©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Connections! Connections! Connections!

For the past day or so, I’ve been looking into possible connections between Charles and Salome(C&S) or, more precisely, the Ruch and Siegler families and certain residents of Erie, PA. Having determined what I believe to be the main reason for C&S to emigrate from France – the ceding of Alsace to the Germans after France’s defeat in the Franco/Prussian War – I began to wonder what brought them to Erie, PA. There was no stopping in New York to get their bearings, no wavering whatsoever; they were in Erie as quickly as the train could travel from New York. Not only that but they no more arrived in the city than they were standing before the pastor of St. Paul’s German Evangelical church to be married!
The marriage was witnessed by Friedrick Siegler and Jacob Walther. Since Fred Siegler’s naturalization record – papers of intent – state that he immigrated in 1872, it appears Salome’s brother led the way. He most likely paved the way for the wedding, as well. (I have yet to find a passenger list for Fred so his “papers” will have to do for now.)
The other witness, Jacob Walther, was an unknown. I’d never encountered that surname in my research of the families. Was he just a church member or was there some connection about which I didn’t know? I checked the 1870 and 1880 census records and all I really learned was he was born in France and was a shoemaker. Well, France could be helpful but not really definitive.
As it turns out, I spent a good part of this morning at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL plodding through the two volumes of Nelson’s Biographical Dictionary and Historical Reference Book of Erie County, Pennsylvania published by S. B Nelson in 1896. Happily, Jacob Frederick Walther’s biography is included; he was not only born in France but in Buchsweiler (the German spelling for Bouxwiller), Alsace. The Walther family had been in Erie since 1846 but probably kept contact with friends and family in France. At least, Jacob would most likely have been pleased to help a young couple from back home.
One more connection to mention before I sign off: Jacob Walther’s wife was Frederika, nee Streuber, the daughter of John Streuber who established a tannery in Erie. This family was also from Bouxwiller, the children of the same generation as C&S and immigrating only 10 years earlier. Charles became a tanner while in Erie and, most likely, learned that trade at the E Streuber & Bros Tannery on State Street between 18th and 19th.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Erie, PA, Here I Come!

Well, I've talked about it long enough and the procrastination is over. We have our reservations at the motel and tomorrow will set the dog up for "camp" while we're gone! It will be a quick trip but, since C & S only lived there a couple of years, I think it will do.

Back in 2002, I sent a request to the Erie Society of Genealogical Research (ESGR) for information regarding Ruch/Rosch and Siegler/Ziegler. I was as specific as I could be. I told them what I knew and how I knew it and asked for information from records to which I hoped they had access.

The answer I received was a beautifully concise and well-written research report. I was able to document some vital information both for C & S and their first four children (two sets of twins).

Also included was some information about Fred Siegler which caused me some confusion. One referenced a naturalization record which appeared to be for Salome's brother, Frederick; at least, the birth year and location matched our Fred. The other mention stated "Fred died August 4, 1885." Well, our Fred moved to Chicago, fathered three children and died in 1904. Thus, my confusion.

Yesterday I decided to call the ESGR to see if Fred Siegler is listed in the Erie City Death Records and if any additional information could be provided about him. I was fortunate that Alice, ESGR Research Coordinator, was volunteering when I called. I mentioned that we are planning a trip to Erie and, I hoped, to clear up the question of the Fred who died in 1885 first. Since time will be of the essence, I'd like to focus on C & S.

Alice was terrific!! She went back to the original request and response and, after a few minutes of give and take conversation, she said she'd look into it and get back to me. Sure enough, later in the afternoon, Alice called to tell me that the 1885 death belonged to Fred Siegler of Bavaria and she had also found a separate naturalization for Bavaria Fred. The existence of any familial relationship between the two Sieglers seems unlikely.

Alice told me to let her know our trip plans so me can connect while I'm there. Fortunately, she also volunteers at the library on a day we will be in town. I'm really hoping to meet her; she's been so helpful.

So, I have a week to get all my ducks in a row. I have a couple to resources to check at our local library, define my goals (I'm nearly finished with that one), make sure I have all the contact information for everywhere I want to go (that's mostly done too) and think about packing.

I'm really looking forward to this trip!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Putting the Writing First

I’ve been doing a bit more writing of the story of Charles and Salome -  between family obligations and weeding the yard that is. (Alas, trying to keep the weeds out of the grass and the grass out of the sedum is a losing battle!) The writing is going slower than I’d like because it seems after every other sentence I mention something I’d really like to know more about. So, then, it’s off the Google and time just slips away.
However, I am beginning to know this couple personally, especially Salome. As I follow the options available based on the events of their times, large and small, I understand why they made certain decisions. I don’t just wonder how they must have felt but I seem to feel with them. The more I write the closer I get to them.
I have a long way to go but, so far, I’m enjoying the journey!!
If my blog posts are less frequent, it’s probably because I’m spending more time with the Ruch family. For now, they must be my priority.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Charles & Salome Opt for France

All I can say it Woo Hoo!!!
In my post, Great Alsatian Resource, of March 14 I mentioned the French Genealogy Blog by Anne Morddel and her direction to a resource for the Alsatians who recorded their option to remain French citizens after the Franco-Prussian War. I was thrilled to find a number of listings for the Ruch and Siegler surnames from the town of Bouxwiller; however, the price for obtaining all those records caused me to take a step back to consider the cost. I would need to order all of them to find the ones I wanted.

Then, we went on vacation and while I was cruising the Caribbean Ancestry was adding Alsace-Lorraine, France Citizenship Declarations (Optants), 1872 (original records: ARFIDO S.A. Les Optants d'Alsace Lorraine. Série 43. Paris: ARFIDO S.A., 2006.) Good old Ancestry came through for me! Imagine my surprise when I found the entries for Salome, her brother Frédéric, and Charles. 

They were all living in Le Havre at the time, probably preparing to leave the country for America.
Again I say, Woo Hoo!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ah Monday

At last, I've read all my email and caught up on reading my favorite blogs! I still haven't looked at facebook or twitter but they will have to wait. I really need to get back to Charles & Salome and their story.

The weekend was genealogy-less. I got nothing done - not research, no writing, no scanning, no nothing. Well my husband and I did talk about an upcoming trip to Erie, PA to check out where C & S lived for a couple of years: no final decisions were made.

But now it's Monday and the beginning of a new week of possibilities. I'm hoping to spend at least a few hours each day on this project. If I'm not posting to the blog it means I'm busy with my work :) or weeding the yard:(; darn it, life does get in the way sometimes!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Writing Begins

I've done it!! I've finally started to put pen to paper or, in this case, fingers to keyboard. One would think I'd have several pages done after the hours I've put in this afternoon but, no, just a couple. However, it's a start and I'm happy about that. In the end, what I've written will probably not even make the final output but that doesn't matter either.

Here's a little sample of what I've done. Suggestions are always welcome:)

I'm planning this as the "story" for those people who don't care about genealogy but are interested in some of the family history. The "genealogy report" will also be part of the publication and will include all the details and documentation. There will also be pictures with the text, like an image of the ship and one of Castle Garden.

What must have been going through Salome Siegler’s mind as she boarded the Ernst Moritz Arndt[1] preparing to set sail for America. Only two years earlier she would have been looking forward to a quiet life in the sleepy village of Bouxwiller, France where she had spent her first twenty years. Now, nothing remained from that life. War had devastated her family, her village and her nation. Germany demanded she choose either to remain in what was left of her village but as a German citizen or to leave the Alsace region moving to the interior of France. So, taking what little could be carried she and so many others began a sad and frightening journey away from their beloved home.
At least, Salome didn’t have to make all of the decisions on her own. Besides the various members of her family, Charles Ruch whom she loved had opted against German citizenship as well. Theirs was an uncertain future, but the promise of a future together probably gave some solace.
With a great scarcity of jobs due partly to the major influx of refugees from the ceded regions of Alsace and Lorraine, a future in France must have looked dim. Perhaps that is why the couple set their sights across the ocean or perhaps other family members or friends had gone before; whatever the reason, on March 04, 1873, Charles and Salome left from the port of Le Havre, never to see their homeland again.
Most of the passengers on the ship were French and most, like Charles and Salome, had steerage tickets. What a long two weeks that must have been. There was plenty of time to talk about the years before the war; remembering her father, the button manufacturer, and his father, the printer. Reliving the good times when their families gathered together to celebrate holidays and special events. But, probably, fresher in their minds was the horror of the war they had just survived. The countryside overrun by marauding German soldiers; taking the stores from villages and leaving nothing for the people left behind. Stories shared about the terrible bloodshed of both soldiers and civilians alike. Perhaps it was good to have that time, however disturbing it may have been, to purge the past and make room for what was ahead.

[1] N.R.P.Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, vol.2, p.774/ vol.3, p.1245-6. http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/descriptions/ShipsH.html
"Habana" was the ex-"Ernst Moritz Arndt". This 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"… 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #14

Week 14: Use a different search engine for your online genealogy research. Google is quite popular, but other search engines may provide different results. Try Yahoo! Search (http://search.yahoo.com/), Bing (http://www.bing.com/), Ask.com (http://www.ask.com/), Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com/), and even Clusty (http://clusty.com/). Pick an unusual surname and search it in different engines. Make note of the top 10 page returns for each. If you’re a genealogy blogger, share your observations on this experience.

I decided to take the whole road on this challenge and try out all of the suggested search engines. Since I’m working on the Ruch/Siegler line, I chose Ruch as the surname to search. I suppose I could have found a more unusual one, but I figured this one would do.

Yahoo aggravated me right off the bat because it assumed I had a typo and really wanted RUSH. What it brought back for me were primarily sites for the county of RUSH in Kansas and Indiana.

Bing and Ask were much better, somewhat soothing my dander back down. They both returned much the same sites: genforum, ancestry (in several different areas), my heritage, etc. There were also a couple of sites specific to individual Ruch people, like Uriah and Hilda - not our line. However, I was pleased to see that Ask returned my blog on the first page of returns!!!

As for Dogpile and Clusty, they didn’t return anything outstandingly different from the others.

I don’t know if it would be considered cheating but I did go back to Google to run the same search. Though I can see why varying the search engine could be advantageous, the truth is, in this case, Google was the most comprehensive and still remains my favorite, even though my blog is thirteenth on the list.L