The Mother Ring

a Family Mystery SOLVED!

What our family calls "the Mother Ring" belonged to Maggie DORR WESSLING; she gave it to her daughter, Martha WESSLING POHL, who gave it to HER daughter, Marguerite POHL REID, and Momma gave it to ME.

It's a wide gold band with the word "MOTHER" cut out, revealing a lock of hair. There's an engraving inside the ring - "To Maggie from Dora".

Now when Momma gave the ring to me, she told me that she had NO IDEA who "Dora" was! THIS was, indeed a "family mystery", and I was DETERMINED to solve it!!!

I knew that Maggie's mother, Maria Anna GRATZ, was a widow when she married Maggie's father, Nicholas DORR in 1855. I'd been told that there were no children born to Maria and her first husband, Joseph GRAM. This was NOT the case, as I found out from the 1900 Census! Maria GRATZ GRAM DORR told the Census enumerator that she'd had SIX children and FIVE of them were still alive - but I knew only about the FIVE children born (FOUR "still living") to her and Nicholas DORR (a son died in his teens).

Either Maria and Nicholas had a child that no one knew about - and that child was still living OR Maria had a child by her first husband.

It was Nicholas DORR himself who provided a MAJOR clue. In his will, Nicholas mentioned his FOUR living children AND left a bequest to "my Step-Grand-daughter, Mrs Elisabeth LANGGUTH, daughter of the late Dorothy SCHAFF".

"DOROTHY"???? Could this be "DORA"???

I turned this case over to Miss Marge Marple, famous genealogical detective, and she started digging. She was able to find a marriage record (at Holy Trinity Church) for Elizabeth, and learned that Elizabeth's parents were Joseph SCHAFF and Dorothy GRAM. This was LOOKIN' GOOD!!!!

More digging - this time for a marriage record for Joseph SCHAFF and Dorothy GRAM - Miss Marge FOUND IT!!! (at Holy Trinity, where else???) And Dorothy's parents??? Joseph GRAM and Maria Anna GRATZ

Miss Marge had found "Dora". And, I'm willing to bet that the lock of hair enclosed in the "Mother Ring" belonged to Maggie and Dora's mother, Maria Anna GRATZ

We found one last bit of evidence a few months later - the 1855 Massachusetts State Census shows Nicholas DORR, his wife, Mary, and a 5 year old girl, "Dora".

One Mystery solved - and a new one appeared. Whatever became of Lawrence LANGGUTH, Elizabeth SCHAFF LANGGUTH's son? Read all about him in Miss Marge's "He once was lost, but now he's found - the AMAZING (and graceful) STORY of Lawrence LANGGUTH"!!!

Remember, let me know if YOU have ties with the German Catholic community in Boston!


VISIT my GERMAN HERITAGE PAGE for more information about these folks.


Marge Reid--[email protected]

This page was updated 4 January 1999.

copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999 - Margaret V Reid