Dr. Herdendorf related to me how Bessie and one of her brothers played matchmaker to her sister Ada. As he explained, "My grandfather Henry "Harry" Garfield Root had traveled to California as a young man, but not finding work there returned home about 1911. Back in Ohio, Harry renewed his friendship with cousin and neighbor, Roy Taylor. Roy happened to be a patient of Dr. Tromley, a Lorain dentist with a young assistant named Bess Rider.
"Roy was dating Bess and knew that she had an older sister named Ada, who worked as a switchboard operator at the steel mill where her father was a manager. In any event, Roy and Bess decided to play matchmaker and introduced Ada to Harry—a match that resulted in a 59-year marriage."
Dr. Herdendorf also reached out to his cousins (Suzie Rantz and Melinda Rider Newton) to see if they had any stories or memories of Bessie.
Suzie Rantz (whose mother was Margaret Rider, a sister of Bessie) confirmed that Bessie did lose an eye, and wore a glass eye as a result. Bessie must have developed a sense of humor about it, because Suzie remembers that she would take out the glass eye to fascinate her nieces and nephews!
There's a slight debate among the cousins as to whether Bessie ever got married or not. According to Suzie, Bessie had gotten married, but was soon divorced. Melinda Rider Newton believes that Bessie never got married, but was once engaged. Melinda still has the engagement ring.
Melinda also provided several wonderful photos of Bessie through the years.
Here's Bessie (at left) and her sister Ada at the water pump, circa 1894 (below).
This is Bessie in 1897 (below) with McKeesport, Pennsylvania as a backdrop.
By 1908 – two years after she appeared on the real photo postcards, Bessie had become a beautiful young lady (below).
We also get a few glimpses of a smiling Bessie later in life. Here she is in 1940 (below).
Lastly, here she is apparently enjoying hitting the golf ball around in 1955 (below).
Bessie was still a dental assistant when she retired.
She passed away at the age of 73 on March 23, 1964 at McCleabs Rest Home in Warren, Ohio. She is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Lorain.
It was fascinating to me to see how the stars aligned to make everything fell into place so that the story of Bessie Rider could be told. It's very satisfying to discover that she apparently enjoyed a happy and fulfilling life, despite that very unfortunate event that happened in her early years.
Special thanks to Dr. Charles "Eddie" Herdendorf for his help with the preparation of this special blog series. Be sure to read his fascinating history of the Rider family and their many interesting historical contributions and connections on page nine of the September 2011 Village Pioneer (click here).