This new blogging challenge, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, landed in my lap recently, and it seems that fate wants me to tell you about a man in my husband’s lineage whose name my children were born to.
I’m a member of a Facebook group called Pennsylvania Genealogy Network and had added my ROESSLER surname to one of their surname files for researchers to find each other, my Roessler line being associated with Allegheny County. I was contacted just yesterday by a fellow group member noting that her mother-in-law was a ROESSLER from the county I had indicated. Fast forward a few back and forths and BINGO! we’re both interested in a couple who began our Roessler family here in the United States. While it appears I have more information document-wise, she is blessed to be closer both in location and in generations to this founding family. This couple was her husband’s great grandparents, as compared to being my husband’s third great grandparents. You can imagine, perhaps, that the stories his family has of the Roessler family do not reach back 4 generations to the days when they lived in Pennsylvania and therefore, this founding couple.
So here is what I know of Christ Roessler. His name is always abbreviated as “Christ.” or “Chr” with the exception of his Muster Rolls, where his name is spelled “Christoph,” and once each as “Christian” and “Christopf.” Even his military headstone says “CHRIST. ROESSLER.” So I just refer to him as Christ. Christ was born 27 Aug 1833 in Baden, Germany (1), and he came to the United States prior to February 1855 (2), but I’ve yet to find any information on his emigration. He married Louisa Mansderver/Mansderfer on either 22 February 1855 by Reverend Zimmerman (2) or 3 March 1855 by Reverend Gilbert (3). In 1907, at the age of 73, Christ noted that at enlistment (1861) he was 5’8″ with light hair and complexion and gray eyes. He enlisted, at the age of 28, as a Private in Company F of the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry on 6 September 1861 in Pittsburgh, and that he was honorably discharged with the whole of his Company at Fort Ethan Allen in Virginia on the 16th September 1864 (1). I know that he received a $12 Pension, under Certificate No. 862566 (1), but two of his records include the number 600.322 (4) (5), so that needs to be further investigated. Christ alleged in 1887 to the Bureau of Pensions that he was wounded whilst in the service “disabled by a gunshot wound in head (scalp wound) recieved at Bull Run, Va Aug 27th, 1862” (4), but a review of his regimental records did not provide evidence of said wound (5).
I am blessed to have been given a bunch of documents that may just comprise the entirety of Christ’s military file, but as they were hand-me-downs, I’m not certain at this time, but I do have a lot of it! I have 4 pages of legal-sized photocopies of his Muster Rolls dating from 31 Dec 1861 to 16 Sep 1864 when he mustered out at Fort Ethan Allen in Virginia. Christ was sent on several recruiting missions back to Pittsburgh while he was in service, as noted on his Muster Rolls (6). Also included is the accounting of his pay, he was last paid 30 Apr 1864, but did not muster out until 16 September 1864. He was due $9.09 on his clothing account since last settlement date of 29 February 1864, he was also due $100 in Bounty, and had a Stoppage on his account for $2.48 “for one Rubber Blanket not paid” (7).
The children of Christ and his wife Louisa are noted in his 2 Pension Questionnaires (2) (3), though their birth dates are inconsistent between the 2 documents, completed when Christ was 64 and 65 years old, also according to the records his wife passed away between the two. Here are their children with both their 1898 (3) and 1899 (2) birth dates, respectively:
Christ Roessler – 22 Aug 1855 / 22 Aug 1855
Henry Roessler – 30 Nov 1856 / 28 Feb 1856
Lizzie Roessler Grine – 7 Sep 1860 / 12 Jun 1860
Caroline Roessler – 30 Oct 1865 / 8 May 1866
Albert C Roessler – 25 Jun 1865 / 25 Jul 1876
As the birth date of Christ (the younger) does not change, I am doubtful Henry was born 6 months after him, so the November 1856 date is more likely for him, and subsequently the September birth for Lizzie. Caroline is a post-war baby, so either date is feasible. Albert Charles’ birth date is definitely closer to the 1876 date, even though it is a large gap, based on his 1880 and 1900 census records.
The Roesslers were members of the German Evangelical Church of Birmingham, now the Birmingham United Church of Christ, and I have contacted them for more information, and thankfully their records from 1843 – 1977 have been archived at the University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, which is on my ToDo List for this year. I’d love to get my hands on the marriage record of Christ and Louisa, and the birth/baptism records of the children.
Christ died on 24 Mar 1909 (8), and is buried in what is now known as Birmingham Cemetery in Pittsburgh, PA, though I’ve also heard it referred to as Zimmerman. He has a memorial listed on FindAGrave. A fellow descendant visited his resting place in 2013 with her dad, a great grandson of Christ’s, and is kindly allowing me to share her photos with you, thank you Karen!
So there you are, basically everything I know about Christ. Roessler, the Original Immigrant Ancestor of my husband’s Roessler family. Do you have any suggestions or information that might help me get a fuller picture of Christ or his family? Are you connected to him? Please contact me! My research wishlist for Christ:
- When did Christ journey to the United States, and from where? Did he travel with any other family?
- Search the microfilm records of the church for any mention of Christ and his family.
- Request the full military pension file for Christ to determine if there are any pieces missing from what I was given.
- Did Christ become a Naturalized Citizen? When? Would he have had to be a Citizen to enlist in the Civil War?
- Start a Descendants Project for all of the descendants of Christ and Louisa.
- “ACT OF FEBRUARY 6, 1907 DECLARATION FOR PENSION,” 23 March 1907.
- Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions Questionnaire dated 6 January 1899, signed 9 January 1899.
- Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions Questionnaire dated 15 January 1898, signed 6 June 1898.
- Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions letter dated 8 April 1887 requesting records from the War Department regarding an injury suffered during the war by Christ Roessler, Private, Co F 74th PA Inf.
- War Department Adjutant General’s Office letter dated 31 May 1887 in response to (4) with service details, no evidence found in records of said wound.
- Muster Roll Records of Private Christ Roessler, Co F. 74th PA Inf, dates spanning 31 Dec 1861 – Aug 1864, 4 pages.
- Muster Out Account Record, dated after 30 Apr 1864.
- United States Pension Agency, Pensioner Dropped, Christ Roessler, Certificate No. 862.566, died 24 March 1909, dated 25 March 1909.