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Between 1834 and 1854, over twenty families emigrated from nearby villages in the north of France’s Bas-Rhin département, the northern half of the Alsace region, and traveled across the Atlantic to Ohio. Some first settled near Canton, but by the mid-1850s they had all settled in northern Shelby County (Dinsmore and Jackson Townships) and southern Auglaize County (Clay Township). In their homeland, arable land was in short supply and few men were lucky enough to inherit a farm large enough to be self-sufficient. Many of the men of these emigrant families were agricultural day laborers—journaliers in French—and could only dream of owning their own farm. The emigrants also included orphans accompanying close relatives on the journey. They risked everything they had to seek a better life for their families and in the vast fertile fields of Shelby and Auglaize Counties they found what they so desperately lacked in their native land. By the time of their deaths, many of them were able to acquire 40, 80, 160, or in some cases several hundred acres of farmland.

This website is currently being developed, partly because I have only just begun to research the numerous families involved. Start your visit to this website by reading the introduction to understand the scope of this website and why I started researching these families. Several of these families first settled in Stark and Carroll Counties in northeast Ohio for less than ten years before moving to Shelby and Auglaize Counties, although a few remained in Stark County.

Also, please understand that there were many Alsatian settlers in Ohio during this period. I plan on focusing only on those who eventually settled in northern Shelby and southern Auglaize Counties. I am aware that a large number of French—most, if not all, Catholics—settled in neighboring Darke County and in western Shelby County (Versailles, Russia, Frenchtown). However, they seem to be a separate community and didn’t mingle with the Alsatians covered by this website (at least not until the late 19th/early 20th centuries). The handful that I’ve researched to determine their origin are from the Meuse department (in Lorraine) and are of French, not German, ethnicity. If you came here looking for information on those families, you may find the resources page helpful (Geneanet is a valuable tool). Nonetheless, the resources and background information may be useful to people with Alsatian ancestors in Ohio outside of Shelby and Auglaize Counties. This website is currently under development and will hopefully be completed by the end of 2015.

Also, check out the virtual cemeteries that I created on the Find a Grave website. Since Find a Grave is based on contributions and memorials are only for known graves (with few exceptions), these virtual cemeteries do not contain memorials for all of the Alsatian immigrants:

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The text of this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images are individually licensed. Terms for reusing content from this website are explained here. This page was last updated 7 September 2015.