks later, on 23 January 1850, Raleigh County was formed. The will was the first item recorded in the Will Book for Raleigh County.

RELEASING Amy, Addison, and Henry

Saml Pack’s Will (in margin)

In the name of God Amen I Samuel Pack of the County of
Fayette & state of Virginia, calling to mind that is alotted (sic) once for
man to die do make and constitute this my last Will an (sic) testment (sic)
revoking all Wills or writings heretofore made by me in the manner
an (sic) form following (to wit)
first After my decease I desire my body may be buried in neat and
Christian like manner, that all my funeral expenses an (sic) just debts be paid
2 I give an (sic) bequeath unto my Deer (sic) Beloved wife Sally Pack absolutely
the whole of my estate both Real an (sic) personal and (sic) at disposal at her death
3rd The heirs of William Pack each one I give an (sic) bequeath One dollar
to Each one to be paid by my Executor
4th To my son Andrew Pack I give an (sic) bequeath One Dollar
5/ To my son Augustus Pack I give an (sic) bequeath One dollar
6/ To my daughter Rachel Honaker I give an (sic) bequeath One dollar
7/ With this special Reservation that my three Negroes Amy, Addison,
& Henry at the death of my wife Sally Pack shall have the
Liberty of chewsing (sic) ther (sic) own Master out of all my schildren (sic) or
grand schildren (sic) an (sic) if that dont suit they shall be at Liberty to
take some other master by him paying the valuation of said Negro
or Negroes over to said heirs.
I have omitted certain of my children with this my last will
testament which is in consequence of the Land conveyed to William
Pack at the mouth Greenbrier River. Land to Andrew Pack on Cole
River, Land to Augustus Pack on Cole River
I do hereby appoint James M. Byrnsides as my executor
at this my last Will & testament
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand
and affixed my seal this 1 day January 1850
test                                             mark
Anderson Pack               Samuel   X   Pack      Seal
Washington H. Boyd                    his                
Jackson Vest

At a Court held for the County of Raleigh on Monday the
28th day of October 1850.
                                         The last Will and Testament of Samuel
Pack deceased was proved according to law by the Oaths of Anderson
Pack, and Jackson Vest, Witnesses thereto, and is ordered to be
                                          A Copy
                                                         Daniel Shumate clk

True's statement

When doing genealogy research you realize how small the world really is. Samuel’s widow Sarah (Wyatt) Pack was living only a few households away from my 3rd great-grandparents Jordan N. Peters and Rachel Proffitt in 1850. Samuel and Sarah’s daughter Rachel Byrnside Pack was married to Henry Honaker (my 2C4R), grandson of my 4th great-grandfather Frederick Honaker‘s brother Henry. This led me to do a bit more research than usual on the slaves Amy, Addison, and Henry mentioned in Samuel Pack’s will.

After the Last Will and Testament

Samuel Pack died in July 1850 per the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index. I found only one GEDCOM on RootsWeb with this date of death. All others have the day his will was proved in court as his date of death – 28 October 1850. On Ancestry there are over 550 trees and a little over 1/5 have the correct date of death. He was not on the 1850 census – a red flag that something must be wrong!

In 1850 his widow Sarah (Wyatt) Pack was living in Raleigh County and was enumerated on Schedule 2 for Slave Inhabitants with a 50 years old black female, a 29 years old black male, and a 25 years old black male. The schedule was dated 5 July 1850 and the three slaves mentioned are likely Amy, Addison, and Henry. As Samuel was not on the schedule his death must have been before July 5. Further, as the official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850 it is more likely he died before July or even June. Why else would Sarah be alone as of 1 June 1850 on the census?

By 1860 Sarah had moved in with her daughter Rachel and son-in-law Henry Honaker in Newbern, Pulaski County, Virginia. Once again she was enumerated on the Slave Schedule. This time with a 38 years old black male and a 35 years old mulatto male. From this I assume Amy may have died between 1850-1860. I believe the two males were Addison and Henry.

By the end of the year 1860 Sarah Pack was deceased. I have not found a record to confirm the 13 December 1860 date of death found on Find A Grave. Per her husband’s will at her death his Negroes should have the liberty to choose their own master out of his children or grandchildren or “take some other master.” I don’t know if they chose to remain with Rachel and Henry Honaker with whom they, as well as Sarah, were living. However I am sure Henry remained in Pulaski County. But what of Addison?


At this point I would like to note that I did not find any trace of Addison. “A cohabitation register, or as it is properly titled, Register of Colored Persons…cohabiting together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866, was the legal vehicle by which former slaves legitimized both their marriages and their children.” ~ Library of Virginia.  Pulaski County is not included on the site and may be one of the counties for which this register does not exist. I checked the surrounding counties and none had a Pack or Addison on their register. Without Addison‘s surname it is nearly impossible to locate him in the census or other records or even to guess if he was related to Amy and Henry.


I found Henry in the 1870 census as Henry Pack with wife Margaret Ann, five children, and an older woman named Jane Hall. All were listed as mulattoes except Jane Hall who was black. Henry was a carpenter and owned 60 acres of land. By 1880 his family had grown to nine children. His place of birth as well as his parents’ were listed as West Virginia which supported my assumption that this was the same Henry as seen in Samuel Pack’s will. The 1880 census included the relationships missing on the 1870 census and prove Jane Hall (b.  1800-1802) was the mother of Henry’s wife Margaret Ann Hall.

I began following the children of Henry Pack using the nine names found in the census and their mother’s maiden name. A tenth child was born after 1880. Several death records found had years of birth which did not match the census and suggested that Henry fathered more than one child in the 1880s. I found a couple of trees on Ancestry which have confused him with another Henry Pack who lived in Wythe County and died in 1925. Because of the conflicting information I decided to input all information into a family tree on Ancestry and attach the records found. This is something I have never done. I always work directly from my genealogy software, downloading the records and attaching them to the correct individuals in my GEDCOM file. But I was not sure I was following the correct persons and decided to try a different approach, i.e. a family tree on Ancestry.

Amy Was Henry’s Mother

It was while attaching all the records that I found the indexed death record of Henry Pack.

1881HenryPackDeathThere is no image for this record however the indexed information matches on several points.

  • The age at death and estimated year of birth match with the ages seen for the younger male slave of Sarah Pack in 1850 and 1860.
  • Although Raleigh County did not exist in 1825 it is where Henry lived in 1850 and likely where he was born. Pre-1850 census records of Samuel Pack were found and with changing county lines taken into consideration he lived at the same place in 1825.
  • Henry’s occupation matches the occupation seen on the 1870 and 1880 census.
  • Although seen as mulatto on the 1860 slave schedule, 1870 and 1880 census the death index has black.
  • His wife is a match with Margaret Ann Pack, her married name.
  • But the most important entries are the names of father and mother and confirm that Amy was Henry’s mother. Mr. Pack who is listed as his father very likely was not a black man as Amy was black and Henry was mulatto.

Henry’s Children, Enslaved and Free

As I researched Henry’s children I was so fixed on the three slave names in the last will and testament of Samuel Pack that I did not consider that some of Henry’s children were born into slavery. Two were born before the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863 and another was born before the abolition of slavery in Virginia in 1865: Louis, Mary Belle, and Henry Ollie.

A daughter was born two months after Henry’s death bringing the total children of Henry Pack and Margaret Ann Hall to ten:

  1. Louis PACK b. 20 January 1860 d. 8 December 1942
  2. Mary Belle PACK b. 18 March 1862 d. 4 April 1913
  3. Henry Ollie PACK b. 14 November 1864 d. 10 January 1943
  4. James Warren PACK b. 17 January 1867 d. 27 March 1940
  5. Lucy Ann PACK b. abt. 1869 d. 4 September 1881
  6. Joseph William PACK b. 27 January 1872 d. 25 Feb 1941
  7. Thomas Philip PACK b. 28 Oct 1874 d. 29 Dec 1950
  8. Walter A. PACK b. Feb 1877 d. 27 Feb 1944
  9. Creasy Jane PACK b. abt 1879 d. bet. 1917-1920
  10. Henrietta PACK b. Dec 1881 d. 3 May 1955

A death record was not found for Margaret Ann Hall. The unmarried children are missing from the 1900 census. Was their mother still living? Had she remarried? Could they be enumerated with a different surname? The family does not appear to have stayed in Pulaski County as marriages were found in Montgomery County for nearly all the children beginning in 1886. Most spent their entire lives in Auburn, Montgomery County.

