Much of the following was taken
from a book Roland wrote called Blase Family History in 1964.
Roland, known as Jumbo,
was born on 3rd May 1887 in St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, the son, and
youngest of six children to Ernest Frederick Blase and Margaret Christine (nee
Bach). His parents had German origins. His father was born in Hanover and
emigrated to the USA in 1852. Roland’s account of his father’s journey says
father, Gerhardt Fredrick Blase, died in Germany in 1852, leaving his wife,
Henrietta, with the two remaining children, Fred and Ernest (Dad). Six months
later Henrietta decided to join her two older sons in America. She sold her land
(about 75 acres) and possessions and with her two children went to Bremer Haven
to embark on a boat for America. While waiting for the boat to leave, cholera
broke out among the many emigrants also waiting for the boat.
the boat started on its long three month voyage to America with Henrietta and
her two small children aboard. Soon after leaving port, she and son Fred
developed cholera. Both died and were buried at sea, leaving eleven-year-old
Ernest to continue the journey alone.
scoundrel, who claimed to be a good friend of the family, took charge of Dad and
all the money left by his mother. Before the boat arrived in America, he had
lost it all gambling, leaving eleven-year-old Ernest destitute. The boat landed
in New Orleans. From there he went to St. Louis to join his brother John Henry
and wife. He lived with them about a year and went to school part of the time.
How he managed to make the trip from New Orleans to St. Louis in his destitute
state is not known.
a year in St. Louis with his brother John, Dad decided to go to St. Paul and
join his brother Gerhardt. In 1857 his brother John also decided to leave St.
Louis for St. Paul. The three brothers lived in that vicinity for the rest of
their lives. John had been a cooper by trade in St. Louis but turned to farming
when he came to Minnesota.
goes on to say
the Civil War started, his sympathies naturally were with the North. On the 6th
of August 1862, he enlisted in Company A of the 6th Minnesota Volunteer
Infantry, under Captain Grant at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
in training at Fort Snelling, news of the Indian outbreak in the Minnesota River
Valley was received at the state Capitol. Governor Ramsey went to the fort and
ordered the 6th and 7th Minnesota Infantry regiments to the scene of the
hostilities. They went up river to Carver then across to St. Peter and on to
August 30, 1862, his company was detailed to bury the bodies of those who had
been massacred by the Indians. Two weeks before the ferryman at Redwood, his
wife and 25 volunteers had been killed by the Indians. This was the beginning of
the episode that culminated in the Indian Uprising Battle of Birch Coulie.
father was seriously wounded at the Battle of Birch Coulie and discharged on the
1st December 1862 after being shot in the head. He would re-enlist in
the 5th US Cavalry in August 1863 under the surname Davis (after a
man he worked for), becoming Frederick C. Davies, and was present at the
surrender by General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox on 9th April 1865.
He participated in the Grand Review Parade, Washington, DC. After the war he
visited family in St. Louis and then returned home to St. Paul.
His mother, born in the USA, was
the daughter of parents born in Bavaria and Hanover.
Above Ernest and Margaret Blase
and their children. Roland was away at Stanford when the photo was taken.
Roland was educated at Stanford University between 1910 and 1914.
Above the Stanford Freshman Footballers that played California Cardinals
on 15th October 1910 at Palo Alto (L-R): Presley (Coach), Mitchell,
Olmstead, Watkins, Kauffman, Clover, Barman, Brown, “Dad” Moulton (Trainer),
Gard, Knight (sub), Murray (sub), Gilmore (sub), Blas (sub), Boulware, Henry
(sub), Tilton, Hall, Geissler (captain), Harrogan, Reeves, Darsie.
1912 Sigma Nu, Beta Chi Chapter at Stanford University with Roland. Back Row
(L-R): Lull, Blase, Skinner. Second Row: L.Keesling, Stuart, Preisker, Dwyre,
Grepe, Reeves. Third Row: H.Keesling, B.McMillan, Dickson, Emerson, McGilvray.
Fourth Row: Ingram, Sig, Brydolf, Luscombe.
the Sigma Nu Fraternity in 1914, of which Roland was a member.
He played once for the USA at lock against the All Blacks on
15th November 1913 at California Field, Berkeley. They lost the match
Above the USA side that played New
Zealand in 1913. Back Row (L-R): Daniel Brendon Carroll (Stanford University),
Clark Lewis Boulware (not used) (Stanford University), Haley (not used)
(Stanford University), William Pettigrew Darsie (Stanford University), Herbert
Rowell Stolz (replacement) (Stanford University), Brant (?) or Flemming (not
used) (?), Joseph C. Urban (Stanford University), A.Knowles (replacement) (?),
Charles A. Austin (Olympic), G.Voight (Santa Clara University), Frank Jacob Gard
(Captain) (Stanford University), Roland Roy Blase (Stanford University), William
Norris King (University of California). Front Row: Forbes (not used) (?),
Stirling Benjamin Peart (University of California), Joseph Louis McKim
(University of California), G.Glasscock (Olympic), E.B.Hall (Stanford
University), Benjamin Edward Erb (not used) (Stanford University), Louis Cass
(Stanford University), Mowatt Merrill Mitchell (Los Angeles Athletic Club),
Quill (not used) (Santa Clara), J.A.Ramage (Santa Clara University).
This was the first match in history between the USA and the All Blacks.
They wouldn’t play each other again until 1991.
New Zealand vs USA at California Field
Berkeley, United States of America
Saturday, 15th November 1913
New Zealand 51, USA 3
New Zealand 27, USA 3
Weather fine, ground firm
W. W. Hill (Australia)
G. D. Gray (2),
A. McDonald (2),
A. J. McGregor,
R. J. McKenzie (2),
H. V. Murray (2),
R. W. Roberts (3),
J. T. Wylie
J. B. Graham (4),
F. E. Mitchinson
S. B. Peart
Rugby in the USA suffered badly after this match. It became
obvious to everyone that the level in the USA was below the standard they had
hoped. After coming so close to beating Australia the previous year and the All
Blacks losing to Australia, at home, before they came to the US there were high
hopes that the game would be close. The All Blacks ran in 13 tries.
A review of that tour by the All Blacks in Spalding’s Guide
the following year said
visit of the New Zealand “All Blacks”, under the auspices of the California
Rugby Union was easily the feature of the season of 1913, and the indelible
impression of their whirlwind tactics will remain in the history of California
football for years to come. Whatever there remained of the tour arranged for the
Australian “Warratahs” the year previous, has been erased in the memory of
athletic prowess displayed by the wonderful comination led by Manager George
Mason and Captain Alec. McDonald. They came at a period when the development of
Rugby in California appeared to have reached successful stages, at a time when
the effects of Australia’s competition was about to materialize in wonderful
strides on the part of local efforts. Not in their departure was the perfection
of play realized, for the overwhelming defeat of the All-American fifteen left
us with little appreciation of the extended effort of the extended effort on the
part of our selected team.
“All-Blacks” left here in a confused state in the football world from which
the rumblings are now giving vent to an injured pride. We have not mastered the
rudiments of Rugby.
It went on to say
that there was an over importance in the
Stanford – California match. In fact if you go through the US newspapers
of the time there are pages devoted to the big University matches but a few
lines devoted to their National side playing one of the greatest teams in the
The following year war broke out in Europe and International
rugby was cancelled. The USA entered the war in 1917 and suffered high
casualties. Despite all this the USA assembled a good side for the 1920 and 1924
Olympics but interest in rugby took a long time to recover.
Above the 1914 Leland Stanford Junior University. 1. Watkins,
2. Blase, 3. Maloney, 4. Gard, 5. Clover, 6. Wilcox, 7. Urban, 8. Wines, 9.
Austin, 10. Carroll, 11. Brown, 12. Lachmund, 13. Davidson, 14. Darsie, 15.
Peck, 16. Andrews, 17. Erb, 18. Hall, 19. Reeves, 20. Tilton.
Above Roland at Stanford in 1914
Above the 1914 Sigma Nu, Beta Chi
Chapter at Stanford University with Roland. Back Row (L-R): Osmun, Wolford,
Hurley, Lee, Murray, Reineman. Second Row: Blase, Brown, Breuner, Grepe, Kuhl,
Seymour, Reeves.Third Row: Brydolf, Longmire, Gra, Birdsall. Fourth Row: Mickle,
Keesling, Preisker, Lull, Skinner. Front Row: Merrill, McCausland, Dingley,
He gained his degree in Civil
Engineering at Stanford in 1914, and returned home to St. Paul.
Above Roland Blase just after he
left Stanford. Image courtesy Jeanie Weddle
Roland owned a cabin on the Indian Reservation near Grand
Portage. Had a fishing cottage on Star Lake, west of Perham; winter home in St.
Petersburg, Florida. In article Roland said he worked hard
since his father opened our 12-room home to railroad workers who had no place to
stay while the railroad was being put through town. We had a maid, but she
couldn''t handle it all, and I was put to work helping wait on the tables.'
He worked as an engineer for Toldz King & Day. The
company still exists in St. Paul as TDKA see http://www.tkda.com
He also worked in the Oklahoma oil fields and wound up his
engineering career with state and federal agencies.
Roland died on 16th
March 1979 in St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota aged 91. He never married or had