19th c. Ancestors in Prussia, Belgium, & Baden

John Reuter (Edward John Hubert Reuter) and Pauline Pirotte (Pauline Marie Gaspard Pirotte) are my maternal great-grandparents. John was born about 1822 in Cologne (German: Köln), Prussia. Pauline was born about 18241 in Fiphelens (Dutch) (French: Fexhe-lins), Liége Belgium. They married about 1850 and had three children:

1.  Stephanie, born 1851 in Liége, Belgium

2.  Armand, born 1852 in Antwerp, Belgium

3.  Edmond, born 1857 in Karlsruhe, Baden

They emigrated to Montreal, Canada between 1853 and 1857.

I wrote the following to provide a high level backdrop for their lives vis-à-vis Prussian and Belgium history.

The Kingdom of Prussian (1701-1918) had nine kings. The first three were:

1. Frederick I (1701-1713)
2. Frederick William I (1713-1740)
3. Frederick II (The Great) (1740-1786)

Family History Note

I have no information about my Reuter or Pirotte ancestors during these time frames.

Frederick William II (1786-1797)

Europe experienced a great deal of social upheaval and war during his reign. The upheavals were influenced in large part by the 1789 French Revolution, the subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), and the dominance in Europe of the French Empire (1789-1814) under Napoleon.

Continuing in the spirit of their own revolution, the French introduced radical changes in the lands they annexed and dominated, including the emancipation of serfs and the introduction of democratic principles. Social equality, access to education, and voting rights challenged the core principals of the European feudal system, with its strict social hierarchy that reserved power and privilege for the nobility and strictly relegated others to either a middle class (tradesmen, merchants, physicians, and artisan guilds) or a peasant class (free persons and serfs).

In 1792, France annexed all Germanic areas west of the Rhine River, including Cologne. This was a highly industrialized region and many educated middle class people lived here.

In 1795, present-day Belgium, including Liége, was conquered and annexed by the French. Subsequently, several former states within the Holy Roman Empire were consolidated and the Kingdom of Westphalia was created.

Frederick William III (1797-1840)

His reign saw the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), the dismantling of the feudal structure within many of its former member states, and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine – Der Rheinbund – (1806-1813).

At its height in 1808, the Confederation included 36 intact or recently consolidated states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, free towns) that were tied to France. However, the two largest Germanic states of Prussia (Königreich Preußen) and Austria (Kaisertum Österreich) were not part of the Confederation.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1647788

In 1815, Napoleon and his army were defeated at Waterloo. Between 1814 and 1815, the settlement of the Congress of Vienna dissolved the Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine. Additionally, the settlement:

– Established the German Confederation, consisting of 39 States and including Prussia, Austria, and Switzerland.

– Returned Westphalia and the Rhineland (including Cologne) to Prussia.

– Gave Wallonia (a large part of present day Belgium) to the Kingdom of the Netherlands under King William of Orange.

During the Napoleonic period, Prussia had instituted some social reforms in response to popular demands and unrest, in particular:

– 1807:  Abolition of serfdom

– 1808: Military reform; Municipal reforms, which impacted primarily the middle class in cities

However by 1817 earlier Prussian reforms were abandoned and the feudal structures were reinstated. Rhinelanders were regarded and treated as subjects and aliens. Cologne was at the center of clashes between the Roman Catholic Church and the Prussian government, which imprisoned its Archbishop, Clemens August, between 1837 and 1839.

In 1830 a revolution led by Wallonia, in what is now Belgium, resulted in Belgium independence from Holland. There are officially three regions in present-day Belguim: Flemmish, Walloon, and Brussels-Capital.

The Flemish Region The Walloon Region

Family History Note

1822: Birth of John Edward Hubert Reuter, in Cologne, then part of the Kingdom of Prussia

1824: Birth of Pauline Marie Gaspar Pirotte, in Fiphelens, Liége, then part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

I estimate that the parents of John Reuter and Pauline Pirotte were born between 1790 and 1800. Living in the Napoleonic Empire, they may have grown up influenced by the principles of enlightenment, equality, and secularization. They may also have had increased access to education and career opportunities.

Reunification with Prussia in 1814 may have brought restrictions to their lives that were unfamiliar and unwelcome. They may have supported their children’s emigration so they might enjoy liberties and opportunities no longer existing in Prussia.

Frederick William IV (1840-1861)

Between 1848 and 1851 there was a Second Revolution in many German-speaking states. In response, Prussia called up army reserve in 1849 in the Rhineland to suppress uprisings in other areas/states in the German Confederation.

Family History Note

I estimate that around 1849-1850 John Reuter and Pauline Pirotte were married. I don’t know where they were married. They had three children, all born in different places.

03 Feb 1851: Birth of Stephanie Reuter in Liége, Belgium

29 May 1852: Birth of Armand Reuter in Antwerp, Belgium

05 July 1857: Birth of Edmond Reuter in Karlsruhe, Baden

Canadian Records

– 1857-1860 Montreal city directories: Edward Reuter of Reuter Brothers & Company: Commission merchants, importers of French calf skins, and agent for the Monteal zinc-paint works; 267 St. Paul; 158 St. Paul; 25 Lemoine; Cadieux, Cote à Baron (house)

– 1861 Canadian Census: Everhard Reuter, merchant, 38, born in Cologne; Pauline Pirotte, spouse, 35, born in Liége; Fanny Reuter, daughter, 10, born in Liége; Armand Reuter, son, 8, born in Anvers (Antwerp); Everhard Reuter, son, 4, born in Carlsruhe. Religion for all: C. R. (Roman Catholic)

 United States Records

– 1880 Federal Census: Edward Reuter, 57, born in Cologne, mother & father born in Cologne; Pauline Reuter, 54, born in Belgium, mother & father born in Belgium

– 1900 Federal Census: John E. Reuter, widower, 77, born November  1822 in Germany, mother & father born in Germany; arrived USA in 1880, naturalized

– 1920 Federal Census: Armand Reuter, merchant, 67, immigrated in 1859, naturalized in 1875; Edward Reuter, cutter, 62, immigrated in 1859, naturalized in 1888

– 1930 Federal Census: Fannie Reuter, 78, immigrated in 1857, alien

William I (1861-1888)

In 1866 the North German Confederation replaced the German Confederation after the Prussian victory over Austria in the Seven Weeks War. Austria and Switzerland were not included in the North German Confederation.

In 1871 the North German Confederation became the German Empire under Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898). The states of Germany were united.

Family History Note

I have no information about my Reuter or Pirotte ancestors living in Europe during these time frames.

The last two kings of the Kingdom of Prussian (1701-1918) were:

8. Frederick III (1888-1888)
9. William II (1888-1918) – Abdicated

Family History Note

I have no information about my Reuter or Pirotte ancestors living in Europe during these time frames.

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