Friday, August 6, 2010

The Winding Road of Genealogy Research

Sitting down at your computer to work on genealogy can take you on a winding road of discovery.

After a computer crash and taking a four year break from genealogy research after the death of my mother, I recently bought a new genealogy program, Family Tree Maker 2010, and began the daunting task of re-entering all the information I have gathered on my family lines since I began researching in 1985. Some of this information I remember well, some of it brings me the same feeling of discovery I had when I first found it. Genealogy is fun again.

Today I opened my genealogy program, took out my Green Family Notebook and turned my attention to the family of John Henry and Martha (Marler) Crump. They were the parents of eight children, but I have yet to track down the names of all of them. I had information on three: Lulu Mahala Crump who married Ernest Raddatz, Rufus "Rube" Crump who married Mamie Wood, and Simon Lee Crump who married Ruby Marie Hardesty. None of the three, however, had the names of all their siblings in their obituaries.

Looking over an undated newspaper article I had on the Golden Wedding Anniversary of John and Martha Crump, I re-discovered that four of their children were living at that time -- the three mentioned above, and another daughter: "Mrs. Ethel Roderique of Fletcher". In the 1910 Census of Washington Co. MO, John and Martha Crump are listed with two children: Simon Lee and Vernal E. Crump. I had thought that Vernal was probably one of those children who died young. Now I began to wonder, could Vernal E. be a daughter named Vernal Ethel?

Opening Mackley's Genealogy website to the obituary pages, I clicked on R and was gratified to see Roderique listed on the index page. Only to be disappointed that there was no Ethel Roderique listed.

Next I went to Jefferson County Missouri's Genweb Page. In the "Search This Site" box, I typed in "Ethel Roderique" -- but the Roderique listings that came up were not helpful. was my next step. Strike three.

When all else fails -- Google. I typed in Ethel Crump Roderique and hit search. And there, at the top of the results, was this:

St. Joachim Cemeteries R-Y
Jun 16, 2010 ... RODERICK,WILFORD "JACK", 30 OCT 1883, 18 APR 1970, H/O ETHEL VERNA (CRUMP). RODERIQUE,BABY, 01 FEB 1945, 01 FEB 1945, INFANT OF WALTER JOHN ...

Aha! Not Roderique but Roderick!

Listed on the St. Joachim Cemetery page was:


But there was no Ethel Verna (Crump) Roderick listed as being buried there, too.

I went back to Google and typed in Ethel Crump Roderick. This time I got two relevant results:

Add a Photo - Tributes.comMr. Roderick is preceded in death by his parents Wilford Jack and Ethel Crump Roderick, his wife, Stefanina Roderick and brothers, Charlie, Paul, ... - Cached

Records » Obits Helen Roderick » Daily Journal Online - Park Hills, MOAug 21, 2009 ... She was born on August 20, 1923 to Wilford and Ethel “Crump” Roderick of Wortham, Missouri. She was a current member of Trinity Lutheran ...

Now I was getting somewhere.

Clicking on each in turn, I found the obituaries of Edgar Glen Roderick and Helen (Roderick) Skaggs. Both children of Verna Ethel (Crump) Roderick.

Helen had stayed in southeast Missouri. Her obituary was in The Daily Journal, Park Hills, Missouri. Edgar Glen Roderick had ended up north of St. Louis, just like some other families from this area, including mine. He had lived in O'Fallon, Missouri. That is close to where my family resided in nearby Troy, Missouri, for some years before returning to St. Francois County. My little sister and I were born there.

In these obituaries, I learned the birth and death dates of both Edgar Glen Roderick and Helen (Roderick) Skaggs. Plus the names of their five brothers: Elvan, Charlie, Paul, and Walter Leonard Roderick. Elvan was still living, the others had preceded them in death.

I also discovered the names of Edgar and Helen's spouses and children. Each obituary had a photograph to go with it -- I clicked and saved these, too, adding them to my family history. Photographs are special -- they put faces to those endless lists of names, dates and places, and remind us we are gathering family, not dry data .

I tried searching for Edgar Glen Roderick's wife Stefanina, who preceded him in death. I wanted to know her maiden name. I found her birth and death dates and last known residence -- information obtained, no doubt, from the Social Security Death Index -- but no maiden name. I did obtain her middle initial -- "J" -- which wasn't in her husband's obituary.

I decided to try Google again and typed in Stefanina J. Roderick. Top of the list of results:

Stefanina's Italian Restaurant & Banquet CenterIn the spring of 2001, a new chapter in the legacy of Stefanina J. Roderick began. Dan and Linda Breen bought the vacated Sacred Heart - Cached - Similar

Remembering a line from Edgar Glen Roderick's obituary -- "He was instrumental in opening the original Stefanina's Pizzeria and Restaurant" -- I clicked on the link and found myself on the website for Stefanina's Italian Restaurant and Banquet Center in -- guess where? -- Troy, Missouri. The town of my birth!

Stefanina's surname was Vitale. She came to the United States with her family at the age of 14. They came from Cinisi, Sicily and lived for some years on "The Hill" in St. Louis, Missouri. She married Edgar Glen Roderick and raised their children. In 1981 the family opened their first restaurant in O'Fallon, Missouri. In 1986 a second restaurant was opened, this time in Wentzville, Missouri.

Finally, in spring of 2001, the family purchased the vacated Sacred Heart Catholic School on Main Street in Troy, MO and had their grand opening in October: Stefanina's Italian Restaurant and Banquet Center -- located in the old Catholic school that I passed many a time in my childhood, on my way to the public school just a few blocks away.

The Catholic school stood catty-cornered to the Courthouse which I also passed many times in those walks to and from school. I loved the immense brick courthouse with its tree-shaded grounds. I did not love the occasions when I was forced to go through its doors to get immunizations from the Public Health Department.

When I was in the first grade, I went once a week, after school, to the Sacred Heart Catholic school for Pixie meetings. Pixies are -- or were -- the first step on the ladder of the Girl Scouts. I enjoyed the activities we had there. I remember walking through empty hallways to the room where we met. I remember it being cold, the tissue paper in the restrooms being very thin and coming out of the dispenser in very small pieces. Occasionally I encountered nuns in the hallway. I was very shy and timid at that age -- sometimes they would smile and seem very nice, and I would blush and hurry on my way. Other times they would seem stern and strict, like some of the teachers at my school, and I would duck my head and hurry on my way.

So that is where the winding road of genealogy took me today -- back to my home town of Troy, Missouri, where a "third cousin, once removed" helped his family open an Italian restaurant in the spot where, nearly forty years ago, my six year old self proudly attended Pixie meetings and looked forward to when she would be a real Girl Scout and earn lots of badges. I wonder, now, if one of those badges in the book that I often leafed through, was a genealogy badge?

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