Ruppert Family History, Joseph Ruppert Narrative

The Ruppert Family History and Genealogy Site

My original account of Joseph Ruppert was  published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, volume 82 (December 1994) pages 269-291 as "From the Rheinland to the Chesapeake: the German-American Rupperts of Nineteenth-Century Baltimore." It was awarded first place in the 1994 NGS Family History Writing Contest. The following account is somewhat modified and updated from the NGSQ version.

Descendants of Joseph Ruppert

Generation One

1Joseph1 RUPPERT; born 3 Nov 1817 in Westhofen, Worms, Hessen. The civil register or Orts register Westhofen includes the following entry for Joseph Ruppert:

"Im Jahre eintausend achthundert und siebzehn den dritte November um zwei Uhr des Nachmittags ist vor mir burgermeister Civilstands-Beamten der Gemeinde von Westhofen Kanton von Bechtheim, Mathaus Ruppert, Handarbeiter 48 Jahr alt, dahier in Westhofen wohnhast erschienen, welcher mir erklaret hat, dass den zweiten November um 7 Uhr des Morgens ein kind mannlichen Geschlechts, und welches Kind derselbe mir vorgezeigt, gebohren sen, welchem er den Vornamen Joseph zu geben erklaret, und sich fur den Vater dieses Kindes, welches er mit Elisabetha Arnold seiner Ehefrau, gezeugt hat, anerkennt; welches Kind in dem dahier in Westhofener No. 9 gelegnenen Hause gebohren worden ist.

Diese Erklarung und Vorzeigung ist in Gegenwart der Zeugen Johannes Ziegler, gemeindsmann und Johannes Peter Breyvogel ... 48 Jahr alt, beide in Westhofen wohnhaft geschehen, und haben der Vater und die Zeugen mit mier gegenwartigen Geburtsakt, nacdem ihnen derselbe vorgelesen worden, unterschrieben.

[Signed:] Mathaus Ruppert, Johs Zeigler, P. Breyvogel und J. G. Pan.;"1

He was christened 3 Nov 1817 in Westhofen Catholic Church, Westhofen, Worms, Hessen. The priest made the following notation in the church baptismal ledger, "3ten 9bris 1817 baptizatus est a me Joanne Mons, Josephus, Mathias Ruppert et Elisabetha n. Arnetin conjugum filius legitimus levante Josepho Bosing;"2

Joseph Ruppert first married Katharina Weitzel, daughter of Jakob Weitzel and Maria Barbara Dannenfelser, 23 Aug 1838 in Zion Lutheran Church, Baltimore City, Maryland. Witnesses to the ceremony included the bride's father, Jakob Weitzel and Philipp Breihemacher. Both the bride and groom were noted to have been born in Westhofen;3 After the death of Katharina, he next married Maria Margaretha Steinmetz 3 Jun 1869 in St. Michael's Catholic Church, Baltimore City, Maryland;4Lastly, after the death of his second wife, he married Christina M. Abel, daughter of John J. Abel and M. Dorothea Zimmermann, 20 Oct 1870 in Saint Michael's Catholic Church, Baltimore City, Maryland;5Joseph Ruppert died at age 62 years, 6 months and 6 days on 9 May 1880 in 381 East Lombard Street, Baltimore City, Maryland, leaving a widow Christina and several grown children and step-children;6 buried 11 May 1880 in Saint Alphonsus Cemetery, Baltimore City, Maryland. but was later re-interred in Holy Redeemer Cemetery, probably at death of third wife, Christina Abel Guetlein Ruppert in 1906. Saint Alphonsus Cemetery although once the pre-eminent Catholic burial ground had fallen into disrepair and was many years later abandonned.


Until 2002, a precise date of emigration from Europe was unknown. Several documents, American and European pointed to an emigration date of late 1837, however a more precise date could only be approximated. As the story unfolds, even the original presumption that Baltimore was the port of arrival proved to be incorrect.

In Europe, no surviving record of ship departure has been discovered. Passport documents for Ruppert's native village of Westhofen do not begin until nearly two decades later in the 1850s. Fortunately, the famed German penchant for detail has left another record group called Heimatschein which offered clues to an exact date of emigration and arrival in the States. Heimatschein, literally native permits, were issued to citizens who traveled from their hometown to another location that was usually within the same province - to find work, visit family, or the like. On 16 July 1837, Joseph Ruppert was issued a permit to nearby Alzey, where he was going to work.7 A few days later, one Jakob Weitzel, Jr. left Westhofen for the same reason ("zu arbeiten"), destined for Monzernheim - a village separated from Westhofen by only a few vineyards. Neither of these men are found in records of Westhofen again.8

A large group of Westhofeners, mostly related to Jakob Weitzel Sr.including surnames such as Holdefer, Dannenfelser, Hubner and Buchheimer are known to have left their native Hessian village either as a group or within a narrow time frame. Research in the archive of the Westhofen Rathaus uncovered additional important documents involving the Weitzels and Buchheimers. On 28 April 1837, Jakob Weitzel, Sr. applied in Worms for permission to leave Hessen Darmstadt . This documented is designated in German as an Auswanderungschein. The regional officials consented to his emigration. On 27 August 1837, Weitzel was granted a Heimatschein from Westhofen on which it was noted, "... nach Nordamerika, um sich dort mit seiner Familie niederzulassen." Roughly translated this means that he was granted permisstion to go to North America with his family. There are no known Auswanderungschein for Ruppert or Holdefer or Dannenfelser, but there are similar documents for Georg Buchheimer and family in 1841.

The first documented American event for members of the group is the 26 June 1838 Baltimore marriage of Johann Holdefer and Margaretha Weitzel, daughter of Jakob Sr.9Therefore, the likeliest estimate for date of arrival of Ruppert in Baltimore - if he did not dally long in Alzey - is between August 1837 and May 1838. Since a variety of disparate American records cites 1837 as the year of arrival for members of this immigrant cluster, the entry window can logically be narrowed to the five months spanning August and December 1837.10,11

Court records of naturalization help confirm this estimate. In Baltimore, only extracted indices with scant summaries remain extant. These offer two entries for Ruppert. The first, dated 6 October 1840, states that applicant was from Hessen Darmstadt. The second index entry, less specific, is dated 2 October 1843. Presuming that this refers to Joseph's actual naturalization record - and knowing that contemporary immigration law required a five-year waiting period from the date of entry and a three-year period from the date the declaration of intent was made - the cryptic naturalization data are not incompatible with the estimated arrival in late 1837.12,13

When Johann Holdefer died in 1899, his obituary sited this important sentence, "Am 30. November 1837 setzte er seinen Fus auf Amerikanischen Boden ..." Literally translated, he first set foot on American ground on 30 November 1837. Since the Weitzels, Holdefers and Rupperts travelled together, this is the first solid clue to a specific date of arrival. Disappointingly, according to maritime reports published by the Baltimore Sun there was not even a single vessel arriving in the harbor on that date from Europe. There are several vessels in the harbor at the time but they all seem to be local east coast schooners or barques carrying cargo such as cotton. Careful review of arriving passenger lists in Baltimore for November 1836, 1837 and 1838 as well as October and December of 1837 failed to find even a remote possible match.

When Fritz (Friederich) Buchheimer died in 1891, his obituary in Der Deutsche Correspondent stated that he arrived in the United States through the port of New York as a child of five in 1841. Passenger arrival records confirm this account. Friederich Buckheimer [sic] accompanied his siblings and an aunt aboard the packet ship Sully from LeHavre, France.

Exhaustive searches in the Baltimore passenger arrival records had failed to find even a trace of the extended Weitzel/Ruppert family. Buchheimers arrived four years later through the port of New York. Therefore a careful search of passenger manifests was made of vessels arriving in New York on 30 November 1837. There was not even one ship on that date! Diligence, however, paid off and even perhaps was offered a helping hand from fate because on 30 November 2002, I located the arrival once again of the ship Sully but on 29 November 1837 aboard which were the following family members: Jacob Weizel [sic], his wife and children: Barbara, Margaret, Magdalina, Catherine, Barbara, Henrich and Martin along with Johan Holderfer [sic], Martin Dannenfeden [sic] and Joseph Rappert [sic]. Thirty years of research yielded results on the 165th anniversary of Joseph Ruppert's arrival in America!

The packet ship Sully was built in New York in 1827 and sailed the Atlantic as a part of the Havre Old Line until 1846. She was a three-masted square rigger measuring 120 feet in length and displacing 456 tons. Not only was this vessel renowned for the longest term of trans-Atlantic service but it was aboard this ship in 1832 that Samuel Morse first developed theories resulting in the telegraph. The first telegraph transmission having occurred in 1844 between Baltimore and Washington, DC with the message, "What hath God wrought!"

Why Ruppert left his homeland remains speculative. War, famine, religious intolerance and financial hardship are factors routinely cited as causes to emigrate. Only one of these appears even remotely possible in the present case. The Rhineland was militarily more stable during the first half of the nineteenth century than it had been for generations. Military conscription was therefore not relevant. Famine was not a driving force. Although, Catholics were in the religious minority in Westhofen; and in America, Ruppert allied himself with the Protestant Weitzels leaving the Catholic Church for years. It is conceivable, that his youthful marriage within the Protestant Weitzel family was not so easy to accomplish amid family pressure in the little village of Westhofen. It is at least romantic to speculate that Ruppert gave up his country, his home, his immediate family, his language and his religion to follow Katharina Weitzel and marry her before his twenty-first birthday.

An obviously related question also remains unanswerable: why did Katharina's father, Jakob Sr., emigrate from Germany and settle in Baltimore? He was past fifty and an established master shoemaker with a large family. Known evidence has not yielded a clue to family or friends previously settling in Maryland, although a relatively sizable German community existed in Baltimore for decades before Weitzel and Ruppert arrived.

An often touted pearl in genealogy research is to follow family groups, not necessarily individuals. This technique led to the eventual unfolding of Joseph Ruppert's immigration record. His future father-in-law, Jakob Weitzel brought his unmarried daughters to America. Joseph Ruppert, Johann Holdefer and eventually Heinrich Holdefer and Johann Buchheimer joined the journey, ultimately marrying the eligible Weitzel women.


Joseph Ruppert is found in three U.S. census enumerations. He cannot be located in the 1840 population listing for Baltimore City and he died shortly before the 1880 count was taken. Joseph Ruppert appeared on the census of 11 Jul 1850 in Baltimore City. The household included: Joseph Rupert [sic] 33-year old white male cooper from Germany; Catherine 34-year old white female from Germany; Mary 11-year old white female from Maryland; Jacob 10-year old white male from Maryland; Catherine 8-year old white female from Maryland; Martin 6-year old white male from Maryland; Margareth 4-year old white female from Maryland and Joseph 2-year old white male from Maryland.16 Joseph Ruppert again appeared on the federal census on 13 Jun 1860 in Baltimore City, Maryland. The enumerator noted the following information about the household: Joseph Ruburgh [sic] 42-year old white male hotel keeper from Hesse with $10,000 real estate and $500 personal assets; Catharine 43-year old white female from Hesse; Jacob 20-year old white male bar keeper from Maryland; Catharine 17-year old white female from Maryland; Martin 15-year old white male from Maryland; Margaret 14-year old white female from Maryland; Joseph 10-year old white male from Maryland; Henry 8-year old white male from Maryland; George 5-year old white male from Maryland and John Kimline 28-year old barkeeper.17 Lastly, he appeared on the census of 8 Aug 1870 in Baltimore City, Maryland, as Joseph Ruppert 51-year old white male artesian well borer, $600, from Hesse Darmstadt, parents of foreign birth, citizen of USA; George Ruppert 12-year old white male from Maryland who attended school; John Windfelder 12-year old white male from Maryland who attended school.18 The 1880 census was made after the death of Joseph Ruppert in May. It includes information about his widow and their stepchildren: "Christina Ruppert 48-year old white female, widow from Germany; John H. Windfelder 23-year old white male, step-son, artesian wells, single, unemployed 3 months, born in Maryland, parents German; Mary F. Windfelder 16-year old white female, step-daughter from Maryland, parents German; Annie Windfelder 18-year old white female, step-daughter, dressmaker, from Maryland, parents German."19


Joseph Ruppert earned his living from many different sources. He appears to have been primarily a cooper or barrel-maker, a trade that he may well have learned from his older brothers-in-law, Henry and John Holdefer [see Advertisements 1864 and Kupfer]. There had been no previous coopers in the Ruppert lineage. Joseph also was an artesian-well-borer. He was known to have dug at least ten wells in Baltimore between 1854 and 1857 [see Advertisements Artesian I and Artestian II]. His artesian well business led to a major law suit against Baltimore City in the late 1850s (see below). Additionally, at one time or another, Joseph Ruppert owned a hotel, a tavern, a "pickling house," and was an officer in a local building and loan association. He had an association with the Wells and Miller Iron Foundry. Finally, he earned income from speculation in city real estate.20,21,22 Evidence of Ruppert's Brewery is documented in the following German daily article from 1 Jan 1867 that recommends shops and merchants worthy of a New Year's visit: Gefachsempschungen (very difficult to read due to the poor quality of the microcopy) This is a long article that begins, "Am Neujahrstage wird Manches beschleften und mancher schöne Plan für die Zukunft gemacht, der sich bei den hiesigen Berhältnissen viel leichter realisirt, als drüken in Europa. Hat man nun einen Guischutz gesasst und gebt deran, denselben anezusisbren, so grest man immer wieder nach einer Zeitung, als dem Orafel, welches sagt, wo und wie die Mittel und Wege zu erlangen sind. So wird un neuen Jahre, nicht nur manches ... Luftschloss, sondern auch manches solisse Hause ge.ant werden und wer einen solchen Pfan mit sich veramtragt, der lese nur nachstehende Geschäfte empfehlungen und was ihm früher so sehr schwiereg ..chien, wird ihn dann ein Kinderspiel sein."

This rather long description goes on to list many German merchants and their specialties. About halfway down the column it reads, "Hier wollen wir für die betreffenden Bierbrauereien bemerken, das in der Ruppertschen Kuferi, 215 Easton [sic] Avenue, alle Arten von Fässern in ausgezeichneter Qualität gemacht werden ."23

In two real estate documents, one from 1865 and the other 1866, Joseph Ruppert is cited as "treasurer of the East Baltimore Building Union No. 3." Both of these documents relate to property purchased and mortgaged by Johann Scharf. This is the only known reference to Ruppert serving as an officer of a Building and Loan.24,25 On 1 Jun 1845 in Baltimore City, Maryland, the following entry is found for Joseph Ruppert: Ordinary licences granted by Clerk of Baltimore City Court. Joseph Ruppert $12.22. The nature of this license is not stated but most likely was related to his early work which in 1845 dealt with either his cooperage or his artesian well business.26

In Jul 1855 Joseph Ruppert filed a plat for an artesian well to be dug in corner of Castle Alley and Eastern Avenue, Baltimore City, Maryland. The residents in this neighborhood had petitioned the city government for a source of water. This was the beginning of a protracted legal case against Baltimore City by Joseph Ruppert and his partner Leonard J. Bandell.27 On 29 Jan 1858 Joseph Ruppert sent a letter in reference to a work contract to the Mayor and City Council. This was the beginning of a long and tedious legal battle that ended in Maryland's Court of Appeals about ten years later. The letter reads as follows:

The undersigned respectfully represents that he contracted in the year 1855 with Joseph P. Shannon, then City Commisioner, to sink an Artesian Well on Castle Alley near Pratt Street, and after loseing and digging to the depth of three hundred and twenty three feet, the last seventy three of which was through decomposed rock, and not finding water, and there being no possibility of reaching any, your petitioner has seen proper to abandon the same. He therefore respectfully asks of your honourable body the passage of a resolution directing the payment of his bill of expenses, amounting to seventeen hundred and seventy two dollars and fifty cents ($1772.40).

Respectfully, etc.

Joseph Ruppert

Baltimore January 29, 1858.28

In 1859 Joseph Ruppert's case against the city is summarized in a file found in the Baltimore City Archives. This is a long letter outlining the case of Joseph Ruppert against the City of Baltimore. It is accompanied by a bill from Ruppert that is marked "paid December 24, 1859." Also attached but not numbered is an undated one page letter beginning, "The petition of Joseph Ruppert respectfully states that he has a claim against..." It is signed by Joseph Ruppert per George D[illegible]. On the reverse is the entry, "read in first branch November 9, 1859 F. D. Sultzer." A complete transcription of this file follows:
Petition of Joseph Ruppert and claim for digging artezian [sic] well on Castle Ally [sic] near Pratt St. In the First Branch, Aug. 15, 1859. Rec'd and referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Claims. By order R. R. Batee, Clerk. In the First Branch, Nov. 10, 1859. Withdrawn from the files of the Register per recollection, and referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Claims. By order Thos. D. Sultzer, Clerk. In First Branch, Nov. 11, 1859. Read and referred tot he Joint Standing Committee on Claims. By order T. D. Sultzer, clerk. J.W. Randolph, 2nd ward.

To the Honorable Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City.

The petition of Joseph Ruppert respectfully shows that sometime in the year 1855 certain persons having signed an application in conformity with the provisions of the ordinances of the City in relation thereto, to the City Commissioners for the digging of an Artesian Well on Castle Alley near to Pratt Street, the then commissioner advertised in the usual way for proposals to dig such well.

