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Daniel Rose, Champion Whittler of the United States

Daniel Rose was an American whittling superstar, and among his works of art were over one hundred bottle whimseys. So far, only one is pictured on this website, but a great deal of research still can be done.

The following article was first published in the Christian Monitor: A Monthly Magazine for the Home in June, 1926 (Vol. XVIII, No. 6), and reprinted here with permission of the magazine's current publishers. Sincere thanks to the Mennonite archives in Iowa for sending me the copy of the article.


This account of the life of Daniel Rose was written by the Editor, collaborating with the twin sister of Daniel Rose, Mrs. George Mishler, of Johnstown. A formal biography was not intended, but more intimate, informal glimpses of the life of Daniel Rose.

Biography - the account of a human life - is helpful and intensely interesting. It is a privilege to be able to feel the pulse beat of other lives, sharing with them like temptations, problems and experiences. It is a human characteristic to relive our own lives as we read the biographies of others. Their mistakes help us to correct our own, their virtues make their impression upon our own very impressionable lives.

The life of Daniel Rose began and ended near the city of Johnstown, Pa., which is nationally known because of the tragic flood which laid waste the city, May 31, 1889. The parents of Daniel Rose were Samuel and Annie Eash Rose. Daniel and his twin sister were born February 25, 1871.

Daniel was a buoyant youngster, fond of romping and play, and finding the confinement of the school room very tiresome, he sought to evade it whenever possible. But his twin sister liked school, and here we have a glimpse that heredity is more powerful than environment. Education was largely optional in those days for there were no compulsory school laws nor truant officers and the school session only lasted five months.

At eight years of age Daniel was helping his father in his sawmill, thus early learning to work with his hands, which was much better liked than school. It is to this type of man that the world needs to be grateful, for the work of the man of toil is as necessary and honorable as that of the man of learning. We have too long given credit to brain and robbed brawn of its due. The first man was a toiler, a gardener; and the second Man, even the Son of God was a toiler, a carpenter.

One of the things that makes the life of Daniel Rose interesting is the handicap under which he worked. He was crippled - his body drawn out of shape by rheumatism. His neck seemed stiff, he could barely hold up his face and looked at one sideways with one eye. The rheumatism which so crippled him was first seen when he was nine years old. His mother faithfully took care of him in these earlier years but she died when Daniel was only thirteen years old, leaving a family of nine children without a mother's care. And Daniel and his sister Lovina were the oldest. From this time his health was somewhat neglected. But he was able to work on the farm until he was eighteen.

Tho deprived of his robust health he still sought to enjoy life. When he was about fifteen years old he trained an ox team. In the winter these were hitched to a low home-made bob-sled and in this he took the boys and girls for many pleasant rides. He had a sense of humor which seems to be one of the Creator's ways of lubricating life, saving us from the friction and heat of hard experiences. The sled was low and the snow soft and he would ask all the youngsters to stand holding fast to the others. Suddenly he would give the ox team a crack of the whip and his sled would be empty, and he full of fun. But all too soon these days came to an end and the portion of the physical vigor that was his slowly gave place to greater weakness.

In the year 1889, at only eighteen years of age, he became an invalid. Work and play were seemingly at an end. At this age, his entire body with the exception of the arms became stiff and remained so until death. Many doctors tried to help him but the only help they gave him was a remedy that relieved the pain, after which he did not suffer so much. Although Daniel Rose was an invalid for more than thirty years none who knew him during those years would say that his work had ceased, it had really just begun. Recently a materialist made this remark (a remark inspired by cruelty and hearlessness): "All deformed children and cripples should be chloroformed, or put to death in a painless way for they are in misery themselves, spoil life for others, and besides are no good to the world." I asked where he had gotten such an inhuman philosophy for I had noticed that this class is not unusually miserable nor the producers of misery but are doing the world a tremendous amount of good. These unfortunates of life produce sympathy and thanksgiving in the hearts of others.

