Monday, May 25, 2009

Madness Monday: Samuel Rhodes/Rhoades

The individual seated in the photo to the left is Samuel Rhodes/Rhoades, my husband's great-grandfather. He is proving elusive, and driving me nuts with the fact that I haven't been able to pin him down. He and his unidentified companion are rather rough-looking characters, it seems to me, and I wonder just what the story is here, for a story there is.

Family legend is that Samuel's boys Andrew (my husband's grandfather, born in 1882) and Harley (born in 1885) were placed in an orphanage when they were young because their mother could not take proper care of them at the time. No information has been produced as to why she was in that predicament. Did Samuel run off? Did he die? Was he perhaps locked up? Is the light blotch on the hat of the standing man not a blotch at all, but a policeman's badge?

I have not been able to locate Samuel in the censuses, but I have found his wife Ida Mae Dewey, both before she married Samuel and after she had remarried on 9 February 1888. But I have not pinned him down yet, though I have found a few Samuel Rhodes/Rhoades entries in the area at the time. The spelling variation comes from another aspect of the same family legend, that is: the name Samuel was born with was Rhoades, or so Andrew had it in his Railroad Retirement papers. Andrew, when he was placed in the orphanage, so the family legend says, was a poor speller and left the "a" out of the name, coming up with Rhodes, the spelling our branch of the family uses to this day. Andrew's brother Harley spelled it Rhoades, the name under which he died in Lee County, Florida, in 1947, according to the Florida Death Index.

The way I understood the family legend, related by my father-in-law, was that when Ida Dewey Rhoades Shuster went back to the orphanage to reclaim her sons, Andrew had been adopted out and only Harley was there to be taken home. Ida had by that time married Andrew Shuster, and Harley appears with them in the 1900 census at the age of 15. Andrew was three years older.

I have not found Andrew in the 1900 census, but in 1910 he was in a Chicago boarding house, his profession listed as messenger. By 1920 he was in Tampa, Florida, married and with one son -- my husband's father.

One of the Samuel Rhoades entries in the 1900 census is Samuel J. Rhoades, age 38, an inmate at the Massilon State Hospital in Starke County, Ohio. Ida Dewey, by that time the wife of Andrew Schuster, was 35 in 1900. And Harley Rhoades's middle name was John; it's possible that the J. in this Samuel Rhoades's name stands for John. This is a possible avenue of further research, but it is by no means certain that this is the one I'm looking for.

Another possibility is Samuel H. Rhoades, found in the 1870 census in his father's household in Benton Township, Pike County, Ohio. This is a stronger possibility because the Rhoades clan at that time seems to have hung out in Pike County, where Andrew Rhodes was born. And it is in Benton Township, Pike County, Ohio, that Ida Dewey was enumerated in her parents' household in 1880.

So far I have been unable to locate either a marriage certificate for Samuel and Ida, or a death certificate for Samuel. I just have to keep looking.

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