In Rose Hill Cemetery (Holly Ridge section?) stands a substantial stone placed for two year old Gertie Wooldridge. She budded on earth 1 June 1882, and went to bloom in Heaven 8 January 1885. A one-sentence funeral notice appeared on page five of the 9 January 1885 Macon Telegraph (Georgia):
The friends and acquaintances of Mr. Wiley Jones and family, and B. K. Wooldridge and family, are invited to attend the burial of little Gertie Wooldridge from the National Hotel this afternoon at 3 o'clock.
A short obituary was found on the same page, proclaiming Gertie's relationship of niece to Wiley Jones. It also stated her death actually occurred at the hotel.
I went looking for B. K. Wooldridge in census records with no luck, so I switched tactics just a bit. I next searched Ancestry's Georgia Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 for a Wooldridge who married a Jones. I did not find B. K., but I did find Rufus K. Wooldridge married Annie Jones 23 November 1880 in Bibb County. Even though I thought I found Gertie's parents, I went to GenealogyBank with the hope of finding a marriage notice in the local paper.
Unfortunately, I did not find a marriage notice for Rufus and Annie, but I did find a somewhat buried blurb in the 28 July 1882 Macon Telegraph that connected Rufus Wooldridge to Wiley Jones:
Mr. and Mrs. R. K. Wooldridge, child and servant, of Macon, Ga., are stopping at the Balch House. They will pay our village a six weeks' visit, then continue their journey further north. Mr. W. thinks Kalamazoo compares favorably with the enterprising city of Macon. -- Kalamazoo Gazette. Mr. Wooldridge is a son-in-law and partner of Mr. Wiley Jones, of the Southern Hotel.
Then I stumbled upon my first unexpected find: Rufus was a traveling gambler / game runner. (You don't see that every day.) And he was shot in Wichita, Kansas only months before the death of little Gertie. Following from 29 August 1884 Macon Weekly Telegraph:
SHOOTING OF WOOLDRIDGE
How He Received His Fatal Wound in Wichita.
We mentioned a few days ago the shooting of Mr. Rufus K. Wooldridge, at Wichita, Kansas. As he was well known in Macon, and was the son-in-law of Mr. Wiley Jones, proprietor of the National and Southern hotels, the particulars of the affair have been anxiously looked for. Mr. Wiley Jones sends a copy of the Wichita Eagle, from which we clip the following:
"He is about thirty-five years of age, has been with the Anglo-American show since July, and has a wife and young child in Macon, Ga., and a father and brother in Pines Plaines, N.Y. He is represented as a rather quiet and peaceable man and is known among his associates as 'handsome Charlie.' He was not directly connected with the show, but was permitted to follow as a professional gambler, operating what is styled a spindle or kind of chuck-luck game. He ran his wheel near the show tent Tuesday and had numerous patrons, and though his friends say that his winnings had been very light, others say that one man who bucked the game lost $60. He says that he hasn't the least idea who shot him. He had just closed his game when the man that did the shooting rode up and turning to him demanded: "Has the shooting yet commenced in the tent?" Wooldridge answered: "What shooting do you mean?" The stranger replied: "Well, it will soon begin," and in an instant drew his revolver, firing, and then rode off. Wooldridge ran up to some friends and said, "I am shot!" They at once hurried him into the dressing tent, where a doctor was call[ed] for from the ring, and Drs. McCoy and McAdows being present responded to the call. Soon after he was removed to the Occidental Hotel, where the ball was extracted. It was from a 44-calibre pistol, had passed through his right wrist, entered his stomach and passed around to the left side. At first the doctors thought the wound not necessarily fatal, but at 2 o'clock that night he began spitting blood and also large particles of his stomach. Yesterday morning, after seeing him, Dr. McCoy said that it would be impossible for him to recover, though he is yet alive and may linger for a day or so. Wooldridge has his life insured in the Travellers' Accident company, of Hartford, Conn., for $1,000.
Did Rufus, in fact, die from his wounds soon after this article was published? I don't know. I did become a bit curious as to how Annie lived out her days if she was widowed so young. I'm having a difficult time finding her in census records, but I did find an unexpected marriage record at FamilySearch.
Annie J. Jones Woolridge, widow, married Jacob P. Wooldridge, single, 21 July 1921 in Manhattan, New York. The groom was 59 years old, with a birthplace of Rine [Pine] Plains, New York. The bride was listed as 57 years old, born in Georgia. Her father was noted as "Wilty" Jones.
Census records suggest Jacob P. was the brother of Rufus K., both sons of Philo [Philomen?] and Gertrude Wooldridge. Maybe Rufus' mother was Gertie's namesake.
A second marriage for Annie was not unexpected. (Quite the opposite, actually.) Nor do I consider the groom being a brother to Rufus odd. The timing was the unexpected part for me. The marriage was one month shy of 37 years after the shooting of Rufus.
If Annie's listed age in the 1921 marriage record is correct, then she was only sixteen years old when she married Rufus. And not far over the age of twenty after losing her husband and only months later, her daughter Gertie.