War, Starvation, and Smallpox Decimate the Rode Family

By – Don Taylor 

I have many interesting stories in my family tree, but never have I found a story as heartbreaking, or as compelling, as the story I found regarding my friend’s family.  It is the kind of story that I would expect to see on Who Do You Think You Are, or some other television program. As I unraveled and confirmed the story facts of my friend’s ancestors and their lives, I was mesmerized as I read of the tragedy and inspired by the survival of these Rode (pronounced row-dee) ancestors.

Biography – Adolph Rode (1876-1954)

Adolph Rode was born 28 September 1876 in Poland.  At an early age, his family moved to the Ukraine where he grew up.

In 1902, he married Louise Rode.  Louise had the same surname as Adolph. However, there was no known relationship between the two.

Life as a farmer Ukraine was hard, but okay, and the young family prospered. They began having children. First Rudolph in 1903, Reinhold in 1905, and Leonard in 1906. Another boy was born about 1908, a girl about 1910, then another boy in 1911. Knowing the unrest in the Ukraine and sensing that a great conflict should soon envelop Russia and all of Europe. Because the turmoil in the Ukraine, Adolph decided to seek his fortune in America and save his family from the ravages of war. In 1913, Adolph left his wife and six small children in the Ukraine with the intention of obtaining employment in the United States and sending money back to them for them to join him a year or two.  Adolph arrived in New York on 25 April 1913. Adolph then made his way and settled in Nebraska and set himself to work on getting his family to join him.

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com Then, before Adolph could send for his wife and children, the Imperial Russian Army invaded the Ukraine on 18 August 1914.  The Army pillaged the Ukraine as it prepared to invade Austria to crush the Austrian-Hungary Army. Adolph’s greatest worries came to fruition. War came to the Ukraine, and he hadn’t been able to get his wife and children to the safety of America before the war had come. He wasn’t quick enough to earn the money necessary to send for his family.  He frantically tried to contact his wife and children but couldn’t. Finally, he received word that the Russians destroyed his farmstead in the Ukraine, and his entire family was dead.

Even after the war ended on 11 November 1918, Adolph’s reasons for living, having a reunion with his family, were gone. The 1920 Census shows Adolph as a hired hand living with the Fred Settje family in Dimick, Stanton County, Nebraska. To his credit, he hadn’t given up all hope as he identified himself as married, and not widowed, in the census.

The years passed, then in 1922, nine years after he left the Ukraine, another Ukrainian contacted him and told him that his wife was alive. His wife had lost his address during the war and finally contacted this compatriot.

Photo of starving children, Ukraine, 1922 - [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Children affected by famine in
Ukraine – 1922

In a flurry of letters, Adolph learned that his homestead in the Ukraine had, in fact, been pillaged and destroyed. He family became refugees and moved between various countries during the nine years.  One of his four sons had died of starvation. His only daughter had died of smallpox.  But, Louisa and four of his children were still alive. He quickly sent money for his two oldest boys, Rudolph and Reinhold, to come to the States. They would be able to earn more money in the United States than they would in Europe.  Bringing the rest of the family to America was paramount. On 26 September 1922, the two boys arrived in New York and made their way to Nebraska as quickly as possible.

It took nearly a year for the three to earn enough money to bring Louisa and the two younger boys, Leonard and Otto, to America. But on 4 August 1923, Louisa and family arrived in New York.  Within days they were reunited with Adolph in Nebraska.

In December 1926, Adolph and Louisa welcomed another daughter into the family. Margaret would be their last child.

The 1930 Census indicates Adolph and Louisa were renting a farm in Slough, Pierce County, Nebraska. Adolph could not speak English in 1930 but could read and speak German. Living with him were his wife, son Rudolph, and daughter, little three-year-old Margaret.

In 1935, Adolph was living in rural Pierce County, Nebraska. And by 1940, they had moved to Willow Township, Antelope County, Nebraska where Adolph, Louise, and daughter Margaret lived next door to his son Reinhold and Reinhold’s family of wife and four children. Sometime between 1930 and 1940 Adolph and Louise became U.S. citizens.

Marker – Adolph & Louise Rode
Courtesy: Find-a-Grave

Adolph died on 6 March 1954 and is buried at Zion Cemetery in Norfolk, Madison County, Nebraska. His wife Louisa died within the year on 1 February 1955 and is buried with Adolph.

Further Actions: 
• Order copies of the Alien Case Files from the National Archives.

