October 17, 2012

Rose Kingsley Tries to Save Her Family

For several years I have been digging into my genealogy and found some really interesting stories, some inspiring ones and some really sad stories.  With the sad, I always look for the heroes who tried to make things better.  Today I’m going to tell you about a young girl who tried to save her family.

Remember that I don’t have any written history of this person; this is all put together from connecting dots of dates and facts.  I wish I had a good history on her; it would probably be even better than what I see in the dots.

Rose Adell Kingsley was the first girl born to Elihu and Mary Kingsley and the second child overall.  Rose’s mom Mary was only 15 when she married and only 17 when Rose was born in 1852.  I know that kind of thing happened back in the middle 1800s but it still seems strange.  Mary delivered 9 children by the time she turned 29 in 1866.  Rose would have been a big help to her mother as they took care of all of these children.

They lived in a rough wilderness area in Sheffield, Pennsylvania.  Dirt roads, log cabins, woods for hunting and rivers for logging were their surroundings.  It would have been hard work to keep all those kids clean and their clothes washed and their tummies fed.  Plus there would be the cabin with dirt tracked in all day.  Without our modern medicines, homes needed to be scrubbed clean or one disease could wipe out a whole family.

In 1864, Elihu sold the family land to some oil prospectors.  They were drilling wells in the area since the logging industry had moved on westward.  Flush with cash, the family must have celebrated for a while.  One doesn’t know how this fits with our story, but it must have had some bearing to the events that would follow.

When the youngest child Archie was about 2, Mary took him and went to Michigan.  Rose would have been about 16, so she would have taken over and managed all of the work to keep the kids clean and fed, and the house tidy while her mom was away.  

The sad part of the story is that Mary never came home.  She went to Michigan and married another man, as if she had never had a family in Pennsylvania.  Rose, her siblings and her father in Pennsylvania may have watched out the window for a carriage bringing Mary home.  But it never came.  

As time dragged on, it became clear that Mary wasn’t coming home.  The family may have searched for her in Michigan, but didn’t find her.  The stress on Rose and her family must have been considerable, trying to live so long without their mother.  They must have worried about them and wondered if they had died.  

Rose’s older brother married at age 17 in 1866.  Rose’s little 6 year old sister Emma died in 1871.  Perhaps that was when Elihu gave Rose’s other little sister Katheryn Emily to the Barnes family to be raised.  Rose also married a nice young man named Richard Bloss and started her own family in 1871 as well.  That left Rose’s three brothers Fremont 15, George 12 and Charles age 10 with their father.  Surely she looked in on them and helped them take care of the farm.  Even better, perhaps Rose and Richard made their home with her family to help care for the children and the farm until the kids got a little older.

Rose and Richard began having their own children soon after their marriage.  They named them typical names from that era.  But in 1886, Rose named her 8th child ‘Archie.’  It was about this time that her brother Archie started using his actual last name, not the last names of his Mother Mary’s husbands.  (She had married another time after her second husband died.)  One might conclude that this is when Mary reconnected with the family she left behind.  And it is a nice thought that Rose would honor her newly rediscovered brother Archie in this way.

One can imagine the intense emotions felt on the day they reconnected.  Rose’s dad thought that Mary was dead.  Perhaps they all thought that, as it had been almost 20 years since Mary and Archie had left.  One can understand that the children would feel anger at being abandoned, joy at learning they were still alive, and sadness at the years lost and the pain endured over those years.  

Mary would have been sad to hear that Emma had died, but happy to learn of her children who had married and begun families of their own.  One wonders how Mary would have reacted when she learned that her daughter Katheryn had been given away.  And how would she feel when she learned that George wasn’t mentally well?  Leaving her family without a mother to love and nurture her children proved to be devastating to them.  

No record describes how this reunion went or if the family ever stayed connected afterward.  But one thing is clear:  Rose forgave her mother.  When Mary’s third husband died, Rose brought her aged mother into her own home and cared for her until she died about a year later.  

Of all the children, Rose had every reason to be especially angry with her mother.  She saw daily the tears and anguish her younger siblings experienced over the many years Mary was gone.  Rose kissed their booboos and wiped their faces; Rose cleaned the cabin and washed their clothes.  Rose may have even had to drop out of school to tend to these duties.  She had every right to turn her back on her mother forever.  Instead, Rose nurtured her mother in her last years, a sign of true forgiveness.  

One more note—the only oral history passed down on this family is missing this abandonment completely.  Where Katheryn Emily is given away, it is explained that the Barnes family wanted a girl and Elihu had more than one, so he let them take her and raise her.  Rose gathered and kept the family bible and records and passed them on to Katheryn’s daughter.  While maintaining these records, Rose could have easily told this awful tale in glorious detail for posterity.  

Rose did the best a teenage girl could do to save her family in her mother’s absence.  And she loved and forgave her mother, as seen in her ignoring this abandonment in her history and caring for her aged mother.  Rose made a huge difference in her family!

We can all do the hard things that will make a big difference in our families' lives.  

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