Thursday, August 22, 2019

52 Ancestors - TRAGEDY: The Roberts Kids

No doubt we have all heard that the worst thing that can happen to parents is having to bury a child. I am forever grateful that I have not had that experience, but unfortunately, I have witnessed such heartache among friends and family. I have written about several children who died far too soon by fire, by drowning, and even by murder. There is at least one more tragic story to tell: the story of the children of Edith Jollett Roberts. (Edith was my mother’s second cousin making her children my third cousins.)

It must have been a lovely day in the little community of Meltons in Louisa County, Virginia that 30th day of April in 1943. Edith, like so many young mothers in those days, allowed the children to play in the yard while she likely was doing laundry, dusting, cooking, or performing other domestic chores that occupied a housewife’s day.

Lewis was just two months shy of his third birthday; Jeanne was not yet two. Their yard was sizable, plenty of room for toddlers to explore. Sadly, 40 yards away lay a temptation that proved tragic for toddlers too young to know better.
Richmond Times Dispatch
1 May 1943
If this whole tale were not horrible enough for Edith and Teddy Roberts, Lewis and Jeanne were not the only children they buried. Four years earlier they lost Theodore Jr when he was just five months old, his little life cut short by a brain tumor.

I swear, I don’t know how people keep going after that.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. That was horrific! Poor little kids and the family! And can you imagine the train engineer? The horrors he probably had after it all. People do go on after tragedies like this. Somehow they have to. I can't imagine being able to do so. I pray for that man who left his twins in the hot car and they died. I'm thankful my kids are raised and still with me. I know of so many who have lost their kids even before reaching 18 and it is just so heartbreaking.


    1. If a "hot car" story comes on the news, I switch channels. I can't think about that horror. You'd have to just throw me in the ground too.

  2. I wrote about a train tragedy too this week, but in mine, the parents died, leaving 10 children orphaned. Your story is so sad. I'm sure the mother suffered greatly in blaming herself for not preventing it.

    1. How long would such a nightmare go on? How did she make peace with herself? Not that it was her fault, but you know she had to feel it was.

  3. I thought the same thing as virginiaallain - I cannot fathom how the mother went on with her life with the anguish and guilt she must have felt.

  4. What a sad story. My mom has family in Louisa and I'll bet that if some of them were still alive that they'd remember this.