The Other Son

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.

I don’t have any photos of Raymond or his wife Alma. This unlabeled image may be Roland Halse with his two children, Rosswell and Gloria, about 1934. (Courtesy P. Neal)

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.

Fred Knopf and Rose Irene (Owen) Halse Knopf. (Courtesy of sknop115 on

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.

Raymond, Roy and Alma’s graves in the Dexter Cemetery, with Roy in the center, a large tree above his grave.

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)

Sources: U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Roy Halse marries Rose Owen. Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), December 11, 1896, p. 2 – via

Roland Halse birth. South Dakota, Birth Index, 1856-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2003.

Roy Halse. Year: 1900; Census Place: Dexter, Codington, South Dakota; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1241548 – via

Roy Halse. Year: 1910; Census Place: Egeland, Day, South Dakota; Roll: T624_1479; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0144; FHL microfilm: 1375492 – via

Rose Halse and Frederick Knopf. South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2018 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Alma Wellnitz and Raymond Halse. South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2018 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Roland Halse. Year: 1920; Census Place: Blooming Valley, Grant, South Dakota; Roll: T625_1719; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 152 – via

Heleard L. Halse, Certificate 220207. South Dakota, Death Index, 1879-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.

Alma Halse. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014.

31 thoughts on “The Other Son

Add yours

  1. Wow, that is bizarre! She was so young when she married Raymond and when she was widowed. Perhaps they were just two lonely people needing a companion and made a go of it?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You uncover the most fascinating bits of information!
    Marrying your father-in-law… yeesh! That sounds almost… um… biblical actually. Pretty sure there’s a story of that somewhere in there. Even so…. yeesh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are some odd relationships out there. I remember a guy in a class of mine in high school who decided to sleep with his girlfriend’s mother and got her pregnant. So his baby girl was half-sister to his ex-girlfriend.


  3. I’m fascinated to know that South Dakota was known for easy divorces. I’ve no relatives [to my knowledge] that went there for a divorce, but it seems like a fun fact. Alma’s story is fascinating. You just have to wonder why she married who she did…

    Liked by 2 people

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