By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“I hate to see the evening sun go down,” from, The Saint Louis Blues by W.C. Handy


It was the night of March 24, 1980. Day 142 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  Me and my husband Peter were staying at my grandmother’s house in Cottage Grove Oregon. We had just moved back to Oregon after living in Austin Texas for four years and were staying with my grandmother until we found a place to live.

 My Uncle Frank was also staying at my grandmother’s house. He had recently retired from the Navy after thirty years of service. His oldest daughter Susan was attending the University of California in Berkley at the time. He planned to move his wife Yasue and his youngest daughter Joy from their home in San Diego California to a new home Springfield Oregon.

He was staying with her while he looked for a house to buy.

My grandmother’s television set was on in the living room and the four of us gathered around it to watch the premier episode of Nightline. It was a new late-night news show that would soon become the most popular news show in America.

The next evening, we had a bowl of pinto beans and buttermilk cornbread for supper. After we were finished eating and the table was cleared of dishes, Peter picked up his guitar. My grandmother loved music.

 Whenever the two of them got together she would ask him to sing with her. He would play his guitar while she sang along.

 On this evening his guitar was out of tune. He hummed an old blues tune while he turned the tuning pegs on his guitar.  

My grandmother came out of the kitchen. I “know that song” she said, “my papa used to sing it.” With his guitar in tune, Peter stummed the melody he was humming while from the dining room doorway we heard the mournful sound of my grandmother’s singing voice.   “I hate to see the evening sun go down” she wailed.

 She belted out the lyrics to The Saint Louis Blues with the bluesiest voice I had ever heard her use.

Later that night while we were waiting to watch the second episode of Nightline I asked my grandmother how her papa learned to sing and play The Saint Louis Blues.

I knew it was one of the most popular songs of 1918, but I didn’t understand how such a song became known to people like my great grandfather at a time when there was no radio shows or television programs to promote and advertise it.

“Peddlers” she said. “Music peddlers would come around and sell copies of sheet music. They knew that almost every family had someone who could play the piano, or fiddle and they would stop at most houses and sell sheet music of the newest songs.”

The television cast a soft glow in the corner of her dimly lit living room, while she sat in her rocking chair near  me, my uncle and my husband. We watched as the words, Day  143 of the Iranian Hostage Crisis filled up the screen. We listened as the newscaster announced, “This is ABC News Nightline, reporting from Washington D.C. here is Ted Koppel.”

Thinking back on what she told me  about sheet music makes realize  how much the world changed over the course of her life.

 How did she feel  about  the technical advancements that were made  in the forty two years that passed from the time her papa bought a copy of The Saint Louis Blues  sheet music from a door to door peddler  to the time that the four of us sat in her living room  and watched live news from Iran unfold before our eyes. We watched while viewers all accross the country watched Ted Koppel the same time as us.

Popular culture had really changed since she was a little girl and it is my regret that I didn’t have the foresight or the brainpower to think to ask how she felt about that.

 And now she is gone and I will never know.

##52AncestorsIn52Weeks. #52AnscestorsIn52WeeksPopular


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.”  Anonymous

Brothers Eugene Roe and Kenneth David Roe. This undated photo was most likely taken within a year of the time that the events in the following story took place.


His name was Kenneth David Roe. I called him Uncle Bud.  When he was a young boy, he almost drowned in some high water that flowed under a bridge near Chatham Mississippi.  Some of my relatives say it was a stroke of luck that he was found alive, others say that it was a miracle that he survived.

I’ve only heard the story in bits and pieces. It seems that everyone who was there had their own vivid memory to share. Except Uncle Bud. To my knowledge he never spoke of the day.

I’ve not heard anyone say why he was in the water that day. Did he fall off the bridge?  Did he jump in? Did someone push him?  I really cant tell you.

 My Uncle Frank said that he was pretty sure it happened in Lake Washington, a body of water that exists near the Ferguson Place where the family lived and worked.

 As far as I know, my mother is the only person still living who witnessed the search and rescue. She recalls standing on the bridge. She says that the water was higher than usual that day, that it almost reached the bottom of the bridge.

 Uncle Frank remembered seeing my grandmother run alongside the water and up on the bridge. He said “she was crying and hollering” while family, friends  and neighbors poked the water with long sticks, trying to find her son.

 My grandmother said that he was under water for a very long time before someone found him.

I never heard tell of who it was who rescued him.  But someone found him and drug him out of the water.

My grandmother recalled that after he was pulled out of the water someone in the search party pushed on his chest to get the water out of his lungs.

Uncle Frank never forgot the sight of seeing his brother laying on his side while muddy water spewed out of his mouth.

 No one alive today can say for sure what day, month or year that my uncle almost drowned. But the wonder of it all is that he lived to see another day and that the God-given outcome of was a good one.  

His survival ensured the  preservation of the Roe family unit.  For if Uncle Bud had died in those dark muddy waters there would have always been an empty seat at my grandmother’s table and the course of the  Roe family would have been changed forever.  


Lake Washington is part of the Mississippi. It is a large bend in the river that is cut off on one side by land.  It is a U shaped body of free standing water that resembles a lake.

The Ferguson Place was a cotton farm where my Henry David Roe, Ruby Isaacs Roe and their two oldest sons Eugen Roe and Kenneth David Roe, along with twins Herman Frank Roe, and Nannie Elizabeth Roe, lived and worked. They entire family worked in the fields. Even the twins who were about five or six years old at that time.

#52anscestors #52Ancestorsin52Weeks




By Gerry Roe

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing so gentle as real strength.”  Francis De Sales

This large White Oak is known as the Birthing Tree. It stands on Sparta Highway in Warren County Tennessee, on property obtained by Gabriel Elkins around 1818 as payment for his service in the War of 1812. It was named the Birthing Tree because of the number of children born in its shade to women who were members of wagon trains from North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia that were continuing to Alabama and points west. If an expectant mother was about to give birth the wagon train would stop in the vicinity of the tree and her wagon pulled under it and left there to afford her shelter and shade while she waited to deliver her child.
The tree is eighty-five feet tall. It has a crown spread of one hundred and twenty five feet and is believed to be close to three hundred years old.
The above is an adaptation of a piece written by a Warren County historian known only as “Mrs. Massey: Her version can be found in the book titled History of Warren County.


Since time immemorial the oak tree has been recognized as a symbol of strength.  I often ponder the might of the sturdy oak.  I marvel at how long it lives.  So it came as no surprise that when my niece and I considered  which of our  female ancestors most symbolized strength we  decided on  a woman with a close familial connection to the mighty white oak known as the Birthing Tree.  We chose my great grandmother, Emily Manus Isaacs, daughter of Susannah Elkins Manus, granddaughter of Gabriel Elkins the man who once owned the land where the Birthing Tree stands.

With roots in Warren County Tennessee and their place in my family history, to me, that old white oak tree and Emily Isaacs are very much the same.
I am a retired nurse. I worked as a health care professional for forty-eight years. I spent an additional eight years as a volunteer nurse. With all my years of experience in health services  I can state with confidence my belief that my great grandmother Emily Isaacs was a physically strong woman. She delivered twelve children over the course of twenty-seven years. She did so without the benefits of pre-natal care available to women today. Sadly four of her twelve  children lived only a very short time past birth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
I can’t help but wonder what she knew about childbirth before she delivered her first child.  
 I venture to say she only knew what she was taught by family members and friends, and then later what she learned from personal experience after she delivered her first child.
Emily lived to be seventy -six years old.  She spent close to one fourth of her adult life pregnant.  She spent over half of her adult life raising children.  Those two facts help bolster my belief that she was a physically strong woman.

Most likely her way of life changed very little while she was with child. She still had her household duties to perform even after she had delivered. For each delivery after the birth of her first child there was always other children to care for.
 Her family relied on her to  keep the household going and there were many physically challenging  chores for her to do. Hauling water, carting firewood, preparing meals, disposing of kitchen slop and dirty dishwater, emptying and cleaning chamber pots and hoeing and weeding the kitchen garden were just some of the chores women like Emily were expected to do every day.
Yes, I believe Emily Manus Isaacs was a strong woman and it makes me   proud to see her  name so near to mine on our massive family tree.

Home births remained the norm in my family for many years to come. I was born in 1944, in Kings Daughter Hospital in Greenville Mississippi, the first in my direct line to be born in a hospital. In 1948 my youngest brother Henry Alan Roe was born in Mrs. Butler’s maternity home, in Cottage Grove Oregon. He was one of the one thousand and five babies that were born during the ten years the home was in operation.

