Isabel Randall Rosier
Dawn Marie Newton Quinn
Rights Reserved; All Wrongs Revenged!
information is not to be copied, reprinted, or added to
the written permission of the author!
too long ago there lived a woman who put other people before herself.
Rosa Isabel Randall did not grow up with a silver spoon.
She was raised on hard work and sacrifice. She worked her
whole life for the people around her and believed in a motto,
“service before self.” She married at the age of fifteen
and raised a family of sixteen children. She took care of
her father and was a support to her siblings. She helped
to raise her grandchildren. She was the caretaker of four
generations and the center of her family. She faced tragedy and
grew in strength. She dedicated her life to her loved ones,
asking them for nothing in return. This is her story.
Isabel Randall was born on March 3, 1880 to Niles C Randall and
Mitte Aldrich in West Granville, Hampden County, Massachusetts.
She was the eighth of nine children born to Niles and Mittie.
Mittie’s sister was named Rosetta, and it is probable that Rosa
was named after her. Rosa’s family was proud of each other,
and often named children after people in the family. Unfortunately,
Rosa did not have a close relationship with her grandparents.
In 1856, Rosa’s maternal grandmother, Maryette Mooer Aldrich,
died from an outbreak of consumption in Southwick, Hampden County,
Massachusetts. Mittie was only fourteen years old, and her mother
never had a chance to know Rosa or the other children. Rosa’s
paternal grandfather, Sylvanus Aldrich, died in 1884 and left
little behind. At the age of seventy-seven, Sylvanus earned
a living by working as a servant in the house of a prominent family
in Southwick. He died from paralysis. Rosa was only
four years old and she would not have many memories of him.
Her paternal grandparents were living when Rosa was born, but
probably had little interaction with her. Her paternal grandmother,
Lois Bird Randall, was bedridden with paralysis the year she was
born. Elizabeth Randall Hills, Rosa’s paternal aunt, had
taken her parents in at her house in Southwick and cared for Lois.
After Lois died in 1881, Rosa’s paternal grandfather, Leonard
Randall, moved to Hartland, Niagara County, New York with Rosa’s
uncle, Nelson Ambrose Randall and his wife, Alvira Bird.
Although Leonard lived in Hartland for many years, it is doubtful
that Rosa and her family could have made the 350-mile trip to
see him. He died in Hartland on January 28,1892. Growing
up in a large family and having relatives cared for by other family
members, prepared Rosa for her role as the caregiver in four generations
of her family.
is doubtful that Rosa went very far in school as she married at
a very young age. What is most probable is that she attended
school at a young age, but then worked around the farm doing chores
when she was a little older. Rosa could read and write;
and her signature can be seen on several documents. Rosa
and her family moved from Granville to Hartland, Hartford County,
Connecticut around 1888.
She may have stopped attending school at this time. She
was most certainly involved in the local Protestant church.
Religion was always apart of her life and she knew her bible very
well. After she had her own children, she would gather them
around the hearth to read them passages from the bible every night
before sending them to bed. Although Rosa did not grow up
with comfort and wealth, she probably had a happy childhood.
Both Rosa and her sister had large families like their mother
had. It was not uncommon in their times to have large families.
In 1900, twenty percent of the population lived in households
with seven or more people in them. The sisters recognized
that wealth does not make good mothers and happy families, but
a lot of love does.
January of 1892 her father came down with a very serious case
of the grippe. He worked on the river bringing lumber to the sawmill.
Niles was laid in bed for six weeks and never fully recovered.
After that he was plagued by catarrh and headaches. In his
words he could only do a “half days work.” He had previously
injured his knees while he was wrangling with a colt on his farm
and this also made manual labor difficult for Niles. Rosa’s
mother took on the responsibility of providing for their family
by doing washings for people, and Rosa would have also helped
her mother. The little money they had from the washings
was not enough to support their family and economic assistance
from the town was asked for. By the affidavits written on
Niles behalf to the pension office, it is obvious that the family
was regarded as honest. Although they did not have a lot,
the family was well liked by the community. After several
appeals and letters from the members of the community, Niles’
Civil War pension was finally accepted in 1895. The family had
five dollars a month to live on, in addition to the income from
the women in the family. In 2000, their five dollars a month
would be equal to ninety-six dollars per month.
same year her father’s pension came through, fifteen-year old
Rosa was married to Julius John Rosier. He was born about
1868 in the town of Beaucourt, in the territory of Belfort, in
France. Julius immigrated to Barkhamsted, Litchfield County,
Connecticut with his brothers to work as a lumberman at the same
sawmill that Rosa’s father worked in. Although it was not
unheard of for women to marry at such a young age, only a small
part of the married population of women was that young.
