Monday, October 31, 2011

Snow?  Seriously?

I thought I had a few more weeks that I could use to schedule a trip down to MA and get some more gravestone photos.  Sounds like I may need to schedule a spring trip now.

Happy Halloween, Everyone! (Can I assume we'll have Tulips by New Year's?)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Still Here. Honest.

I realize it's been a while since my last post, so I wanted to let folks know I am still here.  My research time has been shifted to another family line the later half of this summer, as I made it through another brick wall in early August and have been soaking up as much information about that line as I can.

And in the last week I've taken on a new task altogether. I've decided to try to stop the chaos in my office that is genealogy and organize, sort, and get rid of all the paper. I've started a new blog to journal out the progress on that effort at and invite you all to join me there too.

There are certainly ROPP papers that I have in piles in my office right now that will crop up as I continue my research.  In the mean time, if you're a cousin and have any breakthroughs of your own, feel free to email them to me so I can post them here or add them as a comment.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another ROPP Success story.

Sorry it's been so long between posts. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time to write anything great now either except to share some new news I got via email today.This fall I will be giving a talk at the Maine Genealogical Society's Fall Conference on using social web sites for accelerating your genealogy research and is a great example of just that.

A few months ago I asked for photos from the Milbury cemetery where François and Frederique are buried.  Today I got the following email from findagrave:

Great News!

Find A Grave contributor, patricia wade has fulfilled your photo request for
François Ropp. To see the new photo(s), visit François Ropp's online memorial by
clicking on the link below:

If you'd like to thank patricia wade, click on the following link to leave them a

A successful photo request is a great example of the Find A Grave system working. If
you're happy with the services provided by Find A Grave, please consider removing
the ads from the François Ropp Online Memorial. Please click on the following link
to learn about sponsoring memorial pages:

Find A Grave

If you're so inclined take a few minutes to look at these photos a very kind (and new) findagrave volunteer took and posted online for our family, and thank her for her efforts.  This is a great service!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Frederique ROPP - The wait is over

A BIG Thank you to the Boylston Historical Society and Museum ( for the information they recently sent me for a small research fee, which was, in my opinion worth every penny!

Here's some information about the ROPP family of Boylston folks may or may not have known:

1) records of the historical society indicate Frederique owned property on Maine Street Cricle from 1893-1929  In 1901/31 the property is listed as "heirs of F. Ropp"  In 1934 the owner is listed as Marcellus Ropp (or Ropper?) of Worcester.

2) Frederique died at 75 yrs, 10 mths, 20 days of pneumonia on May 4, 1928.  The historical society says she is the daughter of John Ropp and Sophia Roux of France, but I'm not sure about the ROPP, since I assume that is a married name (although I understand its possible to marry someone of the same surname)

3) Frederique's daughter, Alice, was married September 5, 1898 in Boylston to Frank M. Knight (Source: Town clerks' report, 1899)

4) A very interesting article was sent to me about the ROPP family that waspublished in the "Boyston Historical Series" Vol 13. I won't reproduce the whole article here for copyright worries, but here's the gist of the story...

In 1898 a French Canadian man, Anthony Newell, came to Boylston looking for a job. He ended up joining the army and was sent to the Phillipines. (Presumably as part of the Phillipine-American war, though that is conjecture on my part)  In 1902 Mr. Newell came back to Boylston (after apparently having contracted malaria while ooverseas) and was hired by Frederique.  He apparently had a fancy for Frederique's daughter, Marie.  At some point, Frederique took in another hired hand, John Burke.  Newell grew jealous of Marie and Burke and eventually left his job.  He left for Worcester, but eventually jumped back on the trolley headed back to Boylston.  He confided in someone on the trolley that he was planning on killing 2 people and then killing himself...  Needless to say the authorities were notified when the trolley came to a stop, and there was a standoff outside the Ropp home.  Eventually Newell took off, but the Ropps were protected in their home overnight. In the morning, when the police decided to go out and start searching the area for Newell, they noticed a a calf was shot in the head, and Newell's body was found near the edge of the forest with a bullet wound through his chest.

The story ends by saying attempts were made to contact Newel's only known living relative, but were unable.  He was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Boylston with only a few town officials at the burial.

How sad?  I wonder if someone in the NEWELL family is trying to figure out what happened to Anthony?  I wonder if there was anything really going on with Marie and John Burke... I wonder when Alice came to America, since she wasn't listed on the ship manifest with Frederique, François, Eugene, Marie and Ernest...

As always.... a few more answers.... a few more questions...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Information on Frederique's life in Boylston, MA

I thought the family members watching the blog would like to know I got an email from the Boylston Historical Society earlier this week indicating they are sending me some information pertaining to Frederique and family, including "an interesting story" that appeared in the local paper.

I'm looking forward to seeing what that may be, and I'll definitely share with you whatever I may learn...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Everything I Know About François ROPP

With a post title like "Everything I know about François ROPP" this can only go one of 2 ways.  Either this post is going to be exceedingly long with tons of information, or pretty short, with nothing at all.  Yep.  You guessed it.  I don't know very much...  Here it all is. If anyone knows more, please feel free to share in either a comment, or email and I can post an update with additional information:

Fact #1 - François and Frederique ROPP immigrated to America in 1893 aboard the ship Le Bretagne, which left Port Le Havre, France and arrived at Ellis Island on 03 April 1893.  They had with them 3 children, Eugene (11 years old), Marie (14) and Ernest (19).  According to the ship passenger list, François was 51 at the time of their arrival and listed his occupation as "farmer."  Frederique was 41.  They originated from France and were heading to Woorcester [sic] upon arrival.  (Source: original ship manifest available online at

Fact #2 – In the 1900 Census there is no F. ROPP in Worcester, MA (where I assume the ship manifest is referring) but there is a Frederique ROPP listed as Head of Household in Boylston, MA (Worcester County) who had 2 children: Eugene A. and Marie M.  All are the right age for our family members and all are listed as being born in France and arriving in America in 1892.  Frederique is a farmer. Eugene is a Milk Dealer, and Marie M. is a weaver at a woolen mill. (Source: 1900 Census Boylston, MA available at

If this is the same family, where are Ernest and François?

Fact #3 – According to "Centennial History of The Town of Millbury Massachusetts Including Vital Statistics 1850-1899" (published 1915) on page 775 under the "Deaths" section,
there was a Francois ROPP who died Nov 12, 1893 in Millbury at age 53. This François was the son of a “Christopher” and “Hannah”  (Source: The book referenced is available online at the internet archive:

Millbury is a community just a few miles south of the present day city of Worcester, so this could very well be our François ROPP.  His passing would explain his absence in the home of Frederique in the 1900 census.

Fact #4 – According to the Boylston Historical Society Records (  Frederique ROPP died in Boylston in 1926 and was buried in a cemetery in the town of Millbury.  My assumption is, of course, that she was buried with her husband, François who had died and was also buried in Millbury, but I have not confirmed this yet.  Somewhere in my notes, I wrote that the two are both buried in Millbury Central Cemetery, although I didn’t capture a source for this information.  I have an open photo request for these 2 stones in this cemetery that has not been claimed yet.  I may make the trip to MA myself to do some searching.

This is about all I know about François ROPP. I know some of the dates don’t match up exactly, but they are close enough to make me think these are the people I’m looking for, particularly knowing the ROPP family was in the Worcester area based on the stories of current ROPP descendants.

Anyone else have something to share, or correct me on? 

Some Questions:

Does anyone have a death record for François?

Does anyone have documentation and/or family story that would help prove or disprove our François was the son of Christopher and Hannah, or have any general information about where in France this family originally immigrated from?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Irene and Frank ROPP

My great grandmother, Helen ROPP had 2 half siblings.

Irene and Frank ROPP were the children of Ernest J. ROPP (Helens father) and Mary.  I was told by a distant relative that Mary's last name was Holleran, though I don't have any documented proof of that myself.

Recently a few of us ROPP "cousins" started emailing one another with information we knew and one day, one of these gentleman share this link with us:

Since my focus to this point has been on my immediate family, I don't have any information about Irene or Frank, but it seems from this post that the two of them spent some time in an orphange, which makes me wonder if perhaps Helen was there as well.  In recent exchanges with one of Helen's daughters I got the impression Helen and her half siblings were not very close, despite all living in the MA area.

If anyone knows more about the orphanage being refered to in the post above, please take a moment to share with us through a comment here and/or by posting an answer to the original query. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday’s Obituary - Frances Ramona DOW

Frances Ramona DOW was my grandmother who married Vaughn INGERSON 30 Nov 1954.  She died in 2004 and is buried in Rockland, ME.  For the purposes of living family members, I am omitting the "survived by" section of her obituary. If anyone has an interest in learning more about this more recent family, email me or comment on this post and I will give you what information I can:

"ROCKLAND – Frances Ramona Ingerson, 70, died Thursday, November 11, 2004, at Knox Center for Long Term Care, after a long illness.

Born at Owls Head, September 28, 1934, she was the daughter of Raymond A. and Frances Knowlton Dow. She attended the one room Bear Hill School and was a 1951 graduate of Rockland High School.

In conjunction with raising nine children by herself, Ramona worked as a cook and waitress at the former Log Cabin and Paramont Restaurants. She later worked in area fish processing plants.

For many years she supplemented her income making Christmas wreathes for the holiday season. She also knitted Scandinavian sweaters, hats and mittens, giving many of them to children. This was an activity of compassion she continued until recent confinement due to illness.

She often wrote poetry and stories for her children, enjoyed music, but particularly loved the Christmas Holiday Season.

Ramona's family said their Mom was an awesome cook. They remember her wonderful whoopee-pies, cakes, donuts, potato yeast rolls and the fact that each Thanksgiving she baked each one of her children a pie.

Pre-deceased by her mother, Frances, step-father Floyd Montgomery, Sr. and one step-son, John Ingerson, Ramona is survived by nine children...


A graveside committal service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, November 19, 2004 at McPhail-Hicks Cemetery, Ingrahams Hill, Owls Head.

Those who wish may make memorial donations to Maine Childrens Cancer Program, 100 U.S. Route One, Unit 107, Scarborough, ME 04074.

Arrangements are in the care of Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock Street, Rockland."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Calling my ROPP Cousins...

If you are interested in the families (descendants or ancestors) of François and Frederique ROPP and would like to add your own research/findings to this blog, let me know. You can comment on any post, or send me an email.  I'm more than willing to let anyone who has an interest in the family add their own information, and posting is easy as pie!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Believe Me? Helen Ropp's Birth Certificate

Return of a Birth (a.k.a. Birth Certificate) for Helen ROPP
(shared with me by my great aunt ML.)

Well, this isn't a perfect amount of proof, but it's pretty good at showing Helen's mother is the mysterious Mattie Carolina Kelley.  A couple of key things that should be pointed out... Mattie's last name is listed as ROPP which makes me believe the couple was perhaps married at the time of Helen's birth. I have not tracked down a marriage certificate for them yet, but since Mattie's birthplace is listed as Baltimore and Helen was born in Baltimore, I assume IF Ernest and Mattie really were married, it was somewhere around Baltimore.

The second, and perhaps more important thing to note is scratched in pen at the top of the document.  "Given Name Added  11-9-66.  I'm not sure why or how it was added at that time, but it's an important fact to point out "just in case" the document is incorrect. It certainly looks legit, but a birth certificate that was not completely filled out unti 60 years after the birth does leave some room for potential error.

And now we know Helen's middle name, Adline.  Thanks for sharing this with us, ML!

Finally! The ROPP Connection - Helen A. ROPP

My first few posts were more or less background for getting into the ROPP family, which I will start today.

A few days ago, I mentioned my grandfather,Vaughn INGERSON.  What's the connection with François and Frederique ROPP?  Here it is:

Vaughn's mother was Helen ROPP.  Helen's father was Ernest ROPP. Ernest's Father was François ROPP.

Helen ROPP has been an interesting story for me, and a bit of a brick wall, despite her daughter, my great aunt, ML, helping me with what information she knows.

For anyone else researching this ROPP family of François and Frederique, you may not recognize the name "Mattie Carolina Kelley" as being Ernest ROPP's wife and/or mother to Helen.  ML told me years ago the story that Helen was born in Baltimore, MD to Ernest and Mattie (Martha?), but that Mattie left soon after Helen was born. The story as I recall it is that Mattie wanted to pursue an acting career and may have gone to New York to make it big.

1910 Household Containing  Helen ROPP
By 1910, Helen ROPP is living in Boylston, MA with her grandmother, Frederique. (By this time François had already passed away).   But her father Ernest is not listed as a member of the household at this time.

1920 Household Containing Helen ROPP
By 1920, Ernest is back in the picture and the ROPP family is renting an apartment on East Kendall St. in Worcester, MA according to the U.S. Federal Census for that year.  At this time, Ernest has a wife, Mary, and 2 more children, Irene and Francis D.  I believe Mary's surname before marrying Ernest was HOLLERAN, though I am not sure why I have that in my notes. I don't seem to have a source for that bit of information.  At this time, Helen ROPP was 13.  Irene was 5, and Francis D. was 2.

We learn from the 1920 census that Ernest's wife, Mary and the 5 year old, Irene were born in Canada.  Francis D. was born in Massachusetts, which means Ernest was probably in Canada in 1910 (possibly following mill work) where he met and eventually married Mary.  If Irense was 5 and born in Canada and Francis was 2  and born in Massachusetts, Ernest and his new family must have returned to Massachusetts sometime between 1915 and 1918 or thereabouts.

Frederique was still living in Boylston in 1920, though Ernest was now in Worcester, about a half hour drive today on MA-70 (according to Google Maps)  Ernest's occupation at this time is listed as a machinist working in construction.

More to come on Helen and All the ROPPs I know about in upcoming posts.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stepping Back... Vaughn Ingerson

After our intial contact, my great aunt, ML, sent me this photo of my grandfather, Vaughn.  It's terribly faded now because I had it up on the refrigerator for years before realizing that was probably a bad way to store the only photo I have of my grandfather...

