Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Look at the First Albert Roberts

Once we've clustered all the information we can find on an individual, it's time to look more closely at the details, search for supporting documentation, and see what additional clues that process will bring to us. Of the three possibilities we isolated for the Albert Roberts in the antique photograph I found from Council Bluffs, let's look first at the Albert Roberts from Riverton, Iowa.

We can fairly easily locate an Albert Roberts in the 1900 census, living in Riverton. A small city of less than seven hundred people in 1900, Riverton is located in Fremont County on the southwestern corner of the state of Iowa, two counties to the south of Council Bluffs.

We already know, from reading the newspaper mentions of Albert Roberts' name, that he had a daughter named Leta and a son named Stanley. He also had other daughters for whom we only know their married names. One is Parkison, another is Edwards. And the record for the Albert Roberts in the 1900 census seems to bear that out.

If this is the right Albert Roberts from Riverton, Iowa, we can glean a few other details right away. First, of course, is learning the possible name of the "Mrs. Albert Roberts" as she was labeled in the photograph I found; now we can call her—possibly—by her first name, Alice.

We can also gauge Albert's age by the birth information given, reporting that he was born in November of 1870. In addition, Albert and Alice were married around 1890. And, sure enough, they had a son named Stanley, just as we had learned from the newspaper reports.

As for all the mentions of a Roberts child called Leta, we can assume she was the daughter born in 1889, entered in the 1900 census under the name Milleta (or possibly Malleta). It takes a little additional searching to locate which daughter ended up being the Mrs. Parkison from the newspaper entries. She was likely Ruby Viola (nickname "Ola"), born April 23, 1890, who married Charles Edwin Parkison, as we can see from their son Lyman's marriage record many years later.

Looking forward another ten years from that 1900 census, the Albert Roberts household was again easily found in the 1910 census record. This time, two new individuals join the family. One is six year old daughter Edna. The other is Albert's father, a seventy eight year old widower named Thomas Roberts—definitely a helpful piece of information for our purposes.

Using that key of Albert Roberts' father's name, we can more accurately locate Albert as a son in his father's family in the 1880 census. From that vantage point in the Thomas Roberts household, we can spot Albert's sister Minerva, the Mrs. Cowger who came to assist Albert in those difficult days leading up to his wife's death in 1927.

We also gain a vantage point of now knowing the universe of sibling names for this Albert Roberts, helping us to demonstrate that these are not the same siblings as were listed in the family reunion report for the Albert from Atlantic.

Yet, before we move on to examine that second Albert Roberts, there is one more question I have about the Mrs. Albert Roberts in the case of the Riverton family. Not only had the newspaper coverage included a strange mention—of a "Mrs. Lillian Cowger" coming from Omaha to visit her mother—but the 1900 Albert Roberts household included two girls identified by a different surname. There is more we need to know about this Alice Roberts.

Images: Upper, from the Albert Roberts household entry in the 1900 U.S. Census; lower, from the Albert Roberts household entry in the 1910 U.S. Census; both images courtesy of Ancestry.com.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Far Side. I think coupling those newspaper reports with the usual documentation helps identify the right people more handily.


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