That thereupon your petitioner on the 4th July A D 1855 by writing agreed to do the said work at the usual rate of $4.50 per foot for excavation through sand, clay or fravel; that said proposal was in writing and accepted, and your petitioner directed to proceed in said work. He commenced operations accordingly, and after digging to the depth of three hundred and twenty feet, and exhausting all the clay, sand and gravel, rock of a very hard description was encountered and without having obtained water.

In not having been supposed at the outset that water would at that point be so difficult to get, or that before it could be obtained rock would present an obstruction, the commissioner by the contract made no provision for such a contingency.

Your petitioner was obliged to suspend operations therefore, and made application to the City Commissioner for his directions in the premises, offering to continue upon the understanding that so much of the thereafter excavation as should be through rock should be paid for at the usual and customary rate of rock excavation.

It happened however while matters were in this condition that the Water Company having assigned to the City all its property and rights, the Water Commissioner in their extensions officses [sic] introduced a full supply of water into the immediate neighborhood of the contemplated Artesian Well, so that all further digging for such a purpose would be an idle and inexcusable waste of money and labor.

The City Commissioner therefore under such unforseen contingencies hesitates, and perhaps very properly, to give any instructions, or to take any action on the premises; and upon application being had to his Honor the Mayor, and to the City Attorney they were both of opinion that under the circumstances of this peculiar case, this honorable body ought alone to determine whether your petitioner shall continue to dig at the rates specified until water be obtained or whether he shall cease operations and be paid, per contract, for the amount of excavation thus far done.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honorable Body to take such action with premises as to you shall seem meet and proper, hereby offering to accept payment fo what has been done, or to continue operations upon the terms herein set forth as you shall direct.

Joseph Ruppert [the signature is in the handwriting known to be that of Joseph Ruppert while the letter was written presumably by his attorney]

There is an attachment. Balto. 11 August 1859. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore. To Joseph Ruppert. Dec 24, 1856 To Boring 320 ft. for artesian well @ $4.50. $1440.00. Received Payment.29 Despite the receipt marked "payment received" presumably Ruppert never collected the funds. By Apr 1865 he and Bandell were appealing for payment through the Maryland State Court of Appeals, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. A summary of the court and various hearing dates is as follows: April 1865 Term Case number 33 Joseph Ruppert and Leonard J. Randall [sic] Judgement upon verdict of non pros and Judgement for Defendant for $24.48 and court costs. Affirmed by the court on 7 June 1865. Weisel dissenting. Appeal from the Superior Court of Baltimore City. Appellants Brief filed and printed. Appellees Brief filed as printed. Argued Apr 26 1865 before Full Court by Horwitz and Williams for Appelants and submitted in written brief by Appellees.

Index: Joseph Ruppert and L. J. Bandel vs. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Dec 1862: 86 originally posted for June Term 1861 June 1863: 105 Dec 1863: 76 June 1864: 54 Jan 1865: 36 Apr 1865: 33.30 The full transcript of Joseph Ruppert's appeal is quite lengthy but in essence denies that payment should be made by the city rather stating instead that liability lies with the original petitioners. One of the Appeals Court judges sided with Ruppert and Bandel.31,32

Another reference to Joseph Ruppert's legal troubles is found in Baltimore City Court, Baltimore City, Maryland, docket for 27 Jul 1869 as follows: Joseph Ruppert vs. Samuel Wilhelm filed 27 Jul 1869. Record made and sent to Towson by mail. Despite searching Baltimore County court records for this year, no account of this case has been yet uncovered.

The negative outcome of their earlier transactions with the city did not stop Ruppert and Bandell from conducting further business. On 2 Jun 1862, Joseph Ruppert and his partner signed a proposal to construct a water pump for an artesian well at Gough and Pratt Streets.33


The earliest residence for Joseph Ruppert is found in the Baltimore City Directory for 1842 when he is located at Conway Street west of Little Greene and his occupation is given as cooper. This address represented the first of many real estate transactions into which Ruppert entered for both personal living quarters as well as financial speculation. During his lifetime in Baltimore City, Ruppert had three primary residential addresses, first was on Conway Street as above. The second was on Eastern Avenue near Broadway in what is now the 1600 block of Eastern Avenue and lastly on Lombard Street near Saint Michael's Church. Some of the land transactions are listed here.34

Many references are found to Joseph Ruppert in the Baltimore City land records. He completed the following real estate transactions for property on the north side of Eastern Avenue, Baltimore City, from 1851 through 1886 (block number 1435):

  • 1. 13 September 1855. Release of mortgage from the East Baltimore Building Union to Joseph Ruppert for north side of Eastern Avenue, 49 feet north from Bethel, west 16 feet 8 inches by 120 feet
  • 2. 16 December 1856. Mortgage from Harman Building Association to Joseph Ruppert on property 16 feet 8 inches west, 120 feet north, 16 feet 8 inches east, 120 feet sought beginning on the ease side of bond Street.
  • 3. 17 November 1858. Mortgage to Joseph Ruppert from Harmon Building Association on property 16 feet 8 inches west, 120 feet north, 16 feet 8 inches east and 120 feet south along Bank Street 20 feet west from Bethel.
  • 4. 10 March 1858. Baltimore Fell's Poin Building Union No. 2 release of mortgage to Joseph Ruppert on property on north side Easern Avenue 49 feet west from Bethel, 16 feet 8 inches west by 120 feet north.
  • 5. 12 March 1863. Joseph Ruppert grantor to Henry Holdefer grantee. An assignment on property on north side Eastern Avenune 49 feet west of Bethel measuring 16 feet 8 inches west, 120 feet north, 16 feet 8 inches east and 120 feet south beginning on the east side of Bethel 106 feet 9 inches north of Wilk Street [Eastern Avenue].
  • 6. 3 March 1870. Henry Holdefer grantor ot Joseph Ruppert, Jr. and Henry Ruppert. An assignment on property located 16 feet 8 inches west and 120 feet north.
  • 7. 24 November 1886. After the death of Joseph Ruppert, his widow Christina Ruppert is grantor to City of Baltimore Permanent Building Association for a mortgage on the same property as noted in number six above.35
  • Tax records for Joseph Ruppert in 1876 help to identify some of his land holdings: Taxes were additionally assessed in 1876 for Joseph Ruppert and his wife as well as his widow, Maria Margaretha (Steinmetz Windfelder) Ruppert as follows: POLITICS AND WAR

