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My grandparents were Onno and Annie Rodewald. I never knew Onno, he died before I was born. I hadn't come across the name Rodewald anywhere else until I was well into adulthood and became interested in family history and began looking for the name. It is not a rare name, but certainly far from common.

Some German surnames originate from a place name and there is a small town in Germany named Rodewald. My uncle Howard visited the town of Rodewald in the 1990s and was told that he was the only Rodewald from America to visit there, as far as they knew. Our Rodewald family may have originated from the town of Rodewald long, long ago, but when they came to America they came from near Wittmund in northwest Germany. That area of Germany is called Ostfriesland.

In the family charts below, a double line represents a marriage.

 Johann and Hieske Rodewald 

On April 17, 1857 Johann Christoph Theodore Rodewald married Hieske Schröder in Leepens, Germany. Leepens is just west of Wittmund in the Ostfriesland area of Germany. Johann was born on May 25, 1832 in Aurich, Germany to Wilhelm Friderik Rodewald and Hiemke Margaretha Gerdes. Johann's wife, Hieske, was born on June 13, 1831 in Leepens, Germany to Gerd Schröder and Anna Maria Hajen.

Hieske was a widow when she married Johann. Her first husband was Siebelt Adden Eden who died in 1855 at the age of 31, leaving her with a three-year-old boy, Gerd. Hieske and Siebelt's first child had died at the age of 13 months and their third child died at birth. Hieske gave birth to their fourth child, Anna Maria, after Siebelt died. About a year later she married Johann Rodewald.

From 1858 to 1870 Hieske and Johann had eight children, three of whom died in infancy or at birth. Their first child was a girl, Hiemke Margaretha, named after Johann's mother. Their second child—their first boy—was named Siebelt Adden after Hieske's first husband. I suspect that Johann probably knew Hieske's first husband and had considerable regard for him, so that his first son was named after him. The other children that survived to adulthood were Johanna Frederika, John Frederich, and Wilhelm Frederich, my great-grandfather.

Wilhelm's daughter, Annie Rodewald Frank (1892-1986), wrote this brief account of her family. I have left the spelling and punctuation as it was in the original.

my Dad Vilhelm Rodewald born April 20 1869 in East Friesland Kreis Lehr, vilage Lepens Son of John Rodewald and wife Kieskea don't know much about their age Whenn I was a youngster I remeber only that my Granddad had a long flowing snow white beard & hair can't remeber Grandma at all I know my Grandpa was married twice, my Dad and a Sister Magretha of the second marigge there where two half Sisters one lived in Wilhelmshaven, the other in Oldenburg. my Grandpa John Rodewald was a trader or Salesman traveling on foot with his ware of smal household articles.

This is the only first-person account that I have of the Rodewald family in Germany. I cannot correlate Annie's story with the information that I found in the German Church records. It could be that Johann had been married before he married Hieske, but I found no record of that. The sister Magretha that Annie mentions could be Hiemke Margaretha. What is more interesting is that Annie did not mention her Dad's brothers, Siebelt and John, as they came to this country and I know that her family had at least some contact with them here. And, according to my information, there was just one half-sister, Anna Maria. Perhaps it all just requires a little more research.

 Siebelt Adden Rodewald (1859-1906) 

Johann and Hieske's oldest son, Siebelt Adden, married Katherina Margaretha Franzen in Germany on February 27, 1884. He was 24 and she was 21. Almost immediately they left Germany for America, traveling from Bremen to Baltimore on the ship Habsburg. They arrived in Baltimore on March 28, 1884 and from there went to Roanoke, Illinois where they settled. In 1900 they moved to a farm in Calhoun County, Iowa. Siebelt and Catharina had eleven children. Siebelt died in 1906 at the age of 47, leaving his wife and eight children who ranged in age from 16 months to 20 years.

Siebelt and Katherina's daughter, Katharina, married George Alt and they lived in Montana. Another daughter, Emma, married Edwin Kirk and they lived in California. All of the other children lived in or near Rockwell City and were engaged in farming and road construction work.

