Magdalena Steffen

by Katie Tice
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America)

My 3rd great-grandmother, Magdalena Steffen (1833-1896) was from Haguenau, Departement du Bas-Rin, Alsace, France. She eventually made it to Milwaukee, WI, where she married my 3rd great-grandfather, Wilhelm Sellmann. I think her mother was named Maria, and it's possible she made it to the states through the Louisiana Port of Entry. This is all I know about her, and I was hoping someone might have some information for me or, at the very least, point me in the direction of someone who can help. All of her census and other records indicate she states her country of origin as "France," so it's possible that, while she had a German name and probably spoke the language, she identified as French. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Katie Tice

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French or German
by: Suzele

Hi Katie,

Your relative was born into France according to her date of birth.

And at the time of her birth, she was born into France, but her place of birth didn't stay part of France all of her life.

And she was most likely someone who had a germanic culture and spoke a germanic language.

If she was well educated, she might have even spoken some French.

But everyday life here in Alsace in the 1800s didn't involve a lot of French for the average person.

Alsace has a unique culture that isn't French although it's part of France now.

And at the same time, it's not German either. The same way that Canada and the US are not British.

Hope it helps,

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