The connection to Montgomery County may go back to Margaret Ann Hall’s side of the family. There were no Hall slave owners in Pulaski County in 1850 and 1860 but several in Montgomery County including Asa Hall Jr., son of Asa Hall Sr. a Revolutionary War soldier.

After inputting all information found I had 143 persons in the family tree for Amy, Addison, and Henry. I temporarily attached Addison as the son of Amy and brother of Henry. This can easily be undone if and when more information is found on Addison to prove or disproves his relationship to Amy. The tree includes ten children of Henry Pack, 32 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and counting. I did not do an exhaustive search for the second and later generations of Henry Pack’s descendants.

This exercise of using Ancestry to build a family tree was a first for me. I plan to keep the tree private as I am not a fan of the ability to click and add information from other public trees. I will reach out to those who have Henry’s children in their public trees and will give them access if they are interested. If you are related to this family, please feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.

Many thanks to my blog sister True Lewis of NoTeS To MySeLf for her feedback on my draft.

. . . . . .
The Slave Name Roll Project page can be found on
Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees
.... ..

Following my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors. These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project.


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.








































52 Ancestors: #43(1) Elizabeth CARROLL abt. 1808-bet. 1880-1890

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 #43(1) in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

I might be breaking a rule by doing this ancestor in two parts in one week. My posts for this challenge are not spontaneous. I have this planned out to the end of the year. For me, an ancestor’s childhood and parents are part of her life. In the case of this ancestor it became so complicated that I’ve broken this up into two parts.

52 Ancestors: #43(1) Elizabeth CARROLL abt. 1808-bet. 1880-1890

I thought this would be an easy write-up until I started taking a closer look at what I have on the CARROLL family of Montgomery County, Virginia.

According to family tradition three of Henry RUPE’s sons married CARROLL sisters. My fourth great-grandparents James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL married on 23 July 1830. In the abstract of the marriage[1] his last name was spelled RUPE and her maiden name was indexed as EARL. As mentioned last week RUPE and ROOP were used  interchangeably. The names of the bride’s and groom’s parents were not included in the transcript. To-do list: request copy of marriage record because….I believe that EARL is an indexing error and her maiden name was most likely spelled CARL as it was for her sister Mary the following year:

“I do hereby certify that I celebrated the rites of matrimony between Joseph Roop & Mary Carl of Montgomery Cty on the 13th day of September 1831 by virtue of a publication given under my hand this 26th day of June 1832. Richd Buckingham”[2]

On 4 November 1846 William ROOP gave bond with Robert CARRELL as security for the marriage of William to Robert’s daughter Catherine CARRELL.[3] In 1850 Anne CARLE age 62 was in the household of William and Catherine ROOP. The relationship is not listed however Anne would appear to be Catherine’s mother.

I had planned on including all information on the CARROLL family to show how everything I’ve found fits together. I wrote up 1500 words and then decided that it was too complicated to include here. So we are back to family tradition: the parents of the girls who married the ROOP boys were Robert and Anne CARROLL. These names are also seen on the abstract of their brother John CARROLL’s death in 1881.[4]

My 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth CARROLL was born about 1808. Most likely this was at the same place as her sister Mary who was born on the 1st day of January in 1809 “within a few miles of Riner” in Montgomery County, Virginia. Mary lived to be 100 years old and her memory was the wonder of the community.[5],[6]

After Elizabeth and James ROOP married in 1830 they started a family that grew until they had their 12th child in 1854. A dozen children in two dozen years! By this time they were living in their new home in Floyd County. The children were:

  • Ch 1: Amanda “Manda” ROOP (1831-1894) was born in September 1831 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married George Washington LESTER (1837-aft 1900) on 23 March 1855 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of four children, one who died at the young age of 4 years. It has been speculated that this was a troubled marriage and they may have divorced as George was married again in 1890. Manda  died of dropsy on 10 February 1894 in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The person giving the information was her sister Barbie THOMPSON who gave Manda’s marital status as “married.” George was seen as widowed on the 1890 marriage, so it could be that he left Manda without divorcing her.
  • Ch 2: Floyd ROOP (1833-1923) was born on 12 May 1833 in Montgomery County, Virginia. Floyd married(1) Mary L. BLACKWELL (1832-bef. 1900) on 5 April 1855 in Floyd County. Mary gave Floyd six children before she died. He married(2) Lucinda [–?–] ROOP (1855-bef. 1920) about 1901. This marriage was without issue. Floyd died on 3 February 1923 in Auburn, Montgomery County, and was buried in White Oak Grove Cemetery, near the home that he grew up in, in Floyd County.
  • Ch 3: Evaline ROOP (1835-aft.1890) was born on 3 March 1835 in Montgomery County, Virginia. Evaline married Mathias RATLIFF (1836-1888) on 4 March 1856 in Floyd County. They were the parents of ten children. Evaline died after the 1890 and before the 1900 census.
  • Ch 4: Peradine ROOP (1835-1909) was born 30 November 1835 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married Sylvester MILLS (1832-1909) on 30 August 1855 in Floyd County. They were the parents of eight children. Peradine died two months after her husband in March 1909 in West Virginia and was buried in Simmons Cemetery, Mountview, Raleigh County, West Virginia.
  • Ch 5: Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) was born about 1838 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He married Emaline LESTER (1836-1877) on 10 March 1856 in Floyd County. They were the parents of three children. Gordon died on the 1st of November 1863 in Flewellan Hospital, Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia, and was buried in Cassville Cemetery.
  • Ch 6: Barbary Ellen “Barbie” ROOP (1839-aft.1910) was born 28 June 1839 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married(1) Nathaniel THOMPSON (1840-1896) on 12 September 1888 in Raleigh County, West Virginia. She married(2) Henderson BECKELHEIMER (1840-1905) on 20 December 1898 at her residence in Raleigh County. She married(3) Charles COCHRAN (1825-1910) on 21 August 1906 in Summers County, West Virginia. Barbary died after April 1910. She never had children.
  • Ch 7: Giles Henderson ROOP (1841-1863) was born 2 February 1841 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He died on 19 September 1863 in Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia.
  • Ch 8: William H. T. ROOP (1843-1863) was born 6 November 1843 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He died 20 September 1863 in Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia.
  • Ch 9: Rachel Monacha ROOP (1845-1901) was born about 1845 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married William Lee SIMMONS (1843-1923) in 8 March 1866 in Floyd County. They were the parents of twelve children. Rachel died on 16 December 1901 and is most likely buried alongside her husband in the Simmons Cemetery at Mountview in Raleigh County, West Virginia.
  • Ch 10: James Anderson ROOP (1849-aft.1920) was born in September 1849 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married(1) Elizabeth Jane BURK (1848-1919) on 26 November 1868 in Montgomery County. They were the parents of six children. James married(2) Almeda Jane HOLLANDSWORTH (1876-1951) on 5 July 1919 in Fayette County, West Virginia. This was only a few months after the death of his first wife. There are no known children from this second marriage. James died between 1920-1930.
  • Ch 11: Hamilton N. ROOP (1853-1919) was born in December 1853 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married Mary Elizabeth EPPERLY (1852-1926) on 15 August 1872 at the residence of Owen SUMNER in Floyd County. They were the parents of seven children. Hamilton died in 1919 and was buried in Surface Cemetery in Riner, Montgomery County.
  • Ch 12: Charles Monroe ROOP (1854-1928) was born on 10 August 1854 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married Sarah Martha EPPERLY (1853-1933) on 17 March 1873 in Floyd County. They were the parents of four children, one dying at age 2. Charles died on 22 December 1928 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Roanoke, Virginia.