Now  I have this tucked away in a box with some other photos and I use a scanned image to share with people that are interested.  Because I didn't know him, the only thing I really know about my Grandfather is information I heard from other people.

More recently, within the last 6 months, ML sent me more photos.  So, I know Vaughn was in Europe during WWII, at least at the end of the War I was told he was part of the Berlin airlift.  It appears he was part of a Military Police Unit.

In the years since I first corresponded with ML, I also learned that I have a half uncle, Wolfgang who is from Germany.   I have his email now, and he occassionally emails from his worldly travels, but I haven't had the opportunity to meet him yet.  Perhaps some day...

Friday, April 15, 2011

My first Connection

My grandfather Vaughn INGERSON died when I was about 11. I only had a chance to meet him once, and that was pretty much when he told our family he was dying.  My grandmother and my grandfather went their separate ways when my mother was a child, so she wasn't one to chat a lot about him and I didn't really ask. Heck, at 11, I didn't even wonder about my grandfather. I didn't really know any better.

But as I got older and became more interested in my family history, I started asking more questions and realized the topic of my grandfather was a bit of a sore subject in the family.  In 2006 I order a copy of Vaughn's Death Certificate from the State of Massachusetts.  This was the first official record I ordered as part of my family history research.  The information on it was very helpful at identifying exactly where he died.  I'm not sure how, or where I found it, but eventually I came across an obituary for Vaughn that listed his surviving siblings...  I looked online to see if there were people still living in the area with that name, and 'lo and behold I found one.  So, I sat down and wrote a letter to his sister, not knowing if was even still at the address or if she would care to speak with me.

A few weeks later (when I had honestly already forgotten about sending the letter, I received a reply via email. It said "Hello Brian. My name is M. L. You sent a letter to my sister that she gave to me about Vaughn Ingerson. I am his sister...." and it went on to explain a little bit about the immediate family.

By this time I was away at college (if you can call an hour drive from home "away) and very excited to make a connection. Not only that, but M. L. seemed interested in knowing about her family history as well. It was M. L. who first introduced me to François and Fredique ROPP.

Before this I knew my Grandfather's last name was INGERSON, but I knew nothing else about his family.  Now I knew Vaughn's mother's name was Helen ROPP. Helen's parents were Ernest  and Mattie (Kelley) ROPP. I learned Helen was born in Baltimore, but Ernest and his family were "originally" from the Worcester, MA area.  With this information I set about looking through census records and trying to find my ROPP ancestors.

This was the beginning of my journey, and the first of my connection to living ROPP relatives. One side trip...  As I begin to recount my own journey learning about my ROPP ancestry, I expect to post fairly often to this blog. As I get caught up to the present day, I will only be updating the blog when information becomes available.  Hopefully that means I will get to update fairly regularly, but for now let me retrace my steps through memories and documents.

Getting Started

For years I have been working in a vacuum researching the family history of François and Frederique ROPP who came to America in April of 1893, landing in New York with a final destination of Worcester, MA.  I found this information on a ship manifest at and subsequently traced some of their steps in MA after their arrival.  But so much of the story was missing, and although I'm only a few hours away in Maine, I have not been able to spend the time or money to order records or take a trip to the Worcester area to do much research.  Having spent a lot of time looking for information online and not getting very far, my focus on this family had dwindled considerably over the last couple of years.

Then, a few weeks ago I presented a program to our local genealogical society on the power of Social Networking sites when used to accelerate your genealogical research.  After the presentation one of the members offered to help me with a different brick wall that has also plaqued me for some time, and within a few days she had solved that mystery.  That quick win got me to thinking about my ROPP family again, and I picked up the search.

I took my own advice and looked towords the social networking aspects of many genealogy sites.  In no time at all I came across a post on a message board from 3 years ago by someone who appeared to be searching for information about the same family.  I took a chance and emailed the email address associated with the post, and soon received a response, "Yes, this is the person you are looking for."  

We started sharing little bits of information and then he told me he had actually been in contact with another distant cousin some time ago and would try to reconnect with them as well. Within a few days the 3 of us were sharing the little bits about our branches of the tree that we knew and the puzzle has started coming together.  Just yesterday, one of these 2 men said they ran across another post online from someone who they believe we may also be related to and lo' and behold we have a 4th distant cousin.

Thanks to social networking (both online and "old fashioned") there is now a network of 4 of us researching branches of the same family tree and able to help one another fill in the gaps. My hope for this blog is to help us work together to get a better understanding of this family and how they survived and grew after coming to America and possible even trace them back to their homeland.
Shortly thereafter, I connected with a distant cousin through a post they made on years ago.  They in turn told me they had also been in contact with another cousin some time back but had lost touch...  Those 2 cousins reconnected and the three of us began sharing information about our branches of the family.  Yesterday