David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Surname Saturday - Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker

My great grandmother, Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker

Roseanna Varvel was born 15 June, 1876 in Adams County, Ohio.  She was the third child of seven born to George W. and Mahala Mahaffey Varvel, the first of their four daughters and she was named in honor of her grandmother, Roseanna Bowen Varvel.   Sometime in 1895, she was married to Thomas Jefferson Shoemaker, the son of Jacob and Anna Mariah Grimes Shoemaker,  in Adams County and they began farming in the rugged southern Ohio land.  In 1896, their first child, Floyd,  was born and Ann would eventually give birth to thirteen children, twelve of whom survived to adulthood.  It was not an easy life for Tom and Ann as they struggled to feed and shelter their large family, which also included two of Tom's brothers, Ike and Jake.  At one point, they even lost their farm due to a combination of unscrupulous maneuverings by a mortgage holder and poor record keeping by a too Tom.  Somehow, they managed to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  Ann was a strong and courageous woman.  Her daughter told a story of how she herself was terrified of all the snakes that made their homes around the family farm, but Ann was never bothered by them. She would simply pick them up by the tail, "crack" them like a whip and their heads would fall off.  She would just go on about her business, teasing the girls about their fear. 

The Shoemaker Home from 1933-1949 photographed in 1990

As her children grew up, Ann had to watch her oldest son go to war and several of the others leave the homestead to find the jobs that were not plentiful in and around Peebles.  She persevered, taking care of those who remained and watching her family grow as her children married and had babies of their own.
On 19 October, 1943, Tom had a massive heart attack and died at the age of 74.  According to her daughters, Ann was never the same.  She spent a great deal time living with her daughter, Lulu, in Xenia, Ohio and that is where she died on 28 January, 1956. 

She is buried next to Tom in the Locust Grove Cemetery in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio. 


  1. Lori,I loved the intensely alive look of your ggrandmother --- she still looked like she could whip the head off of snake and laugh about it. Neat post and picture.

  2. Great tribute - Ann sounds like a brave and strong woman, indeed! I love the picture of the old farmhouse.

  3. Thomas Jefferson Shoemaker would be my great grand Uncle, His sister Mary Elizabeth Shoemaker Alexander is my great grandmother. I guess that would make us about third cousins? Nice to find this and read about that line of my ancestors.

    1. Hi, Suzy! It's always wonderful to find new cousins! It has been one of my joys to learn more about my grandfather's family. Thank you for your comments!

    2. Lori,
      You and I once communicated but I lost track of you when you lost your job. You lived in Wilmington, Ohio at the time. I am the granddaughter of Thomas and Anna Shoemaker. My father was their youngest: Roy