April 23, 2011

He Served the Nizam of India

I’ve started this story several times…and still I will not really be able to tell it all properly because many of the things I assumed at first have proven to be wrong!  And to add to that, I have missing pieces of information, but I’ll begin and maybe a reader will be able to help.

I am still researching the Witzgall family a little more, the family of my great-great grandmother Elizabeth Witzgall Delph.  One of her sisters, Sarah, who was born in 1842, married Charles Calvin Rule. The family lived in Sandusky County, Ohio – in Green Creek, now known as Clyde.  Charles was a dealer in groceries in 1900 and the couple had five children: Lulu, Frank, Hattie, and twins Earl and Carl.  By the census of 1910, Charles was a laborer in an autoworks at the age of 56 and only two children remained at home – Frank, 25, a dentist “who had his own shop” and Carl, 20, who also worked in the auto factory.

I had gotten just to that point in my research when I came upon this paragraph in a magazine posted online:
“Dr. Frank Rule of Clyde, Ohio, sailed May 21 for Bombay, India, where he goes to practice his profession on a three to five year contract.  He is expected to reach his destination on June 17.”
(Dental Summary, Ransom & Randolph Co., 1915)

Sometimes a stray social commentary in an old periodical can begin a real genealogical hunt and in this case, thanks to the help of my Maine cousin, another interesting story was discovered in the Witzgall family history.  My first assumption was that we had another missionary in the family and the fact that a contract is mentioned in the article just suggested to me that William Franklin Rule, known as Frank,  had made a commitment to the church to spend that amount of time working in India. 

Never assume.

I checked the federal census records up to 1930 and I couldn’t find Frank anywhere.  He wasn’t in the U.S. marriage or death records that I could access.  Sarah Witzgall Rule’s son seemed to have disappeared.
I checked for a World War I draft registration card and sure enough, on October 21, 1918, Frank filled out his card at the American Consul in Madras, India.  His occupation was listed as dental surgeon, employed in Baugalon, India, where he lived with his wife and two children.  He has had previous military experience as a Double Company Commander in the British Infantry – for seven years!
British Infantry?  He was in Clyde, Ohio in 1910.   How did he get into the British Infantry? 
The plot thickens.

My next discovery was a set of passport applications – one for William Franklin Rule.  On the passport,  dated March 13, 1919, he stated that he had been in India from June 1910 to January 1919, with his permanent residence being in Clyde, Ohio.  He worked as a dental surgeon and he wanted to return to India to resume his practice.  His brother, Carl, of Toledo, Ohio, swore that Frank was a citizen of the U.S. and his mother, Sarah, swore that she was his mother and his birthdate was July 25, 1884. Both signed the application.

The second passport was for Dr. Frank’s wife,  Ellen Orme Rule, also dated March 13, 1919. 
Wife?  Where and when did that happen?
Ellen Orme was born, according to her passport, in Nottingham, England on February 3, 1881.  She stated that she had lived in India from 1913 – June 1918.  She was accompanied by sons, John, aged 4, and Earl, aged two.  She was a housewife and she wanted to accompany her husband back to India.  Carl, her brother-in-law,  also swore that Ellen was a United States citizen and he had known her for nine months.   
Nell and Frank Rule

Then in a late night search (that is when the BEST things are found, it seems), I happened on The Wheal Family blog, where I found many, many photos of Dr. Frank and Ellen (know as Nell or Nellie) Rule.  Thanks to blogger, Joan, I received clues that I could use to go just a bit further in this hunt for Frank and Nell.  The blog even had postcards from India sent home by Nell to  her family in New Jersey.  The family had immigrated there from England.

My first find was a marriage record  from the http://www.familysearch.org/ India Marriages 1792 – 1948 collection.  William Frank Rule, at age 30, married Nellie Orme, aged 32, in Bombay, India on October 24, 1913.  That explains why she was in India in 1913, as stated on her passport.  

Dr. Frank was also NOT a missionary.  He served under contract in India to the last Prince or Nizam of Hyderabad.   Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadu was the last Nizam or ruler of Hyderabad and he was in power from 1911 to 1948 when all the small principalities merged into India or Pakistan.  It appeared the Nizam was considered to be the richest man in the world until his death in 1967.  He was a second son, but after the death of his older brother, he became ruler when his father died in 1911.  The Nizam had seven wives, a multitude of concubines and at least 40 - 50 children.

In those days, India was a mass of principalities and was under British rule ultimately.  Hyderabad was the largest state in India at the time and he was the highest ranking prince, an absolute ruler for 37 years.  He was known as a great supporter of education, the arts, research and the country progressed under his rule.  The Nizam was also known to be quite a penny pincher.  One author of a Time Magazine article wrote, “The last Nizam Osman Ali, however, used to follow a rather austere lifestyle.  He wore the same tattered fez for 35 years and ate off a tin plate on a mat on the floor of his bedroom.

When the British withdrew from Indian in 1947, the Nizam didn’t want to join either India or Pakistan, but the British said he had to do so.  First the peasants revolted against him, and then the newly merged country of India invaded and annexed Hyderabad in September 1948 after negotiations with the Nizam failed.  After only five days of fighting, the Nizam agreed and resigned.  When he died in 1967, he was given one of the largest funeral processions ever held in India.

So…how did Dr. Frank Rule of Clyde, Ohio, son of Sarah Witzgall and Charles C. Rule,  receive this contract?  He must have been in the British Infantry when he was there.  He was a double company commander, but I can’t find out his regiments or units.  How long did he stay in India?  I haven’t yet found a record of when he returned.  But I do know that they returned to Canada…hence the lack of U.S. records.
Dr. William Franklin Rule and Ellen Orme Rule
Frank and Nellie

The last find, to the present, has been their death records.  Apparently, after returning from India, they relocated to British Columbia, Canada.   According to the British Columbia Death Registrations, Ellen Orme Rule died September 30, 1958 at Coquitlam (just east of Vancouver) at the age of 76.  Her father was Joseph Orme and mother a Woodroffe.   William Franklin Rule died in Duncan, British Columbia on November 2, 1973 at the age of 89.  He was widowed, his spouse named as Lucy Theodor Rodgers.  Apparently, he had remarried. 

I have many more questions regarding this couple.
How did they meet?  She from New Jersey and he from Ohio?
Why was he in the British Infantry?   
How did he get this assignment? 
Besides sons John and Earl, they had a third child, Grace.  Where was she born?
When did their service in India end and did they immediately resettle in Canada or go elsewhere first?
Did grandparents Sarah Witzgall and C.C. Rule ever get to see their grandchildren ?
They were in India during WW I.  What was that like?

Who said genealogy was boring?

1 comment:

  1. This is all fascinating! I hope you find answers to all your questions!