©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Century of Progress

Under the Flags at the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois 1933.
Left to Right: Bernice Larson, Teckla Larson, Alice Davey, Delbert Larson

Excerpt from Alice Davey diary, Saturday 29 July 1933, "My Aunt Teckla and Lida and cousins Bernice and Delbert and Mrs. Crumstrum came for Mich." Friday, 04 August 1933, :"Went to the Fair. My mother came out at night about 7 o’clock. We came home about 10:30 P.M. or so."

Looking for Margaret (Ruch) Fell

Much of my research over the pass few weeks has been tracing the children of Charles & Salome Ruch. Since they had nine, including three sets of twins, this is no small feat. However, with the help of Family Search's pilot database for Cook County, Illinois, records, the Social Security Death Index, miscellaneous military records and the good old Chicago Tribune, much progress has been made.

As is normal, however, I do have one problem-child. Margaret Ruch, the twin of Alice who died at the age of 17, was born 24 March 1882 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She married A. Oscar Fell, 05 March 1902, also in Chicago.

To my knowledge, they had only one child: Elva Fell born about 1904 in Chicago. Elva married William K Colum before 1925 and they had one child, Laverne. William died 29 June 1929 and Elva died in January 1961.

My problem is I can't find a death record or obituary for Margaret "Maggie" Fell. She was still living in 1961 according to Elva's obituary in the Chicago Tribune of 02 January 1961:
Elva B. Colum, beloved mother of Laverne Stricker; loving daughter of Margaret Fehl; mother-in-law of Richard; grandmother of Patricia, Lois, and Richard. Funeral Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., from John V. May Funeral home, 4553-61 Milwaukee avenue, to St. Tarcissus church. Interment St. Adalbert's.
You may notice the spelling of Margaret's surname "Fehl"; I have searched using that spelling as well as Fell. In fact, searching the surname "Fell" can be very difficult. You might be surprised how many people "fell" the their deaths.

If there is anyone out there with information about Margaret, I'd love to hear from you. Maybe Patricia, Lois, or Richard, or their children, are working on their genealogy. You know the Ruch family is connected to the Column and Stricker families now:)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just An Update

It's been a few days since I posted so I thought I'd better at least update what little progress I've been making.

I spent a couple of days working with the Indiana databases found on the Family Search Pilot Site, updating information on my Rush County ancestors. That may not sound like much but I have lots of Rush County family:)

Then, I went back to the Ruch family and have been spending time with some of the descendants of Charles & Salome looking for death dates and obituaries primarily. The results have been mixed but some has been really great.

On a personal note, I've really had to get some housework done and I'm getting ready for a soon-to-come vacation. I imagine this coming week will be just as sparse for research and blogging as the last; however, my plan is to begin writing when I get home. I'll use what I know and, if necessary, add more later. The first quarter of 2010 is coming to an end and if I want to complete my resolution I'll need to stay on track!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great Alsatian Resource

Thanks to reading a tweet posted by BBPetura directing me the TransylvanianDutch  Genealogy and Family History blog's Weekly Genealogy Picks I was sent to another wonderful blog for French genealogy, The French Genealogy Blog by Anne Morddel. What a wonderful find for anyone doing French research and, as in my case, Alsatian research.

I've been wondering just how many members of Ruch/Siegler families of Bouxwiller, France opted to leave their homes in order to remain under French rule. I'm convince that Charles Ruch & Salome Siegler immigrated to America due to their choice but I've had not real proof of  that; in fact I didn't know if any such proof would exist.

One of Anne's categories is Alsace and Lorraine so, hoping for some new insight into the lives and times of the these families. In her post of 30 June 2009, Les Optants of Alsace-Lorraine, she gave a clear, concise and descriptive account of not only the demands placed on the people of Alsace but also the eventual documents created declaring the option to remain French.

Anne directs us to the Historical Society COMAD: The Seekers Optants Departments of Alsace and Moselle which was created specifically "to: search, collect, count and list the individuals who opted for 1871 to 1873 for the French or German nationality, collect all the historical documents and edit, publish and disseminate research results." The site is in French but do not despair Google Translate does a nice job of translating. (Go to Google, at the menu bar choose MORE, then TRANSLATE, choose translate from FRENCH to ENGLISH, copy the URL to the translate box, click TRANSLATE and, voila, you're reading English!) COMAD has created notebooks including great family information and an index to determine what notebooks in which your ancestor may be included. Type the surname into the search box and see what is returned.

 The name RUCH returned a large number of entries but because I know they resided in Bouxwiller I was able to narrow the list to 12. The name SIEGLER return was much smaller and I was able to narrow that list to 4. However, this does leave me with a dilemma. The cost of each notebook is 18 Euro and I'm not sure where to start. I'm finding the cost a bit prohibitive so I'll have to think it through:)
Regardless of what I do as to purchasing, both Anne's blog and COMAD's site have added much to my knowledge and understanding.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Orphan Train Rider Medallion

Though this item doesn't reside in my house, I treasure it just the same. The picture is of the tombstone of William Sydney Emay, my great-grandfather. The medallion on the stone was placed there by his descendants at a special ceremony on June 15, 2001 and identifies William as an orphan train rider in 1861.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

52 Weeks Challenge Week 10 - Family Search

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge #10:
Investigate Family Search Pilot (http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start), which is part of FamilySearch.org. This is a wonderful collection of records which literally grows every day. In the middle left of the page is a link that says “Browse our record collections.” Click it and pick a region. Search collections outside your research interest. Investigate the types of records collected all over the world and see how they differ from those with which you are familiar. If you are a genealogy blogger, pick a type of record from another country and share your observations about it.

Okay, first of all this was very hard because, as is my way, I got caught up looking in the files that directly relate to my research. Now, I have been using the Cook County Illinois databases quite heavily while researching for the Ruch/Siegler project. What a help those records have been!! Of course, the images make all the difference since I now have copies of original records for collateral relatives for whom I probably wouldn't have expended the funds to get.

However, while browsing through the US records, I found the database Indiana Marriages 1811-1959 and what a find that was!! Even though the index (and it is an index, no images yet:-( ) and is only 12% complete, my Leisure family from Rush county is well represented. Yesterday I made it through (adding new records and citations to my genealogy software) only 2 of the 29 pages! Yikes, I've got a lot of work ahead of me there and that's not the family I'm suppose to be working on! And that's not even counting the Miller, Kennedy, Blue, Stewart... families from Rush county.

But today I did take a look at what might be available for France from with the Ruch/Siegler family originates. Two databases are listed France, Coutances Catholic Diocese 1802-1907 [images only] and France, Protestant church records, 1612-1906. The latter is the one I reviewed since the Ruch family joined the Evangelical Lutheran church once they arrived in the US.This database is only 11% complete so as time goes by it will be more and more useful. So far nothing is online from the Alsace region, in fact most of the records are from the area in and around Paris. However, I did get two pages of results for the Ruch name; not my people but if they were the information would be great. Marriage data includes the event date and location, both spouses names, and their parents names; birth/baptism data includes the event date (probably baptism?) and location, the person's name and the parents' names (including mother's maiden name). I didn't see any death records but according to the FamilySearch Wiki about this database, death records include:

  • Date and place where the person died
  • Name of the deceased, age or date and place of birth
  • Cause of death (illness, accident, senility, etc.)
  • Residence of the deceased

That's it for now. I must get back to working with those Indiana records.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

George Henry Ruch, Sr.

I've been spending some time looking at the children of Charles and Salome. Today my problem child is George Henry Ruch. I'm working my way through some very contradictory information regarding his birth date.
Though I know he was born in Chicago, Cook county, Illinois, I haven't found him on the Illinois Cook County Birth Certificates 1878-1922 database at the Family History Library pilot search site. I'm not overly concerned about that at this point since the only one I've found there was the first Chicago-born child, Mary Anna.

Looking at the census records for George creates at mishmash of a time line:

1900 - in his mother's household listed as born Dec 1883, age 16
1910 - in his mother's household listed as age 25 [1910-25 = 1885]
1920 - head of household (at same address) listed as age 32 [1920-32 = 1888]
1930 - head of household (at same address) listed as age 44 [1930-44 = 1886]

The cemetery plat record from Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago shows him as age 64. He died 12 Mar 1949. [1949-64 = 1885]

But, and here's the kicker, on his WWII draft registration his birth date is listed as 29 Dec 1880, age 61. Just as clear as day, mind you! Not more than five lines above his signature! Another interesting thing about this document is that he listed his daughter, Helen, as his contact person even though his wife was still living. The information was taken 27 Apr 1942.

Obviously, there's lots more research to be done here. I need to continue looking for his birth ceritficate and, perhaps with some luck, I will find a baptism record. I'm sure the truth will come out in the end:)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SS Ernst Moritz Arndt

Ships of Our Ancestors by Michael J. Anuta
Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.; Baltimore, Maryland, 1993; Page 118

"Habana" was the ex-"Ernst Moritz Arndt". This ship was built by T.B.Oswald & Co, Sunderland in 1872 for the German company, Baltischer Lloyd. She was a 2,597 gross ton ship, length 317ft x beam 38ft, one funnel, two masts, iron construction, single screw and a speed of 12 knots. Launched on 22/8/1872 as the "Ernst Moritz Arndt", she sailed from London on her maiden voyage to Havre and New York on 27/2/1873. She made 6 transatlantic voyages, the last starting on 28/5/1874 when she left Stettin for Antwerp and New York. In 1879 she was sold to Lopez of Spain and renamed "Habana". In 1881 she went to Cia.Trasatlantica Espanola. I don't know her history between 1879 and 1886, but from 1886-96, the company ran a feeder service between Havana and New York and the "Habana" was, at various times employed on that route. She was scrapped in 1900.
[North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.2,p.774/ vol.3, p.1245-6] [http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/descriptions/ShipsH.html]

Monday, March 1, 2010

There's More than the Ship's Manifest!

Saturday I attended the 35th annual conference of the DuPage County [IL] Genealogical Society titled “Genealogical Building Blocks”. Among the excellent speakers was John Philip Colletta and especially helpful to me was his last session, “Discovering the Real Stories of Your Immigrant Ancestors”.

Why was it so helpful to me? Because he reminded me of some research I had planned to do some time ago but never got around to. Even though I have Charles & Salome on the ship’s manifest for the SS Ernst Moritz Arndt on 20 March 1873, I wanted to find the newspaper account of the ship’s arrival. (And there was John Colletta showing similar accounts for his ancestors! What a great reminder to get home and search!)

My first opportunity came yesterday, Sunday, and after several failed attempts (trial and error is usually how I find the right keywords to get what I’m looking for from most any search engine: Google, Bing, Ask; it matters not.) At last, I was looking at some articles from the New York Times Archives for March 1873 through http://spiderbites.nytimes.com/free_1873/articles_1873_03_00000.html. This comes in two parts and, of course, I had more searching to do on the site. This time after looking through the titles of the articles several times I was able to use my FIND option to locate only the specific titles I thought to be most promising.

After a relatively short time (way shorter than looking through reels of microfilm) I found the ship’s arrival but also noticed there was a section for ships being cleared.
That brought to mind something else from Mr. Cottetta’s talk, the fact the steerage passengers were being detained on the ships for a week before entering the post due to the fear of the spread of cholera. Further searching revealed the “Ernst” being cleared on 29 March 1873. That would be the date that this young couple first set foot on American soil.

Of course, as with so many genealogical finds I have some new questions to be answered since finding this information.

For instance, the manifest read that the ship came from Stettin, Germany. However, the arrival information shows it first stopping in London and LeHavre, then Stettin. There were very few cabin passengers but two were from England; Other than 6 English steerage passengers, all the rest (all steerage) were from France. Would those Alsatians be inclined to leave through a German or through a French port? There’s always more work to do.