My mother’s daddy died when she was only 8 years old. His full name was Roy Ulmont WILSON, born 1 October 1894 near Warrington, Hancock County, Indiana, to Isaac Andrew WILSON, a blacksmith and farmer in Brown Township, and Barbara Ellen (HAAS) WILSON, a first generation German-American who was born in Pennsylvania, probably Philadelphia, not long after her parents immigrated. I have been told that Roy absolutely hated his middle name and used only his initial. He even named his first born Roy U. Wilson, Jr., with no middle name.
If I remember right, my mother said that he had red, or “strawberry blonde,” hair and blue eyes. You can kind of see both in some of the black and white photos that I have of him. When my son turned out to be a light-skinned, freckled, green-eyed ginger (and when I say “freckled,” I mean freckles are his superpower, and when I say “light-skinned,” I mean 30 minutes of sun can turn him beet red), I couldn’t make sense of it because I thought all of my family had brown or dark brown eyes and brown hair. Therein lies the magic of the recessive gene.
Roy served in the Army in World War I, in the “Engineers,” and spent about 2 years overseas. After the war, he was a news printer. He worked for The Indianapolis Star for a few years, and then moved to Muncie in the early 1920s to print at The Muncie Star. It would make sense that this steady work helped keep the family from feeling the effects of The Great Depression.
On 8 February 1921 in Hancock County, Indiana, Roy married Carol Vernice VAN DUYN, daughter of Obe Dallas VAN DUYN and Minnie Magdalene (KUHN) VAN DUYN. They were the parents of three children, two boys, and their youngest, my mother. All are now deceased.
- Roy U. WILSON, b. 15 October 1922 d. 26 March 2014
- James William WILSON, b. 22 May 1928 d. 5 May 2003
- Margaret Ellen WILSON, b. 3 April 1931 d. 27 June 2005
He was not born a city boy, but his children grew up in the city. After his death, my grandmother stayed in Muncie so that all three of their children could stay at home and go to college, and they did.
Granddaddy Roy liked to do a little gambling (dice, I believe) and drinking, the kind of drinking where he would hide bottles around the house. Yes, the alcoholic kind. It probably ran in his family, but I haven’t tried to pinpoint the alcoholic ancestry on this side of my tree.
Grandma Carol would go downtown to the newspaper office on payday to get his money so he wouldn’t “gamble it all away,” my mother would tell me. I was a curious child and young adult. I asked a lot of questions, and fortunately, there were family members who liked to answer. These are the stories that families wouldn’t share. It’s not that way anymore, and definitely not on this blog. Alcoholism and compulsive gambling are diseases passed on both genetically and environmentally. They are not moral failings. In the 1930s, AA was just beginning. For the most part, there were no recovery programs, and still no cures.
My mother remembered: “Daddy was always sick.” He had a lot of headaches. I found some records showing that he was in the Indianapolis VA Hospital multiple times. His death certificate, 12 December 1939, Veterans Administration Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana, gives cause of death as uremia and chronic nephritis.
Roy was buried in McCray Cemetery, Wilkinson, Indiana. Almost 20 years later, Carol was buried next to him.
Funny story: as children, my uncles would find their daddy’s hidden liquor bottles, dump out the alcohol, pee in them, and put them back. Everytime I think of this, I get a little grin.