Mrs. Katie Rudolph purchased the stone side of the property in November of 1928 for $1,700. Katie was born in July of 1895 to John E. and Nancy A. Robinson. By the time of the 1900 census, the Robinsons were living in Stephens City with Katie’s two older brothers and her grandfather William Robinson. A decade later, the 1910 census shows that just before her marriage Katie was still living with her parents and two older brothers, but her grandfather William had passed away. On Christmas Eve of 1910 Katie, who had turned fifteen earlier that year, married eighteen-year-old Norman Smith Rudolph in Stephens City. Norman had been born on the 10th of February 1892, the son of Charles A. Rudolph and his wife Sarah Catherine (née Garrett) Rudolph. After their marriage Norman and Katie had four children together before tragedy struck. By 1925 Norman had a job at the M.J. Grove Lime Company plant in Stephens City. That year, on the 26th of November (Thanksgiving Day), Norman had an accident. The following is a Winchester newspaper account of what happened:
Norman S. Rudolph, an employee of M.J. Grove Lime Co., at Stephens City, this county, met a shocking death between 3 and 4 o’clock Thanksgiving afternoon, when in some unknown manner, he either slipped or fell into one of the hoppers of a grinding machine in the hydrate plant of the company, when lime was being ground.
It is believed that the machine got choked and that Rudolph placed his foot into the machine to loosen it when the foot became caught in the revolving rollers.
His right leg was slowly ground off up to the hip and no part of the missing limb has been found except where it was finally ground up. A shoe was later found among the hydrated lime.
This newspaper account went on to say that though no one had actually seen the accident, Norman had been working at the grinding machine when another employee named Saul Mennifield heard Norman scream. Mennifield ran to Norman’s assistance but was unable to help until Norman “calmly gave him directions” on how to turn off the equipment. Norman was then “lifted from the hopper, with the leg in the machine torn from the hip.” The report concluded by saying that Norman was then “placed in an automobile” and driven nine miles to the hospital in Winchester where he remained conscious until passing away just before 3 A.M. the following morning from the trauma of his injuries.
Norman’s remains were buried in a family plot at the St. James Lutheran Church Cemetery in Zepp, Virginia. Katie was a widow at age 30. Her children, Clyde, Floyd, Mary and Roy, were around the ages of ten, eight, six, and two respectively. We do not know where Katie and her children lived at that time, but almost three years after the accident they moved into the stone side of the Stone House. The interesting thing is the amount that she paid Roy and Dolly Adams, which was $1,700, the most anyone had ever paid for that property. As we indicated above, Roy and Dolly Adams had added the ell addition on the back of the stone side and this price was likely a reflection of those improvements. It should also be noted that the booming economy of that time may have slightly inflated the price. Nevertheless, the real mystery is how Katie Rudolph got the $1,700 to make the purchase. In the 1930 census she is listed as being 34 and having no occupation. Her oldest son, Clyde, who was listed as 15 years old, was also not yet working. It would therefore be reasonable to conclude that because Katie was a young widow with small children, she may have been the recipient of charitable donations or possibly an insurance settlement associated with her late husband’s death.
It would also be reasonable to assume that there were no significant improvements made to the property during the Rudolph family tenancy. In fact, when Katie Rudolph finally sold it on the 5th of February 1935 the price that she agreed to with the buyer was only $800. This drop of more than $850 in value was significant. Obviously the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression at that time, and the economy certainly affected the price. It is unclear where the Rudolphs moved after they sold the stone side of the Stone House. Long-time Stephens City resident, Charles Orndorff, recalls them moving to Kernstown. In 1935 her son Clyde was turning twenty years old. It is likely that he would have been the breadwinner for the family by then. Fifteen years later both Clyde and his mother Katie appear in the local telephone directory for 1950-1951. Clyde is listed as living on Papermill Road east of Kearnstown, and his mother Katie’s address is 25 W. Boscawen in Winchester. After that Katie is no longer listed. Mr. Archie Skiles (a distant cousin of Mrs. Rudolph’s late husband and one of our volunteers) located Mrs. Rudolph’s grave at Shenandoah Memorial Park as well as her obituary. These sources reveal that Mrs. Rudolph had passed away on the 20th of December 1965 at age 70. She had never remarried after her husband Norman’s death in that Thanksgiving Day accident of 1925.