Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ruth Ann Stolebarger (Stoalabarger), 1893

My great great grandmother Ruth Ann Stolebarger Travis
Every time I look at this photo, I wonder...

Here is what I know:
Ruth Ann Stolebarger Travis was sixty-one when this photo was taken in 1893. She was born on June 3, 1832 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania and was a redhead.
The first trace I find of her family is in Union, Huntingdon County, PA in the 1830 Federal Census, though her eldest brother Ephraim is said to have been born there in 1823. Ruth's other siblings were Thomas (1825), Almira (1842) and Martha (1843).
In 1843, Ruth moved with her parents and siblings to Jefferson County, Iowa.  Her father John Stoalabarger passed away soon thereafter and her mother married Samuel Berry in 1846 and had one more son, William (1849).
Ruth Ann married Abraham Travis on March 20, 1852 in Fairfield, Iowa. On May 6, 1852, the newlyweds moved to Sidney, Iowa and, by all accounts, lived a wonderful life there as one of the town's pioneer families. Ruth Ann was extraordinarily lucky in that all twelve of her children lived into adulthood and none predeceased her.
To the town's great sadness, she passed away on June 23, 1901 at the age of 69. Her obituary stated that her funeral was so well attended that townspeople were forced to stand outside in the hot street, straining to hear the eulogy.

Questions:
There is a lot of mystery surrounding Ruth Ann's parents. Her father John is said to have been born in the Upper Rhine area of Germany c.1800, but, to my knowledge, no one has ever found any documentation of this. Additionally, her mother Sarah's maiden name is unknown.
One of the biggest problems in researching this family is the name "Stolebarger." It is a very difficult name that was spelled differently on virtually every record. The most common spelling seems to be Stoalabarger, but I have also seen it as Stolebarger, Stolabarger, Stulebarger, Stuhlberger, Stuleberger, Stulabarger, Stella Barger and more!  Furthermore, I have not been able to find a record of anyone with a similar name on any passenger records at all! I sometimes theorize that the name was originally something more traditionally German, like Stahlberger. Unfortunately, that hasn't led me anywhere either.

For now, I am just very happy to have such a good photo of her from so long ago.

12 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this post and seeing your great great grandmother's photo. I can understand how difficult it is to find out any details on some family lines as I have experienced this myself. One thing I do know that when people with foreign (non English) names entered NZ the surnames were often misspelt or Anglicised which makes it so difficult to trace their origins.

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  2. I can understand why you would want to know more about her parents and the rest of the family. She has such a warm face, and I'm so delighted to hear that she was well-loved.

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  3. I share your frustration in tracking down with so many different spellings; that happened so often back then depending on who wrote it. I believe it must have had a very different traditional German spelling but the census takers, immigration examiners and others put it down as they wanted to. I wonder if that church has any records that would be of help to you....Ancestry.com has lots more records now and may offer some tips for you; I have recenlty used them with success. Anyway she appears to be a hansome, solid woman...I especially like that little crocheted/ lacy tie at her throat; I would bet she or someone close to her made it for her.

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  4. Thank you so much for the comments!
    Apparently, the Travises were a very close, warm family. My grandmother said that Millie Travis Proctor (my great grandmother who was Ruth Ann's daughter), was "THE nicest woman" she ever met. So, if that is any indication of her family life growing up, it makes perfect sense that you see warmth, Christine. And, Pat, you are probably right that someone in the family made that tie for her (probably one of her 4 daughters).
    As far as the spelling, I agree with you both, Pat and Marilyn. No doubt it was changed when the "Stoalabargers" immigrated to the US. I do have an Ancestry membership, but only US edition. I have found them under so many spellings already, but, I'll bet there are more that I can't even begin to imagine! Good idea on the church records, Pat. I guess I need to do some more good, old-fashioned digging on this line! :-)

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  5. How nice to have an expert among us. It sounds like you'll be a big help to all of us. I enjoyed reading about your great- great grandmother. I look forward to hearing more.

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  6. Thanks Barbara and Nancy for your kind comment.
    I don't know about "expert," but I do help a lot of people with genetic genealogy (DNA testing), so please be sure and let me know if you (or anyone else) wants any help with that. I am always happy to assist.
    CeCe

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  7. Your grandmother has an endearing face. She looks solid and no-nonsense in the photo, and yet I can imagine a smile immediately after the camera clicked. It's such an old photograph and yet in such good condition -- you're fortunate to have it.

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  8. Yes, I am Nancy. I love all of my old family photos, especially those where you can really see the face clearly and up close, like this one. Thanks for your nice comment about Ruth Ann. I'm sure she deserved it. :-)
    CeCe

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  9. My Name is Serena,
    My Father (Randall Stoalabarger) just passed away a couple months ago i never really wonder about my family history until he passed and my grandfather took me to see where all the family was buried at it was interseting to see family stones right in front of me from the 1800's. I instantly got interested in where i came from i knew that somewhere down the line my ancsestor came from germany so i started looking into it and if i did my research right which i believe it is correct...John and Sarah would be my 3rd great grandparents i am still in the process of finding out more bout John and Sarah but as of right now nothing. So i believe somehow we are long lost relatives

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  10. How exciting SerenaRene! It sounds like we are 4th cousins. I am so happy to hear from you. Please email me at yourgeneticgenealogist@gmail.com if you read this.
    CeCe

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  11. PS- I am so sorry about your father. If you have a brother, I have a DNA kit waiting for him for my Stoalabarger DNA study!

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  12. I have a death certificate from Ancestry.com for Nancy Ann HICKS, born June 11, 1830 in Huntingdon County, PA to Daniel SLONIGER and Nancy STELLABARGER, both born in PA. Nancy SLONIGER (SLONAKER) married Simon B. HICKS. She died on August 16, 1914.

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