Saturday, January 5, 2019

What Happened in 2018

To say that 2018 was difficult feels like an understatement. I have not written a post since early February 2018 and one of the reasons for this is because I lost my Dad on 23 February 2018. It was totally unexpected and devastating not only to me but my entire family. My Dad died as our family was heading to Florida for another beloved member of our family, my Uncle Jim who had lost his short and valiant fight with ALS 11 days earlier.

My Dad on the right and my Uncle Jim on the left. 

Since my Dad's death I have had writer's block. I can't even bring myself to enter my Dad's death in my genealogy database. I expected to have problems writing in the immediate aftermath of my Dad's death and funeral services. First it was a month and then two and now here it is nearly 11 months later and I am still at a loss for words. 

Since I could not write about my family I turned to working DNA matches. First for my cousin Ben who has been my closest match since 2013. We connect through my maternal line of Baugh. Turns out my grandfather and his father were brothers, making us 2nd cousins. This past spring, Ben had a close family match and they were able to help Ben even further.

By early summer I still couldn't write. So I started working my Dad's matches at FamilyTreeDNA and so far he has no matches closer than third cousins and none of them help with my brick wall of my third great grandfather, William H. Williams. He is definitely driving me crazy with no records after 17 June 1880 which is the 1880 census. 

Fall arrived and still I couldn't write. Now it's January 2019 and I am still having trouble writing. I have written and deleted this post at 10 times since I started writing it on New Year's Day. I am not going to make any promise's or goals for 2019 genealogy wise. I will be happy if I can just manage one post a month to help me get back into writing. Maybe I just need to set aside my Dad's line for awhile and work on my Mom's especially now that my Uncle has done a DNA test! The one thing I do know is that I really need to learn some of the new third party tools that I am hearing about. 

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Take care,


© 2019, copyright Dawn M. Kogutkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

In a Land and a Time of Ever Changing Country Boundaries ~ William Rueff ~ Our Immigrant Ancestor

William Rueff is my 5th great grandfather. He was born ca. 1775-1780 probably in Germany but this is not yet confirmed. The name of his wife is unknown. The date and place of their marriage is unknown. He had one known child, Charles Karl Rueff. William died between 1860 and 1870 in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. 

Family Lore Says:

  • Our immigrant ancestor William Rueff was a knight who fought in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • That his benefactor, Joseph Francis (son of Ferdinand I and Marie Theresa of Lorraine), bestowed the Rueff family crest to William for his swordmanship and as the shoemaker to the Royal family.
  • William decided to leave the life of a soldier and to practice his craft of shoemaking in Alsace, France.
  • At sometime between 1804-1820 William married a woman named Favilie.
What I Know so Far:

I know that William had one known son, Charles, whose mother is unknown at this time. I know that William and his son immigrated to the United States possibly as early as 1818 to the early 1820's and settled in Louisville, Kentucky. I have been unable to find a  passenger list for William and his family. I have poured over ship manifests for every major seaport on the east coast and every seaport on the Gulf of Mexico (it seems many with the surname of Rueff came through New Orleans) to know avail. I have also scoured every passenger list I could find from France and Germany which I believe would have been the most likely ports of departure. 

What few records I have found have been at While living in Louisville, William worked as a shoemaker according to both the 1850  and 1860 census records. The 1850 U.S. census brought more questions about the relationships of my ancestors.

In the 1850 U.S. census William is living in the home of Frances Brining or Brening. Frances is living next door to William's son, Charles. Is Frances his daughter or just a neighbor? The other piece of information I found in the 1850 U.S. census is that in Charles' home are three young men, John (b. ca. 1826), Charles (b. ca. 1828) and Henry (b. ca.1828) Rueff. All three were born in Germany and were shoemakers. Are they also son's of William? In my efforts to determine the relationships of these three young men with my known Rueff family I have put them in a separate tree and I am currently compiling data that I hope will solve the mystery.

In the 1860 U.S. census, William is now living in the home of his son, Charles. Also in the household are Charles' wife, Dorothea and their children William Joseph (b. 1849), Mary (b. 1851), Annie (b. 1853), Charles (b. 1855) and Frank (b. 1858). William, his son and daughter in law all list Rhine Pfalz as their place of birth. 

I have found no census records for the years 1830 and 1840 for William though I have a few I am still contemplating if they could be him. Unfortunately, it is the age of the head of house that is keeping me from saying anything definitive. I have also not been able to locate a will, land or tax records for William. Where was he between the time he and his family arrived in the U.S. and showing up on the 1850 census in Louisville, Kentucky? Did he first ply his trade of shoemaking in another city or state before he arrived in Louisville? If so, where?

Research Questions:

  1. Can I prove where William was born?
  2. Will I be able to prove who his parents are?
  3. Can I prove that William did in fact fight in the Napoleonic Wars?
  4. Can I prove that Joseph, son of Ferdinand 1 and Marie Theresa did bestow our family crest?
  5. Can I prove that he was in fact the shoemaker of the Royal family of Alsace?
  6. Will I be able to find marriage documents that will give me the full name of William's wife?
  7. Can I determine exactly when William and his family immigrated to the United States?
These are broad questions and will need to be narrowed down further but it is a place to start. I also need to widen my search to include cities with major ports to see if he lived and/or worked in the area before heading Louisville. A research trip back to Louisville is needed but I am not sure when that will be just yet. In the meantime I will continue you looking for records online and writing to repositories for additional information. 

DNA Studies:

I have tested my Mom who currently only has 50 matches. Her two closest matches are her grandson and her niece. Then she has three 2nd cousin matches, five 3rd cousin matches and forty 4th cousin matches. I have been in contact with a few of her matches but I am still wading through them to see how and who they connect too. I am also hoping I can convince my uncle (my Mom's brother) to do a DNA test as well.

Are you a Rueff descendant from Louisville, Kentucky? Please contact me at


1. 1850 U.S. census, Jefferson County, Kentucky, population schedule, 2nd Ward, City of Louisville, p. 146 (verso), dwelling 99, family 132, line 39, entry for William Rueff; database with images, ( : 13 January 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M432, roll 206.
2. 1860 U.S. Census, Jefferson County, Kentucky, population schedule, 4th Ward City of Louisville, p. 19 (penned, top left corner), dwelling 128, family 151, line 13, entry for William Rueff; database with images, ( : 13 January 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M653, roll 376.
3. 1850 U.S. census, Jefferson County, Kentucky, population schedule, 2nd Ward, City of Louisville, p. 146 (verso), dwelling 98, family 131, lines 29-34, entry for Charles Rueff; database with images, ( : 13 January 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M432, roll 206.

©2018, Dawn M. Kogutkiewicz, genealogical researcher and writer of Dawning Genealogy. All rights reserved.