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 Geni.com 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sibling was a sister, Marion Virginia Rote, about  two years older, who died (of scarlet fever, according to my dad's unpublished and unfinished autobiography) when my mom was seven.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 Ancestry.com, 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.