    The Civil War left no American and no American city untouched. Although no Baltimore Ruppert died in battle during this conflict and none is known to have served in any military unit, Union or Confederate, Joseph unquestionably made his allegiance known and served his community during that period of civil strife. On 7 October 1864, he was drafted by voters of Baltimore's second ward to run for councilman in the first branch of the city's legislature.43 His nomination was reported on 10 Oct 1864 in The American and Comercial Advertizer: "City Affairs. Nominations for City Council in Ward 2: Joseph Ruppert and Richard F. Henneberry, both running on the Chapman ticket."44 The only Richard Hennebery located in the 1860 Baltimore City federal census was a young shopkeeper. The following information was included: Richard Henneberry a 23-year old white male storekeeper with assets of $800. He was born in Maryland; Margaret his 19-year old wife from Maryland and John 3-year old male from Maryland who is presumably his son, although this would of course make his wife quite young at the time of conception. Possibly, this is not the correct person, as newspaper accounts identify Ruppert's opponent as the clerk of the circuit court.45Both Joseph and his opponent, Richard F. Henneberry, were Unionists running on the ticket of John Lee Chapman, Baltimore's acting mayor, who had stepped into the post after the elected mayor was imprisoned by federal agents on suspicion of providing Confederate aid.46

    Marylanders, whose homeland was a border state in this national conflict, held widely divergent political opinions. Major factions were the Democratic Party (which aligned itself with Sourthern sympathizers), the Unionists (conservative supporters of Lincoln), and the more-radical Unconditional Unionists.47 These last two would ultimately evolve into Maryland's Republican Party. Baltimore city was politically controlled by Unionists, but the populace remained widely split over the issue of secession. Heated emotional involvement led to citizen uprisings - especially early in the war, when Northern troops passed through town on their way to the District of Columbia.48 Baltimore's 1861 mob attack on Pratt Street against the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment caused the war's first bloodshed. Alarmed, Lincoln ordered his troops to seize control of the city to ensure safety of the only railroad link between the North and the nations capital.

    Brigadier General Benjamin Butler from Massachusetts, soon to be infamous throughout the South as "Butler the Beast," took control in 1861; the mayor and police commissioner were imprisoned.49 By 1864, the Maryland state constitution required each voter to affirm allegiance to the United States government and it denied any form of aid to those engaged in "armed hostility."50

    In this climate, Chapman and Ruppert were victors in the October 1864 election, although accusations of chicanery in the primaries had been alleged. On 3 October Henneberry was nominated to represent the Union ticket in the second ward. Local reports in one of the city dailys offered this account, "City Affairs. On Monday night the voters of the second ward met and nominated Mr. Richard Henneberry as the Union candidate for the First Branch he receiving 144 votes while Mr. Joseph Ruppert received 105." A subsequent letter in the Baltimore Clipper, on 8 October, claimed that Ruppert had been nominated unanimously the previous evening in Franklin Hall. Henneberry and the meeting of 3 October were rejected because of "the introduction into the meeting of a number of persons not resident of the Ward and of men who [did] not intent do support [their] ticket on election day." At the voting booth on 12 October, Ruppert easily defeated Henneberry, 538 to 364.51,52 The breakdown of results by voting precinct was reported the following day as: "Results of Elections: New Constitution approved. Chapman wins for Mayor. City Council in Second Ward: "

                             Joseph Ruppert                                                Richard Henneberry

                                        80                      1st precinct                                    101

                                      152                     2nd percinct                                      99

                                      243                     3rd precinct                                      74

                                        63                     4th precinct                                       91

                                     538                                                                               365

    The city council of 1864, which held session in the building now known as the Peale Museum on Holliday Street, produced no truly outstanding legislation. But it was kept busy, as the Confederacy suffered defeat and the nation suffered its first presidential assassination. In April 1865, following the union capture of Richmond, the council ordered that Baltimore be draped in flags, that church bells be rung, and that cannons be fired. One contemporary historian described "houses [that] streamed with bunting and battle-flags, pennants and revenue colors were suspended in all directions, the city was dressed in red, white and blue. The display ... was richer and more profuse than ever seen in any similar demonstration. The streets were filled with thousands of people and at night the entire city was brilliantly illuminated."53

    During his term of office, Ruppert was appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Health Commissioners, the Joint Standing Commision on Bridges, the Joint Standing Committee on the Alms House and the Joint Committee on Passenger Railways. In those roles, he authored many resolutions and committee reports.54

    The festivities ended within days. News of Lincoln's murder prompted Baltimore's city council to appropriate $10,000 for the arrest and conviction of the assassin. Speeches and proclamations were made by councilmen and a letter sent to Mrs. Lincoln.55 Bells were again rung and drapes were hung - but now in mourning. Lincoln's body was brought through Baltimore and his coffin opened, while ten thousand persons viewed his remains. Reactionary sentiments among Baltimoreans were reflected in legislation enacted in the days following. The council protested the policy of allowing former Confederates to return and remain in the city, requesting the military authorities not to tolerate this "worst of dangerous evils."56 It also decreed the closure of various city churches and social organizations "composed of southern sympathizers ... aligned with the Rebel cause."57

    The 1864-1865 council of which Joseph Ruppert was a member ended on 10 Oct 1865 as described in The Baltimore Daily Gazette:

    "Local News. Adjournment of the Council. The two branches of the City Council last evening, after a lengthy and laborious session, adjourned sine die, having completed their labors. The closing of the present term ends the term of office of the members of the First Branch; but it is supposed many of them will be re-elected for the ensuing term ... After adjournment last night members of the two branches proceded to Allen's Restaurant, on Light Street per invitation of the officers of the Council, where they partook of a sumptious entertainment, and spent their parting hours in social intercourse."58
    Unfortunately, when the council reconvened, Ruppert was not among the reelected. His candidacy was announced in the following newspaper brief, "11 October 1865. Election of City Council in second ward. Joseph Ruppert, Unionist, and present incumbent, against Richard R. Henneberry."59 The votes were itemized by precinct as reported the next day in The American and Commercial Advertizer:60

                                                     Joseph Ruppert                            Richard Hennebery

                                                               22              1st precinct                    135

                                                               28             2nd precinct                      96

                                                               82             3rd precinct                       85

                                                               31             4th precinct                       90
                                                              163                                                      406

    The official return of elections reads, "We the Subscribers Return Judges of the Second Ward of the City of Baltimore in the State of Maryland hereby certify that at the Election held in the aforesaid ward on the eleventh day of October A.D. 1865 Richard F. Henneberry received four hundred and six votes and Joseph Ruppert received one hundred and sixty three votes. And that Mr. Richard F. Henneberry was duly elected to represent the said ward in the City Council for the ensuing term by having received the majority of the votes of the aforesaid ward. Signed: Charles F. Hildebrandt, Res. Judge 1st Precinct; Charles Crozier, Res. Judge 2nd Precinct; W. G. Hebden, Res. Judge 3rd Precinct; William Duiver [?spelling], Res. Judge 4th Precinct."61


    Joseph Ruppert was affiliated with a variety of Christian denominations during his lifetime. He was baptized into the Catholic church in Germany but almost immediately upon arriving in Maryland he was a member of Zion Lutheran Church. This is likely because his wife, Katharina Weitzel was the product of many generations of Reformed church fathers. It is curious, however that Ruppert and his family did not attend one of the several Reformed congregations in Baltimore. Perhaps the Lutheran church was a compromise. Later, Joseph Ruppert and his growing family were members of Trinity Lutheran, a filial congregation of Zion. In the early 1850s, Ruppert was founding member of First German United Evangelical Church on Eastern Avenue, a Reformed congregation.

    Upon his second marriage in 1868, Joseph Ruppert once again became affiliated with the Catholic church, being a member of Saint Michael's German Catholic parish on Lombard Street. He was buried in a Catholic Cemetery, Saint Alphonsus and was even later re-interred in another Catholic burying ground, Holy Redeemer.

    Perhaps the most puzzling religious affiliation for Joseph Ruppert is found in the first volumes of Saint James Lutheran church in Randallstown, an agricultural community about 25 miles outside the boundaries of Baltimore City in northwestern Baltimore County.

    Joseph Ruppert is listed as a founding member. His address is cited as "Lexington." He is enumerated as the second member of the congregation but a line through his name indicates that he withdrew. Review of the membership list, includes the following pertinent findings: number 9: Carl Valentin Zorbach, withdrew 6 April 1851; number 11: Henrich Debus; number 13 Simon Zorbach. On the following page, another List of Members includes Joseph Ruppert between numbers 11 and 12 with Carl Zarbach [sic]. Simon Zarbach [sic] is enumerated as number 10. Finally, there is yet another accounting of the original membership that lists bithdates, parents names, spouses and children. For the Joseph Ruppert family (which was also crossed out indicating withdrawal from the church) the following information was provided:

    Joseph Ruppert born 23 October 1817 in Werthover [sic], Darmstadt son of Albertius Ruppert and of Chatarina nee Arnol. Chatarina Weizel [sic], daughter of Jacob Weizel and Margaretha nee Danefelsen [sic], from the same place, was born 23 October 1818. Children include the following: Magdalena, Jacob, Margaretha, Martin, Chatarina and Joseph.

    This is fascinating yet at present inexplicable information, namely what were the Rupperts doing in Randallstown, at least 20 miles distant from their usual residence in Fell's Point? There are sufficient data here to confirm that the church record is referring to the correct Ruppert family. It provides an accurate although somewhat mispelled native village in Germany, it accurately provides the maiden name of Joseph Ruppert's mother although it incorrectly states his father's name as Albert (it was Matthias) and his mother's given name as Catharina (it was Maria Elisabetha). Furthermore the identification of his wife as Katharina Weitzel daughter of Jakob Weitzel and Barbara (not Margaretha) Dannenfelser Weitzel is correct. Even the coincidence of having the same day of birth for Joseph and Katharina is correct, however it is the wrong day, it should be either 3 November or 18 October but not 23 October. Most interestingly, the years of birth have been reversed, Joseph was born in 1817 while Katharina was born in 1816. Lastly, the list of children is entirely accurate both by name and order of birth.

    This information has enough reliability that there is no doubt that it refers to the correct Ruppert family, but at the same time there is enough inaccuracy to make one believe either the minister was trying to create these lists from memory or the information was elicited from someone other than the principals. After all, who would provide the wrong first names for their parents?

    This church record raises more flags than just correctly identifying Joseph Ruppert's family. What was this family doing so far from their established residence in Baltimore City? Where is Lexington? Is it a community, a farm or something else entirely? Were the Ruppert's there for some other reason such as a summer home or were they possilby visiting friends? Furthermore, what is the connection with the Zorbach family identified in this church book, namely Carl Valentine Zorbach son of Simon Zorbach who was in turn the son of Valentine Zorbach? How do they relate to Carl Philipp Zorbach, who married Joseph's daughter Magdalena in 1858? There is yet another mystery found in this church volume. On 30 March 1851, Charlotte Schmidt was baptized. She is identified as the daughter of Valentin Schmidt and Maria Weikel from Westhofen. The Schmidts would be the first known emigrant family from Westhofen to Maryland who have no biologic or legal relationship to Jakob Weitzel.

    Muddying the waters of religious affiliations further is the following baptismal record from Salem German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Catonsville, Maryland on 17 May 1849, "Joseph geboren 14 Juni 1848 Sohn des Joseph Ruppert aus Westhofen, kreis Worms Hessen Darmstadt und Catharina geb Waizel [sic]. Gevatter: Valentin Schmidt. Namen des Kinder: Joseph Ruppert." Once again Joseph Ruppert with wife and family appears well outside the confines of Fell's Point on this occassion in the western suburbs of Baltimore County. Once again, Valentine Schmidt makes a connection with the Rupperts. The only speculative explanation for Joseph Ruppert and family to appear in Catonsville some 20 or more miles from Fell's Point is that he may have moved from community to community providing his expertise as an artesian well-borer. These two ecclesiastical records, both found by coincidence, are the only links to Ruppert outside the limits of the city where he has otherwise been securely anchored to the German community in the harborside environs of Fell's Point.

    Such puzzling but intriguing information will require further research.64


    Joseph Ruppert's obituary on 10 May 1880 in The Baltimore Sun reads as follows: "On the ninth of May after an illness of only three days, Joseph Ruppert, aged 64 years and 7 months. Born in Westhoven [sic], Germany, October 19, 1817 but a resident of Baltimore for 43 years. The funeral will take place from his late residence no. 381 East Lombard Street this Monday May 10 at 4 o'clock PM."65

    A German language obituary on 10 May 1880 in Der Deutsche Correspondent reads as follows:

    "Tod eine bekannten Deutschen. Gestern Nachmittag starb nach nur dreitägiger Krankheit Hr. Joseph Ruppert im Alter von 64 Jahren und 7 Monathen. Der Verstorbene war in Westhofen, Grossherzogthum Hessen geboren und seit 43 Jahren in Baltimore wohnhaft. Ein Küfer von Profession, beschäftigte er sich hier vorzugswerfe mit dem Graben artesischer Brunnen. Der Verstorbene vertrat in zwei Terminen in ersten Rathszweige die zweite Ward und war seiner Zeit Präsident der "Aktien-Brauerei Gesellschaft." Er hinterläst ausser einer Wittwe dritter Ehe, sechs Kinder erster und drei Stiefkinder zweiter Ehe. Die Beerdigung findet heute Nachmittag 4 Uhr vom Trauerhause Nr. 381, Ost-Lombardstrasse, aus statt."

    An English translation is provided as, "Death of a well-known German. Yesterday afternoon, after only three days illness, Mr. Joseph Ruppert died at age 64 years and seven months. The deceased was born in Westhofen, Hessen Darmstadt but was a resident of Baltimore for the past 43 years. A cooper by profession, he also was employed as an artesian well digger. The deceased served for two terms in the first chamber of the City Council from the second ward. He was also at one time president of the Joint Stock Brewer Association [possibly a local building and loan]. He is survived by a widow from his third marriage, six children from his first marriage and three step-children from his second marriage. The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock from his late residence, number 381 East Lombard Street."66

    No record of his will nor an inventory of the estate has been located. This may reflect the suddeness of his death.


    Katharina WEITZEL was born on 18 Oct 1816 in Westhofen, Worms, Hessen. Witnesses to her baptism in the Reformierte Kirche Westhofen were Christoph Schweitzer and Peter Breyvogel.67,68 She was confirmed on 14 May 1831 in Westhofen Evangelische Kirche, Westhofen, Worms, Hessen. The brief tabular entry in the church record for her confirmation also includes her birth date, "Katharina Weitzel geboren den 19 Oct 1816."69 She immigrated in 1837 to Baltimore City, Maryland. No passenger arrival record has been located for Katharina Weitzel or fellow travellers in the group that emigrated from Westhofen. This party most likely consisted of Katharina's parents, Jakob and Barbara Dannenfelser Weitzel as well as her siblings. Other sources supply an entry date to America of 30 November 1837 (see above). Her married name was Katharina Ruppert. She appeared on the federal census1860 in the household of her father Joseph Ruppert in Baltimore City.70 She appeared on the census of 13 Jun 1860 in the household of Joseph Ruppert in Baltimore City, Maryland.71She served as a baptismal witness to Wilhelmina Katharina Vobbe on 11 Apr 1867 in Trinity Lutheran Church, Baltimore City, Maryland, as abstracted from the church record: "Wilhelmina Katharina daughter of Rudolph Vobbe and Louise Kropf born: 11 Apr 1867 baptized: 5 May 1867. Witnesses: Wilhelmine Ketha..? and Katharina Ruppert."72

    Katharina Weitzel died in Baltimore City, Maryland, at 52 years of age on 24 Nov 1868 leaving her widowed husband Joseph Ruppert and children. The pastor from Trinity Lutheran Church noted that she was from Westhofen and that she died at age 52 years, 1 month and five days of consumption. She was buried on the 26th.73 Her obituary on 25 Nov 1868 in Der Deutsche Correspondent, Baltimore City, Maryland, reads as follows: "Es Starb Am 24 Nov. fruhe 5 Uhr nerschied nach longsem Siechtheme unsere theure Gattin und Mutter Frau Katharina Ruppert dritte Tochter des verstorbenen Jakob Weitzel, sen. im Alter von 52 Jahren 1 Monath und 5 Tagen. Die Verwandten und Freunde der Familie sind achtungsvoll zu dem Begrabnisse, das Donnerstag dem 26 November. Nacdhem 2 Uhr vom Trauerhause, Nr. 215 Eastern Avenue, aus stat sinret ohne neitere Meldung eingeladen. Der besummerte Gatte, Joseph Ruppert nebst 7 Kindern." The English translation is given as: On the 24th of November early about 5 o'clock in the morning after a long, lingering illness our dear wife and mother, Mrs Katharina Ruppert, third daughter of the late Jakob Weitzel, Sr., at the age of 52 years 1 month and 5 days. Relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to the funeral on Thursday the 26th of November at two o'clock at the house of mourning, number 215 Eastern Avenue, friends are invited without further ado. The grieving husband, Joseph Ruppert and seven surviving children.74 Her obituary on 25 Nov 1868 in The Baltimore Sun reads as follows: "On the 24th instant at 5 o'clock AM after a lingering illness, Katherine beloved wife of Joseph Ruppert and third daughter of the late Jacob Weitzel, Sr. At the age of 52 years, 1 month and 5 days. Relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend her funeral on tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, 26th instant, at 2 o'clock from her late residence no. 215 Eastern Avenue without further notice."75 She was buried on 26 Nov 1868 in Baltimore Cemetery, Baltimore City, Maryland. A large weathered Victorian marble tombstone with an angel motif marks her interment site in the Weitzel family plot just to the right of the cemetery's main entrance gate. In 1998, the multi-segmented top finial fell off the headstone in a wind and rain storm. This piece of the marker was salvaged by her great great grandson but unfortunately was damaged in its fall.76

