Family Histories: P-R

Family Histories


The Pearson family left Plainsfield in Hendricks County, Indiana, in 1872 to come to Eudora. Enoch S., a Quaker from a family who came to America with William Penn and Edith (Stanley) Pearson, a graduate of Earlham College, a Quaker school, brought their family by train to Leavenworth and rented land for two years in Leavenworth County before buying a 160-acre farm, comprised mostly of virgin prairie. All six children attended school. They were Martha (Hill); Matthew; W. J., Curtis, H.I., and Mary (Henry). Source: Mathew Pearson (1862-1948) A Tribute to My Grandfather by Dr. Vernon L. Dixon of Spokane, Washington

When Charles Pilla was appointed postmaster in 1871, he had been in the Eudora since 1865 working in the mercantile business established in 1862 by his younger brother, Frederick, who came to Eudora before 1859. The store’s name changed from Pilla Brothers after the death of Frederick in 1871. Frederick’s 1871 will, written in German, found on Docket B-49-4, #1883, left half of his estate to Charles, half to his sisters, Louisa (Stuckel), Katherine (Pilla), and Lisetta (Pilla at that time and later known as “Lizzie” Lotz). Part of that estate included 165 acres in four parcels and 40 city Charles Pillalots. Charles Pilla was born in Zweibrucken, Rheno Bavaria, February 19, 1830 where his family had lived since they left France when a royal decree took away the rights of their fellow Huguenots in 1598. He went to public school and the lyceum at Kaisers Lautern. After a dyer apprenticeship in Speirs, he came to the United States in 1849 at age 19. He settled in New York City, where he clerked at a clothing store then worked at E. Walker & Sons, Booksellers and Bookbindery before moving to Eudora. He got married in Factoryville, Staten Island, New York, September 10, 1865, to Alice B. Smith, of Factoryville. They had seven children, Charles, their son, died in childhood, and three daughters survived to adulthood: Alvina, Louisa, and Molvie. Alvina married J.E. Dolisi and had three daughters and one son. Louise married J. S. Lawson and had two sons. Charles and Molvie PillaMolvie, pictured here with her father, never married. Besides his store, Pilla was one of the principal stockholders and contributors of a sweet corn factory, co-owner of the Stadler brick manufacturing business, a stockholder in the Leis chemical works in Lawrence, principal stockholder as well as the director of the Eudora Creamery Company, and president of the State Bank of Eudora. He was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Eudora School Board, Eudora Lodge No. 42, I.O.O.F., and Doric Lodge, No. 83. Pilla was active in helping German emigrants and was generous to St. Paul’s Church. Alice died in 1899, and Charles in 1916. His will shows that he had $83,633 worth of real estate at his death; he owned numerous lots in 28 Eudora blocks and numerous acreage parcels in Douglas County and Johnson County. He left his home and its contents to Molvie; Lizzie Lotz received $300; Louise was given the store and its stock valued at $11,000 with the provision that two years later she was to give her two sisters a one-third share of the property’s value. The rest of his estate also was to be shared equally by his daughters, less any money he had given them earlier. Louise Lawson and her husband took over his business interests. Molvie lived in the house he built in 1894. Previously, the family had lived above his store. When Molvie died December 12, 1964 in a nursing home in Osage City, the house and contents already had been sold at a June 1963 auction. A 1967 Lawrence-Journal World article described the auction as “one of the best” for antique lovers, “complete with walnut furniture sets, brass beds, wicker outdoor pieces, old kitchen equipment, and other late-Victorian items. Source: A Biographical History of Eminent Men of the State of Kansas, History of the State of Kansas (1883) by William Cutler, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (1918) by William Connelly, Alice Pilla’s obituary (1899), Pilla will filed September 9, 1916 in Journal U, pg. 488; and Charles Pilla, A Pillar of Eudora by Rose Pyle White [House], Heritage of Kansas 10, No. 4 (1977), 29-30.

Joshua Reber, a Civil War veteran born in Windsor Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Esther (Hollenbeck also spelled Hollanbach), born February 1, 1833, came from Hamburg, Burks County, Pennsylvania. Married January 13, 1855, they had eight sons and three daughters. In 1878, they came to Kansas with two sons, Oscar and Daniel, and Alice (Kohler). Daniel saw Louisa Strobel at the wedding of her sister, Minnie, and Peter Neis. He said that Louisa was going to be “his girl.” After they married, their daughter, Ella, was born in a hand-hewn log cabin. Daniel later bought 12 acres ¼ mile east of Eudora on Seventh Street where Archie and Francis Goodger later lived. Daniel cut walnut trees to build the home. It was one large room downstairs and two rooms upstairs. In later years, he added to the north side of the house. He drilled a well west of his house, 320 feet deep, and struck salt water. Daniel built a smokehouse and did custom smoking. The feathers from their ducks, geese, and chickens were sold for “rich guys” pillows. The Rebers stuffed their pillows with straw and used flour sacks for pillow slips and underwear. Their home-knit black stockings were itchy. Carl ReberWhen Ella went to school, she often stayed with Grandmother Reber and helped her cook for boarders. They cooked on Saturday and kept the food warm in the oven for Sunday meals. Grandmother Reber would sit by the front window in her rocking chair on Sundays and read the Bible. Louisa was custodian at the church for $15 a year. Ella and her sister used a little hand pump to put air in the church’s gas lamps. Ella played guitar, pump organ, and piano. At age 87, she still played piano for the church. After high school graduation, Ella worked in the dry goods department of Pilla Department store for $3 a week for five years, all the time wanting to go to Emporia College and be a teacher. Ella married Charles Gerstenberger, a high school classmate. They lived in Kansas City for six years, then moved to Prairie Center to manage the general store for a year for Fred Lotz. They came back to Eudora and rented a house on the 800 block of Church Street from her father and later bought it. Her grandfather Reber had built the front part of the house and her father added to it in later years. He had a blacksmith shop where Ella’s garden later was, before he moved the shop to 931 Church Street. Ella’s white lilac bush, flowering almond, and Juneberry bush were planted by Esther Reber, her grandmother. Source: Ella (Reber) Gerstenberger in “Biographical Sketches,” prepared by Lauretta Trabant in Eudora Community Heritage (1977) and Esther Reber’s obituary (1907) and Joshua Reber’s obituary (1911). [Carl Reber is seen delivering eggs for the Pilla department store in this photograph.]

The Reusch family, whose name is derived from the German word “Ruisch” meaning a marshy area of low land area near water, left Prussia to settle in Bahner, Missouri . Peter and Nicholas Reusch came first. Parents Nichols and Maria (Nussbaum), and sisters Elisabetha, Susanna, and Maria followed. Peter, wife Maria Katherina (Weber), children Nicholas, Mary, Henry, and Jacob came to Douglas County in 1861 and bought land six miles directly south of Eudora. In 1866, Peter, returning from a cattle delivery, was killed for his horse and money three miles from his farm. He was buried at the murder site. His wife stayed on the farm and raised the family. Mary returned to Bahner, Nicholas farmed in Vinland, and Henry purchased his mother’s farm. Jacob had 11 children and most of them remained in Douglas County. Source: Linda (Reusch) Broers and Reusch Jones and Allied Families by Betty Coleman Maker, Bend, Oregon (1989)

Oscar RichardsOscar Richards was born January 12, 1836 in Napoleon, Jackson County, Michigan, and died April 4, 1815 in his Eudora home. His father was Xenophon Richards, a soldier of the Black Hawk Indian War. Oscar received a rudimentary education in local schools and was raised on a farm in Livingston County, Illinois. At age 20, he joined General Lane's forces as they went through Illinois, under Captain William Strawn. With this band, he went to Topeka on what was known as Lane's Road. Oscar drove the first team on the laying out of that road, and planted the first stakes. In this band were such as Captain Scrambey, of Ohio, Captain Cutler, of Massachusetts, and John Brown, of Harper's Ferry fame. Oscar was with the party that besieged Fort Titus, Fort Saunders, and Lecompton. He also was at Black Jack when Clay Pate surrendered to John Brown. After what was known as the border ruffian wars, Oscar went near Manhattan, where he took a claim, which he improved and sold in 1857. He then came to Douglas County, on what was known as the Shawnee Absentee Lands, where a party of 27 emigrants, including a number of relatives who came out from Illinois with him in the spring of 1857, had settled. Here he remained 10 years, farmed, and studied law, as he could procure books and find time. At the age of 30, he was admitted to the bar in Douglas County in 1860. He then settled in Eudora. On January 8, 1857, he married Martha (Granger), of Livingston County, Illinois, who died, leaving two children: Jessie (Harmer) and Franklin. He then married German-born Sophia (Mulsow), who died of “stomach cancer” in 1920, in Eudora, on June 12, 1865. They had four children: Charles, Hattie, Euretta and Mabel. In 1869, Oscar Richards insurance obtained a license to practice law and entered the insurance and real estate business representing the Home of New York, Springfield of Massachusetts, Phoenix of Hartford, and American Central of Burlington, Iowa. His insurance business (1869-1887), operated from his Church Street office pictured here, was taken over by his son, Charles, (1887-1939), which passed to Roy Ogden (1939-1953). In 1878, Oscar was elected to be a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from Douglas County. While in the House, he helped establish the Kansas State Historical Society. He wrote about his life and also verified articles about the Wakarusa Mission and Pascal Fish. Oscar had several other business ventures such as selling mineral water from Eudora’s natural springs and holding the office of Justice of the Peace of Eudora several terms. He was a member of Doric Lodge No. 83; A., F. & A. M.; and Eudora Lodge No. 42, I. O. O. F. His long-time friend, Dr. W. H. Robinson of Eudora, read a tribute to Richards at the Old Settlers Day meeting in Lawrence: "Oscar Richards was my close friend and neighbor for 27 years. My next door neighbor until a house was built between our homes. We knew him in the changing scenes of life, when light hearted, laughing and gay and when the tear drops trickled down his cheek and his voice choked. We knew him and are glad of this opportunity to pay tribute to his memory. He was like the towering tree of the forest, a towering figure in our community. Intellectually his life is an inspiration to the young. Handicapped with meager advantages of school in childhood, inured in hardship and toil, coming to Kansas in 1856, a pioneer with more hardships; in the Kansas struggle for free statehood; married in 1857, taking care of a wife and children; studying law and admitted to the Douglas County bar in 1869. An unusually strenuous life, even for a pioneer. To his sturdy Scotch ancestry can be attributed the grit and determination that carried him through. In his practice of law he knew neither friends nor enemies but always true to his client. He enjoyed doing good and bestowing favors upon whomsoever he met; a friend to the friendless, a loaf for the hungry, a cloak for the shivering. 'His gift was never bare,' the giver was always there. His favorite poem was 'To live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.' ". . . Ever ready in the defense of right, ready to support any enterprise for the public good. He walks no more among his fellow men, but his spirit, like that of John Brown, goes marching on. Like the towering tree of the forest, Oscar G. Richards' life was a towering life spent among us, and the blessings and inspiration of that life are our everlasting heritage to emulate." Source: History of the State of Kansas (1883) by William Cutler; A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (1918) by William Connelly; and a photograph in Spencer Library at the University of Kansas (dates of insurance business involving O.G. Richards, Charles Richards, and Roy Ogden)

George and Barbara (Schneider) Meeder, Waverly, Iowa, came to Kansas shortly after the Brecheisens arrived in 1857, with their two sons, George and Charles, in a covered wagon driven by an oxen team. Four more children were born in Kansas: Edward and William (both died of diphtheria), Sarah (born 1868), and Minnie (born 1869). George got a patent for 160 acres in Section 16, and set aside a part of it for a school in 1880. The Clearfield Cemetery had its beginning in 1871 on the corner of the farm and the old Santa Fe Trail ran across the farm, too. Charles brought home E. Albert Rodewald, a German friend from his Evangelical ministry school. Without much of a courtship, Sarah married Rodewald. Her father gave her (as he would Minnie) part of the farm as a wedding gift. Walter Rodewald, the fourth son of E. Albert and Sarah, married Mary Brecheisen June 1, 1935. Their children were Richard, Newell, and Sara. Mary bought the family farm and made a living in poultry and small dairy herd. The house Walter and Mary lived in had been moved at least twice. The Rodewalds found many large and small granite rocks on their land. They also found Indian arrow heads, axes, grinding stones, beads, and pieces of pottery as well as two Indian burial grounds. Source: Mary Rodewald in “Biographical Sketches,” prepared by Lauretta Trabant in Eudora Community Heritage (1977)

Born April 16, 1857, in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, James F. Roe came to Kansas with his parents in 1868. They drove a team to Birmington, New York, the nearest railroad station, and got on a train for Kansas. They got as far as St. Joseph, Missouri, then took a steamboat to Westport Landing. They walked to Olathe with James’ mother on crutches. Roe, a Civil War veteran, took up a homestead, but died of malaria in October 1869. In 1872, the family came to Eudora with the Hunzicker family. Later, James married Amelia (Zimmerman) and worked for the railroad. He attended the Methodist Church and died in 1949. Source: James Roe in “Biographical Sketches,” prepared by Lauretta Trabant in Eudora Community Heritage (1977)

Gustav Rosenau, born 1837, moved to Eudora in the early 1870s with his wife, Maria (Hortsman), born in Delman Horst, Groszhertzum Oldenburg, Germany, and children. They came from Prussia, Germany, and first settled in Herman, Missouri, for five years and Lawrence for two years. They had 11 children, including Hannah (Rausch), Prairie Center; Max Rosenau (born in Berlin), Eudora; and Emma (Diedrich), Eudora. Max married Marie Barbara Kraetti in 1901. Otto Rosenau, who farmed up to 400 acres, married Pearl Gabriel on May 15, 1925. They had two daughters, Marilyn (Livingood) and Shirley, both graduates of Kansas University. After 71 years of marriage, they moved to the Eudora Nursing Center. Source: 1880 U.S. Census, Maria Roseanu’s obituary (1907), Eudora News (June 5, 1996), and Max Rosenau’s obituary (April 25, 1929)

Rothberger John Rothberger, who had a twin brother, Raymond. was born Mary 12, 1849 in Bavaria. His family came to the United States in 1880, and also included his brother, George, 34, a carpenter, and Cressenz, 31, George’s wife. John married Anna (Zillner) on July 3, 1882 and had six boys and five girls. Raymond Rothberger married Mary (Eppinger) on the same date and place. One son, Fred, was born February 5, 1895, and with wife, Madge, lived at 1023 Elm and owned a car dealership. At the time of Fred’s death in 1970, his siblings Grace and John were still living. The Rothbergers attended Holy Family Church. Source: Jamie Rothberger Gfeller, May 10, 1998,, 1880 U.S. Census, and Fred Rothberger’s obituary (December 2, 1970)

Copyright 2013. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.