Week 43: #52 Ancestors – Quite the Character
By Eilene Lyon
It can be difficult to find personal anecdotes about people who lived even just three generations back. I’ve found quite a bit about my great-grandfather, Guy Halse, but very little for his one sibling.
Hillard LeRoy Halse was also born in Winneshiek County, Iowa, on May 23, 1872, 16 months before Guy. The name Hillard appears to come from his grandfather, Robert Hillier Halse. But he always went by the name Roy. From the few facts I’ve been able to glean about Roy’s life, it seems to me that he may have had some trouble “growing up.”
I don’t have any confirmed pictures of Roy, though I have one “possible” featured above. I’ve never come across any photo of Roy and Guy with their parents, Dick and Lucy.
Roy married Rose Irene Owens on December 3, 1896, just two months before “little brother” Guy married their cousin, Mabel P. Cutting. Roy was 24 and Rose was 18 at the time of their marriage. They had two sons together: Raymond, born in 1897, and Roland in 1901.
Shortly after marriage, Roy farmed on a rented place in Dexter Township, Codington County. By 1910, he owned a farm in neighboring Egeland Township, Day County, South Dakota. Before 1919, though, Roy and Rose divorced. South Dakota was well known for its easy divorces, and I find many instances of it among my relatives who lived there.
Roy moved back home with his parents. Rose remarried in February 1919 to Frederick Knopf. A few months later, Roy and Rose’s older son, Raymond, married 16-year-old Alma Wellnitz, the daughter of German immigrants. They had no children. Roland Halse lived with his mother, Rose, and stepfather in 1920.
I have not yet determined a cause, but Raymond Halse died in 1926 at the age of 29, leaving Alma a widow at the very young age of 23. Research in South Dakota is not easy, and even if you travel there, you cannot easily access records; my experience is that I have not been allowed to copy anything I do find. Hopefully someday I can learn more about what happened to these people.
Here’s where it gets weird. Sometime between 1926 and 1930 (I’ve not found a record), Alma decided to marry her father-in-law, Roy Halse, a man who was 30 years her senior! Apparently the arrangement worked for them. They stayed together until Roy’s death in 1944. Alma outlived her first husband by 67 years, and her second (father of the first), by 49 years.
Feature image: Dick and Lucy Halse (center), parents of Roy and Guy, with their adopted daughter, Ada Coffey, about 1918. The man at left could be Roy Halse, who divorced around then and moved in with his parents. (Courtesy P. Neal)
Ancestry.com. U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Roy Halse marries Rose Owen. Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), December 11, 1896, p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
Roland Halse birth. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Birth Index, 1856-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.
Roy Halse. Year: 1900; Census Place: Dexter, Codington, South Dakota; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1241548 – via Ancestry.com.
Roy Halse. Year: 1910; Census Place: Egeland, Day, South Dakota; Roll: T624_1479; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0144; FHL microfilm: 1375492 – via Ancestry.com.
Rose Halse and Frederick Knopf. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2018 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Alma Wellnitz and Raymond Halse. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2018 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Roland Halse. Year: 1920; Census Place: Blooming Valley, Grant, South Dakota; Roll: T625_1719; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 152 – via Ancestry.com.
Heleard L. Halse, Certificate 220207. Ancestry.com. South Dakota, Death Index, 1879-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.
Alma Halse. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014.