List of Greats
1. Aldolph Rode

Sources:

1920 Census; Adolph Rode; Dimick, Stanton, Nebraska; ED 204, Sheet 8B, Line 65; Family Search.

1930 Census; Adolph Rohde (Rode) – Slough, Pierce Nebraska, Sheet 4A, Line 12; Family Search.

1940 Census; Adolph Rode – Willow Twp, Antelope, Nebraska – ED 2-32, Sheet 4A, family 63; Family Search.

Find A Grave; Adolph Rode – #57149363; Findagrave.com

The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska); 1941-01-05 – Page 29; Nebraska and Nebraskans; Holiday Story; Neligh News – Adolph Rode; Newspapers.Com

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957; Rudolph and Rheihold Rode – SS Caronia 1922; Ancestry.Com

U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995; 1922 City Directory, Norfolk, Nebraska – Adolph Rode – Farmer, Madison, Madison, Nebraska; Ancestry.Com

newspapers.com newspapers.com

Genealogical Fun – John & Charlotte Raasch

Sometimes you just need to do something fun.  I had a couple really bad days researching
the Darling/Huber (See Brick Wall) line and working on my “Adair Project” without any
successes.  A very frustrating few days
of work, so it was time to do something that would be fun. 
While doing some work previously, I had found a couple
Homestead Claims for my “Raasch Project.” Homestead claims generally have some
really great and important information that you don’t find anywhere else.  In this case, I had two people, who certainly
were related, and each had 80 acres in the same section of land.  Also, these type of documents are great to learn
and gain texture to these people’s lives. 

 

  In reviewing the documents, we learned that Charlotte was a
widow, before May of 1868 and homesteaded land in Dodge County, Nebraska.

In another document in the homestead package we learn much
more about her life in Nebraska.  Her
neighbors, one of whom I’m sure was a relative, and probably her son, swore
that Charlotte had been there for six years and had three children. 
The John Raasch homestead papers indicate that
he had built  a one-story 20×32 house
that had four doors and nine windows.  On
the other hand, the Widow Raasch (Charlotte) had built a 12×14 foot house with
one door and two windows.  Other
documents mention that she had dug a well and had a shed.  It had to have been a harsh life.  Mother and three children in a house very
much like the John Curry House photographed by Solomon D. Butcher made
available by the Nebraska State Historical Society.  I’ve seen “Nebraska Gothic” before and never thought much of it. A couple making do in the Nebraska homestead period.  Now I visualize my friend’s ancestors, widow with three kids at the same kind of house.  I can her mom asking one of the kids to go out to the well to draw
water in the cold, windy, Nebraska winter.
The John Curry house, near West Union, Custer County, Nebraska, 1886
Photo by Solomon D. Butcher. Thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Partial map of Township 19 North, of Range 7 East
Dodge County, Nebraska
Then it is fun to take an old map of the area and draw in
the plots that John and Charlotte Raasch had. They bordered each other.
Charlotte’s piece was nice, flat and desirable. 
John’s was bisected by the Elk Horn River which surely made farming
impossible on the southern third of his land.
I can tell how genealogically geeky I am because I find
visualizing how people lived and making up maps of where they lived as fun. I
know my friend, for whom I am doing the Raasch Project, appreciates the effort
I am putting in and the documents I am finding. Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying
the fun of finding cool stuff.  

52 Ancestors – Week 45 – Marie C C Raasch (1868-1925)

By – Don Taylor
No Story too Small
I decided to take a look at a friend’s great grandmother.  I “picked the low-hanging fruit” to see what I could find out.  In my pickings, I start with Ancestry.Com, because I have a membership there. Then I use Family Search, Genealogy in Time, and Mocavo.  I’m also a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society, so, I search World Vital Records through them. Sadly, accessing Fold 3 through them ends this month; but, I am looking forward to seeing what the Library Edition of My Heritage will bring. 

Bio – Marie C C Raasch (1868-1925)

Homesteader NE 1866
Homesteaders in Nebraska searching for land.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Marie C. C. Raasch was born on 5 May 1869 in Dodge County, Nebraska. Some records suggest she was born in 1868, however, the 1870 census record, which was taken in July of 1870, clearly indicates she was one year old at that time.  Also, some records indicate her name as Mary; however, she went by Marie in later life for sure.  She was the fifth of twelve children born to German immigrants, John F. Raasch and Barbara Margeritta Uehling Raasch.  Her parents met and married in Wisconsin and three of her older siblings were born there. In 1865, her parents located to Dodge County, Nebraska to homestead 80 acres of land. In 1867, Nebraska became a state.

Marie grew up in the Cuming & Hooper area of Dodge County.  Little is known, yet, regarding her childhood. We do know that she had a brother, August, who was born in 1880 and who died in 1883. 

