Surname Saturday: Minor Details

This is the year, I thought, of the De-Clutter Project, as I surveyed each room’s crammed shelves and drawers.  Impose a fifteen minute limit and voluntarily suffer a daily dose of sorting, storing and recycling, and by year’s end I will have managed 5,475 minutes of life simplification.  Resolutely, I reached for that first stack of books, envisioning an clean and orderly home in just ninety-one 2013 hours.

If today is any indication, the 3.8 days I committed to de-cluttering will only get me to the bottom of one pile.

I started the resolution with a photograph album; more journal than photo-document, this book chronicles an eleven day visit south of the Mason-Dixon line.  I didn’t make it past the second page before deciding that I couldn’t give this to my daughter, or store it in an safe place.  I had to reread it, and keep it within arm’s length for future reference and rumination. In other words, there was not one jot of de-cluttering in today’s 15 minutes of suffering.

Blue skiesIn my mind I’m going to Carolina… March 22-April 2, 1989

Aw, I thought, I was such a sweet young mom, wanting to record my first mother-daughter trip. I kept reading, not sorting. The second page opened with an entry in my grandmother’s hand:

“She has grown so much. And she is talking- hurrah. Caitlin calls me GG for Great Grandmother. I love the name.” 

What followed her note was a forgotten Story Moment, in which some minor details of my grandmother’s family were recorded.

Kerma Pauline was born to Charles Ross and Katherine Roahrig Bradford in 1905.  In 1989 Kerma sat in my mother’s home, watching my toddler play, and recalled:

Grandpa John Roahrig (1849-1919)

One day, my grandmother recounted, she sat in the dining room playing paper dolls with her sister Thelma, her Grandpa Roahrig asleep in a nearby chair.  Thelma talked incessantly and presently Grandpa, always a stern man, spoke up and said, “Thelma, your mouth moves as fast as a goose’s ass!”

The two girls decided to leave the fireside and play in the next room.

Grandpa Amaziah Bradford (1847-1928)

Kerma recalled that her Grandpa Bradford played the fiddle and clogged and played horse with his grandchildren.  His son, Charles Ross, must have inherited his gifts, since Kerma recalled that her dad could play any stringed instrument–guitar, banjo and fiddle.

De-clutter to Discover

I may not have accomplished much in the way of de-cluttering, but I DID discover a treasure, hidden within the minor details of an old photo album, a side benefit of my daily fifteen which is sure to be repeated often in 2013.

Roaring into the Roahrig Past: Wordless Wednesday

Jean George and Eve Gerling Roahrig emigrated from Alsace, France around 1847. Among the family members making this journey was their son Frederick, born in 1827.  He married Elizabeth Lapp, daughter of German immigrants Henry and Magdelena Zimmer Lapp, on 06 April 1849 in Muskingum County, Ohio.  John Roahrig, the eldest of their eleven children was born on 21 September 1849. He married Matilda Klein, daughter of German immigrants Johann Jacob and Catherine Moser Klein, on 19 October 1871 in Muskingum County, Ohio.  They moved to a farm near Plainfield, Coshocton County, Ohio and raised nine children, including my great-grandmother, Kathryn Elizabeth Roahrig Bradford, born 28 February 1883.

Today’s wordless treasures of my great-grandmother’s parents and grandmother were taken in the 1880s, I believe.  Photo detectives, what do you think?

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The photographs and documents of Elizabeth Lapp Roahrig, and John and Matilda Klein Roahrig are shared courtesy of family historian, Doug Kreis.


surname saturday–MAPPING MY ROAHRIG AHNENTAFEL

My Roahrig Ahnentafel

Besides being a very cool word, ahnentafel is a cool tool.  This numbering system permits the family historian to organize genealogical tidbits into a concise framework of chronology and relationships.  The resulting document converts a tomb of  family history into a pocket-sized widget.  As for technology geeks– we can create an ever-increasing number of ahnentafel representations.

This surname snapshot to the left was created on bubbl.us , and the one below was created using My Maps on google maps.   In both cases I have been able to take what is to me a dry, boring task and make it a crazy FUN playtime.  Added bonus:  at play’s end, I have graphic representations to show how the Roahrig surname traveled from the border regions of Germany and France to the border communities of Coshocton and Muskingum Counties, Ohio, USA. (Hint: click on the “view larger map” hyperlink below this map snippet.)

MAPPIN’ MY ROAHRIG AHMENTAFEL

Source: Family Register Report for Frederick Roahrig, Sr. by Doug Kreis.

Surname Saturday: R + Umlaut O + H + RIG = Roahrig

In my research of Kathryn Roahrig Bradford’s family, I came across 8 different spellings which indicated to me that this foreign name included a vowel alien to the English language.  On one side journey I inspected a naturalization document which included the applicant’s signature. ” AHA!” I thought.  There is a German vowel: the umlaut O, the O with two dots over it, the O that sounds like perk or burn.  THAT vowel.  In most cases one would transcribe that letter into English or French with an “o” followed by an “e”, but many, many transcribers have not followed that rule.  Somewhere along the way, my ancestors’ just settled on the spelling R-O-A-H-R-I-G and standardized the family’s name. My ancestors then were probably from an area of Europe that spoke German. That U.S. Federal 1850 census lists Frederick Roahrig as from France; the 1870 census states that he was a native of Alsace.  THAT is the clue.  Alsace is a region of France that borders with Germany, and has been the site of political turmoil for centuries, rocking back and forth between French and German control.  At the time Frederick shows up in Ohio it was considered France.  His family may have spoken French, German or a combination of the languages.

I am exceedingly happy that fellow family historian, Doug Kreis, has shared his Register Reports with me.  THANK YOU AGAIN, DOUG!  For included in his massive projects are obituaries, which have some amazing data sets in aggregate.

Frederick Roahrig’s parents were Jean George and Eve Gerling Roahrig, born in Buhl, Alsace, France at the turn of the 19th century.  They married in Buhl on 31 December 1817 and had six children: Marie Eve, Magdalena, Frederick, George, Salome, and David.  All were born in Buhl before 1835.  I had found Frederick, husband to Elizabeth and father of John in the 1850 census.  Putting this much information together I can conclude that Frederick emigrated from Alsace between 1835 and 1850.

I swept my eyes back over the report again, this time concentrating on obituaries of Frederick, his wife Elizabeth Lapp, and his sister, Magdelena Reiger.  From these three obituaries I pull this data set:

Frederick Roahrig was born in 7 January 1827 in Buhl, Alsace, France.  He came to America with his parents and in a few years married Elizabeth Lapp Roahrig (born 26 August 1832 in Muskingum County) on 6 April 1849 in Muskingum County, Ohio.  Elizabeth died on 4 January 1900 in Muskingum County; Frederick died in Muskingum County on 4 April 1908.  They are both buried in the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church cemetery.

Magdelena Roahrig Reiger was born 22 December 1822 in Buhl, Alsace, France.   She was baptized as an infant and joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hatten in 1837.  She emigrated to America in 1847 and later that year married George Reiger. She died in 31 August 1893 in Muskingum County, Ohio, and was buried in the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church cemetery.

Looking into the history of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Muskingum County, Ohio adds one more important detail: it was founded in 1839 by sixteen, German speaking, Alsatian immigrant families.

For now, my family story flows something like this: Jean George and Eve Gerling Roahrig, fed up with the political turmoil of their region and lured by the relative calm of America, emigrated in 1847, with their living children to America.  They landed at New York and came up the Erie Canal to Buffalo, then continued on westward to the open lands of Ohio.   Or they landed in Philadelphia and moved through Lancaster, Pennsylvania before heading out to the German speaking Ohio communities.  There, in Muskingum County, Ohio they were welcomed by the Lapps and the Zimmers, the Mosers and the Kreis’.  The children married, and had children who prospered.  And I am here, six generations later, to tell their story.

Next week: Sing praises for safe travels–in time.  Ahnentafels that will lead me to five ancestral immigrants!!

Surname Saturday: Roahrig the Immigrant

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

My great-grandmother Kathryn Bradford lived 107 years, long enough to hold my baby girl in her lap for a five generation portrait. I remember childhood visits to Coshocton, Ohio,  where Grandma Katie lived with her son Carlos and his wife Betty.  She seemed incredibly old even then, at a mere 80-something, and my Aunt Betty knew that the slow pace of conversation needed to be broken up by a game or two of softball.  Only a few facts filtered through my child’s hood of life:

  • Katie wasn’t bored viewing life through a TV screen and someday I would understand;
  • a young Katie had spied on her elder sister, Sidna, entertaining a beau in the parlor, and had giggled at their stolen kisses;
  • and Katie Bradford’s maiden name was a tongue twister–Roahrig.

Go ahead.  I dare you repeat that three times fast and not giggle.

I have never met anyone else with that name.  I have not run across articles or histories or songs that include that name.  Roahrig.  What ancestor brought this surname to America?

Surname Saturday: Search 2011!

Roahrig, it is.  The first of 12 names that I will trace this year, back to its place of origin.

I started my name-hunt by visiting my Ancestry generated family tree, and ploughed through the fields of census data.  Within a short while I had uncovered 8 spellings for this surname–Rohrig, Rarick, Rayrick, Roehrig, Roarig, Rearick, Rauhrig and Roahrig–with families residing in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.   I found one path back to 1850 that held particular promise.

A promising line of thought

I had gone backward from Katie to her father and mother, John and Matilda Kline Roahrig of Ohio, and from there I went backward to find John with his parents, Frederick and Elizabeth Lapp in 1870,1860,and 1850, always in Ohio. The 1870 data includes country of origin, and Frederick listed France while Elizabeth and all of their children claimed Ohio.  If this Frederick Roahrig is the grandfather of my Kathryn Roahrig Bradford, then he is also the Immigrant Roahrig .  To gather a bit more about Frederick’s country of origin I returned to the 1880 census, which asked folks to name not only their country of origin was but also their parents’.

Interesting!  Frederick Roahrig states that he and his parents are from Alsace.  Elizabeth states that she is from Ohio, and that her father was from Wurtimberg, Germany, and her mother was from Alsace.

Now it was time for me to verify that this path connects the correct dots from me to the Immigrant.  I expanded my search to include Find A Grave, and was rewarded with confirmation through obituaries and photos!!    Fellow family historian, Doug Kreis, has done some remarkable work, and lucky for me, his research includes the Roahrig family!

Just what sort of name is Roahrig?  German? French? Why did he and his parents immigrate, and what brought them to Adamsville, Muskingham County, Ohio?

I have hunches and a few clues.  Stop back next week to see where they lead.


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