Weaving together someone’s life story from a few census records and death certificates constantly leaves me longing to know more. Miss Altje Roley is no exception. Her name gave me some issues as I misread her last name as Roby. Finding no one with a first name of Altje, I considered that it might be a nickname. But, upon further inspection, I decided the last name could be Roley – and then her life opened up.
Altje (a germanic name meaning noble kind) Roley was born on June 23rd, 1905 in Ohio. Her father Otto Roley and mother Vesta Pearl Roley were also native to Ohio. It was Otto’s grandparents who were from Germany, and the culture seems to have stuck for a few generations considering the name choices. Altje appeared to be Otto and Pearl’s only child. In 1910 the family lived in Hilliar, Knox, Ohio where Otto was a tailor. By 1920 they had moved to Liberty, Fairfield, Ohio where this high school graduation photo of Altje was taken at Liberty High School in 1923.
I was unable to find Altje in the 1930 census, but in 1940 a very confusing census listed her as a male head of household named Altje Larrence – although it should have been Torrence. Otto and Pearl were living with her though their last name was misinterpreted as Raley. She had 3 children who were mistakenly listed with the last name Raley as well. I was able to piece together that between 1923 and 1930 probably, Altje married John Henry Torrence. John Henry died of basal meningitis in Canton, Ohio in 1936. Altje was likely pregnant with their youngest child at the time. It makes sense then that she would choose to live with her parents again for help. In 1940 while she/he is listed as head of household, Altje didn’t have an occupation. Her father Otto however owned a restaurant in Basil, Ohio.
At some point Altje remarried. She is buried in Old Basil Cemetery with Elza Weaver, who preceded her in death by 9 days. Otto and Pearl and John Henry are also buried in this same cemetery. An interesting life that I wish I knew more about. Good luck Altje!