My family has long known that my great-grandfather changed his name and moved from Tennessee to California. During my time at the NYG&B I have attempted to track down as many records for my great-grandfather as possible to try and determine how, why, and when the name-change occurred.
My great-grandfather, Rufus Fuson, was born to Jonathon Fuson (1859-1941) and Nancy Dollar (1866-1942) on December 23, 1883 in DeKalb County, Tennessee. In 1903 he married Isabel Pack and they lived in the same district of DeKalb County as his parents. At the time of the 1910 census Rufus was 26 years old and lived in DeKalb County with his wife and two daughters, Dovie Sue and Edna May. Somewhere between 1910 and 1917, Rufus Fuson became Roy Love and moved to California.
In June of 1918, Roy Love married Lola Robinson in San Diego, California. Lola’s application for a veteran headstone after Roy’s death says he enlisted on April 8, 1917 and was discharged on June 30, 1919. Their first daughter, Lanell, was born in March of 1919. They went on to have seven more children, one of which was my grandfather.
Several of Isabel Fuson (née Pack) and Rufus’ children died young. Edna (born 1906) and Floyd (born 1917) both died on November 8, 1918. Isabel seems to have died in 1922, according to some family trees on Ancestry.com, but I cannot be certain. After her death their son Willie Fuson lived with his grandparents, Jonathon and Nancy Fuson, as shown by census records. I am unsure what happened to their daughters, Dovie (1904-1984) and Stella (1911-?) but I believe they lived in DeKalb County for the rest of their lives. Some time after Roy’s death in 1954, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters discovered their father’s other family in Tennessee. I am unsure how the discovery was made. Several of the Love children went to Tennessee to get to know their half-siblings. My grandfather, Roy Jr. (1924-1999), said he met three half siblings on his trips to Tennesse. The oldest boy (Willie) was the only one who had no interest in kindling a relationship.
There was a Roy Love living in DeKalb County the same time as Rufus Fuson. Their information is so similar I originally assigned the wrong World War I registration to my great-grandfather. The other Roy Love was born in 1886 also to a Nancy. They lived only four districts apart in DeKalb County at the time of the 1910 census and both were farmers. The other Roy Love’s wife’s name was Lula and my great-grandfather married a Lola.
There are multiple explanations for my great-grandfather’s identity change passed around my family. My uncle claims that he got in trouble with the law for his involvement with moonshine and had to run. My mother’s explanation is more simple: he was just a jerk who went to war and decided not to go back to his family. My research hasn’t permitted me to confirm or deny either of these stories.