Appreciation of wellbeing, and generosity are engendered thru seeing the handicaps with which others face life. The best picture of maternal love that I have ever seen was that shown in the life of a mother who for thirty years cared for her unfortunately child who scarcely knew anyone or anything, only smiling when its mother came to it, and this at the age of thirty years. Was that lost time? Was that useless? That neighborhood was blessed by a demonstration of real godliness and unselfish mother love and devotion. And into the life of his sister Daniel Rose brought much sunshine. The hundreds of visitors, the generosity shown by the church as well as others in caring for her brother brought its toll of pleasure to her. Were these lost time and effort? No! a thousand times No!

In the year 1898 Daniel Rose became quite widely known and was registered at Washington, D.C., as "Champion Whittler of the United States." He began by carving fans and chains and little tools of soft wood. He had a dream one night that he placed a wath all apart into a bottle. So he followed the suggestion received thru the dream by carving a chair and placing it in small parts thru the neck of the bottle. This was the beginning of the work in which he became well known. He was able to place most remarkable carvings in bottles. It was tedious and painstaking but he had the patience necessary. Some people doubted that he placed his carbins in the bottles in pieces, they believed that the bottles had a false bottom. But many saw him at his task and they know that Daniel Rose acquired the ability, with painstaking effort.

The first of such carving was done while the men were in the harvest field. It is impossible to give the reader an adequate idea of the beauty and artistic quality of his work. One of the most interesting carvings and which called forth the greatest admiration was the carving of an entire village with its varied interests. Every activity of a small village is represented: women are hanging out clothes, men are pumping water from the wells, bicycles run along the streets, men are sawing wood, one woman, cleaning house, spied a mouse, she chases the mouse, it runs into a hole and comes out on the other side, here she strikes her broom at it. These are all in action. Daniel Rose blended the vital in life with the humorous. The activity of the described scene would take a nickle and the springs hidden inside would produce the motion and activity.

He produced a minisature set of all the main animals supposed to have entered Noah's ark together with the ark. One of his costliest carvings was a bottle with all the outstanding musical instruments of the world carved inside. Another bottle contained most of the tools a carpenter uses. These bottles of carvings were sold at prices ranging from fifty cents to one hundred dollars.

Daniel lived with his father until he was thirty-six years of age. At his father's death he was invited to live at the home of his twin sister, Mrs. Mishler, who lived in the city of Johnstown. He was pleased to do this for after visits of several weeks at the home of his sister he was always reluctant to return those eight miles to the farm. He was very grateful to his sister for her care and often remarked that he could never repay her for the kindness and privilege of living with her but that the Lord would have to reward her.

Daniel was of a cheerful disposition and had many friends. Children were favorites also. A young neighboring couple often took their small babe to the Mishler home and Daniel became very much attached to Baby Leah. He delighted in holding her and entertained her for hours. When Leah grew older and was able to walk she would climb up in his armchair and lay her head very affectionately against his watching him as he whittled. They often shared apples and the child brought much sunshine into Daniel's life. When she was six years old her crippled friend died and for the first time she showed an easiness in the presence of death for her love was so great that it robbed death of its fear.

When an active life was denied Daniel Rose he began to study and read. he loved the Bible and read it seven times and the New Testament thirty-one times. He made the Bible his staff and leaned upon it and never found it to fail him. He had faith in the Lord for his keeping and trusted his soul's salvation to the same Lord, in whose shed blood he trusted for the pardon of his sins. His happiness in the Lord was greater than the happiness of his youth. There are always divine recompenses for every loss. God is sufficient for every situation. Daniel was known to have remarked when asked about his affliction, "It is bad but I have a good home." Truly, to be able to look on the bright side is an attainment! A certain caller came upon Daniel and his sister as they were singing together. Daniel said to the visitor, "I guess you wonder whether we are always that happy. We have had very little trouble the last fifteen years." this is a tribute to his brotherly spirit as well as to the kindness of his caretakers.

About the year 1900 Daniel Rose was baptized and received into the Mennonite Church in his father's home. He ws faithful, and always ready to give his testimony for the Master, and would give short talks or lead in prayer when called upon to do so. He was very prayerful and it is said that he would not eat an apple without giving thanks to the Giver.

The brethren of the various churches in the Johnstown District were very kind and generous to him in many ways. One of the ways in which they showed their helpfulness was in taking him for rides in their cars and by taking him and his sister or some of the family to Church. Many times a car provided pleasure and the thoughtfulness of the friends even yet lingers in the grateful memory of the sister.

Daniel often wished that he might precede his sister in death and she wished to take care of him to the last. This desire was granted to her. During an illness of his sister's he showed signs of deep grief and wrote to others about her illness fearing death and its attendant loneliness for himself.

On Sunday, June 26, 1921, friends had taken Daniel and his sister to the Stahl Church. On the way home the car in which they were riding was struck by another car. As Daniel was entirely helpless he was thrown from the car and he had both legs broken as well as suffering internal injuries. It was too much for his frail constitution and he only lived about three hours after the accident. He was conscious until twnety minutes of his death, and was happy in the bright hope of the future. A nurse who sat by his bed said, "I have seen many die but none more peacefully."

He is missed in the home, as are also the visitors who used to come. But Daniel's sister does not mourn as those who have no hope. In one of his last letters he wrote, "Work is rather slack at Johnstown at present although I have plenty, but not every one is gifted as I am. I have not closed up shop as yet." But when his shop was closed it was the hand of God which did it. A friend asked for a bit of work that was unfinished but after a thorough search his sister found that every thing was finished, every piece started had been completed.

[Quoted in its entirely, with kind permission of the publishers]

The following obituary, with some of the headline missing, and from an unidentified newspaper dated 27 June 1926, was sent to me:


Daniel Rose, Aged 51, Died Last Night Following Accident at "Roundhouse"

Daniel Rose, aged 51 years, died last night at 8:10 o'clock from injuries sustained in an auto accident at the "Roundhouse" yesterday about 3 o'clock.

Mr. Rose, together with his twin sister, Mrs. George Mishler, of 906 Bradford Street, and Moses Kaufman, had been on a visit to their cousin, Ephraim Thomas at Davisville, and they were returning home when the accident occurred. At the turn of the road at the junction of the Somerset Pike and Valley Pike, the auto in which Mr. Rose was riding collided with a machine owned by a Mr. Levy. Both machines were travelling towards Johnstown at the time.

When the machines struck, Mr. Rose was thrown into the road and sustained fractures of both legs above the knee, as well as internal injuries. it was not believed that Mr. Rose was seriously injured, and he was removed to the Mishler home. He died at 8 o'clock. Mr. Rose was the only person to sustain injuries although the Levy machine carried Mr. Levy, his wife, and two children.

Daniel Rose was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Rose, and he was born about a mile from Elton February 25, 1871. For a number of years he had been an invalid and had to be wheeled about in a wheel chair. He was known about town as an expert whittler.

Mr. Rose is survived by the following brothers and sisters: Mrs. George Mishler, of 906 Bedford street; Mrs. John Horner, of Ogletown; Hiram Rose, of hear Elton; Joseph Rose, of near Elton; Samuel Rose, jr., of Elton. He is also survived by one half brother, Charles Rose, of near Stoyestown, and a half sister, Mrs. Sam Hale, of Dale Borough. The deceased had made his home with Mrs. George Mishler for the past 14 years. The funeral will take place from the Mishler home at 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. Interment will be in the Weaver cemetery.

From an article in THE ERA, dated January 13, 1987 on the Rose Family tree:

"Daniel and Lovina Rose, the twin children of Joseph [sic, earlier in article says Samuel] and Anna Eash Rose, grew up well and hearty until the age of 9. Then Daniel became afflicted with rheumatism, but he was still able to help on the family farm doing small chores and resting when necessary. Gradually the crippling enemy took its toll and by the age of 19 Daniel was practially helpless except for his forearms and a hand.

"At this time a medicine, named angeline, was sent to him by a J. Schumaker of Ohio and it took away the pain. After the paid left, Daniel wished to occupy his time, so he took up whittling. He soon became very proficient in the art of wood carving. He built items, passing them through the neck of a bottle and then building them up inside the bottle. he filled 120 bottles in this manner and sold many other items that he made such as chairs, fans and scripture mottos. His work was on great demand.

"Today resident in the vicinity have one or more of the Daniel Rose antiques saved back as historical mementoes of a man who was termed locally as 'the expert whittler.'

Daniel Rose died in 1921 and is buried in the old Weaver Mennonite Church section of the Richland Cemetery."

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