The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Ellis Thomas Rute

RUTE, Ellis Thomas

Ellis Thomas Rute was born in 1897 in Salona, Clinton County, Pennsylvania, about 160 miles east of Pittsburgh. He was the sixth of the seven children of Thomas Edward Rute and Martha Elizabeth Snyder. At that time and in that area, coal mining and railroad work were the main sources of employment so about 1898 the family moved west to rural Iowa for a better life. They settled first in Audubon in the south of the state, later moving north to Dickson County, where they lived close to Lake Okoboji and where Thomas and his sons farmed the land.

Ellis Rute enlisted in Des Moines and was a member of the 142 Aerosquadron. Initially in Denver and San Diego he embarked for Europe from New York in February 1918 and was in England for a while as an Observation Squadron. On the 8th of October he wrote home in a letter, still held by his family. In it he told them that he had just moved to Ireland, “a beautiful country … and the people treat the American soldiers fine”.  “On one side of our aerodrome is the Dublin Mountains and on the other the Irish Sea so being so close to both we get plenty of rain”. (He was possibly in Gormanstown, Co Meath).

He finished the letter the following day saying that he had just got notice that he “was to pack and go overseas again”, the only man from his squadron.

So it was that Ellis Rute was on board RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. When the torpedo hit the ship he did not hesitate to jump into the water, being a strong swimmer since his youth living beside Lake Okoboji. He managed to stay afloat until he was rescued and taken to Kingstown.

He returned from Europe in January 1919, sailing from Brest in France and landing in Virginia. In 1920 he was elected Sheriff of Dickinson County, serving until 1924. In June 1921 he married Gwendoline Schulz of nearby Spirit Lake and they had two sons, Garry Ellison who died at birth in 1923 and Jon Ellis in 1934. In the 1930 census he gave his occupation as ‘Salesman Beverages’. Ellis Rute died at Spirit Lake in September 1939 from stomach cancer, aged forty-two.

Information credit: Lori Rute Fortner




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