©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Franco Prussian War

In my last post, I mentioned I’d been reading up on Alsatian history during the early years of Charles & Salome (Siegler) Ruch. Theirs might have been a fairly tranquil existence in the small village of Bouxwiller from their births until around the late 1860s. They lived under French rule which allowed much freedom and democratic policies to the various regions. Being over 50 miles from the Rhine River and the fortresses held by the Prussian army, they most likely felt somewhat secure.

However, that security would soon end, when France declared war on Germany (just as Germany wanted) and strove to recapture the French side of the river lost to them in a treaty in 1815. The war officially began on July 19, 1870. According to the accounts I’ve been reading, particularly Prussia and the Franco-Prussian War… by John Stevens Cabot Abbott, it was as horrendous and bloody conflict as has ever been waged. Though I’ve yet to find specific reference to Bouxwiller its location just north east of Strasbourg leaves little chance the village avoided devastation. At the very least the German army most likely confiscated food, arms and provisions from the occupants as described by Abbott:

Seventy thousand Prussian cavalry scoured the country in all directions, gathering ample supplies for the invading army of nearly a million of men. Almost every day announced the demolition of some fortress, or the capture of some town, by the resistless Prussians. France, bleeding, robbed, humiliated, almost helpless, was without any recognized government or any spirit of cordial co-operation among its distracted people. As the Prussians advanced, they found almost a deserted country before them. The peasants, in terror, fled into the woods. Pg 277

Charles was 19 and Salome was 20 years old when the war broke out. Did he take up arms against the Germans? I don’t know but he was certainly of the age to fight. Did he witness the carnage being played out on the battlefields? What deprivation did she endure and what duties were required of her in the village? Did she have to hide from an invading army? How did they cope with such a situation?

The war lasted only 10 months but was disastrous for France. Germany lost thousands upon thousands of soldiers but, in addition to the cost in human life, France lost Alsace and Lorraine and any security it may have had from Germany. In the end, citizens of these regions were given the option of emmigrating to France by 01 Oct 1872 or becoming German citizens.

On 20 Mar 1873, Charles Ruch and Salome Siegler arrived in the port of New York on the SS Ernst Moritz Arndt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Today is the day before Christmas Eve which is the day before our family gathers to celebrate together. Unfortunately, the weather is turning on us and may cause travel problems tomorrow. We’ll plan as usual and hope for the best.

I have had a few minutes to continue reading up on Alsace history and am beginning to get a feel for what living in that area during Charles & Salome’s childhoods might have been like. I’m sure the constant turmoil would have been sensed within the family groups.

One interesting read – in part – was published just before our couple came to America and found in at Google Books at


Another book proving very helpful is

Alsace-Lorraine under German Rule by Charles Downer Hazen.
New York: Henry Holt and Company; 1917.
This one is found at http://www.archive.org/stream/alsacelorraineun00hazeuoft#page/n5/mode/2up.

Of course, my real focus at the moment is the party but that will be over soon and the relative quiet of winter will be upon us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Surname Saturday

It's Surname Saturday and a good time to list the surnames in the family line I'll be working on this coming year.

Beginning with the immigrant couple (direct line highlighted in red):

Charles RUCH born 05 Dec 1851 in Bouxwiller, Bas-Rhin, France; died 10 Dec 1888 in Chicago, IL.
Salome Jubel SIEGLER born 13 Sep 1850 in Bouxwiller, Bas-Rhin, France; died 05 Apr 1930 in Chicago, IL.

Charles and Salome were married 30 Mar 1873 in Erie, Erie Co., PA.

They had nine children:

1. Caroline Magdalena RUCH born 09 Sep 1873 in Erie, Erie Co., PA; married John A GEHRINGER 25 Aug 1890 in Chicago, IL. Died 13 Oct 1952.
2. Eva Salomea RUCH born 09 Sep 1973 in Erie, Erie Co., PA; married Louis BOUCHONVILLE ; died 28 Oct 1945 in Chicago, IL.
3. Lisette Emma RUCH born 21 Nov 1874 in Erie, Erie Co., PA; married Thomas HIGGINS 05 Aug 1903 in Chicago, IL; died 25 Jul 1966
4. Louise Julie RUCH born 21 Nov 1874 in Erie, Erie Co., PA; married Charles BROWN 08 Sep 1901 in Chicago, IL; died 19 May 1970
5. Mary RUCH born 21 Nov 1878 in Chicago, IL; married Fred REINHARD 29 Aug 1922; died 16 Jan 1974 in Chicago, IL.
6. Alice RUCH born 24 Mar 1882 in Chicago, IL; died 13 Feb 1899.
7. Margaret RUCH born 24 Mar 1882 in Chicago, IL; married Oscar FELL; died 18 May 1938.
8. George Henry RUCH born 29 Dec 1885 in Chicago, IL; married Margaret MOHLE; died 12 Mar 1949 in Chicago IL.
9. Charles RUCH born 26 Jul 1886; died 20 Apr 1971.

Yes, folks just in case you were paying attention; there were 3 sets of twins in the mix.

That's probably enough for this round.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Working Slowly

Perhaps it was foolish of me to start blogging two weeks before Christmas, but on that day I had the time and made the effort. Unfortunately, the past day or two have been taken up with the tasks of preparing for the upcoming holiday. Since our family Christmas Eve party is at my house, procrastination must be limited.

Too there was the Christmas party at doggie daycare. Who would want to miss that?

That's our Bessie in the foreground. She isn't socializing at the moment but let a fight break out and she'll be there pronto. We're still not sure if she wants to break it up or get in on the chaos. The daycare caretakers call her "the enforcer".

Anyway, I did get a little time for genealogy. I started by checking out Cyndislist.com to see what links were available there for Alsace. There were many choices to pick from which included the usual RootsWeb mail lists and message boards (I'll be working my way through those archives over time) and Family Search library (I'm looking for more history than genealogy for now) but eventually I found my way to  a very helpful blog set up by Valerie Zimmermann http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2005/05/alsace.html called Genealogy:Alsace. She has listed and linked to many informative sites regarding the history and culture of the Alsace region.

I'm most interested in the marriage laws in the 1870s and I'm hoping that an article, The Legal System of Alsace Lorraine, published in the Journal of Comparative and International Law in 1927 by Cambridge University Press will be available by interlibrary loan. Another book which has been digitized and is available on-line at http://www.archive.org/ has given me some interesting insights as to why my young  imigrant couple may have chosen to leave their homeland.

The family story was that Charles and Salome were married on the ship coming over to America. That tale has proven to be invented (or at least exaggerated) as there is no mention of the marriage on the passenger manifest for their voyage and I have the church record of their marriage in Erie, Pennsylvania shortly after their arrival. My question has always been why didn't they marry at home where their families were before they left? I'm still looking for a definitive answer.

I guess I'm better get to work instead of writing about getting to work:)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Narrowing Down the Start

After much consideration, I've decided to begin the family story with the immigrant couple - Charles Ruch and Salome Siegler. They were both born in Alsace-Lorraine in the 1850s and came to America together, not yet married, in 1873.

I'll begin with the voyage over and the possible reasons for leaving their homeland to start out anew in a distant land. I've done some research of the Alsace area during their time there but will now need to get serious about it.

So my goal for now is to learn all I can about their homeland, Bouxwiller, Alsace, France/Germany between 1850 and 1873. Any suggestions are always welcome. I feel this information will be of great importance to the writing of their trip to America.

So to research I go. I'll prepare a research report to post as I go along.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Getting Started

Here I go!! By setting up this blog I've committed myself to fulfilling my resolve to write the family history of the Ruch\Siegler line of my husband's family. I've been researching them off and on for 15 years and have made some great progress recently thanks for the Family Hisorty Library's pilot website at http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start and the Chicago Tribune Historical Archives.

My first objective is to decide where to start and how far down the line to go. Then, I'll take a good look at all my documents and sources to see what may be needed to do a thorough job.

Today was spent setting up this blog and my time is up. The dog needs a walk and by then there will be supper to prepare.