Finding Rose

The story in my husband’s family is that his great-grandmother, Rose Main (married to Orpheus), was a foundling. It was passed along that she was left on someone’s doorstep as a baby. A 2002 e-mail from a cousin puts it this way:

The story my mother told me about Gran was that she was a foundling, having been placed on somebody’s doorstep, and that it was believed her mother was a maid and that her father was a wealthy man in some well-to-do family which employed that maid. I had always heard that Gran had no idea who her parents were. However, Aunt Mildred (Worley) once told me that Gran did know her father’s name — he was an Irishman named Garragus.

The records for Rose are inconsistent. Most give her name as Rose or Edna Rose Torrence, and her parents as Davis or David Torrence and Martha Blanton. But in a few instances, she is listed as Rose or Edna Rose Garrigus.

She is a bit elusive in the census records as well. Because of her marriage history and tendency to move around later in life, I haven’t located her between 1900 and 1930, but as a young child in 1880, she is listed with the Torrence family.

Rose “Rosetta” Torrence, in the 1880 Census for Grant County, Indiana. Family 159 at the bottom of the page.

To be honest, with this information, I let the “foundling” story lie for a while and traced the history of the Torrence family. But thanks to my husband’s cousin, Mary, a few years ago, an eye-popping newspaper article shed more light on this history.

The Noblesville Ledger, Noblesville, Indiana, July 25, 1879, p.3, from

Now what? This would seem to be a job for DNA testing, to be honest. Certainly in the case of the mother of the child. It is possible to follow one lead, though. Searching for Garrigus in Howard County, Indiana, produces a J. M. Garrigus in the 1870 U.S. Census. In that year, and in 1880, there are Garrigus families in Clay, Parke, Vigo, Dearborn, and Jay counties in addition to Howard, but none of those are near the north central part of the state that we’re interested in. In 1870, J.M. Garrigus appears to be a wealthy farmer, with land valued at more than most of his neighbors.

1870 U.S. Census for Howard County, Indiana. J.M. Garrigus heads family no.165.

Through multiple records, Mary has confirmed his name to be John, that his first wife, listed here, died in 1872, and that he was married a second time in 1873 to Emma R.A. S. Pyles. She has traced several generations back, but no Irish ancestry for Mr. Garrigus is evident. In fact, the Garrigus family claims to be of French Huguenot descent. There does, however, seem to be DNA evidence confirming a connection to John S. Garrigus. At least one additional descendant of John’s father, Timothy Garrigus, is a DNA match to Rose’s descendants.

So with this information, we’ll assume that John S. Garrigus was Rose’s father. He and two of his brothers, Milton and Flavius, served in the Civil War from Indiana. Following a third marriage to Guley Bailey, John moved to North Dakota, where he died prior to 1890.

And Rose’s mother? That will be more difficult. Based on the marriage record, we’re working on the hypothesis that it’s Emma Pyles, but DNA evidence will definitely be necessary here. Unfortunately, the marriage record only gives her name and no additional information. So far, the only other interesting find for Emma is a census record from 1900 for Plymouth, Indiana, where the above newspaper article was originally printed. It lists an Emma A.R. Pyles, born in 1837, living with a daughter and son-in-law. Is this the same woman? Stay tuned. If you have any additional information, please contact me.

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