From that time forward almost all the babies in our family were born in hospitals. One notable exception is my great-great niece Mary Elizabeth, the daughter of my great niece Ruby Elizabeth Thorpe. Mary was born at home, in Nashville Tennessee. She was delivered by her grandmother, my niece, Betsy Cross Thorpe. Ruby went into active labor soon after was sent home from Vanderbilt Hospital by a health care worker who determined that she wasn’t close to delivery.
Proof that in my family Strong Women still persist!!!






By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“We were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out.. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We practiced. But we’d never— not once— discussed what to do after.”
― Jennifer Brown

Tornado that passed over my home in Nashville Tennessee, shortly after midnight, March 3, 2020.
Photo by WOODTV

I work Monday nights as a closing server at IHOP.  The IHOP I work at closes at eleven on weeknights. I generally get home around midnight. This night was no different.

I had only been home about thirty minutes when I heard the siren sound.

The piece I planned to write would tell how my fourth great grandfather, William Dawson, and his family were forced out of their home by a band of lawless men during the Great Louisiana Hurricane, of August 19, 1812.  

An outline of the story sat on my desk in front of me. My plan was to tell the story in two or three short paragraphs, post it on my blog and go to bed.

That didn’t happen.

Outside, the siren blew and the wind whistled and whirled while I huddled inside. I waited out the storm in a designated safe room with my worried daughter, two sleepy granddaughters, an inconvenienced Siamese cat, a frightened Pit Bull, and a Chihuahua eager to attack the storm.

Hunkered down in that room I started thinking about my long-gone relatives. I tried to imagine the fright that overcame them the night of the hurricane when a pack of wild dogs and a band of lawless men appeared at their door.

What were they doing when the outlaws rushed into their cabin?

Did William Dawson hear the dogs barking before the men appeared or did they take him by surprise?

Was his son, my third great grandfather, seventeen-year-old Thomas a good big brother to fourteen-year-old Samuel, twelve-year-old Mary Jane, and six-year-old Robert? Was he entertaining them, trying to distract them from the hurricane when terror came knocking?

Was William’s wife Dinah McCormick Dawson holding baby Fanny in her arms when the bad men started making threats and demands?

As a violent rotating column of air roared above our house I imagined the shock I would feel if our home was suddenly invaded by a group of criminals who threatened our lives and forced us to flee into the wind ravaged night.

I knew then that the story I planned to tell about William Dawson and his family was no longer the story I would tell. The story is bigger than the mere genealogical anecdote I had planned to write. It is a tale full of real life human suffering.

With sympathy for the trauma my ancestors suffered and out of gratitude that they survived. I am compelled to tell a deeper and more meaningful story so that everyone who reads this blog post can understand the reality and seriousness of the disaster that befell my relatives on that dark and stormy night so very long ago.  


I learned that my fourth grandparents, William and Dinah Dawson were chased out of their home during a hurricane while I was reading a book titled Our Dawson Kin. The book traces the lineage of William and Dinah Dawson down to my mother’s generation. It was compiled by a distant cousin, Sally Morrrison Patin. I have never met this cousin but I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank her for compiling such a comprehensive and interesting genealogical record of our shared family history.


I conduct all my genealogical research for this side of my family with my aunt Gerry Roe. My aunt and I have a different approach to genealogy. But we work well together and make a great team.

 She knows who begat who and can place just about any family name in its proper place on our extensive family tree.

Me? I work to discover what was happening in my ancestor’s world during their lifetime. That allows me to give them and their actions historical context.


On 9 July 1812, news that three weeks earlier the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., had declared war on Great Britain arrived at New Orleans, the location of the US naval station the farthest from the nation’s capital. Captain John Shaw, USN, commandant of the station, had at his command some four hundred officers and men, distributed among two brigs of war and eleven gunboats. Just as Captain Shaw was attempting to set his small force on a war footing, a devastating hurricane struck the Mississippi delta. The 19 August hurricane was the worst experienced there in years. It set back military preparations many months.

An excerpt from a report from Captain John Shaw to Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton is posted below.

                                                                           New Orleans, August 23, 1812


I greatly deplore the necessity I am under of communicating to you, the calamitous condition of the small naval force attached to this station–of the City of New Orleans–and, as I presume, of the surrounding Country; produced on the afternoon and night, of the 19th instant, by a hurricane (from the N.E.) which, both in violence and duration, exceeded anything of the kind, within the recollection of the oldest inhabitant of the country:

The Brig Enterprize, which, by considerable exertion, I had got fully manned was driven ashore, high & dry…….


In November of  1803, one month after the US Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, William Dawson, along with his older brother Thomas Dawson and fifty eight other male US citizens signed an oath to remain loyal to the United States of America before taking possession of  tracts of  land they each had obtained  from the Spanish government some time before.

The tracts they obtained were located outside the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase about one hundred miles from the city of New Orleans, in an area known as Feliciana Parish.  

The terrain of Feliciana Parish was marked by tree covered hills. Ancient cypress, majestic oak, and evergreen pine trees dominated the landscape. Bears and wolves roamed the hills.

The land was uninhabited by humans when the settlers arrived. Spain had allowed wood choppers from Virginia to settle the area to fulfill a pressing need.  Shipwrights had set up dockyards along the nearby waterways and timber for building and repairing ships was in great demand. 

The land obtained by William Dawson contained one thousand acres. It was bordered on one side by the Comite River, a navigable body of water that flowed through the low-lying bottom lands that lay to the south. He took possession of the wild undeveloped land with his wife Dinah, eight-year-old son Thomas, three-year-old son Samuel and baby daughter Mary Jane.

With little outside help he cleared and improved the land. He built a cabin, outbuildings and fencing. He cultivated the earth and raised crops.

His little family grew. A son named Robert was born in 1806 and a daughter named Fanny was born about five years later.

The Dawson family lived in harmony with their neighbors for close to nine years.

Then disaster struck.

I can’t say for sure what time of day the hurricane made landfall in Feliciana Parish. There is no record of what time it struck the Dawson property. But at some time on August 19, 1812 the family’s amiable way of life on their tract of land came to an end.

On that terrible day William Dawson and his wife lost everything they had worked so hard to gain. Powerful winds blasted the landscape, lightning lit up the cloudy sky, The storm surged, heavy rains fell, the Comite River and nearby waterways rose, murky water spilled over as flood waters covered the ground.

But it wasn’t the wind or the flood waters that brought doom.

A pack wild dogs and a band of lawless men arrived at their door. The men forcibly drove the Dawson’s away from their home. They threatened to   “strew their  bones into the hurricane” if they refused to  go.  The father, mother and  their five children  fled to the state of Mississippi for protection, leaving their home and the fortunes of their descendants behind as they escaped into the night.  


How did they escape?   On foot? By wagon? Horseback? Boat? Pinckneyville Mississippi is about twenty miles north of the spot where their cabin once stood. How long did it take them to get  there? What possessions were they allowed to take?  

These are things I wish I knew.

William Dawson used the courts to try to get his land back. But all his efforts failed. I can’t help but wonder if politics played a role in his unsuccessful efforts.  

In 1810 American settlers, dissatisfied with Spanish rule, successfully revolted against Spain. They established a new country that they named the West Florida Republic. William Dawson’s land—along with the rest of Feliciana Parish—was part of the new country.  He lived under the rule of the West Florida Republic until he was chased out of his home in 1812.

 One year later the United States of America claimed the lands of the West Florida Republic. In 1813 Feliciana Parish joined the US. It became part of the newly formed state of Louisiana.

William Dawson was using the courts to try to regain his land as late as 1826.  

In the twenty-three years that passed from the time he obtained his land till his last recorded court date his tract of land existed under the jurisdiction of three different countries.  He obtained the land under Spanish rule. He lost the land to outlaws during the West Florida Republic’s rule. The outlaws had possession of his land when the US took control of Feliciana Parish.

Which government had jurisdiction over land rights in Feliciana Parish?

Spain granted him the land but he belonged to the group of people who had revolted against their rule. What were his chances of convincing a Spanish land agent to testify in his behalf?

The crime that was committed against him and his family was committed in a country that no longer existed. Where could he go for justice?

His land was occupied by the outlaws who stole it from him when Feliciana Parish became part of the United States. Did the US courts recognize those men as the rightful landowners? Is that why he was ultimately denied his land rights?

There are so many questions surrounding this story.

I just wish I knew the answers.

#52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52AncestorsDisaster


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“They love each other. They’re brother and sister. It’s one for all and all for one.”  Joseph Ziemba


Eugene Roe with his siblings. June 13, 2010. This is the last photograph ever taken of all of them together.


The 52 Ancestor’s in 52 Week’s topic for this week is Prosperity. As soon as I saw the topic, I knew that I wanted to tell the following story.  

This story is from 1946. That’s when my eldest maternal uncle, Eugene Roe, sent a portion of his military pay home to my grandparents, Henry David Roe and Ruby Elizabeth Isaacs Roe. He sent the money so they could move his younger brothers and sisters out of the poverty-stricken Mississippi Delta where he had spent his entire life before joining the Navy.

My grandparents purchased Greyhound Bus tickets for themselves and their five younger children with some of the money he sent.  Starting in Greenville Mississippi they traveled two thousand, three hundred and seventy-three miles across the country in search of a better life. They ended up in the  little town of Dorena, a wooded enclave in the Willamette Valley area of Oregon.

Dorena offered the hope of a brighter future due to its thriving lumber industry and the promise of work with the Army Corps of Engineers on the Dorena Dam building project.

My uncle was wise beyond his years.  Thanks to him giving my grandparents the resources they needed to get out of Mississippi his siblings all went on to live lives of security and comfort. They all prospered far beyond what he dared dream for them in 1946.  

And so did he. My uncle eventually joined his family in Oregon after he left the military in 1952. He continued to live there for the rest of his life.

Me and many others in my family believe that it was the foresight and generosity of my uncle that changed the course of our family’s history forever. And we are thankful


This one of my favorite family stories and I have heard many different versions of it throughout my life.

But as so often happens with family stories , I found that there is much more to this story than I originally thought.

This story has a backstory. And it’s a good one!

Please read on.

My Great-Uncle Kelly and His Time in the CCC

Post card from Herman Kelly Isaacs. Sent from Camp McClellan, a CCC training camp in Anniston Alabama, to the home of his sister Ruby Isaacs Roe in Holly Bluff Mississippi.
Postmarked October 17, 1936.

My uncle and my grandparents learned of the opportunities awaiting them in Oregon from the two eldest of my grandmothers’ three younger brothers, Benjamin Franklin Isaacs, and Herman Kelly Isaacs .

The two young men had been stationed at different camps in Oregon during their second  stints in a voluntary public works program named the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program also known as the CCC. From 1933 to 1942 more than three million unmarried young men—aged 17 to 28 served in the program and my grandmothers’ brothers were among them.

Front and back of a post card from Herman Kelly Isaacs at Camp Clear Creek, in Jefferson County Pennsylvania, to his sister Ruby Isaacs Roe shortly before he left the CCC.
Postmarked November 24, 1936

The year 2020 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of the birth of Herman Kelly Isaacs.

I just learned this eighty-four-year-old story about him and his first short stint in the CCC.

When Herman Kelly was not yet seventeen years of age, he joined the CCC. He was sent up north to a camp in Pennsylvania. Not liking the cold weather up there he soon left his post  and returned to the home of his older sister Effie Marie Isaacs Moore and her husband Albert Moore down in Leflore County. The poorest area in the Mississippi Delta.

A depression era recording of a  song titled the CCC Blues is posted below. The song expresses the nature of the thoughts that most likely went through the mind of Herman Kelly Isaacs before he decided to leave the CCC.

As you just heard , in the song above, the song warned enlistees that one consequence of leaving the CCC early was that they would never be able to go back into the program or join the U S military at a later time.

But Herman Kelly was a clever boy.  He figured out a way to beat the system. Two years after leaving the CCC camp in Pennsylvania he changed his name and signed up with CCC again. He signed up again using a different name. He changed his name and enlisted under the name of Henry Kelly Isaacs.

This time around he was sent to a place that was much farther away from home. He was transported all the way across the country to the Triangle Lake Camp in Lane County Oregon, where he stayed and completed his term of service.

