"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

25 August 2013

The Missing Sword

Ann am Bruxelles a chaidh innse In Brussels it was told
Gun robh Frangaich tigh'nn nam miltean That the French were coming in their thousands
'S cha bhreug huam gur h-i an fhirinn I tell no lie but the truth
'S iomadh fear bhios sint' gun deo Many a man will be stretched out without breath of life

Illean chridheil, bitheamaid sunndach Brave lads, let's be merry
Seasaibh onoir ur duthcha Stand for the honor of your country
Fhad' s a mhaireas luaidh is fudar As long as lead and powder last
De rud chuireadh curam oirnn? What could worry us?
--"Bonaparte" (Traditional)

On last week's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?", Chris O'Donnell's family history journey led him to discover a sword from the Mexican-American War that his great-great-grandfather donated to the Smithsonian.  As it happens, I've been searching for an old sword from my family's history, but so far with no luck.

This brief article appeared in the Alexandria Gazette 176 years ago today:

Mr. Herman Boschen, of Richmond, has presented to the State of Virginia the sword which his grandfather carried at the battle of Waterloo.  The old sword has been in the Boschen family ever since the memorable battle occurred.  It has been placed in the State library with some relics of the late war.

Herman Boschen was the brother of my 3rd-great-grandmother Leonora Boschen Siegel, so his unnamed grandfather who was at Waterloo would be my 5th-great-grandfather.  The article mentions the sword being in the Boschen family, but there's a chance that the sword could have come from his maternal grandfather.

I have no direct proof (yet!), but I believe Herman and Leonora's maternal grandfather was Lorenz Paul.  From what I know so far:

1)  Last year, I found Lorenz's obituary from 1873 while researching at the Library of Virginia, which I mentioned in an earlier blog, Richmond Day Trip.  It talks about his service at the Battle of Waterloo:

Death of an Old Citizen. - Mr. Lorenz Paul, one of the oldest German citizens of Richmond, died Monday night of congestion of the lungs, in his seventy-seventh year, leaving six children and many grand and great grandchildren, besides a large number of friends, to mourn his loss.  Mr. Paul was one of Blucher's troops at Waterloo, and survived that terrible fight to lay himself quietly to rest in another country, where the shock of battle has been but lately stilled.  In the battle of Waterloo he received a special mark of honor from his sovereign for distinguished services.

2)  The obituary states that Lorenz was survived by six children.  From census records, Lorenz's known children were Herman, Clara, Wilheminia, William, George, and Emma - six total.  But, one of those six, his daughter Clara, had already passed away before Lorenz, in 1864.  So my ancestor Christina could be the sixth surviving child.

3)  Christina immigrated to the U.S. with Lorenz Paul's family, arriving in New York on June 14, 1839.  Lorenz is the right age to be Christina's father, but his wife Charlotte would have been rather young to be her mother - though not out of the realm of possibility, given the time period.

4)  Christina Paul married John Boschen on October 19, 1842 in Richmond, Virginia.  John Boschen owned the plot in Shockoe Hill Cemetery where Lorenz and Charlotte Paul are buried.

5)  Lorenz appeared in some records with his name anglicized to "Lawrence."  My great-great-grandfather, Charles Lawrence Siegel, was likely named for Lorenz.

On my genealogy to-do list the next time I visit Richmond is to try to find a will for Lorenz Paul, and see if Christina Boschen was named as one of his children.

Which leaves the mystery of what became of the Waterloo sword.  Herman Boschen donated it to the State Library, which is now the present-day Library of Virginia.  The LVA says that they don't have any swords from Waterloo in their collection, nor do they have any record of it, and suggested that I try the Virginia Historical Society.  I did contact them, but the VHS doesn't have it either.

So if anyone knows of any museums in the Richmond area that might have such a sword, please let me know!  I'd very much like to find my 5th-great-grandfather's sword.