Saturday, July 14, 2012

Genealogy Helps Link Us Together

The past couple of weeks have been exciting for me, as I am getting to know a couple of second cousins I've never met. We found each other through and have been corresponding via email.

Ever since I was a child, I've been curious about my mother's family. My dad's family in Florida we visited nearly every year, so I knew them well, but aside from my maternal grandmother who moved to El Paso shortly after we did and lived there until her death when I was seven, I never had the opportunity to meet my mother's family.

Luella Jean Rote Lloyd

My mother, Luella Jean Rote, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, and she grew up there. Her only sibling was a sister, Marion Virginia Rote, about  two years older, who died (of scarlet fever, according to my dad's unpublished and unfinished autobiography) when my mom was seven. As mentioned before, my mother's mother, Lulu or Lula Craun, died when I was a child. My mother's father died years earlier, while my mother was still in college.

Most of the family stories my mom told were of the good times she had with her sister. I was pretty sure she had cousins, but I didn't hear much about them. One thing that always fascinated me, as any romantic child would be fascinated, was that her grandfather, her father's father, had owned a confectionery store. She spoke of how much she loved to visit, and I always had the impression that her enjoyment of the store came more from her love for her grandfather than for the candy, sodas, and milkshakes she might have obtained there.

My researches into my mother's family lines has yielded far less information than those into my father's. Some lines in my father's family have been traced (and here, I must stand on the shoulders of genealogical giants) into the 1200s, since the Lloyd family has a number of prominent individuals, among them Thomas Lloyd,  lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania under William Penn between 1690 and 1693. The Rotes are a more mysterious lot. According to, the Rotes in America are descended from a very small number of immigrants. Most Rotes entering the United States departed ports in Norway or Germany, with a few others departing from England, Ireland,  Prussia, and Italy, and most settled in Pennsylvania. Even the origins of the name are obscure, although most sources indicate it comes from the German names Rot, Roth, or Rothe, all variants of the word rot, meaning red.

However, my questions have been much less concerned with tracing the Rotes into antiquity, and more with trying to understand my mother's family. So, it has delighted me to have, after so many years, finally found close relatives on my mother's side of the family. I'm currently in contact with two women, both granddaughters of John Charles "Jack" Rote, my mother's father's next younger brother. We've been having a grand time sending emails back and forth, as we trace the connection, fill in gaps, and share pictures. I've learned that my great-grandfather's confectionery store passed into Jack's possession, and later into one of his son's and then a daughter's hands, and remains in the family to this day. Should you have the opportunity to visit New Castle, PA, I hope you get a chance to visit Rote's on Arlington Avenue and, please, tell them you were sent by a long-lost relative. Someday, I hope to visit, myself.

ETA (19 March 2013): Today I am, very much delayed, updating this post. Three days after I published the post, I received the following correction:

I don't think we know that Jack took over the same store from Alpheus, just that they both had confectionaries. Jack's obit worded it as "he opened a store", rather than that he took over from his father. And the chain of possession from Jack was to his son Art … then to Art's son Danny …, and then to Art's daughter Dale ….
My apologies to all and sundry for the unconscionable delay in making the correction.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day 2012

I hope your Independence Day celebrations are happy and safe. Here's an infographic from Geni.

Create your family tree on Geni for free, and connect to the World Family Tree
to find out if you're related to any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Geni is one of the online services I use to research and record my family tree, and to connect with family members. I'm happy to report that I recently connected with a second cousin on my mother's side through Geni, a connection that has proved to be very fruitful. More about that another day. Have a happy 4th!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rote Home Struck by Lightning on 24 June 1908

I just found a newspaper article that mentions one of my great-grandfathers, Alpheus Rote. According to this story from the June 26, 1908 issue of the New Castle News (the newspaper of New Castle, PA), lightning struck his home and a nearby tree.

Here's a transcript of the information:

Struck by Bolt of Lightening; Yet are Unhurt

Electrical Storm Plays Queer Tricks With City Engineers, a Young Woman and a Horse

To be rendered unconscious and then knocked out of carriage by a lightning bolt and still escape unhurt, is the remarkable experience of three of the members of the city’s engineering corps while engaged in city survey work on Willard street Wednesday afternoon.

The three men, Assistant Engineer C. E. Kimbrough and Assistants Stanley Tresser and Leslie Wilson, were sitting in the two-seated crackey which stood under a tree near the home of Alpheus Rote at No. 55 Willard street. There had been practically no violent electrical demonstration near them, when suddenly the corner of the Rote home was struck by a bolt of lightning.

For several seconds a bluish-green flame played all about the house and the tree under which the horse and carriage with the three men in it stood. Kimbrough and Wilson were knocked out of the carriage and fell to the ground. The horse was knocked senseless and did not recover for several minutes.

Neither men nor beast were hurt in the slightest that they could notice, save that the two who had been knocked out of the carriage were slightly bruised. The Rote home was badly wrecked, portions of the timbers being hurled many feet away.

Sitting near the window of the room at the corner of the house which was struck by the lightning, was one of the daughters of the Rotes. She was engaged in putting on a shoe when the bolt struck, and flying debris, consisting of lath, plaster and pieces of studding flew all about her. She escaped without a mark, not even a piece of plaster having struck her.

Isn't this a great story? I wish the article had mentioned the name of the daughter.