H. Kelly Isaacs and friend at the Triangle Lake CCC camp in Lane County,
Date unknown.
H. Isaacs is on the left.
H. Kelly Isaacs and friend at the Triangle Lake CCC camp in Lane
County, Oregon.
Date unknown.
H. Isaacs is on the left
H. Kelly Isaacs and friend at the Triangle Lake CCC camp in Lane County,
Date unknown.
H. Isaacs is on the right.
H. Kelly Isaacs in front of the mess hall at the Triangle Lake CCC camp in Lane County,
Date unknown.


Herman Kelly Isaacs continued to go by the name Henry Kelly Isaacs for the rest of his life. However, those who knew him best called him by his middle name Kelly.

Many people, including some close relatives, never knew that he used an alias. They believed his birth name was Henry Kelly. But now, knowing that his name really was Herman Kelly, explains away the confusion that followed when he named his first born son Herman Kelly Isaacs Jr.

Herman Kelly Isaacs wasn’t the only young man in our family to change his name so he could join the CCC a second time. His older brother Benjamin Franklin Isaacs liked the program so much that he didn’t want to leave once his time was done. He dropped the s at the end of his surname. He changed his name to Isaac so he could enlist for another six months.  He used the Isaac version of his surname for the rest of his life. His descendants continue to uses the name Isaac to this day.

Beatrice Issacs Lisenby was the youngest sister of Ruby Isaacs Roe. She married Herbert Lisenby shortly after he returned home to Mississippi after completing his six month term of service in the CCC. While in the CCCC, Herbert Lisenby was stationed at a camp in Oregon. Herbert and Beatrice Lisenby eventually moved to Oregon, where they raised their family. They lived out their lives there.

All seven of the Isaacs siblings left Mississippi. Most of them settled in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon.

Three Isaacs sisters ( Effie Marie, Ruby Elizabeth and Beatrice) were laid to rest in Fir Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove Oregon. Along with their husbands and a number of their deceased children. Isaacs brother Herman/Henry Kelly Isaacs and his son Herman Kelly are also buried there.

Thpre song CCC Blues comes to us from a field recoding made by Margret Valiant. She recorded the song in a migrant camp in Northern California, for the Farm Security Administration in 1936.

For 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. From the prompt for the week of February 18 to February 26. Prospertiy

#52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52AncestorsProsperity


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“Kindred sprits are not so scarce as I used to think.” Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucas G. Dawson Sr. Born 1843, Died 1916


It is written that “within scientific disciplines, discovery is the observation of new facts which explain knowledge gathered through previously acquired scientific evidence.” I don’t know if genealogy is considered one of the scientific disciplines, but I do know that myself and many other genealogists employ the use of the scientific method to trace our family roots.

 Question, Research, Hypothesize, Test, Analyze, Conclude. Those are steps we take to find our ancestors and populate our family tree.

 The acquisition of the new set of facts that led to my newest genealogical favorite discovery arrived on August 9, 2018, in a private message sent to the Ancestry.com account I share with my Aunt Gerry Roe.

  The message read in part; Ms. Thorpe, several of the DNA matches of the tests you administered are matches with me…………. I’m confident that we are all likely third or fourth cousins. I have been reviewing each tree for the common person. I believe it to be Lucas Dawson. He lived in Feliciana Louisiana, reasonably close to southern Mississippi….…… My great great grandmother is listed as Marian Cage, mulatto, age 22 in the 1870 census. She had twins with the last name of Dawson, one of whom was my great grandfather. I believe Luke to have been their father……….

My first scan of that message was immediately followed by a more thoughtful read and I knew immediately that my newly discovered relative had done his research. Unexpectedly Lucas Dawson became a person of significance to me.  Moments prior he had just been a name I was vaguely familiar with, one of eight great great grandfathers, an unexplored branch on my family tree.

 But it became clear that I was about to discover his story.

My aunt and I joined forces with the writer of that message and together we soon discovered many meaningful facts about our mutual ancestor. 

Our “Granddaddy Lucas” was one of the more than three hundred thousand young southern soldier boys who enlisted in the Confederate States Army to fight in the American Civil War.  Captured in the Battle of Nashville on December 16, 1864, held at Camp Chase in Ohio, released from the Point Lookout prisoner of war camp in Maryland in February of 1865. He was one of the first of 24,000 southern prisoners set free at Aikin’s Landing Virginia. He was part of the largest prisoner exchange agreement of the war.

