The Mystery of Eda Rodgers

My 2nd great grandmother has certainly been a mystery to us. Through the years, each of us has clung to snippets of information about her handed down as ‘family lore’. It seems that even the power of Ancestry.com cannot turn up her story! However, I have taken clues and woven them with known facts, place names, area history, and more — and this is my conjecture.

Cordelia Snell Holem related that Bessie Freemont Rodgers (married to George Bertram Rogers) said her mother’s name was Edith Lacey. The only place we find anything with the name “Edith Lacey” is the Social Security paperwork filed by Bessie at some point — listing her mother as Edith Lacey and her father as Adam David Rodgers.

The first original document that mentions Bessie’s mother is a marriage license from Sherman in Grayson County, Texas, for Adam Rodgers and Eda Lackey dated 9 September 1871. The ceremony is validated at the bottom of the license by T. J. Austin O.M., who says that he has married them on 24 September 1871. It’s interesting to note that Thomas Austin (with wife Frances and 5 small children) lives a few doors from David and Sarah Starr Rodgers on the 1870 Collin County Census. The whole Rodgers family (including Adam) live in Weston. It’s highly likely that the wedding took place in Weston where the preacher and the Rodgers clan lived.

Since “Adam Rodgers” and “Eda Lackey” are clearly lettered on the marriage certificate, I am choosing to believe that Eda Lackey was her name. The only other time we see her name in public records is the census of 1880 where she is listed as Ada, with daughters Ida and “V” (Bessie).

The Rodgers family lived primarily in North Texas. Collin, Grayson and Cooke Counties. It’s presumed that Adam (who was 24 at the time of his marriage) would not have gone far to look for a bride. None of these three counties have any Lacy families on the 1870 census records. But there are Lackeys. A large number of them who came from Missouri and settled in Kentucky Town — about 20 miles from where Adam and his parents live in 1870.

The 1870 census has not turned up anyone close to Eda Lackey who would have been about 15 years old at the time. However, there are numerous stray Lackey children who are tucked into other households throughout those census pages. It’s as if a tragedy occurred such that would leave children without parents — and split them up into homes that could care for them.

Eda would have been about 4 years old in 1860. There is not a designated enumeration district for Kentucky Town — all of Grayson County is lumped together as Sherman. The many Lackey families are present in the pages, but Eda has not been found. She may be listed under another name, as there are little girls of the right age within some of the Lackey families.

What information that we have from Eda herself comes from the 1880 census. She was born about 1856 in Missouri. Her father was born in Tennessee and her mother in Illinois. She and Adam have two girls. The census taker has spelled her name “Ada” instead of Eda, but they sound very close. Ida is the firstborn child. There is a one-year old girl who is identified with “V”. No name. This is definitely Bessie Freemont. But why the “V”? According to Cordelia, it’s Bessie herself who is the source for her own name — and Freemont is a total mystery! Perhaps it was Eda’s mother’s maiden name.

A third child was born to Adam and Eda in 1883 — Anna J. Sometime after Anna’s birth, Eda dies. Presumably, the family is in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, where they were on the 1880 census. But there is no record of Eda’s death or burial anywhere in this area.

In 1886, Adam Rodgers marries again — to 16 year old Nancy Evelyn Redwine. She has an instant family with Ida (age 10), Bessie (age 7) and Annie (age 3). Within a year, Nancy has Dora May. Other girls born to Nancy and Adam are Hettie (1891), Ruby Frances (1898), Alma Iona (1899), and Hazel (date unknown). Eight children in all are born to Nancy, but only five survive.

Bessie was very young when her mother died. Maybe she never knew her mother’s name. It’s apparent that she was close to Nancy and to her step sisters, however. Bessie is married about 1894. Her first daughter born in 1896 is Ruby Alma — her sister born in 1898 is named Ruby Francis. That same year, Bessie names a daughter Effie May (like her step sister Dora May?). And in 1899, both Bessie and Nancy have daughters — Alma Iona and Mable Iona.