    The 10 known children of Joseph1 Ruppert and Katharina Weitzel were as follows:


    Maria Margaretha STEINMETZ. Her married name was Margaretha Windfelder and later Margaretha Ruppert. She was born on 28 Apr 1833 in Frensdorf, Oberfranken, Bavaria. She married Johannes Windfelder, son of George Windfelder and Elisabeth Gauss, in 14 Jan 1855 in Saint Michael's German Catholic Church, Baltimore City, Maryland. The following information is abstracted from the church marriage register, "Johannes Windfelder son of Georg Windfelder and Elizabeth Gauss. Age 22 from Reinsdorf, Bavaria with M. A. Steinmetz daughter of Johann Steinmetz and Apollonia Scharodt [?], 22 from Frensdorf, Bavaria." This was the first marriage for both. Johannes Windfelder died 8 July 1866.173 She appeared on the federal census of 1860 in the household of her first husband Johannes Windfelder in Baltimore City, Maryland.174 She lived in 1868 in Baltimore City where the directory listed her as Mrs. John Windfelder, milliner at 225 Eastern Avenue.175 Joseph Ruppert's second wife died on 29 Apr 1870 one day after childbirth. The 1870 federal census mortality schedule provides additional detail. Mary Ruppert was a married 37-year old female from Bavaria who died in April 1870. Her usual occupation was listed as "keeping a fancy store" and her cause of death was listed as "confinement due to childbirth" which is a nineteenth century euphemism for post partum death.176

    The only known child of Joseph1 Ruppert and Maria Margaretha Steinmetz was:


    Christina M. ABEL was born on 19 Dec 1830 in Giesen, Sachsen. She immigrated to Baltimore in 1835.177 She married Nicholaus Guethlein, son of Johannes Guethlein and Margaretha Killian, on 20 Apr 1865 in Saint Michael's Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland. The church entry is translated as: "Nicolaus Gutlein son of Johannes Gutlein and Margaretha Killian, 51 years from ...dorf, Bavaria and Christina Abel daughter of ... Abel and Dorothea Zimmerman. 34 years old from ... Saxen Weimar, Bavaria."178 Her married name was Christina Guethlein. She was widowed by the death of Nicholaus Guethlein on17 Nov 1869 in Baltimore City, Maryland.179 She was widowed at age 62 by the death of her second husband Joseph Ruppert on 9 May 1880 at 381 East Lombard Street, Baltimore City, Maryland.180 She appeared on the census of 1880 residing at 381 East Lombard Street, Baltimore City, Maryland. The enumerator described the household as: "Christina Ruppert 48-year old white female, widow from Germany; John H. Windfelder 23-year old white male, step-son, artesian wells, single, unemployed 3 mos., born in Maryland, parents German; Mary F. Windfelder 16-year old white female, step-daughter from Maryland, parents German; Annie Windfelder 18-year old white female, step-daughter, dressmaker, from Maryland, parents German."181 In 1900, Christina M. Abel appeared on the federal census in the residence at number 2025 East Lombard Street, Baltimore City, Maryland. The enumerator provides the following information about the occupants of this house: "Christina Ruppert born in December 1830 in Germany. Immigrated in 1835. Widowed. No children. Operates a confectionery store. Owns her home. She reads, writes and speaks English. At the same address but listed as a separate household is Clara Gephardt born March 1830 in Germany. Widowed mother of three of whom two are living. She immigrated in 1836."182

    Christina M. Abel died on 8 Sep 1906 at her home, number 2025 Lombard Street, Baltimore City, Maryland. She was 75 years, 8 months and 20 days years of age. Data from her death record include: "Christina M. A. Ruppert of 2025 East Lombard Street, 2nd Ward. White Female, born Dec 19, 1830; age 76 years 8 months and 20 days; widow; Father: John J. Abel of Germany; Mother: M. D. Zimmermann of Germany; Occupation housewife. Informant: John D. Abel of 2025 East Lombard Street. Date of Death: Sep 8, 1906. Attended from June 1906 to death. Death occurred at 8:20 AM . Cause of death: senility of 3 months duration. Robert H. Owens, MD of 114 West Franklin Street. Burial: Holy Redeemer on 11 Sep 1906 by Joseph J. Herr of 1914 East Fayette Street."183 Her obituary on 9 Sep 1906 in The Baltimore Sun reads as follows: "On September 8, 1906 at 8:20 AM in her 77th year, relict of the late Joseph Ruppert. Funeral from her late residence 2025 East Lombard Street on Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock thence to Saint Michael's Church where a requiem mass will be said for the repose of her soul."184 She was buried on 11 Sep 1906 in Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Baltimore City, Maryland.185

    Review of the appropriate index for Baltimore City wills uncovered no entries for the surname Abel or Guthlein. There was one entry during the time frame following Christina Ruppert's death for the Ruppert surname, however that will (liber 99, folio 124 for 1906) was written by Katherine Polster Ruppert from Wantuch, Bavaria, widow of Frederick Ruppert who is not related to the family under discussion.186

    There were no known children of Joseph1 Ruppert and Christina M. Abel.

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