Stories and Information

Related to

Henry and Mary Roesch (Grandpa and Grandma Roesch)

by Owen Picton

Grandpa Henry Roesch was 6 years old when he came to America and Grandma Mary was 10 years old. On the Henry and Mary Roesch marriage certificate he signed his name as Heinrich Rösch with an umlaut over the o and she as Marie Zimmermann. The marriage certificate is currently at the home of Mary Syre. On the marriage license they signed their names as Henry Roesch and Mary Zimmerman.

When my mother Martha was born her parents were living about 10 miles North of Falls City. Grandpa Roesch and his family were living in the house on his farm and great grandpa Roesch was living in his original small house about a half mile away. Lena Roesch says in Nebraska, she and her parents lived near to a creek and the yard was small. One time Martha Roesch wandered off and it took a while before she was found. My mother said they feared that the hogs had eaten her. They found her sleeping in the corn field. So Grandma wanted to move. The last 1 or 2 children born in Nebraska died and are buried in St John's cemetery.

On March 1, 1912, Grandpa and Grandma Roesch and their five children moved to a farm near Reserve, Kansas. They bought this 240 acre farm. It had real nice improvements. The house was only ten years old and real modern for that time. On March 1, 2012, the only building in use is the house and it has been updated to a modern house but all the other unused building are being allowed to return back to nature. A rural school was across the road from their home which was so convenient for their children but now is gone.

Ruthanna related this story: In 1912 Grandpa Roesch bought the farm in Kansas where he raised his family. The farm has a big expensive looking house and is located 6 miles South of Falls City (across the state line in Kansas). The farm had been owned by someone named Wyatt who had lost it because he could not make the payments on the farm loan. It was felt that the man's wife and family had foolishly spent too much money causing Mr. Wyatt to lose the farm. As is the custom, one takes procession of a farm on March 1st. Well, the Wyatt's did not move out and had the excuse that there was snow on the ground and that no one would move in that kind of weather. Grandpa was not aware of this and he lived about 10 miles North of Falls City. So he and his neighbors loaded everything into many horse drawn wagons and started early in the morning for the new farm home in Kansas. They had arranged the wagons so that what they wanted to unloaded first was on the first wagons. The last wagon contained food that might freeze and that was placed in a load of oats to prevent the food from freezing. Herman Huettner was driving the last wagon and ate canned fruit during the entire trip. Grandpa was very surprised when he arrived at his new farm that the Wyatt's were still there. Mrs. Wyatt and her children did not seem very friendly. After much discussion, it was agreed that the Wyatt's would spend the night in the West part of the house and Grandpa and his family would spend the night in the East part of the house which was the heated part. Someone brought a keg of beer and the men spent the night in the living room around the stove. Even Mr. Wyatt came over and spent the night with the rest of the men. All the men spent the night in the living room except for Herman Huettner who had eaten all that fruit and was too sick to drink any beer. In a few days the Wyatt's were able to move out.

According to Lena Roesch, Grandpa and the hired man named Leopole planted the row of pine trees along their driveway leading to their house. When the trees were being planted Grandma was expecting a child.

My mother related this story: One day grandma was walking down the lane and noticed that one of the pine trees had been mowed off but its two bottom branches were still alive. She took a corn husk laying nearby and tied up the two branches. Now when you drive by you see this big double trunk tree on the end of the row.

They had three more sons while living on this farm. They were the parents of five boys and three girls. Their names are Lena Christina, Jacob Frederick, Mary Bertha, Henry Otto, Martha Eliza (my mother), Walter Elmer, Wilber Herbert, and Edgar Robert. In Kansas the three younger boys born were: Walter, Wilbur and Edgar.

In 1913 my grandfather Henry Roesch Sr. and six other men signed the charter to organize a new congregation in Falls City, Nebraska, the church was called, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran. It was located at 20th and Towle Street. Henry and Mary Roesch, my grandparents, were both charter members of St. Paul's Lutheran. In 1953 a new church was dedicated on this location. In 1976 all of Henry and Mary Roesch's children, their husbands or wives were members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Many of the Grandchildren and their families were present for the 100 year celebration in 2013.

During the World War I grandpa Roesch made sure that people knew that he supported the American war effort by buying government war bonds. If people felt that you did not support the war effort they might do such things as paint your barn yellow. Also during World War I Grandpa sometimes would talk to neighbors (such as the Schmidts) in German over the phone. This was on a party line and the other neighbors would not like this and would make noises such as scratching noises on the line.