Four of Elizabeth’s sons and two of her sons-in-law served in Company A, 54th Infantry Regiment Virginia: Floyd ROOP, Gordon H. ROOP, Giles Henderson ROOP, William H. T. ROOP, George Washington LESTER, and Sylvester MILLS. Her son-in-law Mathias RATLIFF served in Company E of the same regiment. Seven men in the family served and three did not come home: my third great-grandfather Gordon and his brothers Giles and William died in Georgia in 1863 while serving. Gordon was fighting his last battle at Chickamauga when his brothers Giles and William died within 24 hours of each other during the battle on the 19th and 20th of September 1863. On 1 November 1863, Gordon died in Flewellan Hospital, in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia. His cause of death was not mentioned on his Civil War card.

The deaths of these sons meant many grandchildren and descendants were not to be. I was lucky in that my 2nd great-grandfather Gordon was born “just in the nick of time.”[7]

Elizabeth CARROLL died before her husband James ROOP, who died on 2 November 1890 in Floyd County, Virginia. She was last seen in the 1880 census. It’s possible that she died shortly before her husband made his will on 31 January 1890. It seems plausible that his wife’s death might have prompted James to write his will and take care of unfinished business.

Assuming that she died about 1889-1890, Elizabeth was survived by her children Manda, Floyd, Evaline, Peradine, Barbie, Rachel, James, Hamilton, and Charles.
She left 55 grandchildren: John, George and Cordelia LESTER; Amos, Manda, James, Mary Ellen, Sarah, and Jennie ROOP; Virginia, Cephas, Giles, Sarah, Charles, William, Landon, Mary, and Matthew RATLIFF; Mary, James, Rhoda, Giles, Julina, Susan, Laura, and Amos MILLS; Dollie, John and Gordon ROOP; Charlton, Angeline, Samuel, Amon, Laura, Dillard, Cora, John, Woodson, Tempey, and Frank SIMMONS; Lucy, Bill, James, Cephas, Maggie, and John ROOP; Giles, Ham, Silas, John, Ella, Mattie and Charles ROOP; Charles and William ROOP. One last grandchild Bertha ROOP would be born in 1898, the youngest child of her youngest child.
She left 40 great-grandchildren: Laura, Susan, John and Juber LESTER; Louvina, Minnie, Roxie Ann, James, and Amelia HUTCHINSON; Flora ROOP; Lucy ROOP, Arthur and Frank BISHOP; Lillie and Edgar ROOP; Mary, Lucy, Alice, Frank, James and Arthur STUMP; Victor, Archie, and Aaron RATCLIFFE; Sadie RATCLIFFE; Calla MILLS; Hattie, Ezra, Posey, Luverna, Adford SUMNER; Tillitha, Martin Otis, and Dolly Ann ROOP; George, Walter Farmer, Charles, James ROOP; Maggie and Betty DeLUNG. About 180 more great-grandchildren and at least 550 great-great-grandchildren would be born after her death. A true report of her descendants is not possible as not all great-grandchildren and their families have been researched.

[1] Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.
[2] Louise Roop Anderson Akers, comp., The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016). Photocopy of page with marriages by Richard Buckingham.
[3] Louise Roop Anderson Akers, comp., The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016). Photocopy of marriage bond of William Roop and Catherine Carrell.
[4] Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853–1912.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. John Carril 1 Oct 1881 Floyd, VA.
[5] The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, Va.), 13 Jan. 1907. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Online
[6] The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, Va.), 09 Jan. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Online
[7] thegenealogygirl; 2 June 2014 comment on 52 Ancestors: #22 Gordon H. ROOP 1838-1863

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

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 #25 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Note: The Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) on and its sister sites last Monday took the site down for two days. This is still being felt in the genealogy world as several of the “minor” sites are still down. My apologies for links to Rootsweb pages in this post that are not working.

52 Ancestors: #25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

Rachel PROFFITT, my third great-grandmother, was born about 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Although her married life is well documented, the names of her parents have not been found in any written records. Her maiden name is seen on the death certificate of her youngest child Nannie Ellen CATES who died in 1942.

1942 Nannie Ellen Cates death
Certificate of Death for Mrs. Nannie Ellen Cates [ North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 : accessed 20 June 2014]
Many online gedcoms show that she was a daughter of David PROFFITT and Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM who married on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia. Another possibility is that she was the daughter of Austin PROFFITT and Martha RAKES who married on 4 June 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia. Austin and David were brothers and the only children of Austin PROFFITT who died before 1803. Their mother “Betsey Prophet” is enumerated with her two young sons ages between 10 and 15 years on the 1810 census of Franklin County and may also be reflected in the household of her son Austin in 1820 and 1830. The ages found for the brothers on the 1850 and later censuses show they were quite young when they married in 1813.

Since I believe that there are unresolved questions concerning Rachel’s parentage, I’ll begin her story with her marriage to Jordan N. PETERS. This will give me time to do further research for my blogposts on her parents which are scheduled for weeks #48 and #49.

Rachel Marries at 24

Jordan N. PETERS, twice widowed with 10 children at home between the ages of 2 and 20 years [Peninah 2, William 6, Martha 8, Jane 10, James 12, Jonathan 14, Mary 16, Stephen 17, Zachariah 19  and Henry 20] needed a wife and a mother for his children. He was 45 years old when he married Rachel PROFFITT who was 24 years old. Jordan’s second wife Sarah COX had died five months earlier after giving birth to a child who did not survive. Rev. John Turner of the Hard Shell Baptist Church married Jordan and Rachel on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. There is no official record of marriage as we learned in Jordan’s War of 1812 pension papers.

Eleven months later Rachel gave birth to her first child Sarah “Sallie” on 2 November 1842. The child may have been named for her father’s second wife, as the first daughter born to a new marriage was often named after the deceased wife. A second possibility, which earlier researchers may have assumed, is that she was named after her maternal grandmother. This would explain why Rachel is consistently seen as the daughter of David and Sarah and not Austin and Martha (who are a better match when analyzing the pre-1850 censuses).

Rachel continued having children less than two years apart: Joseph W. on 12 May 1844, Moses Samuel on 25 January 1846, Keziah Lucy about 1847, and Amanda Angeline on 2 October 1850. At the time of her 10th wedding anniversary Rachel was finally getting a rest from caring for her extra-large family. She had five young ones of her own and nearly all of her step-children were married or old enough to take care of themselves. The time between the births grew to 3-4 years for the next four daughters: Caroline “Callie” was born on 31 January 1853, Milla Susan on 6 December 1856, Mary Elizabeth on 22 March 1860, and Nancy Ellen “Nannie” on 20 July 1864 [Note: 1870 is an error on her death record. She was seen as 6 years old on the 1870 census].

Before the Civil War (1861-1865) Rachel’s oldest daughter Sallie married her first cousin David C. PETERS (1838-1906) on 21 January 1859 in Franklin County. On the transcription of their marriage record the mothers of the bride and groom were switched. The original marriage record has not been checked.

The Civil War Years

As with so many other families during these times, Rachel and her husband Jordan would have sad memories of the Civil War. Both sons served on the Confederate side during the war between the states. Joseph enlisted on 8 March 1862 and was admitted to the hospital in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia, were he died of unknown causes on 18 April 1862 . Moses enlisted two years later on 22 April 1864 as a private in Company H, Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment. Rachel would see Moses come home after the war, marry and raise a large family.

Not only did Jordan and Rachel lose their son Joseph during the war, their home was burned down in February of 1865, the year of the surrender. In later years, as they fought for Jordan’s War of 1812 pension, they would be reminded of this loss as the family bible and other important papers went up in smoke. The death of daughter Milla Susan ROOP and her young daughter in a house fire in 1891 most likely also brought sad memories of these times to Rachel after she lost her husband in 1890.

Rachel’s Children Marry

Following the Civil War, Rachel’s children began to marry:

  • Ch 3: Moses Samuel PETERS married Elizabeth A. “Betty” TRUSLER (1854-1936) on 10 August 1869 at Jesse Edward’s in Floyd County, Virginia.
  • Ch 5: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” PETERS married William Pascal BEVERLY (1844-1924) on 20 February 1873 in Montgomery County, Virginia
  • Ch 4: Keziah Lucy PETERS married Elkanah Yates MASSEY (1845- ) on 8 November 1874 in Patrick County, Virginia.
  • Ch 6: Caroline “Callie” PETERS married Edward CLARK (1858-1930) on 3 November 1877 at the bride’s residence in Floyd County.
  • Ch 7: Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 January 1880 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.
  • Ch 8: Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS married James Thomas PRICE (1848-1938) on 10 October 1881 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County. She divorced him and married Peter ROTOLO in 1894. She was widowed and married Bernet James TILLEY in 1902.
  • Ch 9: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS married John J. CATES (1864-1921) on 28 December 1882 in Patrick County.

Rachel and Jordan’s Later Years

By the time Rachel’s youngest daughters married, her elderly husband Jordan was in his early 80’s and finally receiving his well earned pension. They would have less than eight years to enjoy their first time alone as a couple. Jordan N. PETERS died on 14 October 1890 at Nettle Ridge in Patrick County of old age – he was 94. Rachel and Jordan would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary a few months later. They were married twice as long as Jordan was married to his first two wives.

Rachel Has Difficulties Getting her Widow’s Pension

The year following Jordan’s death his widow Rachel began giving evidence in order to claim her widow’s pension. The government was not able to identify the claim “from the data given.” The government files were still in disorder.

The Government would not grant Rachel a pension unless she could prove that she had been lawfully married to Jordan. Rachel was determined to provide some evidence but the Family Bible had turned to ashes in the 1865 fire that destroyed the Peters’ home. It was common practice at that time for people to pack up their Family Bibles and send them to the Government to verify marriages and other relationships in order to obtain their pensions. Complicating matters, the Clerk of Court in Franklin County could find no record of their marriage.

In order to prove her case, this elderly lady, 74 years old, walked many miles in the rain over muddy mountain roads to get sworn statements from friends, neighbors, the Clerk of Court and the Justice of the Peace. In March 1891, Rachel sent a letter to her law firm in Washington, D.C.: “…If you want the evidence of a U.S. Marshal, I can get it from Han Woolwine of this county who knows me well, but he resides at Stuart 13 miles from here…The Judge of the court lives 27 miles from here and the Clerk of the court 13 miles. This is a long and mountainous county and the mud in the roads are hardly passable…I have to walk around to get up this evidence, and you see my age, I am old…it is raining almost every day…”

MRIN00056 Rachel Proffitt Peters letter from War of 1812 package
Rachel’s 1891 letter to her law firm in Washington D.C. found in Jordan N. PETER’s War of 1812 pension file. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Rachel’s friends and neighbors were indignant that she had to go to such lengths to prove her marriage. The Justice of the Peace, Mr. W. H. Cooper, was a friend who had known Jordan and Rachel for several years. Before he signed his name to his own testimony in her behalf, he added the following crusty comment: “…and I have known them for 9 or 10 years and they lived together as man and wife in this community and if they had not been so, I should have had them indicted for unlawful cohabitation and tried.”

Rachel’s effort was successful and within six months she was granted a pension of $12.00 per month plus the accrued pension due her from the date of Jordan’s death.[1]

Rachel PROFFITT received her pension for eight years before dying on 5 March 1899 near Nettle Ridge at the age of 82.

Pension Odyssey Continues Following Rachel’s Death

You would think that this would be the end of the pension odyssey for the PETERS family however the story continues. I’ll let Paula Kelley Ward tell how the story finally ends.

It began on the day before Rachel Peters died. She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Ellen and John Cates, in a house on the Taylor farm. For a time Rachel had been receiving her mail through the Post Office at Bassil, Virginia. The Post Mistress, Fannie L. Taylor, knew that Rachel had been ill with pneumonia for about ten days. Mrs. Taylor and her husband went to visit Rachel on Saturday, March 4, 1899. They brought Rachel’s pension vouchers for her to sign. Rachel could not write but she made her mark on the papers. “She was then in her right mind,” Mrs. Taylor said.

The next morning Abe and Lucy Pickrel visited John and Ellen Cates. Rachel told Lucy that she wanted her daughter, Ellen, to have her check. Lucy wrote a short statement which said: “Please let John Kates have my check when it comes, Rachel Peters” and Rachel made her mark on this paper. Later that same day, at sundown, Rachel passed away.

Eleven days later John and Ellen Cates went to the Bassil Post Office, gave Mrs. Taylor the statement that Rachel had signed, and Mrs. Taylor gave them the pension check. Lucy Pickrel met them at the Post Office and endorsed the check in Rachel’s name. John Cates later cashed the check in Rella, North Carolina.

When the Government learned that Mrs. Peters had died on March 5, but that her pension check had been cashed about two weeks later, it went into action. A special examiner for the Bureau of Pensions in Washington, D.C., E. H. Carver, was sent to Patrick County to investigate.

This was the Government that had prevented Jordan N. Peters from obtaining his rightful pension for ten years. It was the Government that had misfiled, lost, and was not able to read Jordan’s pension claims and testimony, the Government that had been responsible for Jordan’s widow having to walk all over the mountains to procure testimony in her behalf. Now this same Government was miraculously keeping an intact record of its so-called “Criminal Case.” The Bureau of Pensions had suddenly become efficient. Carver was sent to roam the Blue Ridge Mountains of Patrick County, Virginia to chase down witnesses in an attempt to indict Jordan’s son-in-law for forgery.

Carver obtained testimony from four people: Lucy Pickrel; Mrs. Fannie L. Taylor; Levi J. Lackey, the merchant from Rella, North Carolina who had cashed the check; and Joseph H. Brown, a blacksmith and general mechanic who had made Mrs. Peters’ coffin.

After taking signed statements under oath, the result of his interrogation of these people, Carver sent his report to the Bureau of Pensions charging John Cates with forgery. He wrote that John Cates “had fleeced everyone whom he had any dealings with,” but there was no evidence of this. John Cates had received $36.00 when he cashed the pension check, and $8.00 of that amount had been used to pay for Mrs. Peters’ funeral expenses. Carver claimed that the balance “was used on riotous living.” There was no proof of this allegation, either. Indeed, one wonders just how much “riotous living” could be bought with $28.00 in Patrick County, Virginia in 1899. It is a stretch of the imagination to conceive of Patrick County residents indulging in Carver’s idea of “riotous living,” whatever that was.

Shortly after the check was cashed, John and Ellen Cates moved to Winston, North Carolina. Carver naturally viewed this as an act of fleeing to avoid prosecution. One witness testified, however, that John Cates “got dissatisfied here. I do not suppose that he went there on account of the draft.”

Four months later the Federal Government brought its case before the Grand Jury in Danville, Virginia. For background, it also provided the Grand Jury with Jordan N. Peters’ pension records and the records of Jordan’s widow. Did the Grand Jury observe Jordan’s ten-year struggle to get his pension? Did it note that Rachel Peters had supplied an unusual amount of evidence to prove her marriage? The deliberations of the Grand Jury are not contained in Jordan’s pension file. All that is known is the Government’s attempt at indictment, which failed. The Grand Jury’s decision was “Not a true bill.” John Cates was not indicted.

The Government pursued the case, bringing it before a second Grand Jury at Lynchburg, Virginia. Again, the Grand Jury refused to indict John Cates for forgery. Was he guilty? It is true that he had cashed the pension check, but two of the four witnesses who had given their sworn statements to Carver had provided conclusive evidence that John Cates had not forged the check. Lucy Pickrel admitted that she herself had endorsed the check in Rachel Peters’ name.

Twice defeated, the Government decided to close its case because “it was futile and unnecessarily expensive.” That was an understatement since it must have cost the Government considerably more than $36.00, the amount of the pension check, to investigate the case and take it before two Grand Juries.

A final insult to Jordan’s service was found in his pension file on a slip of paper dated June 5, 1919. Twenty years after Rachel Peters had died, the Government added: “Rachel, widow of Jordan N. Peters…Papers found in Claim of Lucy A. Loveland, widow of Samuel W. Loveland…”[1]

The War of 1812 Pension Application Files

Rachel and Jordan’s stories could not have been written without the help of the War of 1812 pension file that Paul Kelley Ward obtained in 1977 from the National Archives and Records Administration. Genealogists, historians, teachers, patriotic societies, and history buffs will soon have easier access to these wonderful records. The War of 1812 Pension Application Files are being digitized, indexed and placed online as they are in grave danger of deterioration. As of today 17% of the documents can be accessed FREE at Fold3. I would not be surprised if by the time the project is finished Jordan’s papers may have a few more pages than when Paula received her copy in 1977.

[1] Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story”, Wherever We Wander pgs. 24-29; compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce; cover designed by Charles Randolph Bruce. All stories in this book are copyrighted, 2005, by their authors and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author(s), except for brief quotes in reviews or for publicity purposes.
[Source: Floyd County, Virginia Mailing List Web Site maintained by Rena Worthen; online]

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #24 Jordan N. PETERS 1796-1890 – War of 1812 Pensioner

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 #24 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #24 Jordan N. PETERS 1796-1890 – War of 1812 Pensioner

Update (21 June 2014): A correction has been made to the name of this ancestor. Jordan N. PETERS’ supposed middle name, “Nichols,” has never been proven. His records only include the middle initial “N.” The middle name “Nichols” has been removed/changed to the middle initial in this blogpost.

My 3rd great-grandfather Jordan N. PETERS was born in Amherst County, Virginia, on 10 October 1796 to Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY. Zach and Kesiah were married nearly two years when Jordan was born. Following his birth the PETERS family continued to grow and moved to Franklin County, Virginia, some time before the 1810 census. By 1810 Jordan, 14 years old, had 7 brothers and sisters. Four more would be born by the end of the War of 1812.

1810 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
Of the dozen children born to Jordan’s parents, the names are not known for two girls and two boys however they are documented in the pre-1850 census statistics. Jordan’s known siblings were Mary, William, Betsy, Lucy, Willis, Joseph and Susannah.

War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 18 February 1815)

1812flagIn 1977 Paula Kelley Ward obtained Jordan’s complete War of 1812 file from the National Archives and Records Administration. She transcribed and typed all the documents in the file. The complete transcription and the full story contained in the records came to nearly 50 typewritten pages. With information gleaned from his War of 1812 records Paula wrote “Jordan’s Story”.

In the years that I have done genealogy I’ve learned that it is very important to share with other researchers. We can’t do everything on our own. A different perspective often helps push past the problems we have in our research. Paula, my 4C1R and 4C, has kindly allowed me to use her images of documents she has found. Excerpts from “Jordan’s Story” are included here to allow Jordan to tell his story in his own voice and through Paula.

Jordan said he enlisted in 1814 “to keep my father from being drafted.” He was about 17 years old then, six feet tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a dark complextion. He gave his occupation as “farmer” when he volunteered at Franklin Court House under Captain William Jones…..During his first term of service, Jordan said he “worked in the trenches and mustered every day for two months and 22 days.” He then became ill with the “bloody flux” and at about the same time his shoulder was dislocated…..Jordan was granted a discharge…[1]

Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files [ : accessed 6 June 2014]
The second time he enlisted he was 18 years old and volunteered at Franklin Court House on February 6, 1815 in Captain Robert Hairston’s Company…. The Company had marched as far as Chester (or possibly Chesterfield), Virginia when word reached them that a Treaty of Peace had been ratified on February 16. “Peace was made, and we marched over the Bridge and were paid for our time,” he said. The Company was discharged at Richmond on February 19, 1815, and Jordan went home to Franklin County.[1]

The Jordan and Polly Era (1817-1837)

MRIN07822 1817 Jordan Peters and Mary Troup permission to marry
1817 Permission slip. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward

Mary “Polly” TROUP was 18 years old when she married Jordan N. PETERS on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Her parents Henry and Dorothy TROUP gave permission for their daughter Mary to marry Jordan PETERS. He was the first of the PETERS children to marry. His brother William married Polly’s sister Alice in December 1818.

In 1820 Jordan is first seen in the census as the head of household with his wife and young daughter. Interesting is that Jordan is enumerated after Austin PROFFITT, the uncle of the young lady he would later marry, have children and spend the rest of his life with.

1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
By 1830 Jordan’s family had grown to include 5 boys and 3 girls. One of these girls may have died young OR daughter Jane who is said to have been born 22 June 1831 may have actually been born in 1830 as reflected in the above census.

1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Montgomery [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
Jordan’s wife Mary “Polly” TROUP died on 5 January 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia. She died at the age of 37 after bringing ten children into the world. When she died, her oldest child Cynthia was 17 and her youngest William was just 1 year and 3 months.

  • Cynthia born 8 Oct 1819
  • Henry T. born 17 Mar 1821
  • Zachariah born 14 May 1822
  • Stephen born 13 Mar 1824
  • Mary born 6 Aug 1825
  • Jonathan born 23 Apr 1827
  • James born 25 Jan 1829
  • Jane born 22 Jun 1831
  • Martha Ann born 19 Jan 1833
  • William Edward born 2 Oct 1835

In a letter written to Zachariah PETERS on 2 July 1864, James PETERS wrote,Dier Brother I comply with your request and send you the register of our ages as furnished me by our father I send it in short hand and you can copy it.” The dates of birth seen above followed. I received a transcript of the letter in 2003 but was not sure that all information was transcribed correctly. Genealogy research has been Paula’s life work since the age of 16 so it was no surprise to me that she had a photocopy of the original letter which she shared with me. I found that the things I questioned in the transcription were errors. Lesson learned: Do not rely on transcriptions – always verify with an image of the original when available.

Jordan’s Siblings and Parents

Let’s back up here a bit. While Polly and Jordan’s family was growing, his siblings were  marrying in Franklin County and starting their own families:

  • William PETERS married Alice “Alla” TROUP on 12 December 1818
  • Mary PETERS married Samuel SMITH on 18 December 1823
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” PETERS married Jesse EDWARDS on 17 June 1826
  • Lucy PETERS married Joseph JARRELL on 4 October 1827
  • Willis PETERS married Ruth SMITH on 21 March 1829
  • Joseph PETERS married Martha “Patsy” SMITH on 1 September 1830
  • Susannah PETERS married Andrew REEL on 16 October 1839

Their parents most likely saw most of them marry except for their youngest Susannah. It has been assumed that Kesiah LIVELY and Zachariah PETERS both died between 1830–1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. There is no record of their deaths. Neither was enumerated as a head of household in 1840. None of their “known” children had older individuals in their households in 1840.

The Jordan and Sarah Era (1837-1841)

MRIN07823 1837 Sarah Cox permission to marry Jordan Peters
1837 Permission Slip. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Jordan wasted little time in marrying again. Polly died in January and seven months later on 15 August 1837, he married Sarah COX. Her mother Peninah COX had given permission for Sarah to marry Jordan on 9 August 1837. We don’t know how old Sarah was but she immediately became the stepmother of ten children. Three months later Jordan’s oldest child Cynthia married Sarah’s brother Moses COX on 26 November 1837. Both marriages took place in Franklin County.

MRIN07823 1837 Jordan Peters and Sarah Cox marriage
1837 Marriage Bond. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Sarah’s first child, Penenah, born on 14 November 1839, was named after her mother, Penniah WALDEN, widow of Francis COX.

1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
Jordan and Sarah’s second child was born on 1 July 1841 and died the same day without being given a name. Sarah died about a week later on 8 July 1841.

Jordan now had eleven children, all presumably still living at home except for Cynthia who married in 1837. Zachariah would marry in 1846, Henry in 1847, and Stephen and possibly Jane in 1848. The rest of his children from his first marriage were married by 1855.

The Jordan and Rachel Era (1841-1890)

On 8 December 1841, just five months after Sarah’s death, Jordan, age 45, married a third time to my 3rd great-grandmother Rachel PROFFITT, age 24. They married in Franklin County. In the next 23 years she gave him 9 more children while the family moved back and forth between Franklin County, Raleigh County and Floyd County. This is well documented in the War of 1812 papers, births of children, and census.

