Galen Weiker Rote was born on March 7, 1888, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Alpheus Rote and Ella E. Ward. He had two brothers and three sisters: Mabel (or Mable), John, Emma, Howard, and Minnie. Mabel was the oldest, and Galen was the oldest son, with all the other children younger.
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census documents that Galen, age 12, was living with his family New Castle, Pennsylvania, where his father's occupation is listed as "Heater tin mill." In 1910, they were still living in New Castle, but his father had been out of work for 5 weeks and his occupation was listed as "odd jobs."
On 29 August 1911, Galen and Lulu P. Craun, a resident of Toledo, Ohio, obtained a marriage license and certificate in Lucas County, Ohio. It seems likely that the couple were married that day at the courthouse, as both license and certificate had the same date.
On 7 June 1917, Galen signed up for the WWI draft. According to the information he supplied, Galen, now age 29, lived at 525 Locust, Toledo, OH. He had been born in Harrisburg, Pa., USA, was married, and his wife's maiden name was Craun; he was of medium height and build, and had blue eyes and brown hair. Galen lists his trade or occupation as "Show Business." His employer's name is a bit hard to make out, but might be Forenze or Torunze; there are two figures preceding the entry in the blank which might be initials (possibly J.S.), but which also might be the numerals 28. The final line was difficult to decipher, but I think it might be "Peerless Mus Co. Det Mich" (Peerless Music Co., Detroit, Mich.), which may have been a branch of the Peerless Film Corporation, which in 1917 was located at 153 East Jefferson in Detroit, Michigan, as referenced in the photo and associated comments: http://www.shorpy.com/node/10983
I have found no evidence of military service for Galen, nor have I found evidence that he did not serve.
The 1919 city directory for Galen and Lulu shows the couple living in Toledo, Ohio; Galen's occupation was listed as brakeman. That same year, on August 24, Lulu was to give birth to the couple's first child, a girl, Marian Virginia Rote in Sandusky, Ohio. Not quite two years later, on July 2, 1921, their second daughter, Luella Jean Rote, was born, also in Sandusky.
On 14 August, 1928, just ten days before her 9th birthday, Marian died of bronchial pneumonia. Galen was devastated, as were his wife and remaining daughter. He morned the child he'd called his "shadow," to the detriment of his family life. According to Luella her parents separated for a time following her sister's death and she and her mother lived in impoverished circumstances as a result. The separation cannot have been for long, however, given the documentary evidence of the family living together as described in the following paragraph.
I have not found an entry in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for the family, but this is most likely due to an issue with indexing, as they are still in Sandusky in 1930 and 1940, and Luella described growing up in Sandusky in personal conversations with me, as well as in a diary she wrote when she was 14. Galen and Lulu can also be found in multiple Sandusky city directories, including those for the years 1923, '32, and '35. In 1923, Galen was listed as a brakeman, no occupation was listed for 1932, and in 1935 he was listed as a salesman. The 1940 U.S. Federal Census lists his occupation as a bartender at the Central Labor Hall.
Various family members have also reported to me that Galen worked at Cedar Point, either in concession stands (which is what Luella remembered), or running a roulette wheel (according to more distant relatives).
Luella spoke of going to the amusement park with him, where she would ride the roller coasters, which she loved, for free. She was thrilled to have the chance to ride as many times as she wished, and the park was happy to have a shill to draw customers to the ride.
Galen died 10 August 1941 in Sandusky, Ohio. The New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) provided the following obituary on 11 August 1941:
Galen W. Rote, aged 53, died Sunday evening at 7 o'clock at his home, 303 East Washington street, Sandusky, O. He leaves his wife, Lulu Craun Rote; a daughter, Luella Jeane [sic]; two brothers John and Howard Rote, both of this city, and a sister, Mrs. Emma Cavender of 205 North Mercer street, this city. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock in Sandusky. Interment will be in a Toledo, O. cemetery.The story, as it was told to me by Luella, is far more dramatic than this simple obituary suggests. Her father, Galen, had applied for a job and was given a medical exam as part of the requirements for the position. The physician determined that he had high blood pressure and prescribed arsenic. This was actually an accepted drug for the condition at that time, but the amount prescribed was 10 times greater than the theraputic dose. Galen even questioned the dose, but the physician refused to consider the possibility that he'd made a mistake, so Galen went ahead and took the medication, only to die of arsenic poisoning. Luella, a first year college student at the time, was furious with her mother for not suing for malpractice.