See also (on this website):
Genealogy Site Map
Photos of the Staebell Family
Genealogy Entry for the Frank Anton Staebell (1857-1937)
Family Tree of Frank Anton Staebell
Distant Staebell Cousins
History of Alsace
STAEBELL is the name of my mother's family. Our branch of the family originated in Alsace, France, and immigrated to Erie County, New York
My great-grandfather Frank Anton Staebell (1857-1937) and his parents, brothers, and sisters, came from the village of Stundwiller, in the department (province) of Bas-Rhin (northern Alsace, France). Stundwiller is a tiny town, with a population of 467 in 1851 and no more than 300 today. Stundwiller has two nearby sister villages, Oberroedern and Aschbach, which are no bigger. The three villages form a single Catholic parish, St. George's. I have ancestors from all three villages.
For many years, members of my family, and especially my mother and my Uncle Jim, exchanged letters with people named Staebell from all over the United States, figuring there must be some relationship. In the 1980's and 1990's several researchers, and especially Russell and Nancy Bussiere, traced the Staebell family back far enough to show that, indeed, all the Staebells whom we know about in the United States are related.
We are all descendants of Antoine Staebell, who was born in about 1693. Whether he was born in Stundwiller, we don't know, but we do know that he married there, in January 1716, to Maria Dorothea Gassert. Their marriage record identifies Antoine's father as Wendelin Staebell. Thus Wendelin is the earliest Staebell ancestor whom we know by name. He is my great (times 7) grandfather -- nine generations before my generation.
Today, no one named Staebell lives in Stundwiller or its neighboring villages anymore, although a few people with the name do live elsewhere in Alsace. However, some of our cousins have met Staebell descendants in Stundwiller, and I think it's certainly true that many present-day residents of these three tiny villages have some Staebell blood in them.
The Staebells did not come to America all at once. They came over a few at a time, between the early 1830's and the 1890's. Frank Anton and his family were among the last to come over.
Of modern-day Staebells in America, the largest group is the one that settled in Western New York, the second largest is the clan in South Dakota and Iowa, and the third largest is in Ohio, with a branch in Colorado. Every one of them is a descendant of Wendelin Staebell and his son Antoine.
Almost all of the branch that I belong to, the "Western New York Staebells," are descendants of Francois Antoine Staebell (1784-1856). He was a great-grandson of Antoine Staebell and he is my great-great-great-grandfather. Many of these Staebells came over in the late 1840's and settled in or near Alden. So pretty much any Staebell or Stabell living in Erie County today is my fourth cousin, or closer.
The South Dakota/Iowa Staebells are descended from a Frank Staebell (1828-1912) who came to America in 1853. They are more distant cousins than the New York Staebells, the current generation being my sixth cousins.
The Ohio/Colorado Staebells are descended from Ferdinand Joseph Staebell (1866-1934). He came to America in the 1890's, I believe, and was perhaps the last Staebell immigrant. His descendants are also my distant cousins, sixth cousins to my generation.
Aaron Staebell of St. Charles, Missouri, wrote to me in Jan-2003 and pointed out that there is a "Staebell Hotel" in Manchester, Missouri. According to a news article dated 02-Jan-2003 on the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the hotel was built by Joseph Staebell in the early 1890's. I do not know who this "Joseph Staebell" is, or where he fits into the family tree. The article mentions a great-grandson of Joseph named Ken Aston of Manchester. The article describes a debate in the Manchester Planning and Zoning Commission about whether to allow the old building to be torn down, to make way for new construction.
Also in Missouri, a Louis Staebell married Helena Vaas in St. Louis on 20-Sep-1862, according to records available on Ancestry.com. This couple appears in the 1870 census of Bonhomme, St. Louis County, Missouri, with children Victoria 8, Emilie 5, and Joseph 4. Perhaps this is the Joseph Staebell who built the hotel. According to the census, Louis is 45 years old and was born in France. In the 1880 census Louis is 49 years old. He might be Louis Staebell, born 22-Apr-1831 in Stundwiller, son of Francois Staebell and Marguerite Becker of Stundwiller.
We know from his diary that my great-grandfather Frank Anton Staebell (1857-1937) came to America in 1880, and his parents and brothers and sisters came three years later. My mother has been searching for a record of the ship that brought him, but has not found it yet. I have found the ships that brought two uncles and an aunt of his, a generation earlier: Frank Staebell on the ship Palestina, arriving in New York on October 5, 1846; Mathias Staebell and sister Marie Eve Staebell (who was married to yet another Staebell, Anthony Staebell) on the ship Sweden, arriving in New York on July 29, 1847. Both of these ships departed from Le Havre, France. My great-grandfather wrote down their dates of departure in his diary. Many other Stundwiller families were on board those two ships.
Going back to that earliest Staebell in our family tree, Wendelin Staebell, we can only speculate about where he came from, and why his family settled in Stundwiller. According to one distant cousin living in Stundwiller today, local legend has it that some residents of that village came there from England, of all places, in the mid-1600's.
My mother often talks about how the name "Staebell" might be a combination of the German word "staab" (staff) and the French word "belle" (pretty) -- "pretty stick" -- an indication of the French and German influences that mixed together in Alsace. (See "Getting to the Roots" from my mother's autobiography.) Maybe Wendelin or one of his ancestors invented the name. I tend to believe that either Wendelin invented the name himself or he came from somewhere far away, because I have found no evidence of the Staebell name in Alsace or the surrounding region, except in Stundwiller, until fairly recently. And certainly all the Staebells who lived in Stundwiller are Wendelin's descendants.
There is a very old Stabell family living in Norway, with extensions into Denmark and northern Germany. This Stabell family has been traced back to the 1200's, and they were a prosperous family of merchants. So they have a much older history than our Alsatian Staebells. It is possible that Wendelin Staebell came from that Stabell family. But we may never know.
If Wendelin Staebell was from Scandanavia, here are two speculations about how he might have come to live in Alsace:
A third possibility for the origin of the name Staebell was proposed by Mary
Frazier in 2005. She notes that "staebelle" is a German word of
Swiss origin, meaning wooden stool or chair. The Thirty Years War of 1618-1648
decimated the population of Alsace. In the decades that followed, Alsace was
repopulated, with many of the immigrants coming from Switzerland, which borders
Alsace to the south. So perhaps Wendelin Staebell was from Switzerland.
In addition to the Staebell family who lived in Stundwiller, I have encountered or been informed of these other Staebells elsewhere in Alsace. I note them here for future research, to determine how they are related to the Stundwiller Staebells: