Monday, January 13, 2014

Matrilineal Monday: Rollie George Backus

WWI Draft Registration Card for Rollie Backus

I have completed several posts on my former mother-in-law's Backus line and wanted to provide a research summary of what I've found so far: 

Rollie George Backus was born in New York in 15 August 1881. He was listed as a nephew in the household of Adelbert Hitchcock and his wife Clarissa in the town of Yorkshire, Cattaraugus Co, NY during the 1900 U.S. Census. I have found nothing definitive to determine Rollie's exact connection to the Hitchcock family yet, although I should post a summary of that work soon. 

There was a Backus family living in the Kill Buck/Great Valley area of Cattaraugus Co. for which there appears to be no relation.

The only other Backus in Cattaraugus County in 1900 was an Elsie Backus, born in February of 1881. She had been married for 4 years (to whom?) but was living as a servant in the household of Cyrus Rhoades in the town of Leon. A Lucy Lyons was also listed as Cyrus' 84 year old widowed mother.

A Charles Backus family lived in the town of Evans in Erie Co in 1900 but I have been unable to establish a connection, if any, at this time.

Thus far, Rollie has not been located in New York for the 1892 state census nor the 1905 state census. There was a Walter G. Backus in Evans in 1905. Rollie was not with the Adelbert Hitchcock family during the 1892 state census. He would have only been 8 years old at the time.

According to the burial card for Rollie's son, Herman, Herman was born in Java on March 1, 1905 in the town of Java.  This is verified by an electronic newspaper image from the Warsaw NY Western New Yorker 1905 which stated that a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Rollie Backus on March 1.

By 1910, Rollie, aged 27, was listed as a machinist in a saw mill in the town of Java (Wyoming Co), NY. He had been married to Jennie for nine years (ca. 1901) and had two children Herman born in 1905 and Pheobe born in 1908. Jennie was listed as the mother of three children with two living, so it appears there was a child that died young. Another newspaper image indicates that a Miss Iva Hayes of Lime Lake had returned home from visiting her sister Mrs. Rollie Backus of Curriers Corners from the Ellicottville Post (1903-1905). It is assumed for now that Jennie's maiden name might have been Hayes.

According to, Rollie George Backus was living in Erie County when he registered for the draft for WWI between 1917-1918. This is where we get his complete birth date. 

In 1920, Rollie, aged 38, was in the Wales township of Erie Co, NY. He was in the lumber business. It was noted that his mother was born in New York, but his father was born in Germany. He was still married to Jennie (born in New York as was her parents) and his two children were listed age 14 and 12.

For the 1925 state census, Rollie and his wife are listed in indexes as "Bachus" in Lancaster, Erie County, New York. 

By 1930, his son Herman was married and living in Lackawanna, (Erie Co) NY. Rollie was in the town of Marilla in that county, aged 47 with wife Jennie and daughter Phoebe Graves. Lloyd Graves, age 26, in the household must have been Phoebe's husband and a child Jane Graves age 1 was probably their daughter.  In Herman's death notice in 1952, it states that his sister Pheobe Graves was of the town of Portville.

He is indexed as Rowlie Bachus aged 58 in the 1940 census. He was a carpenter for transit freight line industry. His wife was listed as Louise, age 54. Did Jennie die? They lived at 880 Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo City Directories show no Rollie Backus in 1932 or 1936, but Rollie was listed as a laborer r(esiding) at 284 Franklin St. in 1937. Listed as a trucker r at 140 N Division in 1938. Rollie was listed as a carpenter at 880 Michigan in 1942, same residence in 1942 although a riveter for the CW Corp. In 1948 listed with wife Louise same address, as sh mtl wks for occupation. In 1950 Louisa (wid Rollie G) listed at 880 Michigan Ave. She is not listed thereafter.

Further research strategies for this family would include:

1. Obtaining a birth certificate for Herman Backus;

2.  Exploring the 1900 US Census in the Cattaraugus/Wyoming County areas for Hayes families with children Jennie and Iva. 

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