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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2011-09-12 07:48 pm

Remembering Joedella Meek

Every once in a while, I find someone outside my direct line of descendancy whose story tugs at my heart and cries out to be told.

Such is the case with Joedella Meek, daughter of Joseph Alexander Meek and Madella Rossell.

Joedella's dad lost his parents when he was only 20, and I found him in the 1850 census, living with my 3rd great-parents, Jefferson John Meek and Hettie Donahoo in the 1850 census in Marshall Co., MS.

So I followed him for a while.
Joedella was J A Meek's only living child from either of his two marriages.

He married her mother (his first wife), Madella Russell on 19 Nov 1856 in DeSoto Co., MS.

Madella died when her daughter was just a toddler, on 12 Aug 1860, and J A Meek married again, to Caroline Frances Parker, in 1861.

By 1874, J A Meek moved his family to Craighead County, AR, where he was a physician in the city of Jonesboro. It was there that Joedella married William Monroe Robertson on 3 Oct 1886. She was his second wife.

Monroe, as he was called, was a City Marshall and well respected in Jonesboro. The couple had two children Myrtle, born in July 1887, and Monroe, Jr., born in February 1889.

Joedella probably did not even realize she was pregnant with her third child, Della, when tragedy struck her family.



The Careless Handling of a Pistol, Believed to be Empty, the Source of His Death -

Special to the Arkansas Gazette.

Jonesboro, August 30 - A most distressing accident occurred here last night about 11 o'clock, which resulted in the death of City Marshall W M Robertson. He and a friend, Ed Daberry, were playing with a revolver thought not to be loaded. Daberry took the weapon and had slapped it several times, when suddenly it fired, the ball taking effect near the head of Robertson, from the effects of which he died in a very few minutes. Mr. Robertson had lived here nearly all his life, and had many friends, who are sad today over his untimely death. He was a prominent member of the Masonic Order, being a Knight Templar, by which order he will be buried tomorrow. His death was entirely accidental, and no blame is attached to anyone.
Source: Jonesboro Evening Sun, 30 Aug 1891

Monroe Robertson, Sr. was 38 years old. His widow was 33, with two small children to raise, and another on the way.

So she ran a boardinghouse. The 1900 and 1910 censuses show she was doing a pretty good business.

In 1906, Joedella's step-mother, Carrie Meek - the only mother she had really ever known - died. In addition to her boardinghouse duties, Joedella must have had some responsibility for nursing her ailing mother, as the Jonesboro Daily Times-Enterprise described:


After a Long Illness, Mrs. Meek Passed Away Last Night

Last night at 7:40 o'clock, Mrs. Carrie F Meek died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Jodella Robertson, on Monroe Avenue.

The death of this good woman was not a surprise, as she had been ill for several weeks, and it had been thought for some time that the end might come at any moment. Even though this being the case, her loved ones and friends are deeply grieved.

Mrs. Meek was 74 years of age, and has been married to her husband for forty-six years. She was a devoted wife and a splendid christian woman. Besides her husband, she leaves a step-daughter, Mrs. Robertson, and many friends to mourn her loss.

Mrs. Meek has resided in Jonesboro since 1874, and by her gentle and lovable disposition, has made many strong and lasting friends. She was for years a consistent member of the Methodist church, and has been, ever since her residence in Jonesboro, a member of the First church of this city.

The funeral occurred this afternoon at the church, the services being conducted by her pastor, Rev. W. C. Davidson. To the aged husband and other relatives and friends, the Times-Enterprise offers sympathy.
Source: Jonesboro Daily Times-Enterprise, 10 Dec 1906

Joedella lost her father two months later, in February 1907.
I didn't find Joedella in the 1920 census. In 1930, she still had boarders, but was living in Riverside County, CA. I wonder if she moved there after her profound loss in 1918.


Monroe Robertson, son of Mrs. Jodella Robertson of this city, died of influenza Thursday at the State Hospital in Little Rock. The remains arrived in this city yesterday accompanied by his mother, who was with him at the time of his death, and his half-brother, Ed Robertson. The funeral was held at the family residence on Flint and Elm yesterday at 3 o'clock, conducted by Dr. J R Hobbs, pastor of the First Baptist church. Interment was at the City cemetery. Many beautiful floral offerings covered the casket. The deceased is survived by his mother, brother and two sisters, Miss Della Robertson, and Mrs. Myrtle Adams.
Source: Jonesboro Evening Sun, 11 Nov 1918

I cannot imagine watching my child die. And then having to accompany his body back home for burial.

And through it all, Joedella remembered her manners.


We wish to thank our many friends for their kindness after the death of our dear son and brother. Also for the beautiful floral offerings.

Mrs. Joedella Robertson
Mrs. Myrtle R Adams
Della Robertson
R E Robertson
Source: Jonesboro Evening Sun, 13 Nov 1918
The next historic record I could find on Joedella was the California Death Index.

She died in Riverside County on Independence Day, 1959.

She was 101 years old.

I hope her later years brought her joy.