Wednesday, January 30, 2013


One thing that fascinates me in the genealogical research of my family is how often family lines intertwine. In times when people didn’t often travel far from the places of their births, in rural areas where people were tied to their land, and in migrations when a group of families crossed national boundaries together it’s not unusual to find multiple connections between families. A common example of this is when several children of one family marry several children of a second family. These multi-sibling marriages are relatively common in my family. When I also add in connections that cross generations and connections that join family branches, instances of intertwining lines occur surprisingly often.

Some of my past blog posts mention incidents of family lines connecting in more than one place. A few months ago I wrote about the unsettlingly intertwined Grant and Hubbard families.  Earlier this month I discussed connections among the Arneth, Startzman, and Reitenauer families. And in the footnote to the Hirvi post last week I described how June Megley’s two marriages connected the Hirvi and Hietanen lines of my family.

Today I’m going to outline the interconnections among the Shanower, King, and Gerber families. Pay attention. This gets complicated.

Possible photo of Sophia King Shanower (1841-1877).
My discovery of these interconnections began with my great-great-grandfather Benjamin Franklin Shanower (1845-1928) and his first wife Sophia King Shanower (1841-1877), who lived during their seven-year marriage in Stark County, Ohio. Information on Sophia King was lacking. I had made an attempt to find her family of origin, but the information that surfaced wasn’t conclusive. It can be hard to prove things with such a common surname as King. And since I’m descended from Benjamin Franklin’s second wife Louisa “Lucy” Leifer (1856-1916), I had no direct blood connection to his first wife Sophia King Shanower as far as I knew. So she wasn’t my highest research priority.

I found another King—Emeline King (1839-1914)—on another branch of the family tree. Emeline also lived in Stark County, Ohio. Her husband was David E. Gerber (1834-1921), a Stark County native descended from Swiss immigrants to Pennsylvania, some via Alsace, France. Emeline and David were the parents of Melissa Agnes Gerber (1861-1942), who married my great-great-great-uncle William Zachary Shanower (1855-1903). (You can read about Melissa and William’s son Harvey Allen Shanower’s first marriage here.) William Zachary was a brother of Benjamin Franklin Shanower. That made William Zachary’s wife Melissa a sister-in-law to Benjamin Franklin’s wife Sophia King Shanower. This family relationship, as well as geographic proximity, made me wonder whether Sophia King Shanower and Emeline King Gerber might be from the same King family. Their births were two years apart. Maybe they were sisters.

The Gerber family about 1900. Back, left to right: Mary E. "Mellie" Gerber Miller, John Calhoun Gerber, George W. Gerber, Edson (Edward) D. Gerber, David H. S. Gerber (of whom more below), Elva Gerber Riley. Front, left to right: Kathryn E. "Kate" Gerber Yutze, David E. Gerber (husand and father), Jennie L. Gerber, Emeline King Gerber (wife and mother), Melissa Agnes Gerber Shanower (wife of William Zachary Shanower).

I re-doubled my efforts to identify Sophia's King family. It turned out I was right—Emeline and Sophia were sisters, daughters of Abraham King (1804-1888) and Phoebe Reichenbach King (1807-1885). Abraham and Phoebe King were parents to a large brood, all born in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The last name King had been Americanized from Koenig, and both Abraham's and Phoebe's ancestors had come from Switzerland, as several of my family lines did.

The King family moved to Canton, Stark County, Ohio, about 1856. Their farm was next door to the Gerber farm, so it surely wasn't long before Emeline King met her neighbor David E. Gerber. In 1858 they married. Like Emeline's parents, she and David also gave birth to a large brood.

The Gerber farmhouse about five miles south of Canton, Stark County, Ohio, circa 1910. Emeline King Gerber is the seated woman on the right. Her husband David E. Gerber is the seated man. They are surrounded by some of their children and their children's families. The King family, who were Emeline's parents and siblings, lived on the farm next door from about 1856 to 1866. The farm of Aaron King, brother of Emeline and Sophia, was another two doors down during the same period.

David and Emeline Gerber's eldest daughter Clara Ellen Gerber (1859-1881), like her sister Melissa and her aunt Sophia, married a Shanower. Clara married John A. Shanower (1851-1923), another of my great-great-great-uncles. John was a brother of both William Zachary, Melissa’s husband, and Benjamin Franklin, Sophia’s husband. Clara and John's marriage made Clara’s Aunt Sophia also her sister-in-law. (Although this double relationship was academic, since Sophia was dead by the time Clara married John in 1880.)

David Shanower Gerber's adoption certificate.
On July 30, 1881, John and Clara Ellen Gerber Shanower had their first and only child, David Henry Shanower (1881-1972). Clara died four days later from delivery complications. Her death certificate lists cause of death as “Childbed.” By the time David was four years old, his father John evidently wasn't up to the task of single fatherhood, so it was decided that David’s maternal grandparents, David E. Gerber and Emeline King Gerber, would adopt him. The adoption went through on November 23, 1885.

David Henry Shanower took the last name Gerber. His descendants are all my cousins twice over—through both the Shanower line and the adopted Gerber line. They’re one generation closer to me through the Shanower line.

My first cousin three times removed David Henry Shanower Gerber is related to Sophia King Shanower in three ways. He’s her nephew through her marriage to his uncle Benjamin Franklin. He’s her grand-nephew through her sister Emeline, his grandmother. He’s her nephew again through his adoption by Emeline. So Sophia King Shanower, who I thought was only connected to me by her marriage to my great-great-grandfather Benjamin Franklin Shanower, turns out to be connected also through David Henry, our common blood relative, as well as through his birth parents. That makes Sophia my great-great-great-aunt-in-law and my great-great-great-great-aunt-in-law, as well as my great-great-step-grandmother. Three relatives in one.

The Gerber family, circa 1884. When I first saw this photo I'd read of David Henry Shanower's adoption by his maternal grandparents, but I didn't put two-and-two together and realize that the boy on the front right, who was identified as David Gerber, is actually my Shanower cousin. Obviously I realize that now. Back, left to right: George W. Gerber, Kathryn E. "Kate" Gerber Yutze, John Calhoun Gerber, Edward D. Gerber. Middle, left to right: Melissa Agnes Gerber Shanower (wife of William Zachary Shanower), Elva Gerber Riley, David E. Gerber (husband and father), Emeline King Gerber (wife, mother, and Sophia King Shanower's sister), Mary E. "Mellie" Gerber Miller. Front, left to right: Jennie L. Gerber and David Henry Shanower Gerber (son of John A. Shanower and Clara Ellen Gerber Shanower, adopted by David and Emeline Gerber).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Harlan Joseph Shanower, 1916-2013

Harlan Joseph Shanower (1916-2013).
My second cousin twice removed, Harlan Joseph Shanower, passed away last Saturday, January 26, 2013, in Aultman Hospital in Canton, Stark County, Ohio. He was born on November 8, 1916, in Welshfield, Troy Township, Geauga County, Ohio, to Olen Earl Shanower and Cora Edith Mathias Shanower. Our common ancestors were Harlan's great-grandparents John and Polly Roush Shanower, my great-great-great-grandparents.

I never met Harlan Shanower, but I know that he was a long-time firefighter and fathered a line of Shanower firefighters in Stark County, Ohio. He was also a World War II veteran and worked for Republic Steel for more than forty years, retiring in 1980. You can read his full obituary here.

The funeral service will be Wednesday, January 30, at 1 pm at Kreighbaum-Sanders Funeral Home, 4041 Cleveland Avenue South, Canton, Ohio  44707. Interment will be Sunset Hills Burial Park. Memorial donations may be made to the Stark County Fire Fighters Association, 306 Wooster NE, Navarre, Ohio  44662.

I'm saddened by the loss of another member of the family, and I extend my condolences to all who knew Harlan Shanower.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Hirvi Homes of Finn Hollow, Fairport

Up until a couple years ago I’d never heard the term Finn Hollow. As associated with the little blue-collar town of Fairport Harbor, Lake County, Ohio, Finn Hollow seems to have been a name recently resurrected from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My mother had never heard it either, and she spent much of her childhood growing up in Fairport, the town where her parents, aunts, and uncles had all grown up, too.

My great-great-grandfather, Wilhelm Heikkinpoika Hirvi (1866-1949), didn't grow up in Fairport, but he was one of the men who built Finn Hollow there. He was born in Ylistaro, Heippolan Kyla, Finland, and immigrated to the USA, arriving on March 18, 1884, at the age of seventeen. It’s probable that he went to Ashtabula, Ashtabula County, Ohio, for a while, which had a large population of Finnish immigrants. But my cousin Kenneth J. Quiggle* (born 1944) reports that Wilhelm first went to Burton, Geauga County, Ohio. (I have Shanower relatives still living in Burton.) As many Finnish immigrants did, Wilhelm may have been working on the New Central Railroad that went to nearby Chardon, Ohio. But that’s speculation on my part.