In 1900 only 415, 682 of 13,784,538 married women were between
the ages of fifteen to nineteen years old. There is probably
no simple reason for Rosa marrying Julius so young. Perhaps
she fell in love with him, or felt the financial burden of her
family. Perhaps she fell victim to the advances of a man
twelve years older than her. Whatever her reason, Rosa married
Julius Rosier, with her parents consent, on Tuesday, September
3, 1895, in Hartland, Hartford County, Connecticut.
After her wedding to Julius, the young couple lived with her parents
in Danbury Quarter in Winsted. Rosa’s older sister, Emma
Eveline Randall, married Julius’s brother, Florent Rosier about
1898. Emma had previously been married to George Wallace,
and they had several children together. Julius and Florent
Rosier did not own property, and often rented small houses in
the towns they worked. The families traveled often as the
two men took jobs logging wherever they could. The sisters
often lived together in the same towns.
By living close to each other, the sisters could help each other
raise their large families and take care of their father.
No one but Emma could understand the struggles that Rosa faced;
and Rosa could understand Emma’s.
three months of her marriage, Rosa was pregnant with her first
child. Florence Mittie Rosier was born on October 29, 1896 at
home. No doubt her mother Mittie helped her during the birth;
and as a token of appreciation to Mittie, Rosa gave Florence her
mother’s middle name. Rosa had no crib for her child to
sleep in. She made a bed from a shoebox and put her baby
in it. She gave Florence a warm spot above the stove, where
she put all her babies to sleep. When Florence was eight
months old, Rosa became pregnant with their second child.
Her second child, Leon Rosier, was born on her eighteenth birthday,
March 3, 1898 in Winsted. Did Rosa feel the strain of having
two young children at the young age of eighteen or did she love
the role as mother and caretaker? It would be out of Rosa’s
character to say that she was forced by Julius to have children
so close together. It is most probable that she loved having
children, and relished the role of mother.
Leon was nine months old, Rosa became pregnant with her third
child, Persis. Persis was born on October 9, 1900.
Julius was often away from the home for long periods of time to
work on the river. When he came home, he never registered
Persis’s birth with the town; no record of Florence’s birth has
been found, either. When Persis was one year old, Rosa was
pregnant with her fourth child. Dwight Nelson Randall was
born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts on July 30,
1902. Nelson is the name of her paternal uncle, Nelson Ambrose
Randall. By August of 1902 Rosa had a six year old, a four
year old, a two year old, and a newborn. Florence did not
receive much schooling and did not sign her name on documents.
Because she was the oldest, it probably fell to her to help her
mother watch the children and care for the babies running around
the house. All the children, whether they were male or female,
were expected to help out around the house. The Rosier daughters
would often tell stories of how, even at young ages, they worked
pitching hay along side the boys.
was kept busy the holiday season of 1903. Sadly, her youngest
son Dwight came down with a case of the measles. Because
measles are highly contagious, it is probable that the older children
had brought the measles home. Although Rosa cared for the
children, Dwight died four days before Christmas on December 21,
1903. Rosa had to bury her son in an unmarked grave in Sandisfield.
This is the longest period between children that Rosa has.
It may have been that Julius did not file the birth records for
children born during these years. Or Rosa could have felt heart
broken after the loss of her first child and did not welcome her
husbands attention. She became pregnant with her fifth child
in November of 1904, two years after the birth of Dwight.
But that joyous news was not to stop the tragedy for Rosa.
While she was five months pregnant, and had just turned twenty-five
years old, her mother, Mittie Aldrich Randall, died on March 30,
1905 from pernicious anemia.
