Thursday, November 17, 2011

My "Famous" Great Grandmother, Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby

This evening I was talking to my mom while watching Katie Couric's interview with Regis Philbin on the eve of his retirement. My mom used to watch his network show and we used to see one of his early shows from Los Angeles back in the 70s. His co-host then was Sara Purcell.

I was washing dinner dishes and my mom came into the kitchen and tried to see the show on my small kitchen TV. That wasn't easy for her as she has macular degeneration. Suddenly she couldn't remember his last name and I tried giving her clues, but rather than getting it, she started laughing so hard she had to pee. Afterward, I think the interest in remembering Regis' name was gone and the discussion turned to Dr. Oz's show and ended with my reading an article I had found a while back but never saved. I recently went back to and found the article. My mom had a good laugh, although she did comment that at the time people did what they could to make money (and I have to agree with that).

I have referred to my great grandmother, Effie (Lola's mother), as "famous" before and I'm doing it again. I have found more articles on her than anyone else in my tree pretty much (you can search Effie here for all the posts). Effie had a hard life, there is no doubt about that. She gave birth to a daughter at 17 years old and the "Lothario" abandoned her. She then married and had five more children that I'm aware of, and her marriage broke up. She and her children ended up separated, living wherever they could get shelter and work.

Her eldest son died at 16 while working as a laborer on a farm for his board. Her youngest son ended up in a different state at 8 years old being adopted by the family he was with, and her two daughters ended up in State Mental Hospitals. She did remarry a man named Ellsworth Elmer Roby at least by 1920 (the year her divorce from George Cloos was granted) and was married to Ellsworth at the time of her death.

I so desire to take a trip to Decatur, IL to really scour through the historical society documents and those at the library. I also want to check court and police records in hopes of pictures. Considering Effie was known to the police, surely pictures of her exist. And surely pictures exist elsewhere, as she was a person that did exist. I firmly believe someone has pictures of her but may not know who she is.

The following article was published in the Decatur Evening Herald on Friday, October 7, 1927, page 10. I know it isn't easy to read and I'm not going to transcribe the entire article, but basically Effie was arrested for running a bootlegging establishment (or speak-easy) and charged with illegal traffic in liquor. According to the police, Effie had a gallon of "mule" at the time of the raids and arrests. Effie did manage to "furnish" the bond money on the same day of the raid to appear on charges and I assume walked because, as usual, money talks!

Effie really does intrigue me. At a time when she should have been content with being a "proper" young woman and "proper" older woman, she was anything but that! I want to know more about her. As I've said before, I believe her story alone, would make a great book!

1 comment:

  1. Your grandmother was certainly a colorful woman. My own Grandfather, who lived in Arkansas during the Depression, ran moonshine for a time. His comment was similar to your mother's, "You did what you had to do to make a living." He was never arrested and moved on to "legal" employment eventually, doing a myriad of different things for a living. But what an interesting life he led!