Wednesday, April 6, 2016



            Robert Lee Dever was born 15 Nov 1880 in the Sulphur Springs community of Ohio County, the son of Henry Clay Dever (1844-1934) and Jamima J. Wright (1855-1912). Robert was the second of nine children: Belle, Robert Lee, Mary, Charles L., Eugene Wayne, Myrtle, Frank, Cecil R., and Richard L.  The father, Henry Clay, was a farmer.

            First marriage:  On 18 April 1903 Robert Lee Dever married Martha Janie (Coy) Ewing, a widow from Larue County, KY who was about two years older than Robert. Martha had been married to Jesse Ewing and they had two sons, Ervin Ewing, born 12 Feb 1894, and Allen Ross Ewing, born 10 Sept 1897.

Hartford Herald, April 22, 1903 Jingo news. Married at the residence of H. C. Dever, last Sunday the 16th, at 2 oclock Robert Dever and Mrs. Janie Ewing of LaRue County, Ky.  The groom is the son of H. C. Dever and is very popular.  The bride was a pretty young widow.  They will start to housekeeping at once at Dundee.  May their pathway be strewn with thornless flowers.

                So, at age 22, Robert Lee Dever started his married life with a bride and two step-sons about age 7 and 5.  A third child, Fronia Mae Dever, was born in 1905, and a fourth child, Carson Dever, was born 15 April 1907. Carson died 8 Sept 1909.

1910 census:  Name:  Robert L. Dever; Age in 1910: 29; Birth Year: abt 1881; Birthplace: Kentucky; Home in 1910: Sulpher Springs, Ohio, Kentucky; Race: White; Gender: Male; Relation to Head of House: Head; Marital Status: Married; Spouse's Name: Martha J. Dever; Father's Birthplace: Kentucky; Mother's Birthplace: Kentucky; Occupation: Farmer; Home Owned or Rented: Rent; Years Married: 6; Household Members: Name /Age - Robert L. Dever 29, Martha J. Dever 31, Fronie M. Dever 5, Ervin Ewing15 (step-son), Allen Ewing 13 (step-son), Wayne Dever 22 (brother)

            Martha Janie, now the mother of three living children, died of tuberculosis 16 Nov 1910.

Hartford Herald, May 23, 1910:  Mrs. Dever, wife of Robert Dever, who lives near Sunnydale, died at her home Wednesday morning at 2 o'clock of tuberculosis. She had been sick for several months and her death had been expected for several weeks. She leaves a husband and three children to mourn her loss.

The death of Martha Janie left Robert, now age 30, responsible for a five year old daughter and two step-sons.

Second marriage:  On 15 Feb 1913, Robert Lee Dever married Eunice Rock, a native of Rockport, Ohio County, who was born 10 Feb 1889, the daughter of Luther Rock and Amanthus Elliott. She was also called Unica by her friends and family. To this marriage a son was born 12 Oct 1914, Earl Preston Dever. Sadly, Earl Preston died 2 Dec 1914.

Hartford Herald, 9 Dec 1914: The infant son of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Dever, Union Street, died Monday of last week and the remains were interred Wednesday at the Midkiff burying grounds near Sulphur Springs. The little fellow had been ill since birth, seven weeks ago.

Four years later, during the birth of her second child, on 21 May 1918, both Eunice and the child died.

Hartford Herald, May 22, 1918: Mrs. R. L. Dever, wife of Mr. R. L. Dever, the grocer on Union Street, died early Tuesday morning of childbirth, in the family apartment above the grocery. Mrs. Dever was 28 years old and before her marriage was a Miss Rock, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Rock of the Concord neighborhood. She was a member of the Christian church and her funeral will be preached this morning by Rev. Walter Greep at the Midkiff burying ground, near Mt. Vernon, where her remains will be buried.

Hartford Herald. May 29, 1918. Obit.  Mrs. R. L. Dever passed into the better world on Tuesday, May 21st. Though her life was short her career was useful and she was loved by all who knew her. She was born at Rockport, Ky., Feb. 10, 1889, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Rock. Her mother still survives but her father preceded her by a little more than a month. For six years she was a popular teacher in the Ohio County schools and leaves a host of former pupils to mourn her untimely death. She was married to Mr. R. L. Dever, a Hartford businessman, five years ago and resided in this city till the time of her death. She united with the Church of Christ in 1915 and lived a devoted Christian till she was called up higher to brighter fields of endeavor. Mrs. Deaver leaves her husband, her mother, Mrs. Luther Rock of Concord, and three brothers, Jesse Rock of Chicago, O. N. Rock of Cool Springs, Ky., and Wayne S. Rock of Concord, besides hundreds of friends through out the country. She was gentle in disposition, kind in manner, and an earnest follower of the Redeemer, Her loss to earth is Heaven's gain.

As mentioned in the above obituary, at some point between 1910 and 1920 Robert had moved to Hartford and started a grocery business on Union Street. By 1920 the two step-sons, now ages 26 and 22, had moved from Ohio County and were married. (In 1920 Ervin Ewing lived in Hopkins County and Allen Ewing lived in Webster County). The 1920 census shows that Robert Lee Dever and his daughter, Fronia Mae, lived in an apartment above the grocery.    

