The one who refuses to show himself….

We all have them, the ancestor who leaves little of him or herself for us to find. The one who eludes even the longest and best efforts, ourselves refusing to give up. We just know if we look at one more reference record, one more newspaper, book, one more census, one more roll of deeds, one more, one more. Surely they will peak their heads out and give us a clue!

For me it is my paternal 3rd Great Grandfather that drives me to genealogy head banging. Joshua Rouse, and what I know of him really is very little. He was born abt 1816-1817, unknown where and to whom, and died 17 May 1887 a widower in Tarboro, Edgecombe, NC. But it would take me 15 years to even know when or where he died.

The only close living Rouse relative, my great Aunt Ellen Rouse, knew nothing of her great grandfather. I would ask her each visit if she had remembered anything and though tired of my asking all these questions on the family, she would tell me quietly “no”. She felt bad she had no further information but with her father dying when she was just a teen, I imagine like most of us at that age, she never thought to ask about his family and then it was too late. Aunt Ellen passed away in 2004, I am sorry I did not find out more while she was alive so that I could at least tell her I did find some information on him.

Years ago I remember going to the cemetery where my grandparents are buried and looking up to the sky I asked Lenore to help me. I pleaded with the family in Heaven to please just give me a clue to how I can find out more about Dallam Caswell and his family, including his daughter Susan and her husband Joshua Rouse. There had to be some information somewhere!

From there I drove over to the Caswell Memorial Building and to my astonishment there in a plexiglass enclosed box was a family bible from Dallam Caswell! Never seen before or even known about and recently donated, were pages with answers to several questions, of course those answers bring about more questions but that is another story. I can tell you tears of happiness came forth and shivers at the thought that my prayers were heard and answered! As soon as I came home I emailed the curator and asked if they had photo copies of the pages from the Bible and she quickly responded she did and sent them to me. I finally had more information about Dallam Caswell and his family but even better, Joshua Rouse is there!

Susan Caswell is the granddaughter of the late Governor Richard Caswell, daughter of his son Dallam Caswell. She and Joshua Rouse marry 10 March 1838 in Kinston, Lenoir, NC. According to the family bible they had at least 4 children, though evidence shows there were more but the pages were torn. Known are Sarah E, William Henry, Susan Madeline and Marcellus Wooten. I am descended from Marcellus. Sadly it is noted that on 22 Oct 1845, Susan dies. Since it is just two months after Marcellus is born, I wonder if it was child-birth related, but will never know.

For years  I had no clue to his life afterwards. He just seemed to disappear from Lenoir County and despite my best efforts, I could not find him or his family. Then with the wealth of records that came on-line over the years and continued emails, letters and visits to Kinston and Raleigh to the archives, and fellow researchers who helped me look for records as well, I was able at last to identify him in the 1860, 1870 and 1880 census, and two land records. Not a wealth of information, but at least something.

The first record is of Joshua getting married on 18 Dec 1855 to Mrs. Annie Elizabeth (Daniel) Thigpen, widow of Rufus C Thigpen, in Snow Hill, Edgecombe county. Though it gives his first name as George and not Joshua, which gives me pause wondering if this was his name as well since a grandson of his would be named George. I also found the marriage bond which did name him as Joshua.

George ROUSE of Snow Hill married Mrs. Ann Eliza Thigpen, daughter of Rev. John H. Daniel, in Edgecombe County on December 18, 1855, by Elisha Cromwell, Esq. (Southener Dec 22 1855)

Joshua and Eliza have at least 5 children together; Effie Senora, Mary Elizabeth, John W, Maniza Alivenia and Joshua. Though married at Snow Hill, they were living in Kinston in the 1860 census, with Marcellus from his first marriage and Effie and Mary Elizabeth. His land is valued at $10,000 and his personal assets at $14,000. Though no 1860 Slave Schedule is found for him, I have a thought he is a slave owner, and this is proven years later in quite an interesting way.

In one of my recent “one more” searches I found a disturbing, and yet quite normal for the times, ad in a newspaper. The Weekly Standard, Raleigh, NC 18 Nov 1863, printed for about 6 weeks, was this ad. Knowing the Rouse players of Lenoir county for this time period, this had to be my Joshua Rouse mentioned here.

By 1870 his fortunes, like those of most North Carolina gentleman after the war, are quite different. They live in Kinston on property valued at $4,000 and personal assets at $750. Shortly after that they move to Tarboro and live on an estate known as “Danielhurst”. This is on land that Eliza purchased from her father Rev John H Daniel in 1756, where years later their daughter Effie and son-in-law David G Gillespie (gasp…a Yankee!) would run a school for girls.

Armed with some clues from fellow researchers I went to Tarboro in search of Joshua’s life. I finally found Danielhurst, looking much like the 19th-century drawing I found on-line, and his family cemetery in front of the property.


Thanks to finding this cemetery I was able to find out Joshua died in his 71st year and finally a death date, I went back to the local library and hoped I could find more information about his death and dare I pray, his family. Looking at the micro-film I was able to find a death notice in the newspaper, but much to my dismay and sorrow, no information other than his name and date of death was given.

There goes the head banging again……

I can find no information on Joshua’s family from any of the records I have found from Annie or their children, nor from his children with his first wife, Susan Caswell.

So I still have to ask where was he born and who were his parents, who are his family?


About honoredgenerations

Curious by nature, passionate about family and history, I find a special calling to honor our previous generations by finding and telling their stories. Each generation leaves an impression on who we are and these lives, these unique individuals deserve to be remembered "generation unto generation".
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3 Responses to The one who refuses to show himself….

  1. Jacqi says:

    What an incredible journey! While you still have questions, at least you gained ground with a few answers in the mean time.

    • This discovery is a passion of mine, I feel like there is something out there just begging to be discovered and I will one day, I promise myself and Joshua I will be able to tell his story one day.

  2. Jd Knudson says:

    Great story. I have several of those people in my past…a few who I have finally made a little headway on, but as you say…still headbangers…My GGrandmother is one of those. Try as I might I have never found anything on her before she arrived with her husband and son from Germany / Prussia. But I keep looking … just one more record!

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