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Rudolph J. Isch

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Rudolph J. Isch
1894-1918

"One of the tragedies of the influenza epidemic is that by the 1910s, the medical profession held many of the scientific and epidemiological tools to understand the nature and extent of the damage influenza and pneumonia were wreaking on their patients, but lacked the tools to effectively fight them."

Carol R. Byerly, The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 (Public Health Report 2010, 125[3]: 82-91).

Johannes (John) Isch was the son of immigrant parents from Switzerland. His wife, Rosina Bolsinger, emigrated from Switzerland at the age of 12. She and John were married on September 18, 1879, at Helvetia in Randolph County, and they settled near the Swiss/German community of Pickens, West Virginia. They were the parents of eleven children. The following family members’ names were obtained from census and cemetery records: Carrie (Mrs. Gottlieb Hofer), Lydia Ida (Mrs. Creston Thayer), Henry J., Mary M. (Mrs. Alfred Teucher), John, Ernest Daniel, Rosina Ruth (who died young), Rudolph J., and Benjamin Franklin. There were two other children who died as infants.
Isch family

John Isch family photo

Rudolph J. Isch was born on December 3, 1894, near Pickens. When his father died in August 1906, Rosina was left with managing the family farm with the help of her three youngest sons. Henry, the eldest son, was employed as a laborer for a lumber company. Older sister, Carrie, was married and was raising a family in Ohio. When she died in October 1906, her two sons came to live with Rosina Isch’s already-large family.

. On June 5, 1917, Rudolph J. Isch registered for the initial World War I draft. Brothers Ernest, who was recently married, and Benjamin also registered for the draft. Rudolph gave his occupation as “farming” with his mother as his employer. He was described on his draft registration card as tall with a slender build and with blue eyes and brown hair. He stated he was single and claimed that his mother was solely dependent upon him for support.

draft registration

World War I draft registration card for Rudolph J. Isch. National Archives and Records Administration


Designated as a training unit during World War I, Camp Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan was built in 1917. It was named in honor of General George Armstrong Custer, the Civil War cavalry officer. The 14th Division of the Regular Army was organized at Camp Custer on July 29, 1918, and was known as the “Wolverine Division.” The 10th and 40th Regular Army Infantry Regiments reported to Camp Custer during July to form the nucleus for the organization of the other infantry units in the division.

Pvt. Rudolph J. Isch reported to Camp Custer in 1918 and was assigned to Company F of the 40th Infantry Regiment. The 40th Infantry Regiment was part of the 28th Infantry Brigade, which in turn formed part of the 14th “Wolverine” Division. All of the units at Camp Custer were engaged in intense training until November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed, thus alleviating them of the duty of going overseas. The 14th Division was demobilized in early 1919.

grave marker

Marker for Rudolph J. Isch in Pleasant Hill Cemetery. A smaller marker indicates he was a member of Company F, 40th U.S. Infantry.

While at Camp Custer Pvt. Rudolph Isch became ill with pneumonia, most likely as a complication of the widespread influenza epidemic, and died on October 13, 1918. He was buried along with other family members in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Randolph County, West Virginia.

Photos courtesy of George Six, great-nephew of Rudolph J. Isch
Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
May 2015

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Rudolph J. Isch

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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