WOYM: Useful Old Town Directories for Tracking Family History in Roanoke (copy) | Z-non-digital
What did they do with the old house
Why did they tear it down?
– Dean Webb and Mitchell Jayne
The answers to these harrowing bluegrass ballad-style questions are often hard to come by. Research can be instructive even so.
Q: I’m trying to locate my family’s home 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 Was there a change in street names? This Loudon Avenue address now appears to be a vacant lot. 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 municipal directories for those years. Apparently the family shared residence with LA Trout in 1916 and 1917.
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Trout was not listed at 1326 the last two years the Eplings lived there.
The Eplings were the reader’s maternal grandparents. Irène, the eldest of the three children, was his mother. Grandmother Annie died in 1916 of one of the era’s deadly scourges, tuberculosis, Loretta Manning said.
Annie Epling’s death was likely to have led to shared living conditions for the next two years. TW Epling was a conductor for the Norfolk & Western Railroad, a position not known for its particularly generous pay. Left with children aged 11, 7 and 6, supporting the family must certainly have been difficult on many levels for a widower.
Regarding questions about the discrepancy in street names, Third Avenue’s name was changed to Loudon sometime before 1911, the last year J.S. Raikes lived there before the Eplings moved in.
City directories of this era listed in their street guides the current and former street names for the thoroughfares for which the dueling lists applied.
This explains the Third Avenue address on the aforementioned 1914 correspondence to the Epling residence in Loudon. The use of old street names by long-time residents of a locality is not uncommon. For example, many Roanokers still knew First Street as Henry Street long after that name had changed.
When the Eplings moved in 1920 (the granddaughter believes the next residence was on Orange Avenue; the writing of this chapter of 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 links to the Linkous family. The Eplings and Linkous have deep roots in the New River Valley. That aside, the relationship with WL Linkous is uncertain and if it needs to be confirmed, now is not the time. Either way, Loretta Manning leaves open the possibility that 1326 changing hands started with a family connection.
Another potential connection is the railway. Linkous was listed in the 1920 yearbook as a conductor, as was TW Epling.
Evidence suggests that Walter and Beatrice Linkous experienced less than marital bliss after moving to Loudon Avenue.
On August 23, 1924, a transaction listed in detailed city deed maps 1326 was signed to W. L. Linkous (“beneficiary”) by grantor Beatrice Linkous. The property on the city’s land book 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 an Office of Vital Statistics and Board of Health document dated December 21, 1927, granting plaintiff Walter Linkous a divorce from Beatrice after 14 years. The split was uncontested because the defendant was a “fugitive from justice”.
The property remained with Walter Linkous until August 28, 1945, when it was granted to Henry Wiseman.
It is unclear what the ultimate lot of 1326 was. On the deed card the lot was noted 1324 with an anticipation 1326 crossed out in ink by hand. During the residence of the Eplys, the house was flanked by 1324 and 1328. The current GIS tax map of the town shows three houses beginning with 1330 Loudon at the corner of 14th Street then going east to 1328 and 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.
That’s for another chapter waiting for a writer.
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