She buried her mother at Forestview Cemetery in Winsted where
her mother was living. Five months later on August 12, 1905,
Rosa gave birth, without the help of her mother, to Clarissa Isabel
Rosier When Claire was two months old, Rosa became pregnant
with her sixth child. However, the Randall family was still
not done with tragedy. On April 1, 1906, when Claire was
only eight months old, Rosa had to bury her brother, Frederick
Lyman Randall. He died from Bright’s Disease, which caused failure
of his kidneys, at the age of sixteen. He was the ninth
child born to Niles and Mittie, and closest to Rosa in age.
months after the death of Frederick, her sixth son, Julius John
Rosier, Jr. was born on August 27, 1906 in Tolland, Hampden County,
Massachusetts. Rosa had no rest with five children to take
care of, and just pregnant again with their seventh child, when
Leon became sick. No amount of Rosa’s care could bring the
nine year olds' fever down and sadly, her second child died from
a brain fever on June 19, 1907. Rosa buried her second child in
an unmarked grave in Barkhamsted, Litchfield County, Connecticut.
One month after Rosa turned twenty-eight Adolph Nelson was born
on April 3, 1908 in Tolland One month after Adolph’s birth,
Rosa was pregnant with her eighth child. She gave birth on February
7, 1909 in the northern part of Blandford, Hampden County, Massachusetts
to Rosa E. Rosier.
celebrated her thirtieth birthday on March 3, 1910, while she
was eight months pregnant, had a one-year old baby, a two year
old, a three year old, a four year old, a nine year old, a thirteen
year old, and had already buried two children, her mother, and
her younger brother. On April 19, 1910, one month after
her thirtieth birthday, Ruth M Rosier
was born. At the age of thirty, Rosa had more moments of
joy and heartbreak than most people experience in their entire
lives. One can only imagine the pain she went through watching
two of her children to die. There must have been plenty
of stressful moments raising the seven surviving children, and
five of them under the age of six. However, the joy of giving
life to nine children must have eased some of her pain.
the year of 1911 would not go by uneventful for Rosa. Little
Rosa became very ill and developed an acute case of pneumonia.
Rosa traveled the distance of thirty miles to the hospital in
Springfield to save the life of her daughter. However, even
the medical care of the hospital was not enough to save little
Rosa. She died in the hospital on June 13, 1911.
Little Rosa was taken back home by her mother and buried in their
town of Blandford. Having just buried her third child, that
summer must have been very hard on Rosa. Perhaps the memories
of little Rosa in their house in Blandford were too much for Rosa
to bear. Within the year, Rosa, Julius, and their family
moved to Colebrook, Litchfield County, Connecticut, and rented
a small house.
gave birth to her tenth child, Josephine Eunice Rosier,
on July 17, 1912 at Winchester Hospital in Winsted. Josephine
was probably born early and had a low birth weight. Sometime
as a child, Josephine had scarlet fever and suffered from vision
loss in her right eye. Fourteen months after Josephine was
born, Rosa had her eleventh child, Joseph Rosier, on September
14, 1913 at Winchester Hospital. Rosa’s brief peace was
shattered when Joseph died at one month of age from heart disease,
on October 15, 1913 at the hospital. Given the closeness
of age to his sister Josephine, and the cause of his death, Joseph
was probably born a preemie. Joseph may have never left
the hospital. Almost one year after Joseph’s death on September
28, 1914, Rosa gave birth to a baby girl named Grace at the Winchester
Hospital. Grace was just shy of her first birthday when
she died on September 9, 1915 from whooping cough. Rosa
must have felt very frustrated that the doctors, nor she, could
provide the medical care her children needed. After burying
Rosa, Joseph, and Grace, Rosa’s brother Lewis Leonard Randall,
died on June 22, 1916 from tuberculosis. He was buried at
the Randall plot in Forestview Cemetery. Since tragedy began
striking her family in 1903 with the death of her son Dwight,
Rosa buried her mother, five children, and two brothers; and she
was only thirty-six years old. In Massachusetts between
the years of 1915 and 1919, one in ten infants died. By
1920, Rosa had lost five out of fourteen of her children.
That is almost one in three of her children.
relationship between Julius and Rosa is unclear. Their children
never talked much about their parents’ marriage. They viewed
their mother in a positive light and did not speak of their father
favorably. Many of their children were involved in abusive
relationships. It is possible that they learned the behavior
from their parents. However, Niles had lived with Rosa since
1913, and to assume Rosa was abused would mean that her father
condoned it. Julius and Rosa were living in Sandisfield,
Berkshire County, Massachusetts and whatever happened between
them, Rosa left Julius towards the end of 1916. She moved
thirty miles through the Berkshire Mountains to Pittsfield, Berkshire
County, Massachusetts. She was pregnant with their thirteenth
child, William Raymond Rosier She took five year old Josephine
with her and made arrangements for the other children who were
still at home to board and work with close friends. Ruth,
who was about seven years old, went to work at the home of Dr.
