For a while, Anna Elizabeth Keller Rude Witter’s father was a brick wall in my search. Fairly early in my genealogical quest, The Kellers of Hamilton Township: A Study in Democracy by David Henry Keller, M.D. became an important find for me, because it gave me names and dates in my Witter branch. And because the book named him as “Willover Rude,” that was the name I searched. I thought a unique name like that would yield easy results, but I was wrong.
Red-head on the Ridge
House of Names suggests the surname Rude traces back to Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain, and the Old English etymology indicates the family lived near a ridge. However, it also connects with the Anglo French word for red (rugge, or rouge in modern French), a nickname for a red-haired person. I rather like this interpretation as there is lots of red-hair in my Witter line, perhaps owing to the Rudes. Besides, this origin dovetails well with the Meaning-of-Names database, which claims Rude simply means “one with a ruddy complexion.” Then again, Ancestry says it’s a Middle High German occupational name for a keeper of hunting dogs. Looks like I’ll need to know where my Rudes came from to know which version to claim.
At first, I could find Willover Rude only on the 1870 Federal censuses and nowhere else. But you know, it’s not an accident that I have a picture of a locked door in the header of this blog. I will search so much harder for the answer to a difficult question. Nonetheless, at least I knew he was a farmer in Cuba, Allegany county, New York. It was a start.
Eventually I discovered “Wiloner Rood” in 1860 Cuba, but my breakthrough came with another book: Civic History and Illustrated Progress of Cuba, Allegany Co., N.Y. by John Stearns Minard. In it, I found references to C. W. Rude.
Hmm. I needed to broaden my search to include not only “Rood” (and Root, and Rud), but also to allow for the increasing likelihood that Mr. C. W. Rude sometimes went by the “C” instead of the “W.”
I was thrilled to discover my brick wall’s community presence as an Inspector of Elections. Furthermore, I finally discovered “C W Rude” in 1840 Cuba, “Christopher W. Rude” in 1850, and “Christopher Rude” still there in 1880. How funny, to have such a time finding a person in the same place for five consecutive censuses.
Allegany County land records first record Christopher W Rude’s name in a 1849 land transfer of 127 acres from his parents, Abram and Anna Rude. The land was bounded on the south by the town of Clarksville and on the west by Cattaraugus county. An 1869 property map allowed me to pinpoint Rude land south of modern-day Swift Road, along Witter Road and not far from the Rude-Snyder Cemetery.
The Agricultural schedule of the 1875 New York Census shows a farm of 105 acres, 65 improved and 40 acres of woods. The main crops were oats, buckwheat, Indian corn, potatoes, apples and millet. He had two horses and one heifer in 1875, along with $3 worth of poultry. (NYS census 1875 also gives his birth county as Tompkins NY, a crucial detail for another day.)
Rude No Longer
I’ve not been able to find where Christopher Willover Rude is buried, so for quite a while, his date of death was a blank on my family tree. Then, thanks again to fultonhistory.com:
Curiouser & Curiouser
It’s a lovely tribute, but the longer I look at it, the more I wonder: where was his family? Perhaps a funeral “largely attended by neighbors and friends” implies family, since Rudes and Kellers had their stomping grounds in southwest Cuba, but the obituary nowhere mentions his surviving wife or children. Anna Elizabeth Keller Rude Witter lived in Hinsdale, a stone’s throw away. There’s little hope of finding out, but still I wonder …
What kind of relationship did she have with her father?
Sigh. Another locked door, I suppose.