QUICKSBURG, Va. — About 150 people from 20 states remembered their ancestor, John Adam Rausch, and his family during their 88th annual family reunion last month at the American Celebration On Parade in Quicksburg.
In 1736, Rausch — who later changed his last name to Roush — migrated to the United States from Darmstadt, Germany, when he was 25 years old.
At the time, it was illegal to leave Germany because many people were migrating elsewhere, said his descendant Jerry Roush, president of the Roush (Rausch) and Allies Family Association.
Though it was against the law, John Roush managed to escape.
“He made arrangements with the captain of a ship and some friends,” Jerry Roush, of Quincy, Ill., said. “They put him in a barrel as the ship left. That’s how he got out of Germany. He had to sneak out in a barrel.”
John Roush arrived and settled in Pennsylvania, where he married Susannah Schler.
In the 1750s, the couple moved to the Shenandoah Valley and raised their eight sons and three daughters outside Mount Jackson.
John Roush was a farmer and a tanner.
History in the making
While living in the Shenandoah Valley, the Roush family became acquainted with George Washington, who asked the family if he could hunt on their land.
The family’s eight sons — Henry, George, Jonas, Jacob, Daniel, Balser, Phillip and John Jr. — later served in the Revolutionary Army, which took place from 1775 to 1783, said Jerry Roush and the association’s historian, Keith Ashley, of Pomeroy, Ohio.
“George and Jonas were at the battle of Yorktown. … They were there at the surrender of [British General Charles] Cornwallis,” said Jerry Roush, who is related.
John Roush died in 1786. After his wife, Susannah, died around 1795, the family moved to the Ohio River Valley, where they purchased 6,000 acres of land.
As the family continued to grow, it spread across the United States, Jerry Roush said.
About 130 years later, the Rev. Lester Le Roy Roush, who was writing a book about the Roush family and wanted to celebrate and remember John Roush, began reaching out to his descendants.
“He needed to do a tremendous amount of research and letter writing back then,” Jerry Roush said. “Today, we have computers and the internet to find stuff, and he had to do that by hand.”
A personal touch
The first eight reunions were conducted in Ohio and West Virginia, with the first one taking place Sept. 4, 1926, in New Haven, W.Va. As the reunions continued, they started being conducted in other parts of the country.
The first Mount Jackson reunion was Aug. 22, 1936. A reunion is conducted at Mount Jackson every 10 years.
During the ninth Mount Jackson reunion that took place last month, Roush descendants participated in an auction, visited a monument dedicated to John Roush St. Mary’s Pine Lutheran Church Cemetery, and shared stories about their ancestors.
“You’re surprised sometimes how small the world is when you start talking to people,” said Ashley, who has attended reunions for the past 20 years.
Ashley, the descendant of George and Henry Roush, added that hearing the stories gives him a new viewpoint about historical events, including the Revolutionary War.
“You get a different perspective of history than you probably get in school,” he said. “You didn’t learn the personal part of the situation.”
Judy Yates, of Atlanta, a descendant of John Roush’s daughter, Elizabeth, said those interested in learning if they’re a John Roush descendant can visit the association’s website, roush.org.
This story and its accompanying photos are reprinted with permission from The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Va. Contact Erin Flynn at (540) 574-6293 or [email protected]