Here are some Roth stories
accounts over the years:


Roth Surname Explanations

There have been a number of explanations of where the
Roth surname originated.  The following
are seven of them:

  • the spilling of red blood – derived from rot meaning
    “red” – from the warrior class of an ancient Germanic soldier
  • an
    ethnic name for an Anglo-Saxon, deriving also from rot, as
    were often red-haired.  
  • a name relating
    to the red color of clay in pottery  
  • a
    topographical name, derived from rod meaning “wood”,
    referencing someone who lived in or by a wood.  
  • a derivative from the Germanic hroth meaning
  • a derivative
    from roe in the ancient Danish language to signify
  • and an ornamental name for 18th century
    Jewish Ashkenazi refugees to Germany


Hans Roth of Rumisberg

Hans Roth was a peasant
farmer from Rumisberg in the Swiss canton of Bern who happened to be a
t the Gasthof Schlüssel in Wiedlisbach one
November night in 1382 and eavesdropped on a plan by Count Rudolf von
Kyburg to
attack the town of Solothurn.  

What should
he do?  He did not think of going home.
  He wanted to go the twelve miles to Solothurn
and warn the citizens there.
  But how?  In the freshly fallen snow, the count’s men would
recognize his tracks
as soon as he came out of the inn.  He
decided to take off his wooden slippers and tie them upside down to his
feet so
that it looked as if someone was coming from Solothurn instead of vice

Having arrived at the gates of Solothurn,
Roth broke his promise not to “tell any living soul of the
attack.”  He did not speak to
anyone.  He spoke to the stony St. Urs
statue instead.  But the nearby
gatekeeper heard him and sounded the alarm.
 As the Kyburg approached Solothurn, they
discovered that the town was already alerted and prepared for them.  

The brave peasant Hans Roth of Rumisberg came as a
consequence to high
honor. As gratitude the town made him a dress in red and white.  He also received an
Ehrensold of 94 talers.  And
in each subsequent year the eldest of his
descendants has received this Ehrensold.


US Roths by Origin and Roths in Thes Countries Today

The table below shows:

  • the share of Roth arrivals in the US by country
    of origin (from ship-tracking records)  
  • and
    the share of Roths in these countries today
US Arrivals ‘000’s Today
Germany   2,217    69%     70    89%
Hungary     442    14%      1     1%
Switzerland     364    11%      5     6%
Austria     163     6%      3     4%
Total   3,176     79

Germany predominates, even more


Mathias Roth in

Lajos Kossuth, the Hungarian revolutionary, had asked
Mathias Roth who had moved to England in the 1840’s to be his envoy in
Britain.  But Kossuth was in power for
barely a year before he was forced to flee his country.
Roth meanwhile stayed in Britain for the rest
of his life.

A disciple in Hungary of Ling’s Swedish kinetic
treatments, he was in London a well-known orthopaedic
surgeon and homeopath with a
practice at Wimpole Street.  He
championed the improvements in medical health in his adopted country.

“Roth pointed out that the neglect of physical
education and hygiene within the English education system was the
cause in the decline in the general health of the nation.
His vociferous arguments heralded the
addition of medical health and social welfare to factors shaping
in physical education.”

The influence of
Ling was evident in the naming of two of his children:

  • Felix Ling Roth was a ship’s engineer who traded for
    tortoise shells and other exotic items up and down
    Queensland Coast and around New Guinea.  He
    then served in the 1890’s in the medical service of the
    Niger Coast
    Protectorate in West Africa.
  • while Henry Ling Roth went to Australia in 1878 and
    stayed for a time in Queensland.  He spent more than a decade on
    anthropology studies there before returning to England as a museum
    curator in Yorkshire.


Christian Roth in Ohio

Christian Roth had been born in Northampton county,
Pennsylvania in 1813.  He was eight years
old when his family traveled by covered wagon to new lands in Ohio. His
grandfather and great grandfather had been Pennsylvania farmers.  He knew that his great grandfather had been
scalped by Indians and that his grandfather had been a Commodore in the

In 1827 his father purchased land west of
Trenton, now the village of Tuscarawa, where they built their home. Christian Roth, according to a descendant,
grew to manhood strong of build and of character.  A
man of high morals, he was a respected
citizen in his community.  He purchased
the home farm which grew to 184 acres of well-cultivated land. He
farmed and
raised stock for many years and lived there until his death of dropsy
at the
age of seventy six.

Henry Roth and His Writer’s Block

Henry Roth was born in Galicia in what was then the
Austro-Hungarian empire in 1906 and came with his parents to New York
two years
later.  Educated at City College, he
wrote his first novel Call It Sleep,
an evocation of his childhood in New York, in 1934.
While it is today regarded as a masterpiece
of Jewish American literature, it came out at the time to mixed reviews.

After the book’s publication, Roth did begin
work on a second novel.  But his growing
ideological frustration and personal confusion created a profound
block that lasted more than fifty years.
Roth attributed his writer’s block to personal problems such as
depression, and to political conflicts, including his disillusion with
Communism and his break with Judaism.

With the onset of World War Two, Roth
became a tool and gauge maker.  He moved
in 1946 to Maine.  There he worked as a
woodsman, a
schoolteacher, a psychiatric attendant in the state mental hospital, a
waterfowl farmer, and a Latin and math tutor.

Roth did not initially welcome the success of the 1964 reprint of Call It Sleepvaluing his privacy instead.  However,
his writing block slowly began to
break, particularly after his move to Albuquerque.
He ended up producing his late-life
autobiographical epic Mercy of a Rude
in 1994, one year before his death.

We learn from this book one additional
reason why Roth had been paralyzed as a writer.
He dared not write about the overwhelming fact of his
adolescence, his
incestuous relationships with his sister and cousin.

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