Family members sought to claim heirlooms
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK-Recently, Cedar Creek Country Club resident Taylor Golden brought a challenge to the Root Seekers Genealogical Society that meets regularly at the Tri-County Library in Mabank.
Root Seeker Grace Donovan, along with a few other members, took on the mission to build a family tree based on a collection of photographs and letters found in a trunk, stored, and eventually auctioned off in Dallas. Golden purchased the trunk many years ago, he said.
Countless hours have gone into the project with the end hope of finding a living relative, to whom these family photographs might be returned. The majority of the photographs date back to the 1920s and 30s.
From names penciled on the back of some of the photos, letters and research using Ancestry.com, Donavan has been able to construct a sparse family tree spanning six generations, under the name Ross Family.
The trunk containing the photographs apparently belonged to Mary Emma Ross Williams, born 1896 in Kansas. She relocated to Fort Worth and was there into 1940 and perhaps died there. She married Charles Foster Williams, who was born in 1883 in Indiana. They both lived in El Reno, Okla. According to the 1930 U.S. Census, Emma was single and living with her parents, Edwige (Smith) and William E. Ross, so she and Charles were married for just a few years, although they knew each other for a long time. Emma and her father both worked for the Rock Island Railroad. He was a clerk, and she was a stenographer.
There are a few pictures of Charles; his son, John Charles by a previous marriage, and Charles’ sister Mable, who married Elmer Brown. But most of the pictures depict the Ross and Smith families, starting with George C. Ross, born in Pennsylvania in 1830 (who was Emma’s grandfather), and his wife, Mary U., (her grandmother). Their son was William Ross, Emma’s father.
Emma’s mother, Edwige Smith was born in Canada in 1870 to Adolph Smith of Ohio, born 1839, and his wife, Flora, born in French Canada in 1837. The couple is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Chickasha, Grady County, Okla.
Gravesites for Mary U. Ross, William E. Ross, Edwige Ross (Emma’s parents), Charles F. Williams, (Emma’s husband, and his parents) Clara and James P. Williams are found in the El Reno Cemetery in El Reno, Okla.
Emma had two brothers: Mark William Ross, born 1891 in Kansas and William C. Ross, born in Oklahoma in 1906.
In the 1920 U.S. Census, Mark William Ross was living in Durango, La Plata, Colo., with his wife, Mary Logan, and a daughter, Betsy J. or Elizabeth. In the 1940 Census, he lived in Utah and another daughter, Catherine, was added. Mark William Ross died in Sacramento, Calif. in 1947.
In the 1930 U.S. Census, William C. Ross and his wife, Georgia, lived in Denver, Colo. The 1940 U.S. Census records him living in Arapahoe, Colo., with wife and son Paul Ross.
Emma’s husband Charles Foster Williams had a son by a previous marriage named John Charles Williams, born 1912 in Oklahoma. The 1940 U.S. Census records him living in Oklahoma City with his wife, Gwendolyn and a daughter, Charlene Ann Williams.
Other family photos depict family names Flintger and Hubbard. Other research also adds names Keeley and Smitt-Smith.
If any of these names turn up in your family tree, the Root Seekers request you contact them at the Tri-County Library P.O. Box 1770, Mabank, TX 75147, Attention: Search.
The 1940 U.S. Census is the latest available census, as details are not released until 70 years, or one complete generation’s lifetime, as not to infringe on most living person’s privacy.