1920 census: Name: Richard (sic) L. Dever [Robert L. Dever]; Age: 39; Birth Year: abt 1881; Birthplace: Kentucky; Home in 1920: Hartford, Ohio, Kentucky; Street: Union Street; Race:  White; Gender: Male; Relation to Head of House: Head; Marital Status: Widowed; Father's Birthplace: Kentucky; Mother's Birthplace: Kentucky; Occupation: Groceryman; Household Members: Name –Age Richard (sic) L. Dever 39, Fronia M. Dever14
Third marriage:  On 18 January 1922 Robert married Lucy Ellen (Gardner) Leach, a widow with three children ages 13, 13, and 8 (the first two children, Otis and Ersa were twins).  The third child, Samuel Leslie, was my father. Lucy’s nickname was Ella and she had previously been married to Harney Leslie Leach, who died from the flu epidemic 1 Nov 1918. Harney had served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and had operated a shoe repair business in Hartford. Note that over 300,000 Kentuckians suffered from the flu during 1918 and more than 13,000 died.  The flu hit western Kentucky harder than any other section of the state.

Obit.  Hartford Herald 6 Nov 1918.  Leslie Leach died at his home of the flu followed by pneumonia Friday morning.  He is survived by his wife and three children, also father and mother, and three brothers.  He was 41 years old and a member of the Baptist church, a good husband and kind father.  For several years he had been running a shoe store and pressing parlor, was a good business man, always found at the place of business until stricken with the awful disease two weeks ago.  He will be sadly missed by his family and host of other friends.  Interment in Sunnyside cemetery Sunday afternoon.

            Robert and Ella moved to Owensboro after 1922 and bought a home at 1219 West 11th Street. He went into a partnership with Wayne Rock, brother of his deceased wife, Eunice, in the shoe repair business. Robert and Ella had one child, Robert Lee Dever, Jr., born March 1924.

1930 census: Name: Robert L. Dever; Home in 1930: Owensboro, Daviess, Kentucky; Age: 49 ;Estimated Birth Year: abt 1881; Birthplace: Kentucky; Relation to Head of House: Head; Spouse's Name: Ella; Race: White; Household Members: Name Age R. L. Dever 49,  Ella Dever 46,  Robert Lee Dever 6,  Ersa Mae Leach 20,  Samuel L. Leach 15. 

Note that daughter Fronia Mae does not show in the 1930 or 1940 census.  She is not found in the death records for Kentucky, so we can assume that she married. I have been unable to find her so I am asking for your help in finding information about her.

1940 census: Name: R. L. Dever; Age: 59; Estimated birth year: abt 1881; Gender: Male; Race: White; Birthplace: Kentucky; Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head; Home in 1940: Owensboro, Daviess, Kentucky; Street: West 11th Street; House Number: 1219; Occupation: Repair Man Shoe; House Owned or Rented: Owned; Household Members: Name Age: R. L. Dever 59, Ella Dever 55, Robert Dever 16, Ersa Leach 30.

            Robert and Ella’s son, Robert Lee Dever, Jr. served with honor and distinction in the U.S. Army during WWII. Here is a newspaper article from 1945 from the Owensboro newspaper:

Staff Sergeant R. L. Dever Aids In Capture Of German General - How an Owensboro soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert L. Dever, aided in the capture of a German general was recently revealed by Army officials. Dever is with the Eighth Infantry Division in Germany.  According to information received here, the second platoon of "A" Company, 121st Infantry, was moving through the town of Efferen, Germany, in the 8th Infantry Division's push for the Rhine when they were momentarily halted.  A small German child came running up to Staff Sergeant Dever, of 1219 West llth, Owensboro, Kentucky, 2nd Platoon guide, and Private First Class Robert J. Dutter, of 5433 South Union Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, company aid man.  "Kamerad, kamerad!", he panted.  The two couldn't figure out what was up. Presently a Civilian approached and, speaking a bit of English, explained that a wounded Jerry in a nearby house needed attention.  Inside they found a dignified looking German with two shrapnel wounds in his upper frame. The medico opened his kit and started to work. He attempted to cut the coat from the wounded Jerry. The latter protested, "Nix, nix!"  Pfc. Dutter and Sgt. Dever forcibly helped to remove the coat. Upon doing so their eyes popped wide. The German was a general in the artillery.

Robert Lee Dever, Jr.

Robert, Jr. served from 8 March 1943 till 22 Oct 1945 in combat at St. Lo, Brest, and in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany. He was awarded the Silver Star during the Brest Campaign, plus the Bronze Star and several other awards for valor. Robert, Jr. now lives in Louisville.


Robert, Sr. and Ella lived out their life in their home at 1219 West 11th Street, Owensboro.  Robert died first, December 25, 1957, and is buried in the Midkiff Cemetery, Ohio County, next to his second wife, Eunice. 

         Ella died 25 April 1971 and is buried next to her first husband, Harney Leslie Leach, in the Sunnyside Cemetery, Beaver Dam.


Ella Gardner Leach, about 1908

Robert Lee Dever, Sr., about 1950


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