  • Sarah “Sallie” PETERS (1842-1899) born 2 Nov 1842
  • Joseph W. PETERS (1844-1862) born 12 May 1844
  • Moses Samuel PETERS (1846-1915) born 25 Jan 1846
  • Keziah Lucy PETERS (1847-1934) born Abt 1847
  • Amanda A “Mandy” PETERS (1850-1895) born 2 Oct 1850
  • Caroline “Callie” PETERS (1855-1930) born 31 Jan 1855
  • Milla Susan PETERS (1856-1891) born 6 Dec 1856
  • Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS (1860-1944) born 22 Mar 1860
  • Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS (1864-1942) born Jul 1864

1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Raleigh > District 59 [ : 9 June 2014]
1850 U.S. Federal Census [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
In 1850 we see Jordan living next door to several COX families in Raleigh County which would later be part of West Virginia. Daniel COX and his family are next door to his mother Peninah and three siblings. Jordan’s daughter Cynthia and her husband Moses COX are in the next household followed by Jordan and his family.

By 1860 they were once again in Franklin County.

1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin > S.W. District [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
For reasons unknown today, Jordan did not declare his first term of service when he testified in 1855 to claim the bounty land due him. He received a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres in 1856. In later years when he provided sworn statements to the Government in an attempt to prove his first term of service, the records could not be found. In addition, he had received two discharges which would have proven his
service but unfortunately these papers were burned along with everything else he owned in a fire which destroyed his house in February of 1865.[1]

The statements made by Jordan and Rachel Peters concerning the fire could be interpreted today as suggesting that the house was burned deliberately. “The year of the Surrender we got our house and Family Record Bible of Ages and Marriage and Deaths all burnt up with everything else we had,” said Rachel. When the Civil War began, it must
have been a sad event to those who had served in the War of 1812. Witness Jordan’s statement: “I loved the Stars and the Stripes that was the old Flag I went under. When I saw them pull them down [the old flag] and raise the Rebel Flag, I could not hardly keep…from shedding tears. I told them they would get enough of it, so they did. When I lived in Floyd County, Virginia, I got my house burnt up and all my papers.”[1]

1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Jacksonville [ : accessed 9 June 2014]

Congress approved the Act to provide pension for service in the War of 1812 on 14 February 1871. Jordan, 74 years old, submitted his first pension claim.

In 1874, after three years of testimony and correspondence, the Government notified Jordan that his claim was rejected on the grounds that “evidence of 60 days service” was not proven.[1]

Following the rejection notice there is a four-year gap in Jordan’s file, indicating that the Government may have misfiled or lost the records during those years. Then on February 23, 1878 at the age of 81, Jordan submitted another pension claim. Seven years had passed since he had first declared his service for a pension in 1871.[1]

The Pension Office seems to have processed this claim hurriedly. In July of 1878 he was granted a pension of $8.00 per month. Then a Government examiner reviewed the claim and recommended that “this case should be rejected and certificate cancelled.” In October of that year Jordan’s name was dropped from the pension rolls and payment of pension was suspended because of “insufficient service.”[1]

With persistence Jordan once again declared his service of two terms. Throughout 1879 and 1880 the Government offices inspected the muster rolls again. Several months passed before the Auditor reported to the Pension Office: “There are no rolls of Capt. Mackhenry, Mackhaney, McHoney or McHaney’s Company of Virginia Militia. Nor are there any rolls of Capt. Jack or John Wade’s Company of Virginia Militia on file in this office.”[1]

While Jordan was fighting for his pension his children from his third marriage were growing old enough to marry. Several of his children are seen marrying at his residence in Floyd County. One of these was my great-great-grandmother Milla Susan PETERS who married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 Jan 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia.

1880 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge [ : accessed 9 June 2014]
By 1880 only Jordan’s two youngest daughters were still living at home. In two years they also would be married.

It was not until April of 1881 that someone was kind enough to listen carefully as Jordan told his story. That person was Mr. C. M. Stigleman. He interviewed Jordan and wrote down Jordan’s words on the letterhead of the Floyd County Superintendent of Public Schools. Jordan was 84 years old by this time and Mr. Stigleman remarked that “his memory is not good.” Even so, Jordan recalled the names of soldiers who had served with him in Captain William McHaney’s Company in Norfolk……[1]

Mr. Stigleman seems to have been solely responsible for providing the information that at long last resulted in a pension. For ten years Jordan had steadfastly pursued his pension and finally in 1881 the Government restored his payments of $8.00 per month. In addition, he received the accrued pension from the time in 1878 when his name had been dropped from the rolls.[1]

Jordan died of old age on October 14, 1890 near Nettle Ridge in Patrick County, Virginia. He was 94 years old. This is not the end of the story.[1]

[1] Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story”, Wherever We Wander pgs. 24-29; compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce; cover designed by Charles Randolph Bruce. All stories in this book are copyrighted, 2005, by their authors and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author(s), except for brief quotes in reviews or for publicity purposes.
[Source: Floyd County, Virginia Mailing List Web Site maintained by Rena Worthen; online]

Jordan’s Story – page 24
Jordan’s Story – page 25
Jordan’s Story – page 26
Jordan’s Story – page 27
Jordan’s Story – page 28
Jordan’s Story – page 29

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jordan N. PETERS
Parents: Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah “Keziah” LIVELY
Spouses: 1. Mary TROUP, 2. Sarah COX, and 3. Rachel PROFFITT(*)
Whereabouts: Virginia and West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grandfather

  1. Jordan N. PETERS
  2. Milla Susan PETERS
  3. Walter Farmer ROOP
  4. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
  5. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
  6. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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

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

52 Ancestors: #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!!!“[1]

The 19th Child of Twenty-one

Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS[2] was born 6 December 1856 in Raleigh County, (West) Virginia [line 44] to Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) and Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899). She was the 19th child of her 60 year old father Jordan[3] and the 7th child of her thirty-something 39 year old mother Rachel.

Family on the Move

1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin > Long Branch > Page 35 HH #234-231 > ; online : accessed 23 March 2014

Milla’s parents seem to have been constantly on the move. They were married in Franklin County, Virginia, in 1844 and by 1850 were living in Raleigh County, formed on January 23, 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 1850 and June 1853 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. In September 1856 he was in Floyd County when he received a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres. 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.

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.[4]

1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Jacksonville > Page 29 Sheet 57A HH#213-201; online : accessed 23 March 2014

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

1880rooppetersmarriage 002
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 Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia, at her father Jordan Peters’ residence. The bride and groom, or whomever 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.







1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59; online : accessed 19 March 2014

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

Milla and her husband Gordon did not 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. Note: no birth record however WWI and WWII draft cards match date seen on his death certificate.
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.

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.

Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.
Ch 5: [–?–] ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.

When she was expecting her fifth child or perhaps 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. His wife, Milla’s mother, Rachel PROFFITT died there on 5 March 1899.

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. 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, or was it Gordon? 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.

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

[2] Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 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.

[3] Jordan N. PETERS married first Mary “Polly” TROUP on 6 Oct 1817 in Franklin County. They had 10 children. Polly died on 5 January 1837 Franklin County. Jordan married second Sarah COX (?-1841) on 15 August 1837 Franklin County. Sarah died 8 July 1841 in Franklin County a week after giving birth of her second child. Jordan married third Rachel PROFFITT on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. They had 9 children.

[4] 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.

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

52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

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 my 12th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

My great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP, a photographer, miner, and farmer, was born 6 May 1862 in Floyd County, Virginia, during the Civil War.

Gordon’s father 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. He may not have known at the time that his wife was pregnant with their third child. The 54th was engaged in battles in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on 15 April 1862 and at Princeton, (West) Virginia, on 16 May 1862. Was Gordon’s father given furlough to be at home for the birth of his son?

Gordon’s father must have worried about his young family while he continued to serve in the Confederate army. He was NOT one of the nearly 23 percent of Floyd County men who chose to abandon the cause. The Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 may have forced him to extend his service, when his initial commitment of one year expired, to a total of three years.

On the 19th and 20th of September 1863, while Gordon was learning to walk and beginning to talk, his father was fighting his last battle at Chickamauga in Georgia. On 1 November 1863, when young Gordon was a year and a half, his father died in Flewellan Hospital, in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.

Parents and Siblings

Gordon’s parents Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) and Emaline LESTER (1836-1877) married on 10 March 1856 in Floyd County, Virginia. They had two children by 1860: Dollie Ann Ellen (1857-1937) born 24 February 1857 and John Thomas (1859-1902) born 6 March 1859, both in Floyd County, Virginia.

