Monday, October 22, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Obituary for Willa (Vanevery) Roberts - 1916

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009.  Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe their family history documents. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.


Willa (Van Every) Roberts (1890-1916) was the sister of my grandmother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch. A few years ago I shared a letter she wrote to her father a month before she died. In the letter, among other things, she wrote that she didn't feel well. I've had difficulty locating a death certificate for Willa. I did have someone look for her in the Texas state archives, without success, as well as Caldwell County records. A few days ago I found the below obituary at NewspaperArchive. I'm calling it an obituary, but the newspaper printed it in the form of a letter.

Lockhart Post Register
Lockhart, Texas
Thursday July 20, 1916
Page 3

Mrs. Lex Roberts

Mrs. Lex Roberts (nee Willa Van Every) who recently left here on a visit to relatives at Berclair, Goliad County, died there on the ninth of this month of typhoid fever.

Her remains were laid to rest in the Berclair cemetery, funeral services being conducted by Rev. S. B. Beall of Beeville.

She leaves a husband, one little girl, parents and sisters and many friends to mourn the loss of a blithe young life.

Mrs. Aug. Benold
Berclair, Texas


1) It's rare to actually know the author of the obituary. Mrs. August Benold was Willa's sister, Minnie, so it's clear she is at least one of the relatives in Berclair Willa was visiting. Willa's father, Melvin, opened a creamery in Berclair in 1914, so there's a good chance he was there too. However, I believe they maintained a farm in San Marcos, Caldwell County until they moved to El Paso in 1917.

The letter may have been edited by the newspaper, as it seems strange for Minnie to use 'here' to refer to Lockhart, when Minnie lived in Berclair. However, Minnie was writing it to appear in the Lockhart newspaper, so she could have been intentionally writing it in that fashion.

2) There's a good reason I didn't find record of her death in Caldwell County records - she died and was buried in Goliad County. I've requested a photograph of her grave at FindAGrave; hopefully a local member of the website will be able to help me out.

3) "Blithe" is one of those words with two very different definitions.  I suspect it is most often used today in the negative sense of a callous, casual indifference. However, here it means 'happy, joyous.'

No comments: