By Ray DeRousse as published by the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly, Spring 2018.
Published on stegenevieve.net with permission by the author.
Please see this link to download the article in PDF form: Finding Catherine Dallas
FINDING CATHERINE DALLAS
The family legend for my Great Grandmother, Catherine Dallas, was that she was born 9 June 1845 aboard ship on the Atlantic Ocean. This information was repeated in her obituary and her Missouri Death Certificate. My Grandmother helped perpetuate that information, having heard it from her parents while growing up, and then retelling the story. The surname became Americanized as Dallas, but appears in the French records as Delles or Delesse. For simplicity, I will refer to them as Dallas.
When I started doing research on this family in the 1980’s, the first items I had were their obituaries and the 1850 census for Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri.
John Dallas died 11 August 1902 and his obituary stated that he was born 2 June 1819 in Alsace, France about 86 miles northwest of Strassburg, France and that he immigrated about 1850 with his wife, Barbara, and two children who were born in Germany. It also said that Catherine Dallas and her brother, Peter, were born in Pennsylvania prior to their move to Ste. Genevieve.
Barbara Dallas died 3 December 1885 and her obituary stated that she was born in Humberhoh, Lorraine where she married John Dallas on 14 January 1845 and that they immigrated about 1847. No birth places were given for any of the children. Book searches did not uncover any place named Humberhoh in the pre internet days of the 1980’s. So I sent a letter to a genealogy society in France and provided the information I had from the obituaries.
I received a very gracious reply from a Jean Fleury. He said that the correct name of the town was Hombourg-Haut and that the French pronunciation sounded like Homberhoh. He also gave the correct marriage date for John and Barbara as 21 January 1845 and the subsequent birth dates of their first two children, Jean (John) Junior born 21 April 1845, and Barbe (Barbara) born 29 November 1846, both born in Hombourg-Haut. He made no mention of Catherine only to say that the birth date I provided from her obituary was incorrect. He further indicated that there were no other records for the family after the birth of their daughter Barbara in 1846. There is more to come on Jean Fleury later.
When Ancestry became available, I was finally able to discover the immigration record for the John Dallas family. John, along with wife Barbara and their two children, left France from the port of Le Havre aboard the ship Amulet and arrived in New York on 15 April 1847. There was no mention of Catherine on the passenger manifest.
The family showed up in the 1850 census of Ste. Genevieve County which was taken on 13 September 1850. It showed two more children born to John and Barbara, Catherine, age two years old, and Peter as age 8/12. Both had their place of birth as Pennsylvania. A search of the church records showed that Peter Dallas was baptized in the Church of Ste. Genevieve on 5 May 1850 at age ca 3 months, but nothing for Catherine.
So, Catherine Dallas was born in Pennsylvania somewhere between the immigration arrival of 15 April 1847 and their arrival in Missouri by 5 May 1850. No census was taken in the years between their arrival in Pennsylvania and their arrival in Missouri. Pennsylvania was a large and populated state even in 1850. I searched many places and many years before finding the place where they resided.
Someone suggested that I look to see who they traveled with. I revisited the immigration record. One of the things you can do is place a note correcting the spelling of the passenger surnames. Another researcher and a distant cousin, Ryan Grill, noted that there was a Grill family of eleven people on board the same ship as the Dallas family. I never would have recognized the writing as Grill, so thankfully he had noted the correct spelling, and I recognized the Grill surname as being another Hombourg-Haut family traveling with the Dallas family. A quick check of the 1850 Pennsylvania census showed the Grill family living in Berks County, Pennsylvania. When I checked with Ryan, he had a printed book showing the births and baptisms from Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Bally, Berks County, Pennsylvania. And there was the entry for Catherine showing both her birth date of 22 June 1848 and subsequent baptism on 24 September 1848 in Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Bally, Berks County, Pennsylvania. All that was left to do was to call the church and get a copy of the actual record.
Paul Harvey would always say, “And now for the rest of the story.” In 2011 we visited Hombourg-Haut and met a distant cousin, Vincent Vion. Vincent is the prototype of the type of contact we would all like to connect with. He speaks French, German and English. He is the local historian for the area and worked as the Tourism Director before retiring. In addition to publishing several history and genealogy books on the area, he authored a historical column in the quarterly town magazine called Hombourg-Mag.
In one of those columns, he told the story of the Grill and Dallas family’s immigration to America in 1847, and where both families settled. That particular story led a fellow genealogist to ask Vincent if he knew of Jean Fleury. When Vincent said he was not familiar with the person, his friend went on to explain that Jean Fleury was president of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays Messin and died before publishing his book on emigrants from the Alsace Lorriane area. Jean Fleury left instructions for his widow to give his book to anyone interested in genealogy. Vincent was able to get a copy and sent me a copy. There on page 47 was the emigration information for my Dallas family with a final destination of Ste. Genevieve. This was the same Jean Fleury who I communicated with back in the 1980’s, and he got their final destination from our communication! A copy of the book has been donated to St. Louis County Library.
Catherine (Dallas) Lipp died on 1 April 1923, and was buried in Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Ozora, Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri on 3 April 1923. Her information in the Missouri Death Certificate was provided by my Grandmother’s sister and said that Catherine was born on 9 June 1845 aboard ship on the Atlantic Ocean. I’m happy to have solved the 25 year mystery, but saddened that the legend wasn’t true.
 John Dallas, obituary, Ste. Genevieve Herald, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, 16 August 1902, page 1, column 3
 Mrs. Barbara Dallas, obituary, Ste. Genevieve Herald, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, 12 December 1885, page 1, column 4
 Jean Fleury (Metz France) to “Monsieur Ray DeRousse,” letter, 1985, Dallas family collection, privately held by Ray DeRousse, St. Louis, 1985. Jean Fleury’s response to inquiry about the Dallas family.
 Eglise catholique, Paroisse d’Hombourg-Haut (Moselle), “Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials) 1821-1861,” 21 January 1845, Marriage Record for Delles/Reichert, Family History Library microfilm 1,939,108, Item 1, date sequence, 1845 Number 14
 Eglise catholique, Paroisse d’Hombourg-Haut (Moselle), “Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials) 1821-1861,” 21 April 1845, Baptismal Record for Jean Delles, Family History Library microfilm 1,939,108, Item 1, date sequence, 1845 Number 53
 Eglise catholique, Paroisse d’Hombourg-Haut (Moselle), “Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials) 1821-1861,” 29 November 1846, Baptismal Record for Barbe Delles, Family History Library microfilm 1,939,108, Item 1, date sequence, 1846 Number 121
 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1897” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 March 2017), manifest, Amulet, 15 April 1847, no page number, line 10, J. Delisse, age 28
 1850 U. S. Census, Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, population schedule, page 455 (handwritten, penned 228), dwelling 352, family 366, John Delise; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 March 2017); National Archives and Records Administration micropublication M432, roll 413
 Church of Ste. Genevieve (Ste. Genevieve Missouri), “Baptisms 1820-1923,” 5 May 1850, book E, page 151, Baptismal Record for Peter Dallas, Family History Library microfilm 1,939,898 Item 2 Page 151
 1850 U. S. Census, Berks County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, page 46 (handwritten, 23B penned), dwelling 8, family 10, Jno Gril, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 March 20170; National Archives Administration micropublication M432, roll 753
 Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (Bally, Berks County Pennsylvania), Baptismal Record for Catharina Deles, 24 September 1848, Book 3, Page 113, Number 4
 Jean Fleury, compiled, LORRAINS EMIGRES EN AMERIQUE de 1815 à 1875, (self published)
 “Missoui Death Certificates, 1910-1964,” digital image, Missouri State Archives (www.sos.mo.gov/records/archivesdb/deathcertificates/ : accessed 11 February 2017), entry for Catherine Lipp, death certificate 13755, 1 April 1923
 Mrs. Xavier Lipp, obituary, Ste. Genevieve Herald, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, 7 April 1923, page 1, column 3