This photo makes me smile every time I look at it. It’s my mother’s mother’s father’s mother — my great great grandmother Elizabeth Rohde (née Woike) — on her way from one corner of the old family farm to another, in great haste but also in apparent amusement or anticipation. She appears to be smiling broadly, even laughing. Maybe she was showing whomever was taking the picture around the farm. Maybe she’d discovered a new calf in the barn, or a brood of goslings hatching under a stair. I’ll never know but whatever the reason she’s going like the clappers.
I’ve chosen this image to introduce some new territory here, for I’ve come into stewardship of a raft of old photos from Brunswick, Ohio, where my mother’s people had farms for at least a century. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Woike and Regina (Radtke) Woike, and she married Charles August Rohde in 1886, I believe.
The history of my mother’s side of the family — the Dowells and Rohdes, the Rapps and Rosenthals, the Wellses and Gridleys, the Wilbournes and Walls, the Woikes and Radtkes — is not well known to me and many of the surnames I can’t yet easily place in relation to each other. I’m making charts and I have to keep referring to them. It’s not that I haven’t been interested. Posterity has had no champion among my mother’s people. There has been no one down the generations who cared to or was able to preserve family history to the extent that members of the Fleagle tribe did at key points throughout modern times. As a result, I am as vexed by dearth on that side as I am embarrassed by riches on t’other. In the time of my father and his siblings, you couldn’t swing a dead cat at a gathering of relatives without hitting a clutch of Fleagles deep in conversation about some scion of that house, or about the Coffins of Nantucket, telling the tales over again, rehearsing the tree, numbering the cousins. My mother remembers her mother, on the other hand, saying “the only family trees I know about are the sugar maples on Grandpa’s farm”.
That’s this farm, and we’ll see those sugar maples later on. There is no date given for this photo, but Grandma Rohde died in 1955. I imagine this was taken in the ’40s. – mdf
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About the physical photograph:
Written on back:
In pencil: “Gramma Rohde”
Loose, from collection of Barbara Fleagle