Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Poor Aunt Lena


Great Aunt Lena

 Eva Lena Houston, known as Lena, was born on May 19, 1876 sharing her mother's birthday.  We first see her on an 1880 census listed as the daughter of John Houston III and his wife Mary Virginia Hall, sister to Ada, a pioneer family that many historians followed.  The question everyone had was, "What happened to Eva Lena Houston," she just seemed to disappear never to be seen again in any census, death, marriage record or any other record for that matter.

But I knew the truth, for she became part of my family, she was my great Aunt Lena.  It took me about five years to inform the genealogy community and to convince them of the facts and what I knew was so.

Now I will share it with you.

According to Aunt Lena's death certificate, she was the natural born daughter of my great grandmother, Ada Louise Houston, not her sister, father unknown.   Lena was eight-years-old when her mother married William Russell Roesch in January of 1885. He unofficially adopted Lena and her surname was changed to his.

Lena was active in church, attending Sunday School and then Bible classes.  She belonged to the Epworth League, known today as the MYF, Methodist Youth Fellowship.  She also belonged to and was an active member of the Order of Eastern Star and the Eau Gallie Woman's Club.

She was a very kind, sweet and loving person and would do anything for anyone, especially family.  During most of her lifetime she worked as a private housekeeper.

In December of 1885 Lena got a baby sister named Mary. Mary died at the tender age of 17 months.  She would lose three more siblings in their infancy or were stillborn.  Lena loved her mother and did everything she could to help her. Finally a brother arrived when  Lena was seventeen-years-old. His name was William Russell Roesch, my grandfather.  Her brother grew up, married Nellie Edith Osborne and they had a son, Phillip Osborne Roesch.

Lena, Ada and Nellie
Lena was devastated when she lost her mother on September 10, 1924, a much loved woman of Eau Gallie.  Ada was 67 at the time of her passing.  Tragedy struck again when her sister-in-law Nellie, the wife of her only brother, died just fourteen days later at the age of 32 leaving her six-year-old son.

Lena was in pain but so was her brother.  It was difficult being a single father raising his young son, so Lena took care of her nephew while her brother worked at the newspaper his father started back in 1916 as it's writer and editor. She did this up until the time he remarried  in 1826.

A year later, on June 22, 1927 Lena married for the first time at the age of 51 to Clarence Egbert Dean, a widower.  Sadly Lena's happiness was short-lived for he died a year later.  Lena moved back home with her father and step-mother, Lizzie.  Lizzie was mean to Lena, made up stories about her, accused her of lying and stealing.  Lena cried most of the time.  Matrilineal Monday - Cinderella and The Evil Step-Mother


Lena eventually moved in with her brother and his wife Florence, and their two children, Philip and Elsie.  Lena would rub Elsie's back at night until she fell asleep.  Lena would always give Elsie a quarter when she received payment for her private housekeeping services.

Lena's husband Clarence had given her a gift of a beautiful ring.  In the center was an emerald, for a May birthday, with six round opal stones encircling it.  At the tip and centered between each opal was a seed pearl.  Lena felt wearing the opals brought her bad luck whereas it was not her birthstone.  She gave the ring to her now 14 year old niece, Elsie whose birthstone is the opal for she was born in October .  Elsie loved the ring and wore it for the next 65 years before passing it on to me.  I treasure this ring.

Eva Lena Houston Roesch Dean
My mother, Elsie, when reminiscing about Aunt Lena would cry saying, " Aunt Lena led a very sad life."  Lena's death certificate states that she was admitted into the Brevard County Farm in Titusville, Florida on May 6, 1942, apparently due to illness.  Elsie's mother, Florence, upon learning she was there, tried to bring her home to live with her to no avail.  Three months and six days later, Lena passed away on August 12, 1942 at the age of 67 years, 2 months and 24 days.

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