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Gustav & Bertha

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F. Gustav Ruth and Bertha Rosnow Ziebell Ruth

Bertha Rosnow Ziebell was a widow when she married Gustav Ruth.  Her first husband was Julius Ziebell and they had one child, William A. Ziebell who was born in December of 1884.  Julius was born about 1858 in Germany, and he died about 1884, probably in Neenah, Wisconsin right around the time of the birth of their child.  Bertha’s parents, William and Maria Rosnow took little William and raised him for Bertha while she continued to work in Neenah.  Gustav’s first wife, Johanna, died from the birth of her last child February 1st of 1893, leaving Gustav with seven living children to raise by himself.  He was having trouble keeping suitable housekeepers.  None of them seemed to work out.  Gustav and the Rosnow’s attended the same Lutheran church in Clintonville.  They felt very sorry for him so they arranged a marriage between their daughter, Bertha, and Gustav.  Arranged marriages seem very strange to us today, but they were not unusual in Germany at that time.  Gustav needed a wife to care for his family and Bertha was perfectly capable of that.  Bertha complied and took on this huge responsibility for which she is certainly to be commended.  They were married August 6, 1893.  As their later daughter, Esther, once said of her parents, “It was a marriage of convenience, not love.”  Her true love had been for her first husband, Julius.  But she took on the job and became a true mother for Gustav’s family.  They never considered her a stepmother.  She was their mother from the time of their marriage.  Esther was the only child from that marriage but they all considered themselves full brothers and sisters.  Bertha and Gustav did a beautiful job of unifying their their family.  That good German discipline brought unity, not discord, a lesson that we could learn from today.  Esther was born 17 October, 1898.

F. Gustav Ruth and his new wife and companion, Bertha (Rosnow Ziebell) Ruth, worked together well to raise the seven children who had survived from Gustav’s first marriage.  Then Emma Louise died in September of 1894, so there were only six children left but Bertha kept home and hearts together very well indeed, as one can see from the love that all of the sisters had for one another, including their love for Esther after she was born.  Those families stayed in close touch with each other all through the years, even after Adolph (Aud) married and moved to Chicago, and Clara and Elizabeth moved away after their marriages.  They used to pass letters back and forth to each other through the mail so everybody would have a chance to read them.  And they would occasionally visit as they were able to.  Clara lived in California and Elizabeth in Des Moines, Iowa so the distances were great, but Esther’s son, Carl, and his wife would visit Elizabeth once a year as they drove from Green Bay, where Esther lived, to the Kansas City area, where young Carl lived.  Those were very happy visits because Elizabeth kept them both in stitches laughing at all of her funny memories.  For example, she once drove straight through her garage, but it did’t have a back garage door.  Yes, they got the garage fixed.