John Jacob and Sarah Saunders Rohn



DOB – 11/22/1834


DOD – 12/13/1919, AT 85 YEARS, 21 DAYS




John Jacob Rohn was born in Baden, Germany in 1834.  He was orphaned at the age of 10 and raised by an uncle.  At the age of 16 or 17, he immigrated to the United States and lived in New York City for about 5 years working as a gilder.

In 1855 he enlisted in the US Army, was initially stationed in New York City.  In 1856 he was transferred to San Francisco, then Red Bluff, California, then Fort Lane, Oregon, and finally Fort Walla Walla, Washington where he was assigned to Company C of the First Dragoons.  His military service largely involved the “Indian wars”.  In 1857 he was assigned to Fort Walla Walla and was there when the (where 1st and Main intersect) first flag was raised over the fort.  On September 28,1910, he was a guest at the ceremony commemorating the abandonment of the fort the final lowering of the flag.

His military assignments involved skirmishes with the Indians.  In May of 1858, Colonel Steptoe on his ill-fated expedition resulting in deaths and the routing of most of his force at Rosalia, WA in what is known as the “The Battle of Steptoe”.  John Jacob Rohn was not present, but in September 1858 under the command of Colonel George Wright returned to recover the remains of the fallen, and then proceeded on to the Spokane area where the captured and hanged a total of seventeen Indian leaders, without trial.  The area became known as Hangman Creek.

On January 24,1860, at rank of Private, he was honorably discharged from the First Dragoons at Fort Vancouver, Washington.  He was 26 years of age.

After his discharge, he promptly returned to Walla Walla and filed claim to 160 acres of land on Mill Creek, about 10 miles from town.  He began the task of clearing and preparing his property for farming.  With $500 that he had saved from his military stipend he purchased cattle, and despite one early setback became a successful farmer.  He worked hard and became known as “one of the most respected and successful men in the area”.

On September 30, 1866, at the age of 32 John Jacob Rohn married Sarah Elizabeth Sanders on her 18th birthday.  Sarah died on October 23, 1872 at age 23, leaving 4 children, one of who died at age 2 and is interned next to her mother and father in the Lyons Creek Cemetery, AKA Mill Creek Cemetery, AKA Hendricks Cemetery.  John never remarried, raising their children himself.

John Jacob Rohn, wife, Sarah was also  “Buried in a cemetery near their home on Mill Creek.  It was called Hendricks Cemetery.  Later he had a beautiful tombstone placed on the grave site.  It was a statue of a pretty woman standing on a pedestal.  The statue is life-sized standing elegantly on the engraved stone.  Daughter Sarah Jane Rohn who died 2 years after her mother is buried next to her mother, and John Jacob Rohn.” 

John Jacob Rohn became a naturalized citizen on May 13, 1879.  He attended the final lowering of the flag over Fort Walla Walla on September 28,1910.  He attended the unveiling of the monument to the memory of two officers and five soldiers who lost their lives at Rosalia in the Indian skirmish at ‘the Battle of Steptoe’.

He died on December 19, 1919, at his home on Mill Creek, and was buried next to his wife and young daughter at the then Hendricks Cemetery, now Lyons Creek Cemetery.  He left behind four living children, daughters, Nancy Katherine ‘Katie’ Rohn (married Thomas Bryant), Malina Jane Rohn (married Harry Gilkerson), Sarah J. Rohn (died in 1874) and son, Joseph Frederick Rohn (married Sarah Louisa ‘Lulu’ Beeson).

Professor W. D. Lyman wrote of J.J. Rohn: “One of the thrifty farmers and pioneers of the county”; “Entirely a self-made man. Starting in a new land, without even a knowledge of our language, he has, by his unaided efforts, wrought his way to a competency, and to rank among the leading farmers of the county.  Few men enjoy a greater degree of the esteem and good will of their neighbors, than does Mr. Rohn.”