Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Esther (aka Ethel) Rozelva Coleman (Bachman) 1896 - 1984

LtR Melvin, Emuel, Esther, Vera, Jesse 1915
Grandma Ethel

My dad called her “Ma.” If we had ever used that name for our mother we would have been punished. He took us to see her for the first time when I was about seven. She couldn’t have been more different from our other grandmother, Jennie Caroline. Instead of living a farm life surrounded by children and grandkids, Ethel and her husband Ray, who was not our real grandfather, managed an apartment complex in an older part of Los Angeles. The halls of the building were dingy-dark and smelled of stale tobacco. Their quarters were small. We had to be quiet so we wouldn’t disturb the tenants. She had no toys for us to play with, no treats, and there was nowhere to go outside—just a busy street with more apartment buildings. Fortunately, we never stayed long. Usually we were just picking her up to go with us somewhere—to Uncle Mel’s or Aunt Vera’s for dinner. She had never learned to drive.

Mom said she had had lots of husbands. Later I learned that not all of her partners were husbands. My grandfather had died at thirty-two, (Emuel Bachman Jr) leaving her with two young sons and a daughter. Their first child, a daughter named Mary lived only a short time. She and her father-in-law, (Emuel Sr.) a stern Swiss immigrant, did not get along and a few months after the funeral she took my Aunt Vera and went to California with a man named Tingy, leaving the boys, Melvin and Jesse for Emuel to raise. Except for a visit when he was about twelve, My father did not see her again until he was grown and married.

Her name was Esther Rozelva but she went by Ethel. I never did know why. She wasn’t more than five feet tall and was shapelessly plump. She wore loose, old-lady flowered dresses and black, thick- heeled walking shoes. She would plop a little round hat on her head and fuss with her purse, talking to herself while she decided if everything she would need was in it. She had the raspy voice of someone who had smoked too long and drunk too much but she had given up the former and didn’t do the latter, at least when we were around. She talked to us in a kind of high-pitched baby talk that sounded strange, “I bet you can’t wait to go to Dizzyland. That’s what I call it, Dizzyland.”

After that first visit she always sent us a card with a dollar bill in it for our birthdays and at Christmas. The few times she came to visit, my mother endured her with difficulty. She wouldn’t eat when we did and then wanted special food. She slept late, a thing which my mother couldn’t tolerate in anyone. She pouted like a child if things weren’t just right and never decided whether to go with us someplace until the last minute.  She didn’t pay much attention to my sisters and I. I think she just didn’t know how to communicate with us.

After her husband Ray died a few years later, my Aunt Vera and Uncle Gib moved her to an even smaller place near them until she became incontinent and senile. They put her in a rest home where she spent the remaining six years of her life, oblivious. We visited her occasionally. She didn’t know us. She would have fits of anger at Ray for dying and then say she just wanted to go and be with him. Vera and Gib did volunteer work at the home and saw her every day until she died at 88. A few months afterwards my sisters and I each received a card with twenty dollars from Aunt Vera—our inheritance from Grandma Ethel, she said.

Death: July 18, 1984, Los Angeles, CA 

Esther's family: 

Father: William COLEMAN b: 9 DEC 1836 in Thorncote, Northhill, Bedfordshire, England
Mother: Amy GIBSON b: 20 MAR 1838 in Litchfield, Medina, Ohio

Marriage 1 Harriet Rosett CRAGHEAD b: 23 JUN 1869 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah c: 5 JUL 1869 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah

  • Married: 29 SEP 1886 in Logan, Cache, Utah
  • Sealing Spouse: 29 SEP 1886
  1. Has No Children Harriet Rosety COLEMAN b: 27 APR 1888 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  2. Has No Children Phebe Mae COLEMAN b: 7 MAY 1890 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  3. Has No Children Benjamin Leo COLEMAN b: 1 AUG 1891 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  4. Has No Children Thomas William COLEMAN b: 7 JAN 1893 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  5. Has No Children Esther Rozelva COLEMAN b: 16 FEB 1896 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  6. Has No Children Amy Irene COLEMAN b: 21 DEC 1897 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  7. Has No Children Iva B. COLEMAN b: 21 MAY 1900 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  8. Has Children George COLEMAN b: 1 DEC 1902 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah
  9. Has Children Vern Henry COLEMAN b: 8 MAY 1905 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah

Marriage 2 Rosa Merle HARWOOD b: 2 SEP 1883 in Shipdham, Norfolk, England

    1. Abbrev: Ancestral File (TM)
      Title: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ancestral File (TM). June 1998 (c), data as of 5 JAN 1998une 1998 (c), data as of 5 JAN 1998.
        Name: Family History Library
        Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA

        Name: Family History Library
        Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA
    2. Abbrev: LDS Historical database by Vern Taylor
      Title: LDS Historical database compiled by Vern Taylor Dec 2003