Bessie was born in Pittsburg, Kansas on 13 Aug 1892. She was the daughter of Robert Ross and Mariah Ross, the second of four children.
Ross Family About 1900
Bessie was living with her mother as a young adult when her parents were separated/divorced in the early 1900s and her mother had a series of very short marriages, including at least one where she claimed to be a widow while her husband will living elsewhere. In the meantime, her husband, William Crofoot was living just across town still claiming to be married.
Bessie listed a husband with the surname White on the birth certificates of her two older children. The given names were different, and on her daughter's birth certificate she claimed he was deceased, yet we found evidence that the man named was still alive as late as the mid 1960s.
Bessie Dawson (center) with Daughters: Elethea (right) and Rosemary (left)
Death & Burial
Bessie passed away in Inglewood, California on 19 Jun 1990 at the age of 97.
What was Bessie's first name at birth? When I was a child, Bessie told me her real name was Elizabeth, but she hated it and so always went by Bessie. I have not found any documents with the name Elizabeth and so decided to use her preferred name that is seen on almost all of her records as her given name. It could be changed to Elizabeth if anyone finds a birth record to verify - but right now it's only a memory of a conversation with no real source.
Was there a first marriage? Bessie kept her secrets until her death. She would only tell her daughter "It would break your heart" if she knew the true story about her biological father. After her death we discovered photos and post cards that led us to believe her first husband was James White, even though he was alive into the 1960s. No marriage record has been found to verify their relationship. DNA evidence points to a different father for at lest one of the children. And there is also the problem that no Mr. White died in the Kansas City area in the 9 months leading up to Elethea's birth.
↑ "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2ZD-42R : accessed 30 January 2022), Marie B Crofoot, Wichita Ward 1, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 102, sheet 7B, family 191, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 456; FHL microfilm 1,374,469.
↑ "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2Z6-CSN : accessed 30 January 2022), W M Crowfoot in household of Elmer Brown, Wichita Ward 6, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 143, sheet 7B, family 150, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 456; FHL microfilm 1,374,469.
↑ "Kansas State Census, 1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGPN-RFV3 : 13 October 2019), Marie Armstrong, Wichita, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States; citing Wichita, Sedgwick, Kansas, United States, , 13, Kansas Historical Society, Topeka.
↑ "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X7Q5-QCZ : accessed 21 January 2022), Bessie E Dawson in household of Harold L Dawson, Chanute, Neosho, Kansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 8, sheet 9A, line 34, family 223, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 713; FHL microfilm 2,340,448.
Maternal relationship is confirmed by an AncestryDNA test match between Freeman and his 3rd cousin. Their most-recent common ancestors are Richard RossSusan Lease, the 2nd great-grandparents of both. Predicted relationship from AncestryDNA: 2nd-3rd cousins, based on sharing 116 cM across 5 segments.
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Bessie by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line.
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Bessie: