Thursday, January 06, 2011

All in the Family: Robert Lee Lake

Robert Lee Lake was born March 29, 1856, in Louisville, Kentucky, to John Thomas Lake and Charlotte Waggoner Lake. He was child number seven of the couple’s eventual eight, his siblings including Fannie, William, John, Allen P., Florence, Anna, and Myra.

Little seems to be known about Robert’s life. He married Fannie Isadora Stevens Pyle after her first husband Joshua (Jack) Pyle died. The family story is that Robert was a cousin to Jack Pyle, who came to Indiana to help with the farmwork, and ended up marrying Fannie after his cousin’s death. This type of situation does not seem unreasonable as it was often the case that brothers married a young widow left in the family so the children had the entire family to help raise then, while keeping a father who was also part of the family.

Robert and Fannie were married September 29, 1886. Fannie already had three sons with her husband Jack, Bert Franklin Pyle, born September 6, 1876; D’Earle Pyle, born 1879; and Ben Harold Pyle, date of birth unknown.

The couple lived in Pt. Isabell at the time their daughter (my grandmother) Winona Myra Alice Lake was born, October 23, 1887, but the little family moved to Houghton, South Dakota, shortly thereafter. Robert hoped to make his fortune on the land boon in the west, obtaining a piece of property he planned to farm.

But, according to Winona, a “terrible storm wiped out Daddy’s crops,” and likely source of future income, so he abandoned the property and returned the family to Elwood. Their one bit of good luck while in Houghton was the birth of Florence Ethel Lake on May 26, 1890. (Ethel, who was a classmate and friend of one-time presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie, lived to be 102 years old, dying November 19, 1992.)

Robert died February 27, 1900, in Elwood, Indiana, and is buried in the Knox Chapel Cemetery one mile south and about one-half mile east of Point Isabel, in Grant County, Indiana. His grave is unmarked, but he is just to the south of Fannie Lake, his widow. Her first husband, Jack Pyle, is to the north of her and is marked by a big stone which she placed there.

When Robert died, Fannie could not afford a marker. When she died, her daughter, Winona, who buried her could not afford a marker, this being a depression era.  In later years, her son Earl
placed a brass marker on her grave, but would not contribute to a marker for his stepfather's grave.

Although I possibly met Bert once before his death in 1969, I don’t remember much else about any of Grandma’s half-brothers. As a matter of fact, I really didn’t even know they were her half-brothers until I started doing genealogy research. Because I couldn’t remember Aunt Ethel, I had Uncle Eugene take me to see her at the nursing home in Kokomo not long before she died. Despite the fact the was declared to be both deaf and blind, wearing coke-bottle like lens to prove it. she recognized me right away and was able to carry on a conversations with the two of us during our visit, displaying no real signs of either malady.

No comments: