Friday, October 26, 2012

Frederick Roth II - Short Biography

Frederick Roth - Monroe and Chicago

Frederick Roth II was born on October 20, 1885. He was the oldest child and only son of Frederick Roth I and Mary Zweifel of Monroe, Wisconsin. His father had immigrated from Switzerland around 1880 and settled in Monroe where he operated the Monroe House and later a tavern near the Illinois Central train station. Mary (or Maria) Zweifel was the daughter of Fridolin Zweifel and Regula Oswald (or Oswalt). Fridolin, along with five brothers, came to New Glarus form “old” Glarus, Switzerland in the 1850’s. He settled just south of New Glarus where he farmed 200 acres on sections 4, 8 and 9 in the Town of Washington.

You can read more about the Zweifel family in a three part report here.

The Roth family of Monroe, Wisconsin around 1900, Frederick I,
daughter Rose, son Frederick II and Maria Zweifel

Frederick Roth would grow up in Monroe and at least part of the time (in the 1890’s) the family lived in the back of the Monroe House. In the fall of 1903, he would leave Monroe and head to Chicago, Illinois. For the first few years he worked at Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company, both furniture manufacturers. In March of 1907, he joined the Chicago Police Department as a patrolman. He would serve in the department for about eight years and rose to the rank of Detective Sergeant before quiting the force in 1915.

As a patrolman, Frederick (Fred) worked out of the old 24th Precinct. The station house was at 2250 West 13th Street and the precinct was bounded by Harrison Street on the north, Wood Street on the east, 16th Street on the south and Kedzie Avenue on the west.

Located just south and west of the Loop, the old 24th Precinct,
centered on Ogden Avenue and Western Avenue was where
patrolman Frederick Roth would be stationed.

While in Chicago, Fred Roth would meet Louise Goldner. They were married in January of 1907. She was the daughter of Louis Goldner and Anna Pazel and was born on the south side of the city. Louis ran a saloon near the corner of Halsted and Roosevelt Road (now gone) and the family lived nearby. Louise had uncles and cousins in the police force and it seems that this may have had something to do with Fred Roth’s introduction to that profession. Fred and Louise would have two sons, Frederick Roth III and Edward Roth (Fred and Ed). Louise Goldner had twin brothers, named Fred and Ed who were much younger than her. She was so fond of them that she named her two sons after them. The family resided in a small house at 4150 Grenshaw Street which at that time, was on the outskirts of the city and just east of Cicero, Illinois.

Frederick Roth, Chicago Police, circa 1909.
The following is an excerpt from a two part post where I uncover the Goldner family. You can read the rest of that story by clicking here.
By 1915, Frederick had risen to the rank of detective. But all was not well with his career. Being a cop in Chicago in the first half of the 20th century was not an easy task. Police were often tools of the establishment, used to uphold the status-quo and the status- quo of that time was corrupt government, Robber Barron industrialists, protected crime syndicates and cheap labor. Radical elements . . . socialists, communists, anarchists and not-so radical elements . . . social reformers, the temperance movement and women’s suffrage were all agitating, to one degree or another, for change and the police were often caught in the middle. Many of these agitators were immigrants who had come to the United States expecting opportunity but found that life was hard, freedom was fleeting and democracy was not always evident. Add to that an extremely corrupt police department with low pay, lack of professional standards and incomplete training. “On December 2, 1914, the state’s attorney made his famous declaration that the detective bureau was a den of thieves.” So was the world of Frederick Roth II, who by then was an experienced police officer, married and with two young children at home. In 1915 he, along with another dozen or so detectives, including the head of the department were charged with graft. He was later acquitted and quit the force soon after. I have yet to delve into the details of this incident. He may have been offered a deal to step down in exchange for an acquittal or perhaps, with his career tarnished and a bit disillusioned, he just decided to leave the force.
After his resignation from the police department, Fred and family would stay in Chicago for a few years. The 1920 census indicates that Frederick Roth, age 35, his wife Louise, also 35 and their sons Fred, age 10 and Edward, age 7 were living with his in-laws, the Goldner Family, who by then had moved to Oak Park. Fred was listed as “out of work.” In late 1920 or early 1921, the Roth family would leave Chicago and head back to his hometown for a new start.

A busy street scene in front of the Monroe House (early 20th Century).
"Hotel Monroe" advertised in the 1922 Monroe City Directory.
In Monroe, Frederick Roth would purchase the Monroe Hotel (formerly the Monroe House), the same establishment his father had owned some 20 years earlier. He and Louise would operate the Hotel into the 1940s before retiring. Louise would be in charge of the kitchen and the hotel was known “to enjoy a large dining room clientele.” Because of his Chicago police experience, he was pressed into service on occasion as a Deputy Sheriff and also a Corner for Green County, Wisconsin. Frederick and Louise lived just around the corner from the hotel at 1508 9th street. Both the hotel and their house are now gone. Frederick Roth was a civic leader and a prominent fixture in Monroe during the middle part of the 20th century.

Frederick Roth and Louise Goldner had two children:
  • Frederick (III) (b.1909, d.2008) was born in Chicago, Illinois but spent his school-age years in Monroe, Wisconsin. A rabble-rouser, he dropped-out of high school and was sent back to Chicago to live with his grandparents for a time in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. He came back to Monroe in the early 30’s and married Grace Holcomb. They would have one child and then were divorced. He would marry his second wife, Kathryn Baltzer in 1946 and they would have two children. Frederick and Kathryn would settle in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin and the Roth brothers ran a cheese business in the Town of Blue Mounds until the mid-1960s. Fred's health began to deteriorate in the early 1960’s and in 1966, Fred and Kathryn moved to Clearwater, then to New Port Richey, Florida. In 1980 they move to Columbia, South Carolina where they spent the rest of their lives.
  • Edward (b.1912, d.2000) was born in Chicago but spent most of his school years in Monroe. He married Kate Montieth (b.1914) of Monroe, Wisconsin. Sometime in the 1940’s he went to work in the cheese business for Al Henze at Mount Horeb. Later he would partner with his brother, Fred and run Blue Mounds Cheese Company for about 20 years. Ed and Kate had two children. Ed was active in the community in Mount Horeb including a stint on the School Board. In the late 1960’s he retired and lived out the rest of his life in Florida. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Monroe.
Frederick Roth and Louise Goldner on their
50th wedding anniversary in 1957.
The Northernaire "Resort and Spa" shown in its heyday on an old postcard.

After his retirement from the Hotel business, Fred Sr. helped Carl Marty operate the Northernaire, a somewhat famous resort just north of Three Lakes, Wisconsin. The resort was known for its amenities such as a golf course and many in-house services not found in the “north woods” at that time. The Roth family, including Frederick III and son Dean spent a few summers in Three Lakes, just after World War II, helping to launch the resort.
About Frederick Roth II from a letter to a Monroe Newspaper . . . So Long, Neighbor! Among the happier experiences, after moving to this community 15 years or so ago, was the opportunity for new friendships, especially with those personalities who contributed to Monroe’s uniqueness. One of those acquaintanceship which we came to treasure was with Fred Roth Sr. It took no special perceptive sense to discover quickly that Fred Roth had added his own special touch to Monroe’s delightful atmosphere. Down through the years, we had found Fred Roth to be possessed with a penetrating – and entertaining – sense of humor, liberally sprinkled with the sort of philosophy which is all to rare these days. A veteran member of that unofficial clan of “wise old birds,” which is fast disappearing, Fred Roth could be helpful and informative in a subtle way, usually punctuated with chuckles, which cut problems or people down to their unmistakably proper size. And, he often did just that during our numerous chats. Things aren’t going to be quite the same for a great many of us now that Fred Roth has left us. We share with his family, at least to a degree, the knowledge that something very wonderful is gone.
The gravesite of Frederick Roth and Louise Goldner in Monroe.
Fred and Louise would live out their lives in the house on 9th Street and are buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Research Notes: Much of the information for this report was taken from my own personal papers and from information provided by other family members. Additional information was obtained from the United States Census, various vital records and other on-line sources.

This is one of a series of short biographies of individual ancestors. These are undertaken, from time-to-time, when enough information becomes available about an individual.


  1. Bruce, Any info that can be added to the Blue Mound pages

    1. Gerry,

      Sorry for my late response; yes there is info that I would like to correct and add, just need to get to it . . .