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Roland Roy Blase


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


Dad's 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.

Finally 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.

A 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.

After 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.

Roland goes on to say

When 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.

While 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 Fort Ridgely.

On 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.

His 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.

Above the 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.


Above 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 51-3.

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      


Fulltime:            New Zealand 51,  USA 3

Halftime:           New Zealand 27,  USA 3

Attendance:       10000

Conditions:        Weather fine, ground firm

Referee:            W. W. Hill  (Australia)



New Zealand


J. E. Cuthill


F. E. Mitchinson


A. J. McGregor


R. W. Roberts



R. J. McKenzie



G. D. Gray



H. M. Taylor




H. V. Murray


A. McDonald (C)


H. Dewar


J. T. Wylie

A. J. Downing

J. B. Graham



G. M. V. Sellars


M. J. Cain


J. L. McKim

E. B. Hall

G. Glasscock

W. P. Darsie

R. R. Blase

G. Voight

F. J. Gard (C)



W. N. King



L. Cass



M. M. Mitchell
replaced by Knowles



C. A. Austin



D. B. Carroll


J. C. Urban


S. B. Peart


J. A. Ramage
replaced by Stolz




New Zealand:



 16 A. Knowles
H. R. Stolz


New Zealand


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),
A. McDonald,
F. E. Mitchinson

Penalty Goals:
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

The 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.

…the “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 world.

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, Hawley.


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

ever 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

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 children.


Patrick Casey



© Patrick Casey, 2011
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