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Family Genealogy - Wattel Family Genealogy

Other spellings include WADEL, WADDEL and WADDELL.

John Theobold WATTEL made his journey across the Atlantic about 1832-1833 Presumably he arrived in the Port of New York and then continued his journey until he reached Rochester, Monroe County, New York, where he made his home in the US no later than 1833, according to the 1855 New York State census in which it was stated that he had resided there for 22 years He most likely traveled to Rochester by water, arriving there in a canal boat At this point no immigration record has been found for him, but it is possible that John changed ships and continued traveling until he reached Rochester In those years, many who arrived in New York continued their travels inland without being officially immigrated into the country.

There is, however, a listing for a JOHN WEDDELL for the year 1832, age 25 years who immigrated to New York. This information was extracted from the National Archives Microfilm #237, rolls 13-18, page 1048, source publication code 503.12. The original data can be found in William P. FILBY’S Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500’s-1900’s. Elizabeth P. BENTLEY then published Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York, 1830-1832, from Customs Passenger Lists and using Filby’s Index, compiled these passenger listings. Both the year and the age of JOHN WEDDELL seem to fit exactly with John Theobold WADEL and the spelling of the surname is close enough to consider this as a possibility.

John was born 3 January 1809, the son of Joseph WADEL and Anne Marie JENN, in Ammertzwiller, a small farming community in the area that was known as southern Alsace, France Today, this area is called Haut-Rhin. At the time of John's birth, the town's population was about 300 and it remains about the same today.

John was baptized as Jean Thiébaud WADEL Research suggests that when John first lived in Rochester he Americanized his given names to John Theobold Baptismal documents of his children and his death record all support this In these documents, his surname was spelled various ways, WADEL, WADDEL, WADDELL In census records for his wife, after his death, directory listings, and even a city plat map, the surname was listed with some of the variations listed above and also WADLE and WADDLE Sometime prior to 1900, the surname was changed to WATTEL and remained that way with the exception of one family branch (mine!) who changed it to WATTELL!

The Centre Départmental & Histoire des Familles or CDHF located in Haut-Rhin has in its online offerings a biographical sketch about a large number of WADEL family members all of whom lived in neighboring villages mere kilometers away from Ammertzwiller. The biography states that one branch of the WADEL family moved from the Village of Gildwiller to Ammertzwiller towards the end of the 18th century. This particular branch is the one JOHN THEOBOLD WADEL was born into.

Also mentioned in the biographical sketch is a family tree that is housed in the Altkirch Museum in Haut-Rhin. The chart, WHICH WAS PREPARED IN 1799, was written in order to determine the line of descent for the distribution of a stipend. The stipend was created from a large sum of money that THIEBAUD HAENNIG had bequeathed to the University of Freiburg in Brisgau for the purpose of educating his heirs which included the descendants of his sisters Barbara and Marie. ANNA MARIA SCHNOEBELEN, the first family member shown in the section of the family tree below, was the great granddaughter of MARIE HAENNIG, sister of THIEBAUD HAENNIG.

Despite the obvious care and attention taken in preparing the tree, not all of the children of ELISABETH SCHAFFER and JEAN THIEBAUD WADEL are represented in this tree. It is not known what sources were used in the preparation of this tree. If it was prepared from memory, it could explain why our branch is not represented. Our particular branch descends from their son JEAN JACQUES WADEL and his wife ANNE MARIE WIOLAND. The tree is hand written and is 16 meters in length. This is the part that includes the WADEL family:

Wadel Family Tree

Wadel Family Tree

Research shows that there were two family members, who served under Napoleon in the war of 1812. These two men received the Saint Helene medal which was awarded in 1857 to all who served under Napoleon from 1792-1815 and were still living at the time that the medals were awarded. They were Nicolas WADEL who was born on 27 October 1793 and Jean Thiébaut WADEL who was born on 2 September 1791. Both of these men were born in Gildwiller, a neighboring town to Ammertzwiller, and were the brothers of John’s father, JOSEPH WADEL.

According to a family story, it was believed that JOHN THEOBOLD WADEL was the ancestor who fought under Napoleon. Obviously this can not be true as he was only 3 years old in 1812, but there is a possibility that his father, JOSEPH WADEL, may have fought under Napoleon along with his brothers. The information about JOSEPH WADEL’S brothers is known because they were still living in France in 1857 and were awarded the St. Helene medal. A living family member is certain that as a young boy he was shown the medal.

Saint Helene Medal. Saint Helene Medal.

The Saint Helene Medal

According to the marriage record of his son, FRANCOIS JOSEPH WADEL of 14 November 1838, his father was living in the US. In the record is the following statement: "Joseph le père est actuellement en Amérique". It appears that he remained in the US, not returning to France as the death record for his wife, ANNE MARIE JENN WADEL of 18 June 1853 also made a similar statement: "Wadel, Joseph, cultivateur, âgé de soixante quinze ans, domicilié en Amérique." This indicates that JOSEPH WADEL was alive in 1853 and still residing in the US.

In searching the US Federal Census for the years 1850 and 1860, I have located a JOSEPH WADDLE living in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana and who appears to be JOSEPH WADEL. Both his age and location of birth (generically mentioned as France) and his name (allowing for the many variations that this surname has incurred in US records) all seem to indicate that he may be the same man.

I have located the headstone for this JOSEPH WADDLE in the state of Indiana, City of Lafayette, Tippecanoe County at the Isley Cemetery on the website Find-A-Grave. The headstone gives this man’s age in years, months and days, exactly one year and one day different from JOSEPH WADEL, the father of JEAN THIEBAUD WADEL (1809-1857). It also includes the following inscription: “Served as major on the staff of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1798 to 1814. Engaged in the Battle of Austerlitz, Jena, E P ____Inuhl, Walgram, Moscow and others".

The dates stated in this epitaph indicate that this man in Indiana was but a lad of 16 when he joined Napoleon’s army. This so closely aligns with the family legend that it is hard to ignore and gives more credence to the possibility that he was indeed JOSEPH WADEL, father of JEAN THIEBAUD WADEL (1809-1857).

The legend as told to me:

"Our WADEL ancestor was but a young boy when Napoleon passed through his home town and chose or commanded our ancestor to join his army because of his height. It was said that Napoleon being of short stature, liked to be surrounded by taller men. Our ancestor served under Napoleon through the march on Moscow and was one of a small number of survivors of that disastrous campaign.”

Catherine A. MILLER noted in her book, Our Ancestry In Early Rochester, on page 33, that JOHN T. WATTEL (aka JEAN THIEBAUD WADEL 1809-1857) was 6’6” tall. Therefore it is likely that his father was also very tall.

My main hesitation in stating absolutely that the JOSEPH WADDLE who settled in Indiana is JOSEPH WADEL, the father of JEAN THIEBAUD WADEL (1809-1857), is twofold: I lack more documentation to prove it and more importantly, the man I have found in Indiana had a wife and two sons. There is no indication that JOSEPH WADEL and ANNE MARIE JENN were divorced. Her death record clearly refers to him as her husband. Of course there have been instances throughout time when a man took a second wife without properly ending the first union. Also, for a man to come to a new country and live there for more than 20 years alone seems rather unlikely, but to state with any certainty that JOSEPH WADEL did take another wife and father two sons, I must have some more proof.

Possibly, there is one small piece of evidence to support this theory In 1846, John's brother, FRANCOIS JOSEPH WADEL, his wife, children and his mother, ANNA MARIA JENN WADEL, immigrated to Ohio, where I have found some small indications in some land records that JOSEPH WADEL was at that time living in Ohio Francois, his mother and his family were in Ohio for only a brief time as they returned to France and lived in a neighboring village, Soppe-le-Bas, and in June of 1848 their next child was born Based on this evidence, it is possible to conclude that they had gone in search of JOSEPH WADEL and perhaps they had found him with another family and returned to France, disgusted with him If this supposition is true, then it would explain why Francois and family did not seek out his brother, John (aka Jean Thiebaud) in 1846 but later did settle in Rochester in 1854 after the death of his mother.

During his years in Rochester, John worked as a cooper. It is not known if John knew his trade when he arrived in Rochester or if it was something he learned after he arrived. He evidently knew it well as in the 1850 census he is found enumerated under the surname BOTTLE (an OBVIOUS error on the part of the enumerator as many times John’s surname was spelled as WATTLE and said quickly, can SOUND LIKE bottle). Along with his wife and all the children born through 1850 are enumerated four employees, themselves coopers. This information offers the possibility that John and the other coopers did their work somewhere on the property that John owned.

About 1833 or early 1834, John married Maria Anna ENGERT, a young woman from Baden, Germany Marriage records have been searched without success - Rochester area churches did not all maintain records at this time, but the approximate date is based on the birth of their first born child, Catherine WATTEL, who was born on 11 November 1834.

Some may wonder how a Frenchman and a German woman could have even communicated, much less married The area known as Alsace changed hands between France and Germany many times over the centuries Consequently, the people of Alsace spoke their own language called Alsatian, a language much more closely rooted to German than to French In fact most Alsatians also spoke German.

The early years of their marriage were spent in a one room cabin, in a sparsely populated area once known as Carthage, according to Catherine A. MILLER in her book, Our Ancestry In Early Rochester, page 32 In those times it was not uncommon to be greeted by a bear outside their cabin door in the early morning.

Carthage was located near the lower falls of the Genesee River The men who developed this area hoped that it would one day become a major city and considered Carthage to be a rival to the Village of Rochesterville. A large landing was located nearby on the river where there was a lot of activity on a daily basis and a huge bridge was constructed to connect Carthage to the other side of the river. The bridge was considered a marvel at the time and many came to see it. Unfortunately it only lasted for a year and a day before it collapsed.

Eventually it became evident that the hopes of the developers of the Village of Carthage were not to be realized. Rochesterville became the City of Rochester in 1834 and Carthage was eventually absorbed by the city as the years passed and the city expanded and changed its boundaries.

As early as 1844, John and Maria had relocated to the City of Rochester living on Allen Street between Brown and Maple Streets. The 1844 Rochester City Directory actually listed their residence as being on Alley Street, but I believe that this was an error on the part of the typesetter.

Additional directory listings are as follows:

The earlier directories were not always accurate or consistent in spelling and properly recording the residents names as evidenced above. Sometimes other information other than the name must be taken into consideration. For example, in the 1845 listing above, John’s name is recorded as JOHN D. WATTEL. If looking only at this one directory, it might be assumed that this listing was for someone else. Only when grouped with the other listings is it a certainty that it is the same person. The same is true for the 1855 listing in which his name is erroneously recorded as Jacob instead of John.

Sometime after the gathering of information for the 1855 city directory, John had purchased lots on Romeyn and Brown Streets and built a home there for his family. After his death on 20 October 1857, his wife and family remained there, his wife living there until her death on 26 December 1902.

John and Maria had 10 children, all but one of whom survived As the daughters married, some of them lived in homes on the same block of Romeyn and Brown Streets in Rochester according to city plat maps The family continued to live there after John's death on 20 October 1857 when he drowned in the Eire Canal

Son Valentine eventually moved to Madison Street and the family lived only doors away from the infamous Susan B. ANTHONY Family stories indicate that the WATTELS were acquainted with Miss ANTHONY and that she once slept in their home According to those who work at the Susan B. ANTHONY museum, which is located in her former home, there was a time when Miss ANTHONY'S home was under construction for an addition on the upper floor If indeed Miss ANTHONY was a guest in the WATTEL home, perhaps it was during the period of time her home was under construction.

All of John and Maria's children married except daughter Rose Many of them had large families and remained in the Rochester area:

As previously mentioned, in 1854, his brother Francois Joseph WADEL along with his wife and children, immigrated to Rochester Francois was also born in Ammertzwiller on 4 April 1805 In the 1855 New York State census, Joseph and his family of six children and his wife were enumerated on the same page as John, either living in the same house or one next door And this family, research has proven, used the spellings of their surname of WADEL, WADDEL and WADDELL

Additionally, accompanying Francois and his family was JEAN WADEL, a younger cousin of John and his brother Francois, who was born in 1820 in Gildwiller Also known as John Jacob WADELL, Jean married Maria HENNER and settled in Penfield, New York

Because these connections were not known by living family members it is now evident that there are many WADEL cousins!

Find out more about the WATTEL family and their many family connections!