Pipkin, Rosa’s doctor. Ruth not only paid for her board
through her work there, but also paid off the family medical bills
The Pipkin family was always involved with Rosa’s family and attended
several Rosier weddings. Her second oldest daughter Persis
traveled with her to the Pittsfield area and worked as a housekeeper.
Rosa gave birth at the House of Mercy Hospital in Pittsfield,
Berkshire County, Massachusetts to Raymond on May 17, 1917.
In July of 1917 the Pittsfield Probate Court granted her custody
of Josephine on the grounds that Julius was an unfit father.
No divorce was ever obtained and it is unclear how long they were
separated. In 1920, divorce was not common and only eight
out of one thousand married women were divorced. They probably
reconciled after two years when she became pregnant with their
fourteenth child, Olive Louise Rosier Rosa moved back to
the area of Sandisfield and gave birth to Olive at Winchester
Hospital on January 19, 1920. Rosa was just shy of her fortieth
she was seven months pregnant with her fifteenth child, Rosa lost
her closest confidant. Her sister Emma died on April 10,
1922 in a diabetic coma at the Winchester Hospital. Emma’s
loss would have been hard on Rosa. They had a unique insight
into each other’s lives. They raised their large families
side by side and shared in the care of their parents. The
cause of her sisters death at the age of fifty-eight would have
made Rosa wonder about her own mortality. At Rosa’s birth,
the average age for a woman’s life expectancy in Massachusetts
was forty-three and a half years. When her sister died,
Rosa was forty-two years old and she also suffered from diabetes.
Rosa was a non-compliant diabetic. She would bake her family
chocolate cakes that were so dark you couldn’t tell if the cake
was purple or black. She would make her own maple syrup
from the trees in the forest and would often sneak into the pantry
to take spoonfuls of the syrup. Even after the death of
her sister, she never stopped listening to her sweet tooth, and
would continue to have diabetic “spells” that would send the family
into a frenzy. Rosa would have to lay down and the windows
would all be opened for her.
she questioned her health or mortality, it did not stop her from
having another child. She gave birth to Dorothy Emmaline
Rosie on July 15, 1922 at the Winsted Hospital. She gave
Dorothy her sister's middle name to honor her memory. At
the age of forty-two she never slowed down. In between raising
a family of fifteen children, Rosa had been taking care of her
father, Niles C Randall. Niles had lived with his daughters
after the death of his wife in 1905. Since 1913 Rosa had
Niles in her house and she had cared for him. As Niles advanced
in age, he became senile. Rosa would wake up in the middle
of the night to give her father a glass of milk to keep his stomach
settled and would have to bring him to the bathroom frequently.
Between her children and her father, Rosa had not gotten a good
night’s sleep in thirty years. She never complained, but
just kept doing what she was meant to do: loving and caring for
her family. Her father Niles collected a pension because
he was a Civil War soldier. According to the pension files,
this was his only source of income due to his ill health.
In 1900, Nile’s pension was six dollars per month. In 1905,
he collected eight dollars per month. In 1908 he was collecting
fifteen dollars per month, and finally in 1923, he collected seventy-two
dollars per month. Even though Rosa took care of him, she
evidently did not use his pension by the amount of the estate
he left behind. Niles died from old age on July 1, 1924
at the age eighty-six years.
He made his daughter Rosa the executor of his will, and asked
that the court waive the executor’s fee, as she did not have a
lot of money. His estate totaled a little over $1600.
He gave some money to the rest of his children, and the children
of his deceased children. The bulk of the estate, totaling
about $1200 was left to Rosa. Rosa’s other siblings signed
away any rights to contest the will and gladly gave Rosa the bulk
of the estate. Her character can be seen by the way she
handled her father’s estate. One of her brother’s could
not be found when the money was disposed of. Rather than
pocketing the fifty dollars he was left, Rosa put it in a bank
account until such time as he was found, or his children were
found. The estate that Niles left behind in 1924 would be valued
at about $15,500 in 2000. Rosa buried her father in the
Randall plot in Winsted, CT. Because he was a Civil War
veteran, the government should have paid for the burial and a
plaque with his service information on it. There also would
have been a flag given to Rosa, although this flag has not been
moved back to the area where she was living when she left Julius.
