Tag Archives: Isabella McCabe Anderson

Great Grand Aunt Amy Anderson Roof- Match Making

Accidental Match Making

[Oct. 2016–death date corrected to 1919]

Thanks to the videotaped memoirs of Rhema Anderson Fair, I learned a little more about my maternal grandfather’s aunt, Amy Anderson Roof (1843- 1919). Don’t you just love the term “great grand aunt?” I want to share just a small story about how an almost-spinster met her husband-to-be. And how she flew away from a Bird and landed on a Roof.

Amy’s mother was Isabella Sarah McCabe Anderson (1818-1912), the 2nd wife of Joseph J. Anderson.  Amy was Sarah’s fourth child, and there were two older step-siblings and three younger siblings in the family which included my great-grandfather. I have discovered only two pictures of Aunt Amy–unfortunately none from her youth. (Unless she’s one of those unidentified babies in tintypes.)

It is a shame that we don’t have a color portrait, because both Rhema Anderson Fair and my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser talked about what beautiful long red hair she had. As girls they were in awe of their great aunt’s beauty.

Here is the picture of the Anderson and Stout clans that includes Amy Anderson Roof when she was a 66-year-old widow; and Rhema Anderson Fair who told the story. Isabella McCabe Anderson is the woman seated in the very center in the black dress.

Vera and Guy Anderson and families 1909

Vera and Guy Anderson and families 1909. Aunt Amy is the 2nd seated woman from the left, and Rhema is to her right. This is the house that her husband built on Mile Hill near Killbuck.

By the time Amy was twenty-eight, her siblings– older and younger– except for the two youngest brothers–had long ago married and moved out of the family home, so she was well on her way to becoming a spinster. When she was not working helping her mother, she was reading. A very religious woman, Amy educated herself by reading the Bible and Shakespeare.  Rhema said that Amy had “memorized all of Shakespeare” (at least enough to impress Rhema as a young girl!).

As to meeting possible mates, I can only imagine that her main social activities centered around church and gatherings with family and neighbors. As Rhema said, “In those days, they married close to home.”  

As I look at a map of the farms in Monroe Township in Holmes County from the 1800s, I can’t help but notice that the Bird farm and an Anderson farm share a border. Amy’s sister Caroline (Catherine) Anderson had married a Bird. Later  Rhema’s mother–my grandfather’s first wife, Lillis Bird–married into the Anderson family.

So it is not surprising that Amy Anderson was engaged to a man named Bird, also.  He was studying at the University of Michigan and later would become Superintendent of Schools in Denver, Colorado, according to Rhema. The Anderson family valued education and were probably thrilled that Amy was engaged to marry a young man who was attending a university.

Unmarried daughters often had the assignment of taking care of other people and Amy was taking care of her brother-in law, Rhema says, because “her sister had died.”  Looking at a list of Amy’s siblings, that was most like Charles Quaid, husband of Amy’s step-sister Abigale Anderson Quaid, who had been married in 1841–before Amy was born.

One weekend (I don’t know what year), Mr. Bird, the fiance, came home to visit his family and brought along one of his friends. Unfortunately for Mr. Bird, he introduced his fiancee Amy to this friend, Thomas J. Roof. They fell for each other, and eventually  married.

He was 36 and Amy was 30 before they were married in 1872.

Thomas Roof was always called “Dr. Roof ” by our family members, but I have not yet found any proof that he actually practiced medicine. Perhaps he was in medical school, but as I learned with my  Great Grandfather’s education, that was not as lengthy process as it is nowadays, so I am at a loss to know why, if the couple met while Thomas was in college it took so long before they were married. It is possible that Rhema did not mean they met when the men were in college, but afterwards.

There are many mysteries surrounding Thomas J. Roof besides why he and Amy married so late in life.  Was he really a doctor? Where did all the money come from for constant travel and building an elaborate house in Monroe Township? Where did he come from?

There is another Thomas J. Roof, born the same year who farmed in Standing Stone, PA. That confused me for a while, but it is not the same person, since the Pennsylvania one was still living after “ours” died. As usual with these family stories, facts just lead to more questions.  I’m on the case.

In 1880 Amy and Thomas Roof were living  in Vermillion, Illinois and he was listed in the census as a pharmacist (not a doctor), but by 1900 they had bought a farm outside of Killbuck and built an elaborate house. He was listed in that census as a farmer.

Amy and her husband Thomas Roof were renowned for traveling widely, and it was thought they owned houses in places other than Killbuck, but again, nothing specific in the way of evidence.

The 1910 census shows that Amy’s mother lived with her, but when her mother died two years later,  Amy moved into the Killbuck home of her younger brother Franklin Anderson.  There she helped look after Rhema Anderson in her pre-teen and early teen years.


Lisle Family 1916

Lisle Family 1916. Rhema Anderson (white blouse, 3rd from left) has become a beautiful teen. She is leaning on a visibly aged Aunt Amy’s shoulder (now 73). The woman holding the baby is Amy’s sister Margaret Anderson Lisle.

[Correction: her tombstone in the Welcome Cemetery says she died in 1919]. Although we do not yet have an official record of the year of Amy’s death, she appears in a family photo in 1916, and my mother’s memoirs about the corpse downstairs puts the date of Amy’s death at 1916 or 1917, so her death must have happened soon after that picture was taken. (Margaret Anderson Lisle also died in 1917.)

All the family impressions are that Amy and Dr. Roof had a happy and even exciting life.  But is there more to the story? I’ll let you know what I find.

The Youngest Son: Herbert Guy Anderson

Talking about Aunt Pauline’s Date Pudding  got me thinking about my Uncle Herbert, My mother’s brother, Herbert Guy Anderson (1908-1963).

