(Note: I'm also posting this message verbatim in the Auglaize County Ohio Genealogical Society message board.)
My grandfather grew up in southern Clay Township and descends from several ethnic German families from the Alsace region of France that settled in Clay Township and in neighboring Jackson Township in Shelby County. I recently found out how to access the digitized civil records from this region online. They're in French and I was fortunate enough to learn French in High School and understand it fairly well. I began with researching the origins of my ancestors, but one thing led to another and I began researching the origins of some of the other Alsatian settlers in Clay and Jackson Townships. To date, I've found about 100 people from a small region in Alsace about 8-10 miles east-west by 4-5 miles north-south (primarily from 5-6 contiguous villages) that settled in a similar-sized area if Clay Twp, Auglaize County and Jackson Twp, Shelby County. Note that this was a rural community of Lutheran immigrants from Alsace...it is distinct from the community of Catholic immigrants from Alsace and neighboring Lorraine that settled in southwestern Auglaize County, northwest Shelby County, and northeast Darke County.
I have begun a website to which I am slowly adding new pages:https://alsatiansettlersofshelbyandauglaizeohio.wordpress.co...
In particular, this page about the settlement of Alsatians in Clay and Jackson Townships may be of interest to this forum:https://alsatiansettlersofshelbyandauglaizeohio.wordpress.co...
The website is only a small fraction of what I have learned so far, since it is much more interesting to learn more than to dwell on what I've already learned. The following surnames in Clay and Jackson Townships are among the Alsatian settlers (a couple are common German surnames, but the progenitors of most people with that surname in these two townships): Allenbach, Ambos, Barnhart, Bonnoront, Christler, Elsass, Geyer (namesake family of the town Geyer), Gross, Heintz, Helmlinger, Kempler, Klopfenstein, Kossel, Leininger, Loegel, Metz, Pulfer, Reinhart/Rinehart, Schaefer, Scherer/Sherer/Shearer, Schneeberger, Schweisberger, Stammler, Wild/Wilt, Wildermuth, Zorn, & Zweibel.
Most came from Wimmenau, Rothbach, Erckartswiller, Zittersheim, Lichtenberg, and Wingen-sur-Moder. One family came from each of Rosteig, Weinbourg, and Hattmatt. All are about 20-30 miles northwest of Strasbourg, France.
A few of these families have been added to my family tree on Ancestry, but I have mostly been adding them to a family tree on another site. I have also been adding the correct birthdates and locations on Find A Grave memorials of these immigrants.
Aside from letting people know about these families and the story of their settlement in Clay Township:
1. I would appreciate any information people may have about these families RELATED TO THEIR IMMIGRATION OR SETTLEMENT IN THIS AREA. Unfortunately, researching just the immigration of these families is enough of a task and I'm not particularly concerned about their descendants.
2. I would like to find someone in this area that would be able to research some local records. When I started researching families other than my own ancestors, I thought there would only be about 10-20 other immigrants from those towns. With around 100, I'm swamped and could use some help. I have been unemployed for a while and am hoping to land a job soon; this means I will have less time for researching these families. I can't afford a visit any time soon to search myself or pay someone to research these records. I thought if I could find a descendant of one of these families and provided them with a lot of new information that they would return the favor and look up some records for me...mainly land sales and tax records around 1834-1855 that would help me establish the timeline of when each family settled here (some settled first in Stark or Carroll County, Ohio after immigrating before later settling in Auglaize/Shelby Co.). Of course, I'm willing to share information regardless of whether you can help research records. I have thoroughly browsed all land patents issued in the area, digitized old books, and the internet.
Leave a comment below or send me an email.
-Andrew Heneen, aheneen at yahoo.com