 After Lucas arrived back home to Louisiana, he fathered twins with Marion Cage shortly before he married my great great grandmother Ann Hazelton Booker.

Father to my great grandmother Ary Dawson Roe, grandfather to my grandfather Henry David Roe, great grandfather to my mother Nannie Elizabeth Roe Cross. His line continues down through the generations on both the Marian Cage and  the Ann  Booker branches of his family tree.

As interesting and as valuable as all that information is to me, I have to say that finding Lucas was not my most favorite discovery.

 Speaking for both my aunt and myself I must state that getting to know the person who led the way to uncovering the story of Lucas is our favorite genealogical discovery.  For when we got the chance to meet our “new” cousin in person, we discovered we shared a deep familial bond. But even more consequential than  our family connection We discovered something else. We discovered we shared characteristics both unique and precious.

 We discovered in him  a Kindred Spirit.

By Betsy Thorpe

For 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. From prompt for week of February 11-February 17 Favorite Discovery

#52Ancestors #52Ancestorsin52Weeks #52ancestorsFavoriteDiscovery


By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“We should all have that one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, my Grandmother was that person for me.” Phyllis Theroux

My aunt, Lucy Jearldine Roe made this quilt for my daughter Ruby Elizabeth shortly after Ruby was born. Now, almost 40 years later it remains one of my daughter’s most treasured keepsakes.
My Grandmother, Ruby Elizabeth Isaacs Roe with her great granddaughter ( my daughter) Ruby Elizabeth Thorpe, sightseeing in Memphis Tennesse, November, 1992.


I can’t recall what my grandmother was doing when I first made my promise to her. Was she busy at her sewing machine, tapping her foot up and down to keep the treadle going?  Was she bent over the wood stove, lighting some kindling to start a fire?  Perhaps she was in the yard tending to her roses, or on the porch snapping some freshly picked green beans. Was it while she was busy in the kitchen, boiling down some berries to make a batch of her much-loved blackberry jam?  Its quite possible that I might have whispered it in her ear late one winter afternoon, while she was sitting quiet in her chair just resting her eyes.

I really can’t say.

 But what I do know is that at some time during my childhood I promised my grandmother that one day when I was grown and married, I would have a daughter and that I would name her, Ruby Elizabeth, after her. I promised to give my future daughter her entire name, not just pass down half of it like she did when she named my mother Nannie Elizabeth, or like my mother did when she named me Elizabeth Ann. I promised her that my daughter would have the exact same name as her.

Years later I kept my promise.  When I took my baby daughter to see my grandmother for the very first time she was swaddled in a quilt that my aunt had made—her name clearly embroidered on the front of the blanket.

Ruby Elizabeth

I am glad that I kept my promise to my grandmother and so is my daughter. She is very proud to carry on the name of her great grandmother.


There is one other person in my family who had the same name has my grandmother, but it was a person that I never knew.  As strange  as it may seem my father’s mother was also named Ruby Elizabeth.

My grandmother had other granddaughters and great-great granddaughter’s who share the name Elizabeth, but to my knowledge my daughter is only one who fully carries her name. My youngest granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth, is the fifth Elizabeth in my direct family line to be named Elizabeth.

For 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Prompt for “Same Name.”

#52Ancestors #52AncestorsSameName


Same Name Different Spelling

By Gerry Roe, as told to Betsy Cross Thorpe

“A good name is more desirable than great riches” ……. Proverbs 22:1

My mother sent my birth announcement to her youngest brother, James Rollin Isaacs. My Uncle Jay. He held on to this
keepsake for many years. He was my special uncle. He gifted this to me before he died in 1911.

In 1894, a group of women in Greenville Mississippi set out to care for the most impoverished people in their community. Faced with the magnitude of the local need they realized that in order to care for such a large disadvantaged population they would need outside assistance. They applied to join the International Order of The King’s Daughters, one of the oldest Christian service organizations in the world.  The King’s Daughters Hospital is a result of their effort and is where I was born in 1946.

The first meal that my mother ate after giving birth to me was a bowl of oyster stew. While eating the stew she bit down a pearl. That pearl is pictured above sitting on top of a compact. The compact belonged to my mother. It was one of her most treasured possessions. She stored the pearl, wrapped in tissue, inside the compact’s rouge drawer.
The story of how my mother found a  pearl on the day of my birth is one of my favorite family stories.
(The rouge drawer is shown open in the above picture)


My name is Lucy Jearldine Roe. I was born in Kings Daughters Hospital in Greenville, Mississippi, on March 15, 1946.  Sixth in line of Henry and Ruby Roe’s seven children, I am their second and youngest daughter, the first of their children to be delivered in a hospital.  All my older siblings were born at home.

 My mother named me after two relatives, my father’s older sister Lucie Georgia Roe, and her cousin, Geraldine S. Isaacs.  While our names are the same, they are spelled differently. It was my mother’s aim that I be a proper namesake to my aunt and cousin, that our names  be spelled the same, but when a hospital nurse recorded my birth she spelled out my name as she saw fit and not how my mother intended. I don’t know why but I have always gone by my middle name, Jearldine.  Most members of my family call me Gerl, others call me Gerry. Few people know that my first name is Lucy.

We moved to Oregon when I was a baby. My Aunt Lucie sent letters to me long before I learned to read and write. My mother answered her letters for me until I was old enough to respond myself. We sent letters back and forth for more than twenty years.  I finally got to meet her in person shortly before she died in 1977. I never met cousin Geraldine, but I did meet members of her immediate family in November of 1992 when I took my mother back to Kuttawa Kentucky  to visit her birth place and to spend time with cousins and other relatives who  she hadn’t seen since she was a little girl.

Although our names are spelled differently, I am honored to carry the name of these two long-gone relatives and I hope that they were pleased to share their name with me. I also hope that when they look down from heaven that they see that I was careful to live a wholesome life and that I maintained the character of their good name.

By Gerry Roe, as told to my niece, Betsy Thorpe

For 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. From Prompt for week of February 6 to February 11, “Same Name.”

#52Ancestors #52AncestorsSameName kingsdaughterhospital #greenvillems #trejurcompact

So Far Away

By Betsy Cross Thorpe

“You are the fairy tales told by your ancestors.” Toba Beta

Account of the tragic death of a long remembered nineteen year old boy. He perished in an airplane crash, on Sunday, August 11, 1929, near my grandmother’s home, in a cotton field, outside Holly Bluff, Mississippi.


He was a tall, handsome and adventurous boy. The only son of a well to do merchant. He captured my grandmother’s attention when she was a young girl and she fondly recalled his memory up through her old age.  Her stories of him were vague, and the actual role he played in her life remains unclear.

 My mother, my aunt and I, were all privy to her reminiscences of him. However, we don’t all recall her stories the same.  I’m convinced that the boy’s name was Albert Thomas Firth Junior, but my mother is certain that his last name was Butts. My aunt disagrees with her. According to my aunt, the Butts family that befriended my grandmother were from Missouri, where my grandmother spent some years before her father moved his wife and children South to Mississippi.

 I had the notion that the young pilot was in love with my grandmother, that he wanted to marry her, but that she chose my grandfather instead.  My aunt remembers the story in a different way. She doesn’t think their friendship was ever that serious, but she does recall hearing that for some time  my grandfather was quite jealous of my grandmother’s memory of the young pilot and that he would often tell her that she should have married that boy.

Until recently, when I did my research into the plane crash that killed Albert, I was sure that that he had taken my grandmother up in the air for a ride in his plane.  But that can’t be true.  My grandmother married my grandfather at least a year before he learned to fly and was the mother of a young son by the time he owned his own plane. Additionally, anyone who knew my grandfather would agree that he would never have allowed my grandmother to do such a thing.

More than forty years had passed from the time that he died, till the time that my grandmother told me about him. Of all the stories she told of her youth, the story of the daring young pilot was one of my favorites.

I just wish I had thought to ask her for more details. How did she learn that his plane went down?  I wonder today if she was among the “large crowd” that witnessed the tragedy. Was she somewhere nearby?  Did she hear the crash?  His plane nosedived into a cottonfield. Was he flying over the cottonfield where she lived?  I wish I knew.

But the big question I could have asked, one that is common to all, is this; Why did the memory of someone removed so far away by space and time, remain so near and dear to her heart?  I could have asked her, but there really was no need.

I am a hopeless romantic and I always knew the answer.

For 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. From prompt “So Far Away.”

#52Ancestors #52ancestorssofaraway