George Roush at Russell Station.
George Roush at Russell Station.
Ladies and gentlemen, a biting wind blows and the icy grass crunches under foot on a cold winter’s day in the Strange Cemetery. Icicles cling to some of the monuments in that old graveyard, which is really not as strange as its name.

After walking a rather short distance on a rather dreary day, an old tombstone appears of George Roush, a pioneer of the Russell Station area and my great-great-great-grandfather.

George Roush was born Aug. 1, 1827, the fourth son of Allen Roush (1798-1878) and Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith Roush (1793-1842). Allen, who lived near Fairview, was the oldest son of Philip Roush Jr. (1774-1858) and Mary S. Pence Roush (1778-1855), who are both buried in the Old Dutch Cemetery off of Pence Road.

Philip Jr. was the son of Philip Roush Sr. (1741-1820) and Anna Catherine Kelchner Roush (1748-1821), and Philip Sr.’s folks were Johannes Adam Rausch (1711-86) and Susannah Sehler Rausch (1713-96), both German immigrants. Johannes’ dad was Johannes Nicholas Rausch
(1673-1723), whose dad was Johannes Abraham Rausch (1639-1714), whose dad was Johannes Wilhelm Rausch (1606-1644).

So if I have this correct, and there’s a chance I might not, ol’ Johannes Wilhelm Rausch, who was born around 412 years ago, is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather (give or take a great).

But I find it nearly as impressive that George Roush is my great-great-great-grandfather, and George’s great-great-great-grandfather is Johannes Adam Rausch, who sailed from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 19, 1736, more than 281 years ago. After
changing his name to John Adam Roush, Johannes, his nine sons and three sons-in-law all served during the Revolutionary War. Up to modern times, it has been said that no one has found a family that contributed this kind of service.

Standing alone in the Strange Cemetery, I wish to myself that I knew a little more about old George Roush, who suddenly doesn’t seem so old. At that very moment, George’s monument doesn’t seem so old, either. The grass below me begins to grow and turn green, the sun starts to break through the clouds and as I look around, some of the tombstones in the cemetery begin to

Startled, I turn toward the entrance and see that my car has also vanished.

In its place now sits an old DeSoto, and a familiar, distinguished older gentleman is strolling toward me. As he draws closer, I realize it is my great-great-great-uncle Dr. Sigel Roush, the doctor, dentist, author, world traveler, educator and member of the Highland County Hall of Fame – who was born April 5, 1862 and passed away Dec. 15, 1954, more than six decades ago, and is buried in the Barnes Cemetery less than a mile away.

“What’s up, Doc?” I say as the slender, gray-haired man dressed in a dapper suit extends his hand to shake mine.

“Good afternoon, Steve,” Doc Roush replies. “For some reason, my father, the late George Roush, who is buried here before us, was on my mind today, and I decided to come over and pay him a visit.”

“Well, it sure is good to see you, Doc,” I say. “If you don’t mind, could you tell me a little bit about your dad?”

“It would be my pleasure, young man,” the Doc answers. “But first, could you tell me what you know about my father and what brings you to his grave today?”

“Well, I know your father and mother Elizabeth Tedrick Roush owned and operated a farm near Russell Station, they were both devoted Christians and they had several children, Wesley T., John, Mary, William Franklin, who died at a very young age in 1855 and is buried here, Wilbur Clark and of course you, Doctor Roush,” I say. “Let’s just say I have a love for history and my ancestors.”

“Good man,” Doc says with a pleasant smile. “But before I talk about him, I feel I need to tell you a bit about where we lived and grew up – a place you have seen, the Russell area as you pointed out, but it certainly was a lot different back then than it is today as we close in on the middle of the 20th century.

“When my father was a young man, the area was locally known as the Swamps,” he continued. “The Swamps was an oasis of backwardness that remained primitive and unreclaimed long after the country roundabout had taken on the semblance of civilization.

“The reason for this was not far to seek, for the nature of the Swamps – in area about a hundred square miles – was extremely wet and miry and in consequence held out but little inducement to the settler; for not only was the ground utterly unfitted, in its swampy condition, for growing crops, but in addition it was covered with a dense growth of timber that had to be cleared away before the land could even be properly drained. It was level throughout and contained no streams, and at the beginning of the last century it was a primeval forest, dense, dismal and comparatively unknown.”

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at