The grave of Siebelt and Catherine
Rodewald in Rosehill Cemetery
in Rockwell City, Iowa.

See Siebelt's obituary
See Katharina's obituary

 John Frederich Rodewald (1868-1929) 

Johann and Hieske's son John Frederich left home and came to America in 1884 at the age of 16. He left from the port of Bremen aboard the ship Bremen and arrived in Baltimore on the 20th of December, 1884. From there he came to Illinois where his brother, Siebelt, and had come earlier that year. John he lived in Minonk and farmed for a while and later worked for the railroad. He married Frauka "Frances" Sunken in 1892 and they had seven children. The later years of his life he lived in Toluca.

Toluca has a rich history of railroading and coal mining along with a strong Italian heritage. Today there are a couple of Italian restaurants and food processing businesses located in Toluca, although the town's population is a fraction of what it was in it's heyday as a railroading center and mining town. John Rodewald worked as a section foreman for the railroad and his sons Folkert and William also had long careers working for the railroad.

John and Frances' son Brunger, known as Bert, died while in England during World War I. His body was brought home to Toluca and buried in John's cemetery.

John died of appendicitis in 1929. A line from his obituary says, "There also survive two sisters in Germany and one brother who lives in Minneapolis, Minn." The sisters would be Hiemke Margaretha and Johanna Friederika Wilhemina, and the brother is Wilhelm.

The Rodewald family plot in
St. John's Cemetery
in Toluca, Illinois.

See John's obituary
See Frances' obituary

 Wilhelm Frederich Rodewald (1870-1950) 

Wilhelm "William" Rodewald was the youngest child of Johann and Hieske Rodewald. He was born in Leepens near Wittmund and in 1889 he married Etta Schmidt. They lived in Berdumer Oberdeich where their nine children were born. Berdumer Oberdeich is the upper dike near Berdum, a few miles north of Wittmund.

In April of 1907, William and Etta's oldest child, 16-year-old John, came to America. Although I don't know where in the U.S. he came, he undoubtedly visited one or both of his uncles, John in Illinois and Siebelt in Iowa.

William, Etta, and the rest of the family came to the United States in January of 1910. They traveled on the ship Cassel of the North German Lloyd Line. The ship Cassel was 429 feet long and 54 feet wide, had one funnel, two masts, and could travel at a speed of 13 knots (about 15 mph). There was accommodation for 140 2nd-class and 1,938 3rd-class passengers. The family left Bremen, Germany on the 6th of January, 1910 and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on January 24th.

Passenger list (171K)
The ship Cassel

The Rodewald family settled in Scotland, South Dakota, probably having stopped to visit William's brothers John and Siebelt along the way. They lived in Scotland until 1915 when they moved to Foley, Minnesota. William's daughter, Annie, married Henry Frank in Scotland in 1914 and they lived there until 1922 when they also moved to the Foley area.

Scotland Journal Saturday 2 JAN 1915
Miss Anna Rudewald and Mr. Henry Frank were married last Sunday by the pastor of the German Congregational church. Owing to the bride's parental disfavor of the match, the wedding which was to have occurred Saturday night had to be postponed on this account until above date. During the meantime the bride remained in hiding and could not be found by her father who was in Scotland Saturday night.

During World War I there was much suspicion of Americans of German descent, particularly those who had not become U.S. citizens. None of the Rodewalds had become citizens nor had they applied for citizenship. German aliens were required to register with the state, other than males of draft age who had been registered with the federal government. This registration was done in February of 1918 and detailed, among other things, property holdings. William's registration form states, "I own forty acres of land in Mille Lacs County, it is brush land, a river runs through one acre of it, valued about $1200.00, not residing on it. I have this land on contract for deed and have not paid down enough for deed. Not recorded in the court. I own 2 cows, 5 hogs, some farm machinery and about 10 young calves."

