Monday, March 28, 2016

Theresia Schnepf and Alsace Lorraine

My Great Grandmother Theresia was born in Neuhaeusel, Alsace Lorraine. With the help of a distant relative I was able to find her birth certificate. Theresia was born on December 11, 1853 at 8 am the legitimate daughter of Sebastien Schnepf Junior who was 36 at the time of her birth.  Her mother Marie Anne Mathern Schnepf was 38 at the time. The witnesses of her birth were Miss Jean a school teacher also 38 and Frank Martin, 29, a plougher. Both were residents of Neuhaeusel.

Neuhaeusel is in the Bas Rhin region of Alsace Lorraine. At the time of Theresia's birth Alsace Lorraine was a province of France. By 1871 less then 20 years later it had been taken over by Germany. Nine years later my Great Grandmother Theresia would give birth out of wedlock to a baby girl named Gertrude. Gertrude was born on November 17, 1878 six years after Germany took over Alsace Lorraine. How different their lives were under two different countries. When Gertrude left Alsace Lorraine was still under. German rule. While Gertrude was growing up the government would not allow anyone in the province to teach French. Theaters were not allowed to show French plays. German was spoken and is still spoken by the majority of the residents.

According to Hansi's book "My Village" life was difficult for the Alsacians. They were not allowed to show there patriotism for France. But the villagers still found ways to celebrate their patriotism through their holidays, culture and customs. Even though local Alsacians lost their jobs to German citizens or were imprisoned if they said anything about the government, they still continued to believe that one day Alsace Lorraine would be retuned to France.

Although we do not know why Gertrude left Alsace Lorraine at such a young age I do believe that part of the local politics played an important role in her reason for leaving.  Gertrude arrived with her friend and cousin Ottilia Grossholtz in 1895. She was just 17 years old, one month before her eighteenth birthday. Gertrude returned to Alsace Lorraine to visit her father and to show off his grandchildren, John and Gertrude in the summer of 1906. Unfortunately she never got back to Neuhaeusel especially after the province was returned to France.