Both Harold Roesch and Ruthanna (Roesch) Wheeler report that my Grandparents Heinrich (Henry) and Mary Roesch during World War I hid sugar that it was illegal to have in the corn crib in a wagon box hung by wires in the top of the corn crib.

Harold Roesch said on April 1999: Around the time of WWII, Roesch relatives living in Germany asked for and were sent clothing. I don't believe there was mention of anything else being sent. There was a shortage of clothing in Germany at the time due to the obvious. This was prior to the U.S. being involved in the war.

My Grandparents had telephones from two different phone companies in the house in Kansas because they lived near the Nebraska-Kansas state line. One was hooked to a Nebraska phone company and the other to a Kansas phone company. This was handy but it also had its problems. Lena says she was the one that always had to answer and talk on the phone. She said her sister Mary was afraid to talk on the phone. Edgar says that some neighbors would call each week and ask them to call Falls City and find the price being paid for such things as eggs or cream and then they would have to call that person back with the price. Edgar said they had the two phones until they moved to Falls City in 1930. Grandpa's son Fred Roesch then lived their but they kept only the Nebraska phone. Ruthanna states that more recently when her parents sold the house to Ebel's, that Ebel's had a very very difficult time keeping the Nebraska phone because the house is located in Kansas. Ebel's were successful in keeping the Nebraska phone. Lena Roesch says she would call the relatives on the phone when ever another baby was born. She also said that Grandpa would use the phone to find the prices that grain was selling for.

There was a country school across the road from their house. I think it was called Little Chapel. All the Roesch children attended this school. Their house was a big house so they had room for the school teacher to board at their house. My mother said that she felt the reason she never learned to speak German was because the school teacher was living in their house. Mary Idol was one of the school teachers at this school and stayed in their house. Mary would stay 5 days and go home for 2 days. Mary Idol's father would be the one who hauled her around. Because Mary was staying at the Roesch house that is how Henry and Mary met. My parents met at Henry and Mary's wedding. Lena Roesch says when brother Henry was only 12 years old he had a girl friend who was 10. They refused to stop seeing each other which made our grandparents unhappy with him.

Lena says the corner of their yard across from the school contained the orchard. She said the orchard was planted before they moved there and our grandparents never planted any fruit trees. She also said the out house was located in the orchard.

Ruthanna relates the story that her father Fred snicked into the room in the house where one of the school teachers was staying and replaced her face powder with some of grandma's flour. Later that day Fred knew that he was in trouble when he came into the kitchen and both Grandma and the teacher were comparing the contents of the face powder box to grandma's flour.

One time Grandpa Roesch took his car to town to be fixed and they loaned him another car while they were working on his car. So he drove the car home to the farm in Kansas and he realized as he was driving into the garage that he did not know how to stop. He drove right through the garage and made a hole in the back of the garage.

One thing my mother was afraid of was the practice of her brothers or father trying to drive up the steepest and tallest hill without shifting gears. If the car did not make it to the top then it would start rolling back and she would have to jump out. Apparently such a road was up Breezy hill South of Falls City but it was located further East than it is now. It was something one would brag about if you made it to the top without shifting gears. If a hill was too steep one might have to back up the hill (Apparently cars then were geared to have more power in reverse).

Someone for Christmas gave the family a jug of pickled herring. Pickled herring must not have been one of their favored foods because after a few months they had to throw it out. The chickens eat the herring and all the chickens dropped dead. It was felt that the salt in the herring was what killed the chickens.

The Roesch Oil Field Northeast of Falls City was named after Grandpa Roesch but he did not make any money from this. The story within our family goes that the Herbster's (one of Grandma's sisters) lived Northeast of Falls City. They had about 15 children and this was the time of the depression in the 1930's. The Herbster's were about to lose their farm. So our Grandpa bought the farm so that they would not lose it. An oil company then leased the ground from Grandpa and stated drilling for oil. Then Grandpa deeded the farm back over to them. Oil was then discovered and the oil field was named "The Roesch Oil Field" after Grandpa because he had signed the lease. Since Grandpa no longer owned the land he made no money from this.

