Tuesday, February 11, 2014

52 Ancestors Week 6: Ruby/Gayle Rasmussen

My grandparents wrote histories of their lives, and both mentioned my grandfathers sister a couple of times.    I never knew my grand aunt.   In his history, my grandfather, mentioned that she had served in WWII, in my grandmothers history, she mentioned something about Ruby flying in WWII.   Flying?   A woman in WWII?

First I checked the internet to see if women flew in WWII.  There were a very few.    I started looking at lists, I could not find her name anywhere on those lists.      This unsolved mystery BUGGED me.   Seriously BUGGED me.   I wanted to know more about this woman!

I knew from what my grandparents wrote that she had been married more than once, I knew that at one point she was married to a Herbert Adkins, and that he was not her first husband, I knew that she had another husband named Joe, and I knew she had 2 children.  I knew that she did not like the name Ruby and that she made her family call her Gayle.    

So - I began to try to hunt down information, each new bit leading to more questions - it was driving me nutty!   Then, one day, I ran into a real estate listing that mentioned a woman that - based on the VERY little information I knew about Ruby's daughters - just may be one of them!!

It was near Christmas, and I got a card and sent it to this person - with 2 hopes:  First that she would respond to my inquiry, and secondly that she was Ruby's daughter.    A few days later - a Christmas Card appeared in my mail - IT WAS HER!!!!!!!         She gave me contact info and suggested we speak after the holidays.  

I can be a little, lets say, impatient and I counted down the days until I dared call.  I didn't want this woman to think I was a crazy person!   She had also given me contact information for her niece.   So - in January - I started calling them both.    Again, trying not to act like a crazy person, I tried not to call every 5 minutes!   After a week or so - no calls back, I sent an email.   And the exchanges began.   I have since spoken to her niece as well and we have plans to touch base again in March. 

I started getting information and pictures during RootsTech 2014 - hard to know which was more exciting, the conference or getting the information.     I did learn that Ruby was not a pilot, she worked in an office and her then suitor, later husband, Joe was the pilot.

So......... this is Ruby's story - at least the parts I know so far...........

Ruby was born in Kaysville Utah on February 24, 1915.  She was the oldest of 4 children - my grandfather, Cecil Rasmussen, the youngest.    Ruby's father, James, worked for the railroad.  The family moved around a bit as James duties required - Kaysville, Roy, Ogden.    The family lived mostly in section homes, but their mother, Sarah Jackman wanted a house of her own.    A couple of years before she died - when the children were all in their teens, James bought an acre of land in Sunset and built a home.   The 2 boys, Cecil and Ivo helped, as did family friends, their way of repaying James for his help in building many of their homes.  The house was completed a couple of years before Sarah died in 1935.

Ivo, Ruby, Cecil (Baby), Grace Rasmussen

My family is full of people with strong personalities.    Ruby's granddaughter mentioned that she believed that her grandmother was a bit of a rebel.  The information I have put together seems to support that.

My grandfather wrote a story about Ruby and an unfortunate encounter with a old pistol - shortly after the family moved into the new house. These are his words:

"Not long after we moved into the new house, I was outside playing with an old 22 pistol and it was worn out and you had to revolve the cylinder with your fingers.  Anyway, it accidentally fired and the bullet went through my right side between the hip and ribcage, it was a lucky shot.  It scared me and I didn't want to go in the house and tell what had happened.  I was afraid mother might have a heart attack.  I waited awhile and finally went in and got my sister to notice me.   I told her what happened adn she caled everybody down and took me to the hospital.  The doctors laughed about it.  They ran a swab through the hole and disinfected it, they fastened each end shut with a stapler.  Then they gave me a lockjaw shot and we left for home.
By the time we got there I was starting to get hives and had a terrible itching, my joints were swelling and I was trying to cough my insides out.  It was a serious condition, but no one realized it.  Anyway, through the night the itching and coughing stopped but all my joints were swollen and I could hardly move.  They tried to get me up but I would only crawl.
They called my older sister.  She came out to the house with a gallon of rubbing alcohol, and after taking a drink or two, she gave a evil hiss, grabbed me and started breaking every joint in my poor pitiful body.
I gave a scream of agony and started to cry, but she was HEARTLESS.  She punished me like that for about 15 minutes and from then on I didn't feel any pain (at least not when she was within calling distance).  That one treatment cured me for good.  All the rest of my life, I started smiling whenever I saw her.   This was my older sister Ruby (she insisted we call her Gayle, this we did for fear of harsh and unusual punishment.)"

I suspect some parts of that story were embellished a bit - but its a great read!!!!

Ruby married her first husband, Wilson J. Coppes in 1933 when she was 18.   Mr. Wilson was having a busy couple of years.  Besides getting married, he was busy getting arrested and facing charges for possessing and distributing alcohol (Prohibition ended in 1933).     In 1932 - Mr. Coppes was arrested, along with his sister after finding 60 gallons of whiskey in a car on the farm, another 30 gallons buried in manure piles around the farm, and 5 gallons of wine (Ogden Standard Examiner, 25 June 1932).

I'm not sure when Ruby and Wilson Coppes divorced - sometime before March 1940 when Ruby married her second husband, Herbert Orlando Adkins.      Mr. Adkins worked for the D&RGW Railroad as a master carpenter.   My grandfather credits Ruby for helping him get a job with the railroad while she was married to Mr. Adkins.

In August of 1940, my grandparents were married.  Ruby was the only member of my grandfathers family that attended the wedding.

I haven't found any indication that Ruby/Gayle had any children yet.   The 1940 Census shows Herbert and Gayle living in Colorado with a 16 yr old listed as "daughter" - I'm assuming she was Herbert's daughter and that she lived with Herbert and Gayle.  

Again - I'm not sure at what point Herbert and Gayle divorced.   I see them in city directories listed as a couple as late as 1943.  I have requested a copy of Herbert's obituary in hopes it may have more information, but I won't have it for another few weeks.

Ruby enlisted in the Women Army Corps on 8 August 1944.   Her enlistment record lists her as married, 4 years of high school and her occupation as a sales clerk.  (Enlistment Record information available at www.ancestry.com.)

At some point she was divorced from Herbert and married Joseph Edward Galloway.   The only hint as to the date is that it was sometime after the war, though Joe was courting Ruby/Gayle during the war.  

Gayle stayed in touch with my grandparents - at least for awhile.   In their histories, I have a couple pictures of Gayle and Joe and their children, and several school pictures as their kids grew.

I'm hoping to learn more about Gayle and Joe's story after WWII, now that I have contacts from her family.   I look forward to getting to know these newly found family members better!!!

Gayle died in.......well there is some confusion here - somewhere between 1977 (my grandmother records the date as Oct/Nov 1977) and  February 10, 1981 - recorded several places including the Social Security Death index.   At first I thought my grandmother mis-remembered the date.  But when I was speaking with Gayle's granddaughter - apparently there is more confusion that I have not heard yet............

Ogden Standard Examiner
Personal Histories written by Cecil Rasmussen and Norma Shepherd Rasmussen
Discussions and correspondence with Gayle's daughter and granddaughter

1 comment:

  1. How fabulous for you to have connected with these cousins who could answer so many questions.