When the American Civil War began on 4 February 1861 the young family of four was living in Floyd County. Emaline gave birth to her second son and third child, Gordon Washington ROOP, on 6 May 1862. He was given his father’s first name and, as a middle name, the surname of the first U.S. President. Sadly we do not know how much time Gordon Sr. was able to spend with his family while serving in the Civil War until his early death at the age of 25 in 1863.

Mother Remarries

The end of the Civil War in June 1865 brought changes to America, Virginia, and families in Floyd County. We don’t know what price Gordon, his mother Emaline, and his sibings paid for his father’s loyalty to the Confederacy. Gordon’s mother Emaline waited nearly six years to remarry. She was 32 when she married Pleasant D. EPPERLY, 21, son of Solomon EPPERLY and Rachel RATLIFF, on 6 February 1869 in Floyd County. A year later we see Gordon and his siblings in the household of their step-father and mother in the 1870 census.

1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Siblings Marry

Gordon’s sister Dollie Ann Ellen married her 2nd cousin 1 time removed Giles SUMNER (1855-1920) on 1 7 November 1873 in Floyd County. His brother John Thomas married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858-?) on 16 November 1876 in Camp Creek, Floyd County.

Orphaned at Fifteen

A little over a year after John’s marriage, Gordon was orphaned at the age of 15 when his mother died on 13 December 1877. Did Gordon stay with his step-father or did he go to live with his sister or his brother? Gordon and his siblings were close to their ROOP and LESTER grandparents as well as the SUMNER family, their great-grandparents. I hope that he was well taken care of until he married two years later.

Screenshot of five-generation pedigree for Gordon Washington ROOP generated by Ancestral Quest 14

Marries at Seventeen

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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.

William L. SIMMONS joined Gordon Washington ROOP, age 17, and Milla Susan PETERS, age 23, in marriage on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County at Jordan PETERS’ residence. On the marriage record the ages of the bride and groom were fudged. Gordon was listed as 21 and Milla as 20.

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

1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Becomes a Father at Eighteen

Gordon and his wife Milla did not wait long to start their family. They had five children, four sons and a daughter, in ten years:

Ch 1: George Washington ROOP (1880-1950) born 19 September 1880in Floyd County, Virginia. Note: no birth record however WWI and WWII draft cards match date seen on his death certificate.
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.

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.

Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.
Ch 5: [–?–] ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.

Moves his Family to West Virginia

By 1885 Gordon moved his family to Raleigh County in West Virginia where he had the birth of his son Charles recorded. After the birth of their fourth son James, Gordon and Milla and their four sons moved to Kanawha County where their only daughter was born in 1890.

Wife and Daughter Die in a House Fire

Sadly the daughter born in June 1890 was not named and died with her mother in a house fire in 1891 according to family tradition as recounted in genealogy notes by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop. Neither death records nor newspaper articles have been found to confirm the story and year of this event.

Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette L. McGrew (1923-2008) on a book on the Roop family. 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. Linda had done most of the work on our direct line as her husband is the grandson of Old Man Jim, Gordon’s fourth son.

Motherless Children Go into Foster Care

The four motherless boys were placed in the home of Henry Snuffer, the Sheriff of Kanawha County, and his brother, Lee Snuffer, until Gordon was able to care for them. Linda wrote, “Gordon married second to Nancy E. Johnson. When Gordon returned for his children, Walter, Charles and George went with him but James wanted to stay with the only family he knew, the Snuffers, so Gordon let him stay rather than insist he go with him. Henry and Martha E. Snuffer were a loving married couple who could not have children of their own. They took in and raised with loving care many children who had lost their parents.”

Further research brought to light that Lee and Eliza Snuffer, like Henry and Martha, did not have children of their own. James was living in Henry Snuffer’s and Charles was in Lee Snuffer’s households in 1900. Walter was with Gordon and his second family. George was not found. Is it possible that Charles, like his brother James, also wanted to remain with the Snuffer family he had been living with?

Mentioned in his Grandfather’s Will in 1890

Gordon’s grandfather James ROOP dated his will 31 January 1890. He died 2 November 1890 and final settlement of the will was made on 18 September 1897 in Floyd County, Virginia. In his will James ROOP mentioned among others, his son Gordon ROOP’s children Thomas, Gordon, and Dolly.

Marries a Second Time and Fathers More Children

Gordon Washington ROOP and Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON (1860-1949) were married on 25 August 1894 in Pond Gap, Kanawha County, West Virginia, by L. D. Hill. [line 76]

They had five children in five years:

Ch 6: Samuel Pasley “Sam” ROUPE (1895-1956) born 30 October 1895 in Blue Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 39].
Ch 7: Julia Ann ROOP (1897-1990) born 4 January 1897 in Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 40].
Ch 8: Amanda O. “Mandy” ROOP (1898-1994) born 20 March 1898 in Hughes Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 12].
Ch 9: Hallie Beatrice ROOP (1899-1944) born 10 September 1899 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Ch 10: Hazel Vern ROOP (1900-1976) was born 28 December 1900 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 41 Sheet 2B > HH #33-33; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1910 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Roe > ED 54 Sheet 6A > HH #100-106; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1920 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 79 Sheet 7B > HH#38; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Dies at the Home of his Daughter

According to Linda Pearl Dickey Roop, Gordon was living with his daughter, Amanda WITHROW in Donnally Hollow in Kanawha City, West Virginia, before he died so that he could get to the doctors more easily. Gordon Washington ROOP died at 6:30 a.m. on 30 January 1930 in Kanawha City; cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis with contributory factor being cardio-renal disease. He was buried in Jodie, Fayette County.

Gordon’s son Walter Farmer ROOP was the informant on the death certificate. Walter didn’t know the name of his grandmother and he got the name of his grandfather wrong. Or did he? The name he gave was Ham ROOP. Gordon’s father’s middle initial was H. in Civil War records. Is it possible that the H. was for Hamilton even though Gordon Sr.’s youngest brother was named Hamilton Null ROOP? Could Uncle Hamilton have raised Gordon Jr. after both his parents’ deaths?

Gordon Washington ROOP was survived by his second wife, all of his children except for the baby girl who died in the house fire, and his sister Dollie. His children’s families continued to grow giving him a total of 50 known grandchildren, 10 still living in 2014.

Gordon’s second wife Nancy Elizabeth Johnson died 14 June 1949 in Charleston.

The Charleston Gazette, Wednesday, June 15, 1949

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

52 Ancestors: #6 Walter Farmer ROOP 1883-1971

Walter F. Roop with his photograph enlarger. Photo courtesy of Roop family member.
Walter F. Roop with his photographic enlarger.
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

My great-grandfather Walter F. ROOP was a blacksmith, coal miner, artist, poet, photographer, and cartoonist. He left us precious memories including this photo of the Gauley River. Walter took three photos at Jodie in Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1921, tinted them by hand, and put them together to make this panorama view.

MRIN00030 IMG_8590
“Homemade” panorama titled “Gauley River” by Walter F. ROOP
MRIN00030 IMG_8593
Closeup of title “Gauley River”

As far as I know no one has come forward with the camera(s) he used for his photography. I was surprised to find the photo (at top) on a cousin’s Facebook page of him with his photo enlarger. I have images of his drawings and photos but none of his cartoons. My wish is that others will read this and remember that they have keepsakes hidden away in the attic or basement [please don’t let it be in a shed unless it’s a car], photos in an old family album, poems and letters written by him, or old UMW journals with his “art”.

Let me tell you about this wonderful man who 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”.

Walter Farmer Roop ca. 1920-1930. Photo courtesy of Roop family member.
Walter Farmer Roop ca. 1920-1930.
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

Walter Farmer ROOP was born on 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia, to Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) and Milla Susan PETERS (1856-1891). His parents were married on the first of January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia, at the residence of Jordan PETERS, father of the bride. They lived on Alum Ridge at the time of the census and birth of their oldest son George Washington ROOP (1880-1950).

From the beginning of my research into the ROOP family (also seen as RUPE, ROUP, ROOPE, ROUPE) I have always believed that my great-grandfather was the oldest child. However the draft cards for WWI and WWII and the death record of George W. ROOP show that he was the oldest child. George as well as his brother Charles Turner ROOP who was born in 1885 have their place of birth listed on different records as Floyd County. [Research: Birth records of George, Walter and Charles may show that place of birth was different from that listed on later records as Alum Ridge is near the county line of Floyd and Montgomery counties.]

Following Charles’ birth in 1885 the family of five moved to Raleigh County, West Virginia, where the fourth son, James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962), was born on 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch. They moved to Kanawha County where a daughter was born in June 1890. Mother Milla and her baby daughter died in a house fire in 1891 and, according to family tradition, the four sons were placed in the homes of Henry and Lee Snuffer until their father was able to care for them. Gordon remarried in 1894. By 1900 Walter was living with his father, stepmother, and four stepsiblings. His brothers Charles and James were boarding with Snuffer families in Raleigh County while his brother George has not been located. Walter’s father Gordon was working as a photographer in 1900. Like father, like son.

U.S. Federal Census, 1900 > West Virginia > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED No. 41, Sheet No. 2B

Walter F. Roop is the first of the 4 Roop boys to marry in the 1910s

Walter (20), a miner, married Rebecca Jane CLONCH (16) on 12 July 1903 in Fayette County. On the marriage record [line 5] Walter’s place of birth was incorrectly listed as Kanawha County. The marriage was performed by James M. Epling. J. A. Tucker is mentioned under Remarks and may have been a witness. Their first child, Lacy Shelton ROOP (1904-1937), was born seven months later on  8 February 1904 in Pond Gap, Kanawha County. A second son Piercie was born the next year on 15 March 1905 and died 5 May 1905. No record of birth or death has been found however the child is buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery at Mount Olive. Walter’s great-granddaughter Janice Louise Cox Bostic visited the cemetery and read the dates off of Piercie’s stone for me.

MRIN00030 Lacy Roop 17
Lacy Shelton Roop age 17
Courtesy of Roop family member

Three more children were born in Fayette County before the 1910 census: Myrtle Hazel ROOP (1906-1997) on 26 March 1906 in Belva; James Henry ROOP (1908-1957) on 11 February 1908 in Marting; and Walter Gordon ROOP (1910-1984) on 9 March 1910 in Mount Olive. The 1910 census listing, which should show that there were 4 of 5 children living, has not been found. On this map we see the area that they were living in at this time. The distance from Marting to  Belva is 8 miles.

Marting, Mount Olive, Belva (Fayette Co., WV)

Walter and Rebecca’s 5th living child Edith Estelle “Edie” ROOP (1913-2003) was born on 9 June 1913 in Marting, a coal town along Smithers Creek. About mid-July 1913 the family moved to Jodie. Edith was six weeks old at the time. The family of seven travelled over land from Marting to Belva and then took a flat ferry up Gauley River to Jodie. We know this because Edith wrote on the back of the Gauley River panorama photo:  “We moved to this place (Jodie, W. Va.) in year of 1913 on a flat ferry up Gauley River (Fayette Co. W. Va.)” and “I was 6 wks old, Edith Roop Ramsey”.

MRIN00030 Edith_Myrtle_Ludeasia Holdren
Edith (left) and Myrtle (middle) with a friend in 1919

World War I 1914-1918

Soon after Walter and his family moved to Jodie the first World War began. In 1918 Walter Farmer ROOP gave information on his World War I Draft Registration Card pertaining to his residence, birth, occupation, and physical description. He was working as a mine blacksmith for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company in Jodie. He was of medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair.

Roop Family ca. 1919
The Roop Family ca. 1919. Front seat from left to right: father Walter Farmer, oldest son Lacy Shelton, youngest daughter Edith Estelle. Back seat from left to right: James Henry, mother Rebecca Jane, Myrtle Hazel and Walter Gordon.

Following the end of World War I the family was photographed in this car. We’ve been able to date the photo using the photo of the daughters Edith and Myrtle dated 1919 which shows them with the same hairstyles and wearing the same clothes. During that year Walter’s youngest son Alfred Lee ROOP (1919-1981) was born on 22 August 1919 in Jodie.

Walter's youngest son Alfred with the family car.
Walter’s youngest Alfred (early 1920’s)
Photo courtesy of Roop family member.

Artist and Photographer

The year 1921 was a very productive year for Walter, the artist and photographer. Not only did he make the panorama photo of Gauley Bridge, he also made ink drawings that were passed on to his children and are now in the possession of grandchildren. His granddaughter Peggy Jean Ramsey Baker recounted that Panther and Deer and The Grizzly drawings were copied from pictures in a big book (maybe some sort of history book). She saw the pictures which were approximately 2×2.5 inches in size in the book as a child. She believes that there was a third drawing of “some sort of cat in tall grass”.

MRIN00030 IMG_8572
“Panther and Deer” by W. F. Roop dated December 26, 1921
MRIN00030 grizzley
“The Grizzly” by W. F. Roop

Following births of his first three granddaughters, Walter photographed the girls and tinted the photo.

MRIN00030 Leona, Thelma and Lois with frame
The Dempsey Girls by W. F. Roop ca. 1929
Leona Mae b. 1927, Thelma Louise b. 1923, and Lois Emma b. 1925

Three Marriages and a Death in the 1920′s

Three of Walter’s children married in the 1920’s: Myrtle Hazel md. Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY in 1923; James Henry md. Goldie M. WALKER in 1927; and Edith Estelle “Edie” md. James David RAMSEY in 1929.

Shortly before the 1930 census Walter’s father Gordon Washington ROOP died on 30 January 1930 in Kanawha City and was buried in Jodie.

With three children married, Walter and Rebecca had two children living at home in 1930 as their oldest son Lacy was working in Raleigh County and living with his first cousin once removed Myrtle ROOP and her husband Golden Stewart BROWN. The Roop family was renting a house at $9 a month. Walter and his son Gordon were working as coal miners while young Alfred (10) was still going to school.

The Raleigh Register
July 9, 1937

Three Marriages and a Death in the 1930’s

Three more marriages took place 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)

Walter’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.”




By 1940 Walter and his wife Rebecca were living alone in a house they rented for $10 a month. Walter worked  35 hours a week as a utility man in the coal mines and earned $1,692 in 1939. Per the 1940 census Walter had 8 years of schooling. In 1942 he was still working for the Gauley Mountain Coal Company. He was 5 ft. 6 in., weighed 155 lbs, had brown hair and grey eyes.


poemWalter, the Poet, and his Poetry

Walter’s beloved wife, Rebecca Jane CLONCH, died 3 February 1950 in Belva, Nicholas County. Walter wrote poetry to mourn the death of his wife: “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”. [left]

We know that at least one of Walter’s poems “When We Retire” was published in the United Mine Workers Journal, January 15, 1952 issue. David C. Duke author of Writers and Miners: Activism and Imagery in America (published by University Press of Kentucky, 2002) referred to it in the notes on a chapter in the book. Part of the book is available on Google Books, unfortunately the page that may include a quote from the poem is not included. The UMW Journal is only available online for the years 2006-2013. It is my belief that Walter may have submitted other poems and maybe even the cartoons that the family says he drew but of which we have no copies. [Research to-do: request lookup in old UMW Journal]

Walter married second Mary Elizabeth [–?–] MOSS between 1951-1963. Mary was from North Carolina and was widowed. No marriage record has been located on

Walter Farmer ROOP died 1 June 1971 in Jodie and was buried in the Clonch Family Cemetery. He was a member of Jodie Baptist Church. Surviving were his second wife Mary, sons Gordon and Alfred, daughters Edith Ramsey and Myrtle Dempsey, and half-sisters Hazel, Mandy, and Julia.


Many thanks to Amy Johnson Crow author of the blog No Story Too Small for not being that big on New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because her challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is turning into a wonderful research tool. As I work on one ancestor at a time I’m checking on his/her parents, siblings, children, and even grandchildren in relation to him/her. What seemed unimportant the first time around is turning into clues that lead to more interesting information. The best part is that family is getting involved! They are sharing photos and anecdotes that are helping me to make the stories so much more interesting to write.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey