Monday, December 1, 2014

The Rieders and the Haths

Catherine Rieder (1903-1968) and Frank Hath (1895-1971)
Photo likely taken shortly after their marriage in Kalamazoo, Michigan

In the past, I had to assess the general value of those whose autosomal DNA I chose to test while searching for my mother's missing father. While it would have been more time-saving to skip about with a basket full of DNA tests tossing them to all persons who might yield information, the unfortunate reality is that my budget did not warrant such behavior. But at this juncture, I knew by crunching the numbers associated with genetic mathematics that my mother, Carol Sue (Miler) (DePrato) Lacopo Crumet, was a descendant of John Henry Daugherty and his wife, Emma Augusta Jonas. And I knew from the numbers that she was either the daughter of one of three Schrader brothers, or she was the daughter of Russell Tom Hath (see family tree at Hoosier Daddy?: The Daugherty Candidates).

So now was the time to start contacting multiple people for testing rather than one at a time. I was down to the wire, and I was willing to test any and all persons who stepped forward first. And although the finely-tuned email begging for DNA went out to a handful of living relatives during the third and fourth weeks of August, 2104, the one who most readily replied was the one relative of Russell Tom Hath.

As discussed previously, everything calculated and predicted thus far hinged on the DNA results of Kenneth Eugene Ryder. My mother was most likely his second cousin, or his half-first cousin, once removed. If Russell Tom Hath was my mother's father, it would fulfill the criteria for the latter relationship. This would make my mother the great-granddaughter of Bertha (Daugherty) Ryder Rieder Prestige Merrifield, whom we have already discussed (see Hoosier Daddy?: The Ryders, the Scharichs, and the Daughertys).

Bertha's first-born son, Rollie, was born in 1899, from her first short marriage to Eugene Joseph Ryder that ended in divorce in 1901. Rollie's youngest son, Ken Ryder, was the man who thus far matched my mother the closest.

On 13 November 1901, just days after her divorce was final, Bertha (Daugherty) Ryder married Charles Thomas Rieder. Bertha had just turned 20 years old, and was thus beginning her second marriage. Her husband, Charles, was twenty-five years old, previously unmarried, and the son of Swiss immigrants, Daniel and Catharine (Dietsche) Rieder. Although born in Angola, Indiana; Charles Rieder had grown up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Daniel Rieder (1877-1928) and Charles Rieder (1876-1944)
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Neither party brought with them the knowledge or experience of a happy home life, and both were ill-equipped at making a marriage work. Bertha, divorced and with a toddler, was born of a family marred by abject poverty and alcoholism. Charles, one of two sons who survived amongst the six children born to his parents, was raised surrounded by mental disease. The sanity of Charles's only surviving brother, Daniel Rieder Jr., was in question even as a teenager, when a public insanity hearing was held in Kalamazoo in 1897. Although found sane by this hearing, the following year he was taken to the Michigan Asylum for the Insane when he declared "that all the Swiss should be killed and he proposed starting in on his parents." (Kalamazoo Gazette, Saturday, 12 February 1898, page 1.) Although well enough to be living unhospitalized in the home of his parents at 418 East Frank Street in Kalamazoo in 1900, he was soon a full-time resident of the asylum, where he died in 1928.

The erratic behavior was not confined to Charles Rieder's brother either. Even his father who managed to work as a laborer and support his wife and two sons was prone to odd outbreaks. While Christmas shopping with his wife in 1898, the fifty-four year old man suddenly screamed, "They're after me!" and ran off. After his failure to return home immediately, the police became involved, and Daniel Rieder Sr. resurfaced late that night wet up to his knees. He explained that his feet were hot, and he stood in a creek for seven hours to cool them off.

So it is no wonder that the marriage of Bertha (Daugherty) Ryder and Charles Thomas Rieder was not a successful one. A daughter, Catherine, was born to them on 19 November 1903, but the couple separated shortly thereafter. In February 1905, Charles published notice that he would not be responsible for any debts incurred by his wife. After filing for divorce, yet reconciling shortly thereafter, in April of that same year Charles Rieder went to the John Daugherty residence on Ransom Street in Kalamazoo to fetch his wife who had failed yet again to come home. The ensuing loud and violent calamity resulted in the arrest of four men and two women of the extended Daugherty family for disorderly conduct.

Charles Rieder and his wife Bertha stayed married long enough to move together to the northern part of the state when Charles took work as a moulder in an iron foundry in Charlevoix County a few years later. By 1910, Charles and Bertha were living in East Jordan with children Rollie Ryder and Catherine Rieder, and Bertha's sister LaVina Daugherty. But the marriage was doomed, and Bertha returned to Kalamazoo leaving her husband in Charlevoix County. They were divorced by August 1914, when they both remarried.

Catherine Rieder was still a little girl when she left the home of her father and returned to Kalamazoo with her mother, but she grew up quickly, as members of the extended Daugherty clan learned to be self-sufficient early on. Her mother remarried twice more, when Catherine was ten and thirteen years old. But at the age of fourteen Catherine herself became a bride, marrying Frank Hath on 14 April 1918 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Six months later, pregnant with her first child, her mother Bertha died, leaving her with the care of her three-year old half sister, Mary Prestige. Catherine was beset with the responsibilities of an adult long before her childhood was over.

Her husband, Frank Hath was twenty-three years old when he married teenager Catherine Rieder, who claimed to be eighteen on her marriage application. Like everyone else in the extended Daugherty family and those who married into it, he was a moulder, and he had come to Kalamazoo following work. Unlike the Daughertys, he was an immigrant. Frank Hath was born in 1895 in the vicinity of Gecse, Hungary, and had come this country in 1903 with his mother, Rozalia, and his siblings to join his father Dénes Hat, who had made them a home in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the year before. Although obviously of foreign birth, Frank circumvented the hassles associated with it and his father's lack of naturalization by claiming birth in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In an era of significantly less red tape than we are accustomed to presently, he easily got away with it.

Although this marriage too would end, like so many other marriages in the extended family, the Haths managed to create a more stable, solid environment for their growing family during their married years. Unlike the city hopping from one rental home to another of previous generations, Frank and Catherine owned their homes at 1136 North Clark Street, and then at 1206 Gull Street in Kalamazoo. They would welcome four children during their twelve year marriage: Daniel Kenneth Hath in 1919, Russell Tom Hath in 1924, Dorothy Marjory Hath in 1927, and Mildred Hath in 1928. The Haths maintained very close ties with their Daugherty relatives in Kalamazoo, as Catherine and her half-brother Rollie Ryder were barely a decade younger than their Daugherty aunts and uncles. Although both were newly married when their mother died in 1918, they were very much an extension of their Grandfather and Grandmother Daugherty's family.

Frank and Catherine never legally divorced, and they were still living together in Kalamazoo at the Gull Street address in April 1930. But they would forever separate shortly thereafter, and Catherine (Rieder) Hath would immediately "remarry" John Howard "Jack" Dorn in May 1930 and have two more sons: Jack in 1931, and Richard in 1936. The Dorns moved to South Bend, Indiana, by 1935, where they lived in a string of rental properties while Jack worked as a foundry worker. By 1940, the Dorns moved to Niles, Michigan, and eventually move to 936 Pine Street in Niles, which for all intents and purposes, was a street populated only by Daughertys and their descendants. In 1958, they moved to Cassopolis, Michigan, where Catherine died in 1968. John Henry "Jack" Dorn died two years later in a car accident outside Dowagiac, Michigan.

The sons of Catherine (Rieder) Hath Dorn were of the proper relationship level to be my mother's father. If so, it would make my mother a half-first cousin, once removed, of Kenneth Ryder and thus be mathematically compatible with the 4.26% DNA they shared in common. Luckily, only one of Catherine's children could be this man. Her two youngest sons would have been only fourteen and eight years old when my mother was conceived. Her eldest son, Daniel Kenneth Hath, had died in 1941 at the age of twenty-two years, unmarried, in Niles, Michigan, of meningitis.

The only person it could be was Russell Tom Hath, just twenty-one year old in the spring of 1946 when my mother was conceived.

Russell Tom Hath (1924-1965)

Unfortunately, Russell did not live long enough for a lengthy biography. The man my mother thought was her father for so many years, Frank Strukel, died of a heart attack at the age of forty-six. Clarence Ryder, whom I was previously certain was the man I was seeking, died of a heart attack at the age of forty-three. Russell Hath died of a heart attack at the age of forty-one.

I was bound and determined to give my mother hereditary heart disease.

Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on 2 July 1924, Russell Hath grew up in this city surrounded by his maternal relatives, his Hungarian paternal family all being in New Jersey. Not even six years old when his parents divorced, his later childhood and teenage years were spent in and around the Niles, Michigan, area with his mother, Catherine, and stepfather, Jack Dorn. And much like Frank Strukel and Clarence Ryder and every other young man of his generation, he enlisted in the armed services after the outbreak of World War II.

Russell Hath enlisted in the United State Marine Corps on 17 March 1943 at the age of eighteen. He was sent to the Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and then spent the summer of 1943 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Russell spent the bulk of his military career on a variety of bases in southern California, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant by the beginning of 1946. After the end of World War II, Russell became a member of VMF(N)-541, or the Marine Night Fighter Squadron 541, stationed in Hopeh Province in China as a part of Operation Beleaguer. In addition to assisting in the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Koreans left on China's mainland after World War II, Operation Beleaguer also attempted unsuccessfully to mediate a peace between Nationalist and Communist China. Russell returned to San Diego, California, from China aboard the U.S.S. General George M. Randall on 27 April 1946. He was discharged shortly thereafter.

Upon returning to Niles, Michigan, Russell married Lee (Firnstahl) Wilson, a divorced woman five years his senior, on 30 May 1947. They divorced in 1950 with Russell charging her with cruelty. The following year he married Mary Ann (Stoddard) Avery, a divorced woman with an infant child whom he raised and who took his last name. Russell and Mary Ann thereafter became the parents of two children of their own: David in 1957, and Jeannine Marie in 1964. The couple had moved to South Bend, Indiana, shortly after their marriage, and Russell found work at the South Bend Lathe Company. Around midnight on 4 September 1965, Russell had a heart attack. He was dead before he reached Memorial Hospital in South Bend, barely a half-mile from his house. His little girl had just celebrated her first birthday six days previously. He was buried in Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles, Michigan, with the whole extended Daugherty clan.

As I looked into Russell Hath's past, I considered him lowest on the list of candidates for my missing grandfather. Only twenty-one when my mother was conceived, he was the youngest of those under consideration, when my grandmother would have been twenty-nine. Would a married woman approaching thirty be wooed by a man that young? Perhaps a dashing man in uniform, yes. Then again, Frank Strukel was only twenty-three when she met him during this same time period, and he became her second husband the following year.

More importantly, the Marine Corps muster rolls for Russell Hath made it seem unlikely that he was even in the area at the time my mother was conceived. If my mother was a routine pregnancy, as her birth certificate indicated, she would have been conceived in late March or early April, 1946. Although I had no concrete date for Russell's deployment to China, he was boarding a train at Nan Yuan Airfield in Peiping, China, on 10 April 1946, for his return trip to San Diego. It is doubtful that he was in the Elkhart, Indiana, area just weeks before to meet my grandmother and give life to my mother.

Although my mother's "Ancestry Composition" from 23andMe did not seem to fit a father who was half-Hungarian, it was tempting to think that her surprising 0.6% Asian & Native American component arose from the Asian history shared by the Magyars who were the original tribes that settled Hungary.

As stated at the beginning of this blog, I had put out my carefully worded email to several relatives of the Schraders AND the Haths, since I was down to the last of my mother's paternal candidates. Tragically, both of Russell Hath's children had died in 1981. His son, David, died of a heart attack at the age of twenty-three. His daughter, Jeannine, died of a congenital heart disease at the age of sixteen. So there were no potential half-siblings to test. But just like Clarence Ryder, Russell Hath left two sisters, who although both had also since passed away, they had left behind a total of eight nieces and nephews for Russell Hath that would be close relatives to test.

Since my suspicions for Russell Hath as my grandfather were slim, I only initially contacted one niece. But she responded to my Facebook message within four hours of its delivery on 31 August 2014. She was incredibly eager to help. Unlike the crazy waiting games with people in the past, this time I was the one to slow things down. After all, it was $100 per test, and I wanted to hear from the Schraders first, as they seemed a more likely group to be assessing and testing. But Russell's niece was adamant. She was ready to spit, and she repeatedly offered times and locations to meet. Even though my experiences with asking strangers to donate DNA had been generally good, I was taken aback by the earnestness of her appeals.

With no immediate meaningful response from the Schraders, I figured "What the hell?" I had already spent enough money and time tracking this man. What was another hundred bucks? Even if Russell Hath was not the man I was looking for, I would have one more sample of Daugherty DNA with which to compare my mother. If Russell Hath was the man I was looking for, his niece would be my mother's first cousin, and therefore they would share 12.5% of their DNA in common. But if my mother's father was one of the last remaining candidates - the Schrader brothers - this woman would be a second cousin, once removed, and therefore only match her genetic material on an average of 1.563%. At the very least, it would lend confirmation to my hypothesis that I was looking at a Schrader as the culprit.

A lunch date and time for DNA donation was set for 3 September 2014.

Little did I know that this woman's eagerness to test was not out of helpful exuberance for me and my plight. This distant cousin had an agenda all her own.


  1. Very well written, Michael! And, so interesting! I'm truly impressed!

  2. And....please, sir, I want some more. Thanks for sharing this amazing journey that you and your Mother have taken.

  3. Hello - I believe we are related - Thanks for the wonderful info. It really filled in some blanks for me.