On 28 May 1886, she married William H Hoefener and shortly afterwards moved twenty miles up the Elkhorn River to West Point in Cuming, County.  The couple had ten children, three girls and seven boys, and raised them in Cuming County. The children are:
Emil (or Amil) Hoefener
Ella Hoefener [Neigh]
Albert Hoefener
Edmond Hoefener
Henrietta Sophia “Hattie” Hoefener [Zipf]
Arthur Hoefener
Wilburt J Hoefener
Martin A Hoefener
Paul E Hoefener (died as an infant)
Delilah Hoefener [Rode]

1024 S 25th as it is today
Courtesy: Google Maps

Marie’s husband William died in 1920 and she relocated to 1024 S 25th in Omaha. The house was a new, build in 1918, three bedrooms, and one bath single family home.  Living with her were her three youngest living sons, Arthur, who was a machinist at Hartung Transfer & Storage Company, Martin, who was a driver, and Wilburt (or Wilbur) who was also a driver, probably also for Hartung.

Hoefener Marker
Wilhelm, Marie, Paul
Courtesy: Find a Grave

Marie died on 30 Dec 1925 in Omaha. She was buried with her husband, William, and son, Paul, at Mount Hope Cemetery, West Point, Cuming County, Nebraska.  They share a common marker.

Further Actions:
Continue research through newspapers, Historical Societies, county histories, and more.
List of Greats
1.    Marie Raasch
2.     John [Johan] Raasch
DISCLAIMER

Donna Montran joins company of “Chin Chin” – November 1919

On November 7th, 1919, Variety, mentions that Donna
Montran received a production engagement for “Chin Chin.” It must have been
extremely exciting for Donna.  Chin Chin
was a Broadway production which opened at the Globe Theater on October 20th,
1914, and ran until July 3rd, 1915 (295 performances). 
On March 5th,
1915, Victor Light Opera Company made a recording of “The Gems from Chin
Chin”.  Below is a link to that recording. 

Music courtesy of the Library of Congress.
In 1919, Chin Chin was on the road as a comedy extravaganza
on a nationwide tour.  The performance
company consisted of over 60 people, which we will later see caused its own
problems.
We can’t tell exactly when Donna joined the company,
but for simplicity, I assume she was on her way by the 7th when Varity reported her
engagement and joined the company while it was in Omaha.
Chin Chin was playing at the Brandeis Theatre in
Omaha when I believe she probably joined the company on November 7th
and 8th, 1919 with a matinee on Saturday, the 8th as
well.
The Omaha World Herald, on November 8th, in
their regular series Plays and Players, reported:

“Brandeis – ‘Chin Chin.’

Omaha World Herald – Saturday, November 8, 1919
Courtesy GenealogyBank.com 

The boys and girls who went to Chin Chin” last night had a good
time. It was the kind of a show that appeals to boys and girls. There was
plenty of downright foolishness, plenty of slap-stick comedy, plenty of lively
gingles. But if anybody expected more than that – Well anybody who did was
disappointed.

The biggest hit of the evening was the saxophone sextet, otherwise
known as Tom Brown’s clown band. It was a vaudeville “scream.” “Chin Chin,” in
fact, was more nearly a series of vaudeville acts than a comedy unit; the plot,
such as it was, was so loosely hung that it gave opportunity for almost any
sort of stunt, and stunts of most varied sort accepted the opportunity.
Walter Wills and Roy Binder were, of course, far and away the ablest
of the cast. Each held five separate and distinct parts at one or another
period of the three acts and both deserved the applause of those who care for
rough comedy.
Marian Sleeman, as the “Lady of the Lamp” in the “Chin Chin” version
of the old fairy story of Aladdi, [sic] easily outranked the other feminine voices in
the company, but Violet Tree, in the minor part of “Fan-Tan” won real
recognition by her cute sprightliness.

[Donna will later play the “Lady of the Lamp” but more on that in a later Blog.]

“Chin Chin” is playing a returning engagement  which ends tonight after a matinee and
evening performance.

New Brandeis Theatre Building (c. 1910-1920)
From the collections of the Omaha Public Library

The Brandeis Theatre was the premier theater in Omaha at the time. The seven story building was built in 1910 on Douglas street between 17th & 18th Streets. According to Nebraska Memories, it was dubbed “the most beautiful theater in America.” It first featured stage attractions and later converted to movies. The building was demolished in 1959 for a parking garage.

Next – Donna has delays on the way to Denver.

Sources: 
Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) November 8, 1919, Page 20 via Genealogy Bank
Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) November 8, 1919, Page 25 via Genealogy Bank
Nebraska Memories – Collections of the Omaha Public Library – New Brandeis Theatre Building
Cinema Treasures: Brandeis Theater