The Life of Bessie Roscoe
Where Bessie received her education has gone unrecorded. But she earned a teacher’s certificate in Minnesota when she was just 15 years old. On the back of her certificate, the county superintendent wrote, “Considering your age, your examination is highly creditable to you.”
Bessie taught for several years in a one-room schoolhouse in the Berlin-Milan school system and in 1901, she married Pearl Roscoe.
Pearl was a Milan native and when they married, he was working as a printing foreman for the old “Lorain-Times Herald”. The same year, the couple purchased “The Vermilion News” newspaper and print shop in Vermilion. During the first few months, Pearl and Bessie commuted by bicycle from their home in Lorain to Vermilion.
Pearl’s father was a carpenter and millwright and in 1904 he built the couple a wooden, two-story building on Grand Street. They set up shop on the first floor and moved in upstairs, changing their daily commute from more than 10 miles each way to about 13 steps!
While parenting two daughters, Bessie was also a full partner in the family business. She worked at the news desk writing, answering calls (their first telephone number was 19) and also tending to the business side of the print shop and newspaper.
The shop always closed at 5 p.m., according to her grandson, Rich Tarrant. Bessie would go upstairs to the family apartment and prepare dinner. But during the day, her children spent a good deal of time downstairs with their parents, grandparents and cousins.
Every Sunday, the Roscoe family attended the First Congregational church (now Millet’s Auction House), which was just behind the shop. The church was also a regular benefactor to the town library.
On her death in 1946, friends and family set up a memorial fund to benefit Ritter Public Library, the institution she had worked so hard to support throughout her life.