WOYM: Old Town Directories Useful for Following Family History in Roanoke | Story


What did they do at the old house

Why did they demolish it?

– Dean Webb and Mitchell Jayne

The answers to these heart-wrenching bluegrass ballad-style questions are often hard to come by. The research can be instructive nonetheless.

Q: I’m trying to locate my family’s house in Roanoke in the early 1900s. I have a letter dated 1914 written to my grandfather at 1326 Third Ave. NW. A later address I found was 1326 Loudon Ave. NW Has there been a change in the street names? This Loudon Avenue address now appears to be a wasteland. What more do we know?

A. The house at 1326 Loudon was occupied by Taylor Wilson Epling, his wife Annie Beamer Epling, and their three children Irene, Etta and William from 1912 to 1919, according to the City Directories of those years. Apparently the family shared the residence with LA Trout in 1916 and 1917.

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Trout have not been recorded at 1326 in the last two years the Eplings have lived there.

The Eplings were the reader’s maternal grandparents. Irene, the eldest of three children, was his mother. Grandmother Annie died in 1916 from one of the deadly plagues of the time, tuberculosis, said Loretta Manning.

Annie Epling’s death was likely to have led to shared living conditions over the next two years. TW Epling was a conductor for the Norfolk & Western Railroad, a little-known position for particularly generous pay. Left with children aged 11, 7 and 6, providing for the family must certainly have been difficult on many levels for a widower.

Regarding questions about the difference in street names, the name of Third Avenue was changed to Loudon sometime before 1911, the last year JS Raikes lived there before the Eplings moved there.

The city directories from that time listed in their streets list the current and former street names for the lanes for which the duel lists applied.

This explains the address of Third Avenue on the aforementioned 1914 correspondence at the Epling Residence in Loudon. The use of old street names by longtime residents of a locality is not uncommon. For example, many Roanokers still knew First Street as Henry Street long after that name changed.

When the Eplings moved in 1920 (the granddaughter believes the next residence was on Orange Avenue; the writing of this chapter in family history is left for another day), their successor in 1326 was Walter Lee Linkous and his wife Beatrice, who had no children.

Lorretta Manning’s personal family research shows connections to the Linkous family. The Eplings and Linkouse have deep roots in the New River Valley. That aside, the relationship with WL Linkous is uncertain and if it needs to be confirmed, it’s not now. Either way, Loretta Manning leaves open the possibility that the 1326 change of hands began through a family tie.

Another potential connection is the railroad. Linkous was listed in the 1920 yearbook as a conductor, as was TW Epling.

Evidence suggests that Walter and Beatrice Linkous enjoyed less than marital bliss after moving to Loudon Avenue.

On August 23, 1924, a transaction listed in Detailed City Deed Cards 1326 was signed at WL Linkous (“beneficiary”) by grantor Beatrice Linkous. The property listed in the city’s land register for that year was listed on line 9239 and was described as having 50 feet of frontage and totaling 6,500 square feet of real estate.

The next legal proceeding we find involving the Linkous is covered by a document from the Bureau of Vital Statistics-Board of Health dated December 21, 1927, granting the plaintiff Beatrice’s divorce after 14 years. The split was not contested on the grounds that the accused was a “fugitive from justice”.

The property remained with Walter Linkous until August 28, 1945, when it was granted to Henry Wiseman.

It is not known what the ultimate fate of 1326 was. On the deed card, the lot was noted 1324 with an earlier 1326 crossed out in ink in hand. During Eply’s residence, the house was flanked by 1324 and 1328. The current town GIS tax map shows three houses starting with 1330 Loudon at the corner of 14th Street then going east to 1328 then 1324 The next lot east of 1324 is vacant.

This arrangement suggests a previous subdivision in which 1326 was demolished in order to enlarge 1328 or more likely 1324 or both.

This is for another chapter awaiting a writer.

If you are wondering about something, call out “What’s on your mind?” At 777-6476 or email [email protected] Remember to provide your full name (and its correct spelling if by phone) and your hometown.


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