I quickly learned that the diary was written in Texas. The woman mentioned Cooper, Cleburne, and Wichita Falls. Then came the names of Burkburnett and Iowa Park. Now that I had discovered the where of the diary, I was determined to find the who. Who was writing daily with such meticulous detail? Who was recording the amount of money paid out for groceries and how many rows of corn her husband had planted?
Note: This image is from the Perry-Castenada Library Map Collection of the 1940 Census-Enumeration District Map for Burkburnett, Texas.
The author wrote daily about Pete; she often wrote about going to see Pete’s mother, “Mother Rogers”. So now I knew that Pete Rogers was probably the author’s husband, but I still had no idea who was writing. The author often visited and spent time with a person named Phil who had two daughters. I imagined Phil was probably living alone, and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers were helping support or take care of the two girls. On the very first page of the diary, the author writes, “Pete took Betty and Lucile to Sunday School, but I did not go.” Who were these children that the couple took care of?
After a few hours of reading, I put the diary down. In the 1940 US Census, there was no mention of anyone living on the farm with Pete Rogers, but I did discover that his Pete's wife was named Lucile. I started addressing the author of the diary as Lucile; it just made sense. A few bits of paper fluttered out of the diary: a pink piece of paper was a receipt from the Farmer's Co-Operative Gin in Burkburnett meal made out to a W.P. Rogers, part of a check from a bank in Wichita Falls, a receipt from an unknown store. I flipped through the diary and found that last several pages were an address book. With a few names, a few addresses, and a few towns, I started hunting for more information on Ancestry.com. I started with the last released census from 1940.
Clues that fell out of the diary.
But I was still confused; who were the two girls that Pete took to church? Who were Betty and Lucile?
The 1940 US Census from Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas.
I primarily used US census records to get my information up to this point. I need now to send a special thank you to Louise from the Burkburnett Historical Society. She reached out to her friends and discovered the exact location of the Rogers farm. Her friend Cecilia Mae wrote, “There is a Rogers Road that runs between 1177 and 101 that was named for a Pete and Lucile Rogers. The road is about 1.5 miles east of Friberg-Cooper United Methodist Church and meets Shepherd Road at 1177. They had a farm that was on the east side of the road, about .75 of a mile from 1177. They occasionally attended the church there.”
The Friberg-Cooper United Methodist Church.
Here are some of my first discoveries:
William Pete Rogers was born in 1885 in Parkstown, Polk County, Tennessee
He was married to a Lucile Gertrude Campbell, originally from St. Louis, Missouri.
The couple lived on a farm in Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas.They had no children.
My burning questions:
When did Pete come to Texas? When did Lucile come to Texas? When did they get married? Who was Phil? What relation were the girls to Pete and Lucile Rogers?