WEEK 30: John Thomas Rohn

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’m a little behind on the 52 Ancestors challenge. So, it’s only fitting that I got stuck on the theme of “challenging” because it has been challenging to keep up with my posts!

My husband’s family has certainly been challenging. To start off with, the story my husband had been told was that his great-great grandfather was from Germany, but “fled” to Florida. The government found him and then came over and murdered him. His wife and young son fled Florida to Texas to escape. Sounds like a pretty tall tale, doesn’t it?

To date, I have found out very, very little on the family. I have only been able to go back as far as “the young son,” which is my husband’s great-grandfather, John Thomas Rohn. I first found him living in Richland Springs, San Saba County, Texas with his wife, Minnie Mae, and their children. But I could only find him as far back as the 1910 census. In order to learn more about him, I had written to San Saba County courthouse for any other possible records. I had discovered that on September 30, 1916, he had bought land with someone named Henry Knieff and his wife. I found a Henry Knieff living nearby in Richland Springs, but I did not know how these two knew each other.

It wasn’t until years later, someone emailed me after seeing an old post on a mailing list archives. It turned out that Henry Knieff was the half-brother of John. With that knowledge, I was able to find John Rohn back to the 1880 Census, living in Hopkins County, Texas in 1880. He was 12 years old and living with a F.A. Kaneff and his wife Mollie, and their children, Mollie, Stella and Henry. I had never stumbled on him before this because the record had been transcribed as John KOHN, instead of Rohn. And F. A. Kaneff turned out to be Francis Alexander Knieff.

I wrote to Hopkins County and they found a marriage record for a Mary R. Rohn to F.A. Kniff. There was not much information on that record to say what her maiden name would have been. The relative that had emailed me indicated that her surname might have been “Randall.”

Before 1887, the Knieff family and John Rohn moved to Milam County, where another son, Claude Alexander, was born. After that, Mary was not found again. I had never been able to find out a death record. Also, another family story surfaced that Mary had actually died in 1888 or 1889. After her death, F. A. Knieff left his children and moved back to Germany, where he was originally from.

To date, I have not been able to find any more records of where John Rohn and his mother, Mary had lived prior to 1880. John had always listed his birthplace as Florida though, so perhaps there’s a chance that the Florida part of the story is true. Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to break through the mysterious childhood of  John Thomas Rohn.