Christina Catherina Luithardt | Ruslin Hills Cemetery
I remember the first family tree I ever had to fill out, tripping over the name. Heck, I could barely fit it in the little rectangles they provided to record our ancestors’ names: Christina Laurina Katherina Zeigler.
It was probably third grade or so. We were assigned a sort of combination interview/research project. I dutifully called my grandmothers Ley and Foutz and recorded their answers.
The names were all new to me then, of course. I had only grown up knowing one of my great-grandparents, and it turned out M.A. Ley, as we knew her (really Florence (Jones) Ley), had been my grandpa’s stepmother. And so I dutifully scribbled Robert Earl Ley Jr. and Zula Lucrece Fisher (that was another fun name) in their appropriate rectangles.
Grandma Ley’s side gave me Robert Ohio Weible and Beatrice Ethel Morgan.
Grandma Foutz’s side gave me Charles Arthur Johnson and Viola Mae Palmer.
Grandpa Foutz’s dad’s name I may have known. You take Vance Cleveland Foutz and Robert Ohio Weible from Mom’s side and you get the name they considered for me for a time — Cleveland Ohio Foutz. I think I had heard that story by age 8 — and been thankful they’d reconsidered.
But Grandpa Foutz’s mom’s name was new, and wholly unique. Grandma said it several times, spelled it out: Christina Laurina Katherina Zeigler.
Laura Foutz By Any Other Name
I wondered about a name so exotic. What were its origins?
Back then, I understood the Foutz side of my family to hail from Germany, and that was true of the Zeiglers as well. Great-Grandma Laura’s mom (Elizabeth Duerr Zeigler) only spoke German in the house — or so the legend went. I figured Laura’s unique name was a part of that heritage.
Years after that first family tree assignment, I began to burrow into my family’s history in earnest. As I began to accumulate records — 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses for Vance and Laura’s family, their 1907 marriage record, the 1947 deed selling their Front Street bungalow to my grandparents, her 1956 funeral card and obituary — none of them recorded the unique name my grandma Erma Foutz had related.
Even her shared gravestone with Vance in Dover Burial Park etched her name, simply, as Laura K. Foutz.
Certainly, no relatives other than my immediate family seemed to recall the melodic string of names being associated with Laura. Could it just be a family legend?
Ah, but then, some documented evidence, at last. And of the most authoritative kind, historically speaking.
Laura’s 1885 birth record lists her name as “Christine Catharine Ziegler,” born to John J. Ziegler and Elizabeth Duerr. Aside from the marring of the family name — back in Germany, at least, it was “ie” but we switched to “ei” here — bango! The name had to have been given to her by her parents.
Furthermore, the 1900 census, the only census Laura appears on as a child (the 1890 federal census having been lost to fire) records her name as Christina, youngest child (then 14) of 5 living with a widowed Elizabeth Zeigler. (William, Jacob, David and Edward are the others, sisters Anna and Bertha having already been married off, and brothers Samuel and Gottleib having died young, accounting for the census record of 10 children born to Elizabeth, 8 of whom were then living.)
So, some confirmation at least of the name I’d learned in elementary school. But where did it come from?
Jacob & Catharine Zeigler – Coming to America
As noted above, Great-Grandma Foutz’s siblings’ names are interesting, but not nearly so… suspiciously sing-song, say, as Christina Laurina Katherina.
You have, according to my synthesis of records from the 1860s through 1974, when her last sister passed away: Johann Heinrich, Samuel, Charles William, Matthias Gottleib, Mary Anna, Susanna Bertha M., Jacob Phillip, David Wesley and Edward Daniel. Not exactly Transylvanian, right?
It wasn’t until this year that I placed her name in proper ancestral context, even if some mysteries remain.
Thomas Bitticker, a distant cousin from the Duerr line, not only lives in the Ruslin Hills today — old stomping grounds of our 19th century Zeigler ancestors — but attends the same church building at the edge of the Zeigler homestead where most of great-grandma’s siblings were confirmed and married, and knows his way around Ruslin Hill Cemetery to boot.
Thomas shared a remarkable artifact of an ancestor I had not previously been able to trace my family to. Turns out, Great-Grandpa J.J. Zeigler’s parents were Jacob Friedrich Zeigler and Christina Catharina Luithard.
Armed with a name, I unearthed some other documentation that further confirms Jacob and Christina as third great-grandparents — and traces their emigration from Wuerttemberg, Germany to Ohio in the mid-1800s.
Birth certificates show Jacob and Christina as parents to my great-grandfather Johann Jacob, born May 20, 1827 in Hohenacker, Waiblingen, Wuerttemberg; and to an older sister, Barbara, born Sept. 12, 1810 in the same city and district.
The Wuerttemberg, Germany Emigration Index records “Ziegler, Jacob Friedr” as applying for emigration from Hohenacker, Waiblingen in April 1834.
Ship’s records in New York show the family arriving on July 17, 1834 from Le Havre, France on the ship Francis Depeau. The passenger manifest, recorded in the captain’s hand, shows the family at that time to include: Jacob F Ziegler, 50; Catherine Ziegler, 46; Mattias Ziegler, 21; Rosine Ziegler, 19; Gottlieb, 14; Frederica, 11; and “Jean”, age 9, born in 1827; as well as sister Catherine, 4, and a Jacob Ziegler, age 41, possibly a relation of Jacob F.
The 1850 census records Jacob F. and Catharine living in Lawrence Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Son Jacob, 23, is the only child living with them.
Now, I’m not certain where the rest of their children went. And though an Ancestry.com connection reports sister Barbara as having married in Hohenacker and eventually settling in Stark County, Ohio, where she is buried, all of that has to be substantiated.
What is substantiated, though, is my great-grandma’s connection to her own grandmother Zeigler’s name. The elder Christina Catherine is buried in Ruslin Hill Cemetery, her stone broken, and barely legible, but the dates of birth and death unmistakably hers.
As to where the “Laura” name came from, or the sing-songy variation Christina Laurina Katherina (not to mention the conversion of Catherine to K), I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a game a youngest child of 10 played with her own name? Or another family legend, etched deep.