J.R. and Rosalie

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. ~ Isaiah 44:3

A long time ago in a town far, far away, lived a man named J.R. West.

J. R. West

He was a handsome young doctor from Mississippi who blew into town like nobody’s business with his beautiful young bride, Rosalie White West.

Rosalie West - Big Mother

They lived a long and happy life together.

Kind of. One day, J.R. started a gun fight with someone, and ended up heading out of the local church feet first.

They say no one complained.

J.R.'s Grave

Here lies James Riley West.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children ~ Psalm 103:17

It’s in the same town; Wheatley, Arkansas.

J. R.'s headstone

And a close-up of that headstone. Remarkable, isn’t it?

An Olde Store

That’s a picture of J.R. and Rosalie’s store taken back in 1898.

I had never seen any of this before, and the entire family has been wanting to learn more about these two for some time. Thankfully Cousin Phil, who’s actually my father’s cousin, drove over to Wheatley and snapped these photos. Then, Great Aunt Alice (that’s Ah-Leese, not A[as in Apple] – Liss,) sent them out to everyone via e-mail.

Then I tried to clean them up with Photoshop, but we all know about Photoshop and me. (It’s a learning curve thing.)

Anyway, they had opened a store, which still stands next to City Hall. And inside of City Hall, there were these old photographs of J.R and Rosalie.

It’s very convenient when you’re looking up you’re ancestors and find they are well documented like this; very unlike the man who’s son married their daughter, who appeared from North Carolina and was born God only knows where. Mississippi was lousy at keeping track of these things in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

I have forgiven Mississippi’s record keeping, yet, still it’s a bit frustrating trying to learn more about the Allen family tree. We only know that everyone says the Allen’s are from Scotland, which always causes me to give thanks that we’re not from Ireland, which is a long story.

The Wheatlet Depot and Store

And there’s a painting of it as well.

The Same Spot Today

Why, here it is just the other day!

JR's store today

Only now it’s an antique store.

Rosalie, aged 68

Rosalie aged gracefully before passing (work with me here please…) She developed a formidable presence.

She was known as Big Mother, and lived in an enormous house with a wrap around porch, which everyone used to talk about with awe. In fact, everyone used to talk about her with awe. They still do.

Her grandson (my grandfather), great grandson (my father), and great great grandson (my brother), all bore the West surname as a middle name.

Rosalie's and Son's graves

She’s buried in Wheatley as well, with one of her sons. Lot’s of stories to learn about, no doubt.

Well, that wraps up today’s history lesson on some of my great, great, great grandparents. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! And if you haven’t well, God bless you. They were truly remarkable people.

For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. ~ Isaiah 65:22-24

7 thoughts on “J.R. and Rosalie”

  1. Rosalie and “J.R.” are my great grandparents, my grandmother having been their daughter Pauline who married two Ristow’s: first Theodore with whom she had a son Theodore, my father, alter known as Theodore White Ristow; and second husband, Theodore’s older brother John. Pauline and John had a son, James Whitcomb Ristow, who succumbed to the family curse of hemophilia at 18 months; and three daughters, Marguerite, Mary Ellen, and Mildred, all of whom lived to be adults and produced only daughters.

  2. I have thought this over and discussed it with my brother Michael Ristow I have lots of questions.
    So was Great Grandfather West really a bully or just a can-do businessman who had good reason to find fault with Redus’s work and want him gone? The story is told by the last man standing. There were people in the store. Were they also present outside where the shooting took place? Did anyone besides J. W. Redus go to Forrest City to that grand jury? Did Great Grandfather start to pull his gun because Redus threatened him? Is this possibly a murder as Grandmother (Pauline West Ristow) believed? She was only 13 when her father died. She wouldn’t have known first hand the details of his death, but she would have known whether her dad was a bully. She never said such a thing.
    By her example, the family was refined. She was very religious, courteous, and caring of others. Was her father something less?

    Also, in the family Bible there was a summons. The plaintiff was Rosalie West and the defendant was K. Allen. Do you know anything of that?
    I see that you are in New Orleans. Does that mean that you were part of Aunt Lillie’s family. I think I remember Dad mentioning a cousin named Fay Allen. Am I on the right track there?
    You can reach me at [email protected] if you are still connected to this site.

    • You have the family Bible? That is great news, as I know many family members have been wondering about this entire scenario. I would LOVE to learn much more about our ancestry. No one, so far, can find much more about Joseph Allen, who says he was born in 1830 in South Carolina.

    • My great grandmother was Lillie, or Lillian as we knew her. Faye, was Great Aunt Faye, who lived on St. Charles for many years, and sipped scotch out of a silver cup as she sat near a totem pole brought home by her her husband who worked in Aftica for s time. I have their photo albums.

      • I was able to see the family Bible as a teenager, but after my father died in 1980, Mother moved several times. The thing that survives is the summons, not the Bible, itself. Sorry.
        My father also had a child’s book which is now missing – The Little Lame Prince – which I loved as a child. It had an inscription to my dad from “Cousin” Faye.
        As my grandmother began to fail, she made one last trip to New Orleans to see her sister. “Aunt” Lillie was very important to her. Dad put her on the plane. He later got a call from the family in New Orleans that she did not arrive. He was dismayed since at that time, family could go with the traveler onto the plane and he knew she made it that far. He told them to try going to look on the plane. Sure enough Grandmother was there. It had not registered that the plane had landed and the other people had left. Still, she seemed to have enjoyed her visit.
        Grandmother’s life was quite mixed, as are those of so many people. Loosing her father at age 13 was very difficult. She had been sickly and was brought up with the idea that she was not going to survive to adulthood. She had what must have been allergies and problems breathing. Although a doctor, her father had no medicine that was of help. She turned away from allopathic medicine when she came across the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy on Christian Science. She became a follower of that faith. Through daily prayer and Bible reading, she controlled her disability and lived to old age.
        I had seen the photos of James and Rosalie years ago, and it’s good to see them again. My father looked very much like James as a young man, but I can see his face in the 1928 photo of Great-Grandmother Rosalie. My grandson, Reese Dickson, at 20, looks like James, too. We wondered where his features came from. Funny how they pass through the generations. Thank you for sharing them here, and for sharing the pictures of the store. I had not seen them before.

        • Hello,
          In my notes about family members, I found one that says that James West’s parents hail from Alabama. There are no names attached to the note. I think you said that he was from Mississippi. Did you happen to try other states as well? Do you know the parents’ names? Do you know where he got his degree? Or where he was married to Rosalie?


          • James West’s parents were from Alabama? That’s interesting. His son-in-law was my great grandfather, who had married Lillie… I am not sure about James West at all. One of our family is doing research on ancestry.com, and there may be some info there.

            As to the summons from K.Allen… I have no clue! I wonder if he was related to the Allen family that Lillian eventually married into. Kotzebue (Lillian’s husband,) I do believe lived with the West’s for some time, and studied to be a doctor, an ENT which he pursued quite successfully in New Orleans until he died after having a stroke on a streetcar back in the 60’s. He was on his way to the Tulane University Medical Library to do research on the mental condition of one of his children, who had been committed to an asylum back in the 30’s. Great Aunt Rose. It’s said that she was studying at Tulane University, Newcomb College, and walked out into Audubon Park one day and went crazy.

            As to the gun fight, I am not sure at all about that. The court records must still exist, and may even be online. I’ve only heard that no one complained. But given what you are saying about the family being refined, (and they were obviously hard working people,) it does give one pause.

            I apologize for replying so late to your comment. I didn’t notice it! I’ve checked the “Notify me of follow up comments” box, however. So in the future I will hopefully notice your comments and thoughts more clearly.

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The Rev. Kenneth Allen