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Friday, June 17, 2016

Poppy's birthplace

Not everyone would get excited about finding pictures of the place where their grandfather had been born.  Just a bunch of genealogy freaks like me.

Traces of Texas, a Facebook site which frequently shares old vintage photos that it's members have sent in, posted some from Willis, Texas last week.  And it wasn't just one photo, it was a Facebook site for the City of Willis Texas!  I felt like I'd struck gold.

That's because the last article I found on the town had said it wasn't anything anymore, because the railroad had passed it by when it was where people could travel.  Ah ha, not so any longer!  Of course I knew that, but didn't search any more. And my grandfather never told any stories from his life.  He was a joker, and always had the family laughing. I think he coped with some tragedies in his life by learning that shared laughter was a glorious thing. He only lived until the year I graduated high school.

Poppy (my father's father) was born in Willis Texas, on August 28, 1877.  George Elmore Rogers, Sr.

Posted on Facebook by - Traces of Texas June 13 at 5:00pm · 
The City of Willis, Texas graciously shared this wonderful circa 1900 photo of downtown Willis. The city has a nice webpage with all sorts of historical photos and current information about Willis.

1880 Census from Willis Texas.
George Rogers is line 18 in the household #183, of widow Betty Rogers, who was "keeping house." He was 2 at that time, and his little sister was 1 year old.

His sister had been born in March, and his father died in May of 1879. George's father, William Sanford Rogers died at age 29 and was buried in the Rogers family plot in Huntsville, TX, where he had been born and raised.  However by the time he was an adult, he met and married Betty (Elizabeth) Bass of Old Wavery, TX in Willis TX on Dec 15, 1876.  The information on this wedding includes the pastor being Rev. D. S. Snodgrass.

It's funny how some details are carried along, and others lost.  Why did they move to Willis?  How did they meet? What killed him so young? Was Betty Bass Rogers really only 19 and widowed with 2 children as it says in the census? (No definite records of her birth have been found and she gave different ages on different census records.)

And how did the widow survive? I think in those days she would have moved in with relatives.  She had several sisters.  And her husband had a fairly large family.  But perhaps in 1879 things were difficult. However, there she is in the census of 1880 living with her two children in Willis, Texas.

I have a census record from 1900 where my grandfather again was still living with his mother and sister, but then in Galveston, TX, which was a city much like Houston is now.  By that time he was 22 and working as an accountant.  That census was taken in June of the year of the horrible Storm of 1900 which came in September and wiped out much of the city and as many as 6000 lives.  My grandfather not only survived, but I'm sure he helped in the massive cleanup afterwards.

I'm reposting some photos that were on the City of Willis, TX  Facebook page, HERE.

Hotel on corner of Montgomery St, Willis TX, around the turn of the Century (1900)

1910 Willis Saloon, Billiy Wilson and J. P. Paddock with a mascot on the bar.

Where was this saloon?
The Willis City person said, "I believe it was in one of the old brick buildings of the downtown strip still standing."

Look at the first photo where there is, indeed, a Saloon depicted! 

OK, there is much more I can learn about Willis, TX.  I'll do that, then do some editing and share with you later...the things that seem pertinent at least.

And I'm sharing this with my Sepia Saturday friends, though it has nothing to do with the meme for this week.  But you might enjoy seeing what the others have posted HERE (down where all the names are listed.)

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