While perusing the “Louisiana Weekly” newspaper I was struck by this picture of twins both of whom were bakers and who had what I thought was a very unusual surname. I wanted to find out more about them.
Xavier and Etienne Ruau/Ruan were born in New Orleans on 9 June 1880 to father Louis Ruau/Ruan and mother Marie Rousse. By 1900, at age 19, the twins were living with their widowed mother Mary and their half sister Adelaide Rousse/Reiss, 25, in the 9th precinct on Allen Street. Etienne was a baker and Xavier a laborer. It is apparent by looking at the many records available on these twins that the officials documenting them confused who was who. Whoever is currently doing genealogy research on this family must sort out who lived where, who married who, etc. For instance, Etienne gives his middle name as Joseph on his 1918 WWI Draft Registration card. Xavier also provides his middle name as Joseph on his draft card. In some records only Joseph Ruau/Ruan is provided so, some in-depth analysis is required to separate the lives of the twins.
Throughout the early 1900s Etienne’s profession is as a baker while Xavier becomes a mason. By 1914 Xavier is also a baker and they both continued to work in this profession. The bakery where they worked in the St. Claude area was owned by Genevieve Von Schlemmer and was eventually taken over by her son Bernard C. Von Schlemmer.
Xavier’s and Etienne’s mother was Marie, born in Louisiana whose father was born in Spain and mother was also born in Louisiana. The twins’ father was Louis Ruau, born in France circa 1825. Very interestingly, the 1880 census indicates “B” for his “color” and shows he was born in France as well as both of his parents. And, it was not that the census enumerator assumed anyone living in the 7th ward was “B” since “W” families were also enumerated on the same street. Louis emigrated to Louisiana on the Isabella C Jones from Bordeaux, France arriving in New Orleans in November 1854 at age 22, with no occupation. At some point after settling in the Claiborne/St. Claude area in New Orleans he became a shoemaker. There were several shoemakers on his ship and he lived among them so it is likely he learned his craft from them.
The Ruau twins contributed deliciously to the city of New Orleans for a very long time and probably baked many king cakes over the years.
Sources: Louisiana Weekly, June 30, 1945; New Orleans, Louisiana Birth Records Index, 1790 – 1899; 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 Censuses; 1886, 1901, 1903, 1914, 1917, 1921, 1923, 1932 U.S. City Directories, 1821 – 1989 (Soard’s); U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917 – 1918; “Southern Reporter,” vol. 63, google.com; New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1813 – 1945.