Archives of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Ruma, Illinois

On the day after Pentecost in May 1921, 56 sisters, novices, and candidates from the motherhouse in Ruma, Illinois, piled into several cars for a short road trip to Fort de Chartres, the heart of French Colonial Illinois, and now a state historic site. The sisters in full habit positioned themselves along the contours of the stone gate to the fort, which is about 11 miles from the Ruma Center. The fort had served as the French seat of government and chief military installation in Upper Louisiana in the mid-1700s when the British occupied it.

This week’s #HiddenCatholicCollection features the Archives of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Ruma, Illinois. The Adorers of the Blood of Christ were founded in Italy in 1834 by St. Maria de Mattias. Nearly 40 years later, in 1870, a group of Adorers from Baden, Germany came to the United States. In 1876, with Clementine Zerr as their leader, ten professed sisters, three novices, and six candidates moved to Ruma in rural southern Illinois, a place that would eventually become the first U.S. motherhouse for the community.  In 2000, the three United States’ provinces of Wichita, Kansas, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Ruma, Illinois converged to form the United States Region of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.  Today, the archives in Ruma houses the first documents of the United States Adorers with the archives in Wichita holding the Columbia and Wichita archives.  The region has one archives with two sites in Ruma and Wichita.  

The Ruma archives had 367 linear feet of shelving with 22 feet of vertical files, and shelving for audio and videotapes, and photographs.   A rich source of early documents, ledgers, and books from Germany, the collection also contains the house annals for the schools and hospitals where the Sisters ministered,  individual files for each Sister, records from sponsored ministries, and primary sources for their missions in China, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, and Guatemala.  The Ruma archives are enhanced with the collected writings of Sister-authors, the artwork of Sister-artists, artifacts from our early history, and extensive documentation for the deaths of our five Sisters killed in Liberia in 1992.


Contact

For the Ruma Archives:
Regina Siegfried, ASC, archivist
Adorers of the Blood of Christ
2 Pioneer Lane
Red Bud, Illinois 62278

314-771-5410
618-282-3848
reginasiegfried2@gmail.com
siegfriedr@adorers.org

For the Wichita Archives:
Edwina Pope, ASC, archivist
1165 Southwest Blvd.
Wichita, KS 67213

316-942-2201 ext. 4409
popee@adorers.org

Brianna Southworth, assistant archivist
1165 Southwest Blvd.
Wichita, KS 67213

316-942-2201 ext. 4408
southworthb@adorers.org


Photos

Characteristic of the Baden-Wuttemberg area of rural Germany, these corn-husk slippers were worn by the Sisters in the house when they arrived in the United States. The slippers were created by braiding corn husks, forming the strands into slippers, and lining them for comfort.
Sister Mary Edwin Haunss (Mary Elizabeth), the former Ruma province’s last link to Germany, was born on September 17, 1901, in Hildmannsfeld Amt. Beuhl, Baden Germany. She came to the United States in 1922, bringing with her an array of household skills including the ability to make the corn-husk slippers.
Clementine Zerr who was the novice director in Germany and Ruma until 1890 brought this book with her from Germany and continued recording the novices’ family background, birth, baptism, and vow dates into the ledger in this country. Some of the later entries are partly in English and partly in German.
The top ledger is Clementine’s novice book. Die Novizen Meisteria, well-worn and well-read, is in German. The biggest ledger continues documenting newer community members.

 

On the day after Pentecost in May 1921, 56 sisters, novices, and candidates from the motherhouse in Ruma, Illinois, piled into several cars for a short road trip to Fort de Chartres, the heart of French Colonial Illinois, and now a state historic site. The sisters in full habit positioned themselves along the contours of the stone gate to the fort, which is about 11 miles from the Ruma Center. The fort had served as the French seat of government and chief military installation in Upper Louisiana in the mid-1700s when the British occupied it.
The Ruma annals for the Monday after Pentecost 1921 stated that several automobiles, decorated with flags and pinwheels, pulled into the yard of the motherhouse for the trip to the nearby village of Prairie du Rocher and on to Fort de Chartres. “Before starting,” the author writes, “pictures were taken of the machines with their passengers. Soon we were seen flying through the woods at the rate of 40 miles an hour. On the way, we took in all the views and sights of the bluffs and river.”
In 1933, the former Ruma province of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ established the first foreign mission for the Congregation in Kiang Kia, China. On Sept. 28, 1937, Sisters Mary Regis Zar, Mary Colette Woltering, Terentia Woltering, Mary Edward Pessina, Angelica Frisch, and Mary Louise Utar fled Kiang Kia and Yangsin during the Sino-Japanese war. The Yellow River is to the left. Sister Sophie Gartner probably took the picture.
In 1937, Sister Sophie Gartner returned home for a visit and toured schools and parishes to raise funds for the China mission. This lantern-slide projector and slides were high technology for that day. Sister Sophie enhanced her talks with slides from the China mission. The projector is bulky and heavy.

These photos of Covid-19 materials are history in the making. The binder is one of three hefty three-ring binders of the Illinois Department of Health and the Illinois Belleville diocese protocols regulating health measures. Sample of commercially made masks and masks made by Sisters are part of the Covid collection, as well as two boxes of communications from both international and U.S. region leadership teams, articles from community publications, prayers for Covid patients, articles from local and national newspapers, and publications from Global Sisters Report.
Sister Kristen Forgotch, ASC teaches at Resurrection School in Lancaster, PA. Her second-grade classroom has a monkey theme for the year and desks with shields that are socially distanced.