Monday, February 24, 2014

#52Ancestors - Week 8 - Roy William Westboy - Cattle Buyer, Farmer, Needlepoint Artist?? Found in Chicago, IL

Week number 8 of the 52 Ancestors Challenge, started by Amy Johnson Crow.  This week I've chosen to write about a man who has been the biggest mystery in all my research...Roy William Westboy.

Earliest photo I've found of him.
Not sure where or when it was taken.
Who was Roy William Westboy???  Was he from Norway, or was he born in the US??  Was he born in 1880 or 1888?  I've been researching him for 14 years, with little luck.  Who was this cattle buyer, farmer, gardener, and needlepoint artist????  Yes, I said needlepoint!  He did needlepoint and was very good at it.  I have several things that were passed down to me, that he created.  One that used to hang behind my grandmother's couch was a copy of Thomas Gainsborough's Blue Boy.  That one is now in the hands of another family member, but it was a beautiful piece!  I've shared a few pictures of his artwork.  If you scroll down, you can see them at the end of this post.

My grandmother didn't talk much about her father, but she did mention a couple of interesting things.  She said he was born in Norway, and was adopted out of England, prior to coming to the US.  She also said that he was a "perpetual liar!!"  That last comment threw me, but at the time, I didn't think to ask any further questions.  Now I'm kicking myself!!  Years back, I asked my Aunt Kathie and my father about him, but they just said the same thing.  No one knows anything about him!

Up until a couple of years ago, I had only seen one picture of Roy.  It was a picture of him walking, and was in a photo album my grandmother made for my father.  It wasn't a great picture, and I really couldn't make out what he looked like.  However, that all changed when I received all of my grandmother's pictures from my Aunt.  It was a wonderful gift!!  I can not express how much it meant to me to see these photos.  I carefully scanned each one, and made several digital copies so my family, and myself, would always have them.  I was very surprised to see just how many pictures my grandmother had of her father!!

 So, here is what I do know about Roy Westboy...
Roy Westboy and Wilhelmina Johnson
Wedding photo
There are several documents with info on him, unfortunately, none can be found prior to 1916.  The first record we can find is his marriage record dated February 10, 1917, in Chicago, Cook County, IL.  He married Wilhelmina Albertina Johansson/Johnson (she went by the name Minnie).  According to their marriage record, Roy was 29 and Minnie was 41.  Quite an age difference!!

I found his WWI draft card.  This document was dated June 5, 1917 and says he was 30 years old, residing in Thompsonville, Benzie County, MI.  His birth date is listed as "Jan 1 1887."  His residential status was Alien, and he was born in Christiana, Norway.  It shows he was a self-employed farmer working in Springdale, Manistee County, MI.  Item 9 on the card asks: "Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12, solely dependent on you for support (specify which)?", and he replied "Wife child. 1."  He was married, but my grandmother wasn't born yet, so this answer seemed odd to me.

Then, on March 16, 1918, was the birth of their daughter Judith Helen Wilhelmina Westboy in Chicago, Cook County, IL.  The birth record states he was a "Farmer," born in Norway, was 31 years old, and currently lived in Thompsonville, Benzie County, MI.

According to Google maps, Thompsonville, MI is about 300 miles by car, if you drive around Lake Michigan.  I'm not sure what type of ferry, or boat, would have been available at that time.  Its my opinion, that Minnie may not have been living in Thompsonville, but was living in Chicago.  The 1920 federal census also shows Minnie and Judith living on Berwyn Avenue, Chicago, Cook County, IL, but Roy is not listed in the household with them.

In my grandmother's scrapbooks, there are a few photos of her and her mother on a farm in Indiana when she was very young (age 2-6).  In the scrapbook its written "South Haven."  The same page had a photo with an older man chopping wood.  On the back of this photo it said "Granddad."  In another picture on this page, is a picture of Roy with my grandmother around the same time.  Wondering if Roy had family in South Haven, Indiana??

Sometime in 1920, Minnie and Judith went back to Tegnaby, Sweden to visit Minnie's family.  I don't know how long they stayed, but they returned in 1926 through New York.  After arriving back in Chicago, Minnie took a job as a housekeeper for Mr. Olaf Christopherson.  She and Judith lived with Mr. Christopherson on Roscoe Street in Chicago for many years.

Then we have the 1930 census...this gets a bit more interesting.  Minnie and Judith are shown living on Roscoe Street with Mr. ChristophersonMinnie is shown as a housekeeper/servant and divorced.  Then, we have another entry, this time on Otis Road in Barrington, Cook County, ILRoy is shown living here with Minnie and Judith listed in the household.  Now, Roy is listed as age 50 (this would mean he was born about 1880), and he was born in Louisiana!!!  His parents birth places are listed as South America!!  It also shows he was working as a gardener for a private house.

In all of my research, I have not been able to find any divorce records for Roy and Minnie, nor have I been able to find any naturalization paperwork on RoyMinnie filed for naturalization.  Her Declaration for Intention was filed May 31, 1929.  At that time, the document stated that she did not know where Roy was residing.  On August 26, 1931, her Petition for Citizenship was filed.  On this form she still did not know where Roy was, but she listed him as being born January 1, 1886 in Oslo, Norway. 

The picture on the right is one from my grandmother's scrapbook.  On the back is written "Min Man och dotter" in Minnie's writing.  This means my husband and daughter.  My grandmother also wrote on the back "Taken of Judy in the year 1931 age 13."  So they must have known where he was by 1931.

By 1934, I know Minnie and Judith made their way back to Tegnaby, Sweden, and I know they lived there with one of Minnie's sisters for an extended period of time.  I do remember my grandmother saying she lived in Sweden with an aunt and cousins.  Roy did not go with them.  They stayed until June of 1935 and returned back to Roscoe Street in Chicago.  Where Roy is at this time, again I do not know for sure.

A couple of years ago the 1940 census was released to the public.  I couldn't wait!!  I looked daily to see if I could find this family somewhere.  I was able to find Minnie prior to the census being indexed.  She was still living on Roscoe Street, with Mr. Christopherson.  This time, she is listed as his sister and single.  She was not his sister, I know that for a fact.  By this time, Judith was 21 and had moved out on her own.  She was living with a friend Vernace M. Schroeder (or Vern as my grandmother called her).  She was living on Winthrop Avenue in Chicago, Cook County, IL and working as a typist for a manufacturer.  It wasn't until the census was indexed for Michigan that I was able to find Roy.  He was living alone in Springdale, Manistee County, MI.  Here he is listed as married, about 58 years old, and born in New Mexico!  It says he was living at this same residence in 1935 as well.
During WWII another draft was done.  Roy also filed for this.  We can see his registration card below.  Notice he is sticking with the New Mexico birth, this time we have the city of DemingRoy is still living in Springdale when this was filed in 1942.  His birth date is listed as January 1, 1880, and his person of contact is Minnie living on Roscoe Street in Chicago.

The final document I have on my great grandfather is his death certificate.  Roy William Westboy died July 21, 1953 at Grant Hospital of Chicago from Coronary Thrombosis.  His date of birth given on the form is January 1, 1880, and his birthplace given is Illinois.  "Cattle Buyer" is shown as his usual occupation.  Here, they have names for his parents: John Westboy and Mary Gonzales.  It also lists Roy as a widow, which is odd considering Minnie did not die until 1955.  My grandmother, by the time of Roy's death, had been married with children, and was living in California.  The person who filled out the paperwork for Roy's death record was someone who worked at the hospital.  I'm not sure how accurate the information she gave was.  Roy was buried July 24, 1953 at Irving Park Blvd. Cemetery in Chicago.

I've researched the names of John Westboy and Mary Gonzales, but I've come up with nothing.  Again, I'm not sure these names are correct.  My theory is that he may have come from Norway, possibly at a young age.  He may have been an orphan as well.  His name could have been changed if he was from Norway...possibly could have been Westby?  I believe he may have not had the paper trail to rely on and was unable, or just didn't want to, obtain U.S. citizenship.  This may have been the reason for the changes in his birthplace.  Maybe he was afraid the U.S. would deport him??  I really don't know.  But I do know I'll keep looking into it.  Only 8 more years until the 1950 census is scheduled for release!!  I wonder what his birthplace will be on that??

Below are some of the pieces of needlepoint I have passed down from Roy.

One of my favorite pieces by Roy.  My grandmother gave this to my parents years ago.
Another by Roy.  I remember asking my dad when I was young about it and he said his grandfather made it.  I didn't believe him at first, I thought it must have been his grandmother, but it was Roy.
A purse Roy made for my grandmother

This final picture is of Roy working on one of his pieces.

If you have any questions, or concerns, about the information in this post, please leave me a message.  I'd be happy to answer any questions or share what information I have on the individuals listed above.  Thanks for reading!!


  1. What lovely and unique items to have as family heirlooms!


    1. Thank you Erin! I really cherish them!