In August of 1924, she took the money she was left from her father’s
estate and bought a house with land on Gulf Rd. in Lanesboro,
Berkshire County, Massachusetts from Arthur and Chrestina Chroquette.
She secured a mortgage from Henrietta Hibbard at the rate of six
percent and made her husband, Julius, sign away all legal rights
to the land. The fact that she had previously left Julius
and now had him sign away right to the property, would make Rosa
a strong woman of her time. She was not afraid to stand
up for herself and she finally had a house that belonged only
to her. She settled into the community and became an active
member of the Union Methodist Chapel in Berkshire Village.
She was well loved by the neighbors and church community.
Rosa saw no distinctions between people and lived next door to
a black family. They were often in and out of each other’s
houses and their children played freely together.
June 21, 1925, at the age of forty-five, Rosa gave birth in Pittsfield
to her last and sixteenth known child, Mariet Lois Randall Rosier.
Mary was named for Rosa’s grandmothers, Maryette Mooer Aldrich
and Lois Bird Randall. The family settled into a happy life
of not moving and community life. Many of the older girls
went to work as housekeepers in Pittsfield, while the boys worked
at local farms. They would come home one day a week and
gather at her house. Rosa’s last daughter, Mary, was the
first child to receive a high school degree.
May 9, 1932, Rosa’s granddaughter, Barbara Isabel Newton
was born. At times over the next eight years, Barbara and
her parents, Josephine and Winslow Newton, would live at Rosa’s
house. Her grandson, Winslow Ernest Newton, Jr. was born
on September 8, 1934. Rosa took care of her grandchildren,
just as she had taken care of her parents, her children, and her
siblings. She put Barbara in the warm spot above the stove
as a baby and read to her from the bible as she did her own children.
She would pack her grandchildren into her wagon and take them
into town when she did her shopping. After they moved into
their own house, Josephine and her grandchildren would walk across
town to visit her on Sundays.
who knew Rosa talk about the amazing selfless woman that she was.
They talk about her putting the needs of other people above her
own. Sadly, Rosa died on February 9, 1940, three weeks shy
of her sixtieth birthday.
She had spinal cancer and an unsuccessful operation to remove
it had left her sick in the hospital for three weeks. She
was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Lanesboro. The family’s
center collapsed. The children would not be united as they
once had been and would spread out over the country. The
house was sold after her death, and once the mortgage was paid,
the eleven surviving children split the money. The younger
daughters were in the custody of their older sisters and Julius
went to live with his oldest daughter, Florence. Julius
died on November 20, 1944 from carcinoma of the rectum, and by
that time, many of his children were not speaking to him.
He is not remembered well.
are many family stories of Rosa’s heritage that cannot be verified.
Rosa’s children always said that she had twenty-one children.
Because they were spread out over a period of thirty years, her
children never knew all of them and were not able to make a complete
list. Her obituary states that she was the mother of twenty-one
children. Only sixteen children have been found, but in
finding them, it became apparent that all of their births were
not recorded. The other family tale told by Rosa’s children
was the story that she was of Native American descent. The
proof was in her features and long brown hair. Rosa’s hair
fell below her waist, although she always put it back in a bun.
She had high, sharp cheekbones, as all her daughters did.
Her skin was a dark brown. Perhaps this story will be verified
when all of her ancestors are uncovered, or perhaps her ancestors
are just of a darker European descent. But if her descendants
are asked about her they will tell you three things. They
will say that she had twenty-one children, that she was part Indian,
and that she was committed to “service before self.”
is not every person that has the ability to spend their life giving
of themselves to others. Rosa was the mother of at least
sixteen children and loved them all. She took care of not
only her children, but her parents and grandchildren as well.
She was well loved by her community and would not hesitate to
help out someone in need. Through all her hardship she did
not grow bitter, but strong. She never gave up on life or
her family. She was their center and strength. Rosa
put service before herself.
Niles C. Civil War Pension File. File C-2 559
253. National Archives.
Great Barrington. Microfilm.