My Roesch Grandparents in August 1930 moved to 2003 Towle St., Falls City across the street from our Lutheran church in Falls City. Walter, Wilber, Edgar, Lena and Martha (my Mother) were the children that moved with them. My Mother got a job working for JC Penny's. Some of my earliest memories of my grandfather would be seeing him sitting on his porch swing as I came out of church. I do not know for sure why my grandfather stopped attending church (he was one of the charter members) but German services may have been discontinued and a major conflict had occurred in the congregation. Apparently, there had been a disagreement between the Pastor and the congregation during Sunday Morning Worship and the entire congregation walked out. The Pastor then called the police. My mother (Martha) and some of the other young people then returned to the church service to see what was going to happen next. Edgar remembers leaving church and one policeman showing up. My mother said it made the national news and was in all the newspapers. This happened before I was born.

After church each Sunday all the Roesch children and grandchildren would visit at Grandpa's and Grandma's house across from the church. Grandma would serve everyone candy. Everyone had a good time. Every Christmas Eve all of the children and grandchildren would meet at Grandpa's and Grandma's house after the Children's Christmas Eve service at church. We would all exchange gifts and have a good time. In later years I remember we would all sit around and eat a lot of peanuts. Another favored time when we would all get together would be for Thanksgiving Diner.

Lena started school when she was 7 years old. She did not start school until her brother Fred started school because of the distance. The school was at the opposite side of the section (a distance of over 2 miles) so she and her brother would cut through the center of the section, cross county, over a creek and thru a field filled with cattle. When sister Mary was old enough, she walked to school with them. Lena was afraid to walk through the field with cattle so sometimes her grandfather would walk to school with her the long way around the section. After Lena was in school a few months, the teacher promoted her to second grade. Her mothers training at home helped her do this. Then in future years she was promoted an extra grade again.

Lena Roesch relates this story: One time Aunt Anne Zimmermann and her son William Zimmerman stopped by. Aunt Anne was driving the car. She said Aunt Anne was a good driver. William was 15 years old and had just graduated from Salem High School. She was taking William to Atcherson, Kansas to start Midland College. She was concerned about William behaving himself in college because he was so young and so she wanted Lena Roesch to attend Midland also and keep an eye on William. Lena was 17 at the time but had gone to school for only 9 years. So they said to Aunt Anne how would they let Lena in? Aunt Anne replied, well William skipped two years of high school and they are letting him in. Don't worry. Grandma was a seamstress and so could make a lot of nice cloths for Lena but Grandma was also expecting another child. Grandma said it was up to Lena to decide. Well Lena said sister Mary was 4 years younger but was not doing very good work in the house because Mary liked to do work outside. So after some consideration, Lena decided she had better stay home and help her mother. William would graduate from Midland College, go on to earn a Doctors degree in History and Dr. William Zimmerman would return to Midland College as Dean. Midland College has now become Midland University at Fremont, Nebraska.

Many years later, Lena went to Midland College which now had moved to Fremont, NE and she graduated from there. She said that her father often took her back and forth between Fremont and Falls City.

Harold Roesch related this story. When Grandpa was having heart trouble his doctor told him to drink beer every day. So after he died, Grandma did not want those few bottles of beer around. So the men went out into the kitchen and finished off the beer. Harold was present when they did this.

I remember Uncle Wilber telling this story as I remember it. He and Aunt Vivian took a trip to Europe and visited the cemetery where our ancestors in Germany had been buried. They looked around and could find no grave markers for our ancestors. They asked someone where to look and they pointed to a building with a window on it. The person said go to that building and press the button. They went to the window and pressed the button. A light come on and the building was filled with bones. It turns out that at this time if no one pays an annual fee to the cemetery they dig up the grave and place the bones in this building. This is now common all over Germany.

In 1994, one of the descendants of grandma's sister Mrs. Zorn (through Majures) had quintuplets in Topeka, Kansas. The boy died but the 4 girls are alive and doing well.

Comments by Aunt Lena at her 100th Birthday party:

The classes she taught in Wyoming were 36 students in size. They would send the extra students over 36 to another town. There was a picture of her with the students in class. We counted them and there were 36.

Lena's comments on nursing homes:

Living in a nursing homes is a lot like living in a college dormitory, they both have rules to follow.

If you live in a nursing home everyone thinks you are an imbecile, so you need a lawyer to watch over thinks for you.

The last time she was at the dentist, she had some small cavities. She said do not fill them until after she is 100 years old.

She received a 100th year birthday cards from President Clinton of the United States and also from Midland College. One of the birthday cards was from Ken Herbster. He had Lena as a school teacher. The card said it was in 1933 at the Arnold school.

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Last Modified January 2016

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