Sing A Song for Christmas!

Copyright 1906, P Sander N.Y.

A Merry Christmas!  I am so pleased to find among my collection a fine example of a glittered embossed postcard by P. Sander Company.  Oh, how I wish I knew the ins and outs of scanning to capture three dimensions, for the publishers of this era worked hard to enhance their cards, simply and cheaply, with embossing–raised areas of the painting that create depth! In this 1906 card the red-breasted songsters are heavily embossed atop a snow-covered fence that is less heavily embossed, quickly drawing your eye to the artist’s main subject.  The holly and snow are not only embossed but glittered, giving the impression that the sun may be peaking out between snow bearing clouds.  In the silver embossed background, a riverside town sits in the muffled, snowy silence.  Such a beautiful card! A hand delivered Merry Christmas to four year old Donald Minor from May M.

My Fair Lady Wishes You A Happy Christmas!

Sent with no message, December 22, 1909

This fair lady sends greetings for a Happy Christmas. Seven year old Donald C. Minor received this card at Christmastime 1909, and though the painting is not signed, I believe it to be another Ellen H. Clapsaddle card.  Why?

  1. An embossed frame of gold holds the portrait of a sweet young lady, hair swept stylishly up and under a hat bedecked with fresh roses.  A ruffled collar frames a face full of youthful innocence.  Such a joyful illustration of Victorian youth is characteristic of Ellen H. Clapsaddle’s work.
  2. Turning the card over, I discovered this:
  3. The International Art Publishing Company was established in 1895, merging companies formerly run by Messrs. Wolf and Samuel Garre.  Their most prolific artist was Ellen H. Clapsaddle, as I discovered while researching Skating to Greet YOU!, a card also printed in 1909.

Until a collector convinces me otherwise, I stand on my judgement: My Fair Lady is a Clapsaddle original.  Happy Christmas!

A Joyous Christmastide – Christmas in Postcards

Printed in Germany

Dear Cousin

Dear Cousin, We arrived home safe and it has been winter ever since.  Old Santa is coming to our church Friday eve. and we are anxious to see him. Come out and see us and we will take a sleighride. ~Ivan Vannroy

A happy Christmas “meow” to you! The lightly embossed kittens send young Donald Minor of Greene County, Pennsylvania wishes for a joyous Christmastide.  The publisher’s mark is right below the right kitty and reads “Painting only. Copyrighted by S. Garre, New York 1909.”  Small print on the back indicates that the Series #1064 postcard was printed in Germany.

The note’s salutation led me on a goose-chase to find the connection between Donald and Ivan.  The postmark is stamped Tama, Iowa, December 22, 11 am, 1909.  While some Pennsylvania Minors migrated west to Ohio, Illinois and Iowa in the mid-1800s, I haven’t seen the name Vannroy in any family documents.  

Finally, exasperated, I took the shortcut offered at the Thomas Minor (The Immigrant) Society web page, searching the site by surname.  Within the descendant surname list I spotted the family name: VANNOY.  When I plugged this spelling into Ancestry’s search engine I confirmed the Thomas Minor Society’s information.

The Story Unfolds

Francis Marion Minor had three children older than Donald’s father, Robert.  John P. was the eldest, then Olfred (whose son Carl also wrote to Donald), then there was Sarah Priscilla.  Sarah married Mark Herrington and had Beatrice Jane.  Beatrice Jane married John Vannoy and had little Ivan in 1906.  They are cited as living in Tama, Iowa in the 1910 census.

Behind this pair of kitten’s lies a family story wherein Sarah’s daughter Beatrice marries and moves west to Iowa.  In the fall of 1909 Bedie traveled home with her family, including young Ivan, returning to Iowa before winter set in. The Christmas kittens were then sent in three-year-old Ivan’s name to six-year-old Donald, the cousin with whom he had played during his Pennsylvania visit.

A Joyous Christmastide to you and yours!

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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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