William's son Siebert, only 16 at the time, stated in his alien registration, "Bought fifty dollars worth of bonds of the Ray (or Bay) Motor Company in St. Cloud Minnesota. Have planted about one acre of cabbages and one acre of potatoes for my own benefit." Siebert's brother William, 18, also made similar statements in his registration.

William Rodewald (1870-1950)
When William died in 1950 at the age of 80, he had outlived two of his daughters and three of his sons.
Etta Rodewald (1866-1935)
Etta didn't speak English. She died of heart disease in 1935 at the age of 69.

William and Etta's children
  • John (1890-1945). In 1920 John was living in Hackensack, Minnesota and was the proprietor of a lathe mill. He moved to California in the early 1920s and by the time of his death in 1945 he was a boatmaker for his own business, The Atlantic Boatworks in Los Angeles. John never married.
  • Hieske "Annie" (1892-1986). Annie married Henry Frank and they they engaged in farming in the Foley area. They had five children.
  • Hima Magretha (1894-1927). Hima worked for a while as a cook in a restaurant in Raymond, Minnesota. From 1918 to 1921 she trained as a nurse at St. Josephs Hospital in St. Paul. She contracted tuberculosis and died in 1927 at the age of 33.
  • Onno (1896-1945). Onno married Annie Buss in 1920 and they lived in the Foley area where he worked for the Foley Fuel and Lumber Company. Onno and Annie had six children.
  • Etta (1897-1900?). Etta died at the age of three.
  • Gesine (1898-1964). Gesine married Gust Carlson and they lived in the Foley area. She was a schoolteacher and Gust engaged in farming. They had three children.
  • William (1900-1957). William moved to California in the 1920s and was a plumbing contractor in Los Angeles.
  • Siebert (1902-1949). Siebert also lived in the Los Angeles area. He was a police officer and later was in the boat making business. His first wife was Evelyn Cox and his second wife's name was Thelma.
  • Jasper (1905-1987). Jasper married Elvira Cross in 1931 and for their honeymoon they visited relatives in Rockwell City, Iowa, where Jasper's cousins lived. Jasper and Elvira moved to southern California where Jasper worked as a plumber.
William's obituary
Etta's obituary

Etta Rodewald had a brother, Jasper Schmidt, who came to the United States around 1895 and to California in the 1920s. He was a farmer and never married. Jasper died in 1943 at the age of 74.


Notes from a conversation with Annie Buss Rodewald on September 25, 1988:

Annie went to Raymond and worked as a waitress in a restaurant there. Hima Rodewald was a cook there and she and Annie lived above the restaurant. One day Hima ran upstairs crying and Annie went to see what she was crying about. Apparently the boss, or owner, of the restaurant had said something unkind or unfair to Hima and that's why she was crying. So Annie went to the boss and told him that he should apologize to Hima. "I wasn't afraid of anybody," she said. It took awhile, but he finally apologized. Onno and Gesine would come to Raymond to visit Hima and that's where Annie met Onno who later became her husband. Hima became a nurse and died of tuberculosis at a rather young age.

Notes from a conversation with Pearl Rodewald Carlson on February 12, 1989:

Pearl's grandfather, William Rodewald, was a coarse, gruff man who swore and chewed tobacco. He drove up to Onno and Annie Rodewald's house one time and was quite upset about something and was swearing. Annie said to him, "Be careful how you speak, there are children around." And he did so.

William most always spoke German—he would occasionally speak English, but his English was very broken. His wife, Etta, spoke no English. When Pearl's family would go to visit them, Etta would cut a piece of cheese from a big 5-pound chunk and put it on a piece of bread with butter and hand it to her and say, in German, "Would you like a piece of bread?" Pearl could say that phrase in German.

Etta died in 1935 at the age of 67 of heart trouble—Pearl said she looked very old for her age. For a while then William lived by himself and Pearl and her sister Ethel would go to clean the house for him. He would give them a quart of ice cream for them and the other kids to eat. When William married Delia Johnson he lived in St. Cloud.

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