My Very Own Rhineland Connection

Reading House of Johann got me thinking about my own German roots on my mom’s side. My mom’s father, Levi Ruffing, was born in 1896, married late, and passed away when I was 9 or 10 (and my mom was 32-ish) so I didn’t know him well. I had certainly never had an opportunity to meet his parents, though I’d been told their names–Joseph Ruffing and Theresa (Tessie) O’Donnell (daughter of Hugh and Mary O’Donnell). I do recall asking my grandmother what nationality “Ruffing” was (at my brother’s wedding reception) and she’d said it was Prussian. Armed with that data, I internet searched for relatives of Joseph Ruffing and immediately brought up the following picture:

Peter Joseph Ruffing

Since the search brought up a number of other Joseph Ruffings, my initial instinct was to start checking through them to make sure this was the right one – until I took a closer look at the image (and perhaps my relatives will back me up here) and realized the resemblance to my grandfather is uncanny, right down to the uneven widow’s peak, which I alone of my siblings also inherited, as seen below. (That photo was probably the last time my hair was short enough for it to be obvious–Stylist Credit–Ev Bornemann).

A closer look at the site (which also has an image of Peter’s grave marker) confirmed his image is indeed a photo of my grandfather’s grandfather. Further searching revealed he was born in Schwabisch Hall, a fascinating town about 180 miles southeast across the Rhine from House of Johann’s Oberzerf. Ancestry.com, by the way, has the family line hopelessly confused, which would have made a search directly back from my grandfather difficult (they have Joseph’s son, born the year of my grandfather Levi, named Franz (his middle name was Francis), and great-aunt Irene isn’t listed). They also have Joseph married to Theresia O’Donell instead of Theresa O’Donnell – but at least they got great-uncle Ray correct.

I haven’t found any more information directly back through Peter’s line, but there were apparently a large number of Ruffings in Oberbexbach in Saarland in the early 1800s, which is a mere 45 miles from Oberzerf. That line also contains a number of Peters and Josephs and traces eventually back to French ancestry. Would probably take some digging to firm up that connection, though. May be time to consult with Kathi Gosz for her sources.