Somewhere along the way Wilhelm Hirvi's name was Americanized to William "Bill" Hervey. On September 11, 1885, he and twenty-two other Finnish immigrants—many from Ashtabula—moved to Fairport Harbor on the east bank of the Grand River where it meets Lake Erie. There they established the area of Fairport known as Finn Hollow or “alanko.”

Finn Hollow included ten houses built by those Finnish immigrants next to the Grand River on land above the docks where many of them worked. The land belonged to the Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Dock Company. The PLE allowed the men and their families to live there with the understanding that the land could be reclaimed by the company. So the houses were built with the knowledge that one day it might be necessary to move them.

In the early twentieth century, that day came. Nine of the houses were moved to locations elsewhere in Fairport. But for some reason Wilhelm Hirvi’s house was not moved. I suspect it was either not on the portion of land that the PLE intended to use or else it was not actually on PLE land. In any case, it’s still there at 116 Fourth Street in Fairport. The other houses still survive, too, although not in their original Finn Hollow locations.

[Update, August 2013: A family member reports that Wilhelm Hirvi's house wasn't moved because it was the only one of the Finn Hollow houses that had a basement.]

Wilhelm Hirvi and Wilhelmina Oberg Hirvi's Finn Hollow home in recent days, still in its original position at 116 Fourth Street, Fairport Harbor, Ohio. This photo is courtesy of my second cousin once removed Lee Silvi (born 1952), great-grandson of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina through their daughter Lillian Justina Hirvi Silvi (1901-1964), and is used with his permission. Photo copyright © 2012 Lee Silvi. All rights reserved.

Wilhelm Hirvi was naturalized on March 26, 1895, in Fairport Harbor. Wilhelm worked on the PLE docks. He would enter the holds of ships carrying iron ore and shovel the ore into buckets, which were hoisted out and the ore loaded into railway cars. He worked his way up to gang foreman, driving the men on the docks so hard that they called him “Wild Bill” and hated him. Brutal work and unforgiving attitudes of his fellow workers may have been contributing factors to why he drank.

On March 15, 1888, he married Wilhelmina Oberg (1865-1945), another Finnish immigrant to Fairport by way of Ashtabula. She, like Wilhelm, had been born in Ylistaro, Finland. I have no idea whether they knew each other as kids in Finland, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Wilhelm and Wilhelmina had seven children, six who survived to adulthood. Their eldest, John (1888-1918), was born October 31, only seven and a half months after his parents’ marriage, so it looks as though he was conceived out of wedlock. That would have been scandalous at the time, though hardly uncommon. I suspect it was a primary reason for his parents’ marriage, probably just after Wilhelmina realized she was pregnant. Great-great-uncle John died at age thirty during 1918’s worldwide flu epidemic. Wilhelm and Wilhelmina's second child was my great-grandmother Wilhelmina Elizabeth “Minnie” Hirvi Stuuri (1890-1946).

One of Wilhelm’s older brothers, Johan Heikki Hirvi (1860-1935), also emigrated from Finland and ended up in Finn Hollow in Fairport Harbor. I don't know whether he arrived in the USA before Wilhelm, afterward, or whether they traveled together. Johan Heikki's name was Americanized to John Henry Hervey and he was called Henry. In 1891 when the Fairport Fire Department was established, Henry Hervey was among the first group of firemen. This great-great-great-uncle of mine also lived in Finn Hollow in one of the nine Finn Hollow homes that were moved. Its current address is 221 Fourth Street in Fairport.

Wilhelm retired from the docks in 1933. He served several terms on the Fairport village council. On July 10, 1949, he died at the Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, home of his daughter Sigrid Maria Hirvi Ollila Youppi (1897-1989) and her second husband Frank Youppi. Wilhelm's funeral took place at Suomi Zion Lutheran Church in Fairport where he was a charter member. That’s the church that all my mother’s Fairport family have attended since they helped to establish it. You can see an old photo of the church in one of my earlier blog posts here.

Sometime about the mid-1940s Wilhelm Hirvi recorded a song on a home-made record. You can listen to it right here. I’m afraid the sound isn’t very good, especially for the first six or seven seconds. The whole thing isn’t very long—only 48 seconds. Wilhelm sang in Finnish, but even if you can speak the language, I doubt you’ll be able to distinguish the words. If you recognize the song, please let me know the title in the comments section at the end of this post. Whether anyone finds it listenable or not, I’m just glad this recording of my great-great-grandfather, a Finnish immigrant, survives.

Click Here to Listen to Wilhelm Hirvi sing.
Depending on your audio player you may need to click the little PLAY arrow.

* Kenneth J. Quiggle is my second cousin once removed through my maternal grandfather’s family, the Hietanens. Ken’s grandfather Forrest Quiggle (died 1961) married my great-great-aunt Aliisa Elviira “Ella” Hietanen (1894-1950). Ken could also be considered my second cousin twice removed along my maternal grandmother’s Hirvi/Hervey line, too, if you take two marriages of one woman into account. June Megley (1924-2007) married my first cousin three times removed Richard Henry Hervey (1917-1962). June Megley Hervey’s second husband was my first cousin twice removed Kenneth Grant Quiggle (1920-1986), uncle of Kenneth J. Quiggle.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Abundance of Crisco

Edna Marietta McNaughton Shanower as a young woman, circa 1910.
I met my great-grandmother Edna Marietta McNaughton Shanower (1891-1964) when I was a baby, but I don't remember her. She died in a car accident about six months after I was born.

In 1923 she entered a newspaper contest for the best menu. She won the contest and the newspaper printed her prize-winning menu, as follows:
Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 27, 1923

Contest First Prize Wins the Writer $5

Our family consists of father, a superintendent of service stations, who is driving every day; four boys, 11, 8, 6 and 2, and myself.

It is lovely to have girls, but mothers with boys just give them a chance to help while young and find they love to help fix things they like and often at the table they say, I helped make that dish.

We use lots of fruit, fresh and canned.

(Ralston’s) Cereal with Top Milk
Toast, Butter
Broiled Bacon
Cereal Cookies
Milk for Children

Cream of Tomato Soup
(Mueller’s) Spaghetti with Cheese Top
With Grape Nuts
Brown Bread and Butter
Apple Sauce With Cranberries
Milk for Children.

Chicken en Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Cabbage and Celery Salad
Bread and Butter
Quince Jelly
Cinnamon Cake
Milk for Boys

Cereal Cookies.
Cream together 1 ½ cups sugar, 2-3 cup crisco, add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup milk. Mix together 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup grape nuts, add to creamed mixture and add flour of consistency to drop from a spoon.

Apple Sauce With Cranberries.
Make apple sauce as usual. Cook and sweeten the cranberries. To 4 cups of apple sauce use 1 cup of cranberries. It is a lovely color.

Chicken en Casserole.
When ready to cook chicken put frying pan on stove with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 of lard. Roll the pieces of chicken in flour, which is salted, and fry a nice brown. Put into casserole with 1 onion, a little more salt, a little pepper and cover 2-3 with water. Let cook in hot oven for two hours. Other vegetables may be added if liked.

Cinnamon Cake.
Take 1 egg, 1 cup granulated sugar, 3-4 cup crisco, beat well together, add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup cold coffee, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 ½ cups flour sifted last.

Beat well and bake in a shallow pan. Before putting to bake sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon mixed which forms an icing baked.

Bake in a slow oven thirty minutes.

It is better the day after baked.

The “father” Edna refers to in her first sentence was her husband, David Elmer Shanower (1885-1967), my great-grandfather. Their four boys are Malcolm David (1913-1997), Robert Benjamin (1915-1969), my grandfather Stanley Raymond (1917-1987), and Rowland Glen (1921-1973). Still to be born when this menu was published was their fifth boy, Maynard Austin (1925-1944).

Shanower Family, circa 1935. Back: Stanley, Malcolm, Robert, Rowland. Front: Edna, Maynard, David.
There are some curiosities in Edna’s menu. Look at the list of lunch dishes. Does she really mean she served spaghetti with Grape Nuts? That must be an error on someone’s part—either Edna’s error when writing out her contest submission or the newspaper’s typographical error when printing the menu. Right? Or is Grape Nuts sprinkled over spaghetti a delicacy of which I’ve been heretofore unaware?

When I mentioned this menu and its recipes to my father, he was surprised. He never knew his grandmother Edna to use a recipe when cooking or baking. She was basically a stranger to measuring tools, he claims. Yet here are recipes written by her that call for specific amounts of ingredients.

Note in particular the recipes that use Crisco. Her recipe for Cereal Cookies calls for two to three cups of it. The rest of the measured ingredients altogether are only just over a cup more than the amount of Crisco. Now, she doesn’t specify an amount of flour, just “add flour of consistency to drop from a spoon.” That would have to be a lot of flour to balance all that Crisco. I guess “father” and those four boys ate a lot of cookies.

Then the recipe for Cinnamon Cake calls for even more Crisco—three to four cups—but only two and a half cups of flour. How much Crisco were people using in the 1920s?

Maybe because Edna never used measuring tools, she misjudged the measurements when submitting these recipes. But would anyone have misjudged so radically? That’s a lot of Crisco!

I’d think the newspaper would’ve had someone prepare the dishes they were considering for prizes.  Maybe they did, but even I—who am no cook—have to wonder whether this recipe would result in something edible, much less prize-winning.

Was Crisco a big investor in the Cleveland Plain Dealer at the time? Or maybe the Plain Dealer wanted Crisco’s advertising? Who knows? But if anyone tries out these recipes involving an abundance of Crisco—or Grape Nuts on spaghetti—let me know the results in the comments section.

[Addendum, January 23, 2013 - As David has pointed out in the comments section and a friend pointed out on Facebook, the 2-3 and 3-4 in Edna's recipes ought to read instead 2/3 and 3/4. For some reason, whoever set the type for the newspaper page used hyphens rather than slashes. Mystery solved. However, why there's a "with" before Grape Nuts is still open to possible solutions.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Like the Cheese

Swiss cheese. It has holes. Like my Shanower ancestral line. Or should I spell it Schonauer? That’s how they spelled it back in Grosshochstetten, Canton Bern, Switzerland, where my possible ancestor Andreas Schonauer was born about 1560.

There’s a huge hole in the line of descent from Andreas Schonauer and his wife Elsbeth Krahenbuhl Schonauer (1558-?). Here, in a previous blog post about my five times great-grandfather Henry Shanower, I pointed out that hole between the Schonauers and their purported Shanower descendants. There’s no definite connection between them, no proof that my oldest direct Shanower ancestor, my five times great-grandfather Henry, descended from the Schonauers of Switzerland.

Two factors support the idea that he didn’t. The first is a discontinuity of names—the lack of earlier Henrys. I’ve found no Henrys among earlier Schonauers, a family that tended to reuse names through the generations.

I’ve come across several Henry Shoners and Heinrich Schoners while researching alternate spellings, but so far I haven’t found any family connections among Shoners or Schoners to my five times great-grandfather Henry Shanower.

There is, however, a Henry Schannauer (1859-1860) descended from the Swiss Schonauers in another line. But this Henry, who died before he was a year old, was born several decades after my five times great-grandfather Henry Shanower probably died. So the existence of this infant Henry probably doesn’t signal a continuity of names.

There are Jacobs and Johns, Abrahams and Magdalenas on both sides of the hole, though, so maybe those names show continuity. And Henry’s son Jacob Shanower (1785-1829) had his last name spelled variously as Shoenauer and Schöenhauer. Those spellings might indicate a link to the Swiss Schonauers, too.

The second factor indicating that Henry Shanower might not be descended from the Swiss Schonauers is the possible German origin of Henry’s ancestors. My father has long believed the received information that the Shanowers came from Germany, not Switzerland. An early twentieth century report of a Shanower family reunion mentions the German origin of the family. So maybe my Shanower line wasn’t Swiss, but German.

However, I can explain how a Swiss family line might come to be considered German. The Swiss Hans Schonauer (1644-aft. 1711) and his wife Elisabeth Aebersold Schonauer (abt. 1647-aft. 1711), of Grosshochstetten, Canton Bern, Switzerland, were persecuted for their religious beliefs. In 1710 they were imprisoned at the Upper Hospital in Bern because they were Anabaptists. They managed to buy their way out of jail, but in 1711 they were exiled from Switzerland and put onto a ship bound for Holland. They escaped at Mannheim, Germany, the main city of the Palatinate.

Karl Ludwig I von der Pfalz by Gerrit van Honthorst.
Germany’s Palatinate in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was a province in southern Germany between the Swiss and French borders along the headwaters of the Rhine. It was known for being an area of religious tolerance by direction of Karl Ludwig I von der Pfalz, Elector Palatinate (1617-1680), known at the English court as Charles Louis I. He wanted people to move into the area, which had been depopulated by the Thirty Years’ War. (Incidentally, Karl Ludwig I is related to David by being the fifteen times great-nephew of Euphemia Bruce of the Scottish royal family, David’s many times great-grandmother.) Many Anabaptist Swiss emigres spent years in the Palatinate before renewed religious persecution from France caused them to emigrate again. This time they settled in North America, primarily in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where William Penn’s Quaker views were a good fit with the beliefs of such Anabaptist sects as the Mennonites and the Amish.

In 1729 one of Hans and Elizabeth Schonauer’s sons, also named Hans (1688-1749), was living in the town of Perry in the Palatinate. Hans Jr. left Germany about 1744 and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where his name Hans was Americanized to John. It’s possible—maybe even probable—that one of the younger Hans’s grandsons is my five times great-grandfather Henry Shanower. If that’s true, then the Swiss Schonauers’ sojourn in the German Palatinate could explain the story of a German origin for the Shanowers.

My research on other family lines has many holes, too, but I suspect that some of these lines may have come from Switzerland. My suspicions find support in the seventeenth and eighteenth century pattern of migration from Switzerland to the Palatinate to North America, most often Pennsylvania.

Frederick Roush grave, Massillon, Ohio.
My five times great-grandfather Philip Roush is said to be from Bavaria in Germany. The border between Bavaria and the neighboring Palatinate fluctuated in the seventeenth century, so although I have no proof, this could suggest that Philip Roush was, like the Schonauers, a Palatinate settler originally from Switzerland. While I don’t have any direct confirmation that Philip immigrated to Pennsylvania, his son Frederick Roush (1789-1844) is reported to have been born there before moving to Stark County, Ohio.

My six times great-grandfather Johann Michael Haflich (abt. 1720-abt. 1770) seems to have a similar story. He was born in the Palatinate region—in Mutterstadt, Pfalz, Bavaria, as were his American immigrant parents Johann Karl Hoefflich (abt. 1699-aft. 1760) and Eva Kern Hoefflich (abt. 1700-abt. 1760). So was his grandfather Franz Hoefflich (1677-abt. 1730), as well as his great-grandparents Franz Hoefflich (abt. 1644-abt. 1694) and Elizabetha Hoefflich (abt. 1650-abt. 1690). Could this line have been from Switzerland originally? The Haflichs followed the pattern of moving from the Palatinate area to Pennsylvania, specifically Richmond in Berks County, before 1756. But since they’d been in Pfalz as early as 1644—before the end of the Thirty Years' War—maybe they’re simply German after all.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the French region of Alsace bordered the Palatinate. Between 1671 and 1711 immigrants flooded into Alsace, too, many of them Anabaptist refugees from Canton Bern in Switzerland, where the Schonauers had lived. My six times great-grandmother Eva Catharina Startzmann Haflich (1722-1770), wife of Johann Michael Haflich, was born in Rexingen, Alsace, France. Both of Eva Haflich’s grandfathers were born there, too: her paternal grandfather Hans Martin Startzmann about 1660 and her maternal grandfather Heinrich Arneth about 1670. Like the Haflichs, the Startzmanns also ended up in Richmond, Berks County, Pennsylvania, in the mid-1700s. And none of their names sound French.

If any of my older Roush, Haflich, Startzmann, or Arneth ancestors were Swiss, my genealogical research, like the cheese, is too full of holes to show it. But the Reitenauers, who I’ll discuss next, are a different case. They must be the part between the holes.

My eleven times great-grandfather Antony “Anton” Reitenauer (abt. 1586-?) was definitely Swiss. He came from the area of Gondiswil in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, possibly from the small municipality of Reitnau in Canton Aargau about ten miles from Gondiswil.

His grandson Nicolaus “Claus” Reitenauer (1650-1717) ended up in Alsace, France, following the migration pattern. Continuing that pattern, several of Claus’s grandsons, including Nicholas Reutenauer (1711-1795) and Henry Reutenauer (1713-1781), emigrated with their father Johann "Hans" Nicholas Reitenauer from Alsace, France, to Maryland in the USA.

Immigrant passenger list of the ship Robert and Alice, September 3, 1739. The third name, marked with the dot, supposedly reads Hans Nicholas Reitenauer, who was son of Claus and father of Nicholas and Henry. I can't make out the writing, but other records show that this Hans Nicholas Reitenauer immigrated to the USA, so I'll accept this reading.
The eldest of those grandsons, Nicholas Reutenauer, had a granddaughter, Anna Elizabeth Ridenour Hawk (1774-abt. 1840), my five times great-grandmother. Anna Ridenour Hawk was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. About 1824-25 she was, with her husband Conrad and their crowd of children, one of the earliest settlers of Green Creek Township in Sandusky County, Ohio.

And—what do you know?—my Hawk line, originally spelled Haag, came from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, which used to be part of—you guessed it—the Palatinate. Baden-Wurttemberg is right next to—quelle surprise!—Alsace, France. And after the Hawks left Germany they settled in—wait for it—Pennsylvania.

Noah Jacob Huss grave, Clyde, Ohio.
Mary Burkholder Huss grave, Clyde, Ohio.
Conrad and Anna Hawk’s son David Hawk (1805-1855), my great-great-great-great grandfather, married Eleanor “Ellen” Huss Hawk (1812-1889), who was born in York, York County, Pennsylvania. The family of Ellen’s father, Noah Jacob Huss (1790-1843), came from Germany, but I don’t know the region or whether they reached Germany from Switzerland. So far I’ve failed to find the ancestors of Ellen’s mother, Mary Burkholder (1789-1849), my six times great-grandmother, but I know that some Burkholders came to Pennsylvania from Germany. It's probable that Mary’s forebears did, too. And if they did, there’s a chance they came from Switzerland before that.

But enough speculation—back to the Reitenauers. The second immigrant grandson of Claus Reitenauer, Henry Reutenauer, married, as his second wife, a woman I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, my six times great-grandmother Eva Catharina Startzmann Haflich, widow of Johann Michael Haflich. Through Eva’s second marriage to Henry Reutenauer, she became my eight times great-aunt as well as being my six times great-grandmother already. To complicate the connections even further, Eva’s mother, Christina Arneth Startzmann was the sister of Henry’s mother, Anna Margaretha Arneth Reutenauer. So Eva’s second husband, Henry, was also her first cousin.

These multi-generational connections to the Reitenauers suggest to me that the Startzmanns and the Arneths were also Swiss at an earlier point, especially when considering their aforementioned pattern of migration from Alsace to Pennsylvania. But there are too many holes to be certain.

Catherine Easley Leifer, circa 1880s.
Finally, there are the Leifers. Frederick Leifer (1813-1865) and Catherine Easley Leifer (1818-1892), my great-great-great-grandparents, were born in Switzerland. They immigrated to Ohio in the early 1850s, probably in 1854, with no lengthy stops in Germany or Pennsylvania on the way. Their daughter, my great-great-grandmother, Louisa “Lucy” Leifer Shanower (1856-1916), was their first child born in the USA.
Louisa "Lucy" Leifer Shanower, circa 1900.

Lucy’s older brothers and sisters were all born in Switzerland. Her brother Jacob Leifer (1842-1922) was born in Sougenreed, Canton Bern, Switzerland. Jacob was living in Massillon, Ohio, in April 1907 when he made a month-long trip to Switzerland for a visit to the old Swiss hometown, taking along his son Daniel Webster Leifer (1869-1947), my first cousin three times removed. This 1907 return to Switzerland wasn’t the first; there seems to have been an earlier trip in the late 1860s.

Later, cousin Daniel Webster made at least one more trip to Switzerland, this time in 1937, taking his wife, Iva May “Ivy” Donant Leifer (1869-1956). A few years afterward, Ivy was pained to learn of the destruction World War II was causing to many of the European countries they’d visited on their trip.

The Leifer family, circa 1875. The only person I can positively identify is Lucy Leifer Shanower (1856-1917), my great-great-grandmother, the woman standing to the right of center. Compare her to the later photo of her above. The woman on the left could be Catherine Easley Leifer (1818-1892), Lucy's mother. Compare her to the later photo of her above. If that's Catherine, then the man her hand is resting on is likely her husband, Frederick Leifer (1813-1865). As usual, you can click on any photo to have it open larger in another window.
Those are all my Swiss ancestors, both certain and speculative—at least for now. I hadn’t been aware of my Swiss ancestry before my genealogical research revealed it. I was surprised—and happy—to find it. But I’d still like to fill in some of those holes.