Ken and I had moved to Arizona just before Uncle Herb died.  I was devastated by the news. A friend asked if we were particularly close. I had to honestly reply, “No” because I had never spent a great deal of time with him, and yet I loved him for his fun-loving, ornery personality. He always called me “Monkey” when he saw me, and it seemed a term of endearment. One moment shines clearly through the fog of years.

When I was in 2nd grade, my cousin Jim Anderson was called out of class. That was no surprise because Jimmy, a chip off the Herb block, was always getting in trouble with tricks like jumping out of the coat closet to scare the girls. Then I was called out of class, too.  When I went into the towering hallway with its dim dark wooden floors, and smell of sawdust and recess sweat,  I saw all my cousins gathered around my Uncle Herbert, still in his navy uniform. My heart was bursting with love and pride.  He had included me in the circle of his family to meet with when he returned from World War II.

When Herbert Guy Anderson was born, the family was living on the Anderson Farm outside of Killbuck, and he made an appearance when he was about one year old at a large family gathering.

Herbert Andrson in rare four- generation family picture. Front Grandma Isabella McCabe Anderson, left her son Frank Anderson, Back her grandson Guy Anderson and his wife, Vera holding great-grandson Herbert, far right, dtr-in-law Mary Brink Anderson, Guy's mother. 1909

Herbert Anderson in rare four- generation family picture. Front Grandma Isabella McCabe Anderson, left her son Frank Anderson, Back her grandson Guy Anderson and his wife, Vera holding great-grandson Herbert, far right, dtr-in-law Mary Brink Anderson, Guy’s mother. The two children in front are from Guy’s first marriage–Telmar and Rhema. 1909

Isabella McCabe was Scotch through and through, and there was a thread of the Scottish sense of humor that ran through the men in that family. Don’t you imagine a thin, spry man with a twinkle in his eye, stopping for a pint or two? I always see my Daddy Guy or my Uncle Herbert.

Harriette, Bill and Herbert were very close.  When Herbert was old enough to join the fun, he and Bill must have totally tested the patience of their mother, Vera Anderson, because they were life-long jokesters who liked to stir things up and have fun.

I remember a later family ritual at Thanksgiving time. After dinner, while everyone else was helping “redd up”–clear the table and clean up the kitchen– Bill and Herb would race for the living room sofa.  After a little nap, (the loser in the overstuffed chair) they would start a cut-throat game of 500 Rum, in which they would gleefully cheat everyone else–including their own mother and hapless little niece (me)–ensuring that they were always the winners. They thought this was absolutely hilarious.

The family had briefly moved to Columbus Ohio in the mid 1920s, where Harriette was in school, and Guy, Herbert and Bill thought they could find better jobs during tough economic times. That may explain why Herbert did not finish school. But it didn’t take long after he returned to Killbuck, for him to find Pauline McDowell.

Herbert  married Pauline McDowell (1911-1989) in 1927 when she was 16 years old and he was 19.  They jumped from high school into adult life. In 1930, they were living with my Grandmother Vera and Grandfather Guy Anderson in Killbuck, with their one-year-old son, Herbert, and Herb was working as a laborer at the stone quarry.

 You’ve met Herbert Guy Anderson, Jr., known to the family as “Sonny,” here before. That was when my grandmother and grandfather were running a boarding house, so it makes me wonder if Pauline might have helped out with the cooking and cleaning. At any rate, this picture shows how young they were, and the attractiveness that drew them together.

Herbert Andrson with family.

Herbert Anderson with Baby Herbert and wife, Pauline, 1929. I got this picture from Ancestry.com and appreciate the sharing by a distant cousin.

Herb was skinny and lively, much like his father. And like his father, he moved quickly from job to job, most involving driving some sort of vehicle. This Stutz Bearcat belonged to his mother and father, and you saw it in a piece about traveling.

Herbert Anderson with Stutz Bearcat 1927

Herbert Anderson with Stutz Bearcat 1927. Another photo from a collection at Ancestry.com, with thanks.

Ten years later, by the time she was 26,  Pauline had given birth to four more children besides “Sonny”, my cousins Romona , Joann, Larry and James (Jimmy). Uncle Herb was working in a low-paying government highway job and they lived in a rented property in Killbuck, Ohio. Times were tough for everyone in those depression years

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the world changed for most Americans. Both of my uncles soon signed up for the Navy SeaBees (C.B.– Construction Battalion), and were sent to the Pacific.  So Pauline was left at home to care for 5 children and make do.

Even though I was very young, I remember the worry among the adults, mixed with pride at their contribution to the war effort.  Everyone avidly read the newspapers, and followed the news reports on the radio.  We tried to figure out from the highly censored letters where the men might be, without success.

Herbert G. Anderson chauffeur license

Herbert G. Anderson chauffeur license, no date, but this is how I remember Herb. This is another picture form a collection at Ancestry.com

My grandfather, Daddy Guy, died in 1944.  Uncle Herb was home on leave for the funeral.  The adults wanted the children out of the house for a while (the body was on display in the living room with visitors streaming through), and Herb packed us in his car and drove out of town.  We all screamed–in real fear–as he raced across the Killbuck bridge and across the bottom land at top speed.  His devil may care antics just were not funny to that car full of kids at that moment.

Herbert operated heavy equipment (bulldozers and the like) while in the SeaBees, a skill that helped him find employment at a stone quarry when he returned home. But like so many World War II veterans, Herb hid whatever demons haunted them from the war with heavy drinking with his friends  and general merry-making at the VFW post.

So it was very sad, but not totally unexpected when he died in a one-car accident around midnight in December 1963.  He was only 55 years old.