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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In memory of Nicolas Schmitt 09 Mar 1813

Nicolas Schmitt is my 3rd great-grandfather. He was born in Hellimer, Moselle, France on this day in 1813.

France was unchartered genealogical territory for me for decades. First because I believed what my family believed; we're Swedish and German. Then after coming to terms with my French DNA, I was intimidated by the enormous task of learning to research records that had been created in France.

But I was fascinated by Nicolas, who left his country of origin with his wife and seven children in 1854. The family settled in Cincinnati Ohio. Two more children were born in Ohio and sadly, Nicolas became a widower before 1870.

So little is known about this man. Schmitt, a common name with many spelling variations, isn't easy to trace. And Cincinnati experienced not one, but three courthouse fires.

So I started by learning about France. For example, when Nicolas was born, Napoleon Bonaparte was the Emperor of France. Nicolas and his children hailed from Moselle, a département (number 57 to be exact) in Lorraine named after the Moselle River. Lorraine is rich in coal and steel, commodities highly-desirable to bordering countries. Conflicts over who had the rights to these riches left the area war torn for many years.

Learning something new everyday keeps our minds sharp. I'm taking a free class in french genealogy, I signed up for a french blog, and I joined a french mailing list. France is a country rich in beauty, history, and genealogical treasures ~ ours for the taking. Vive la France!


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