One of the reasons I was initially hesitant to write these 52 Ancestors articles, (that were supposed to span one year, but are now beginning year 4) is because I didn’t want to publish something in error.
Years ago, I was speculating with a cousin, who subsequently published my speculation, and today, some 25 years later, I still fight that same information that turned out to be incorrect in trees every day. Or every day that I look at that ancestor’s parents anyway. And to think, I started that problem, albeit very innocently.
I’ve learned, so I really try to be precise and when I don’t know something, I say so. When there is a hint but no conclusion can be drawn, I say so.
Today is one of those really great days when hints have paid off. Furthermore, one of those 52 ancestor articles paid off too, because someone replied with an EXTREMELY valuable piece of information about an umlat. Yes, an umlat.
As it turns out, two little dots made all the difference in the world.
For years, Irene Charitas, the wife of Johann Michael Mueller (the first), was shown in trees with her last name being Charitas. That was as a result of misunderstanding German records where Charitas was her middle name.
I wrote about Irene Charitas Mueller here, or at least as much as I knew at the time.
Cousin Richard Miller, when he visited Steinwenden back in 1996 was provided with a translation and of an original record from 1689 in which a daughter of Conrad Schlosser was confirmed and Irene Charitas (then Miller) stood up for her as the godmother. At least that’s what we thought.
The original record is shown above, second from last, and below, the typed document provided to cousin Richard.
At this point, it was clear we might have a lead on a relative of Irene Charitas, but not more. We do know this group of pietist leaning families arrived in Steinwenden, Germany from Zollikofen, Switzerland sometime in the 1680s.
A week or so after the Michael Mueller article was published, and a week or so before the Irene Charitas article was published, a nice person named Karen Parker posted a comment on my blog. She says that the entry said that Irene Charitas and Anna Ursula are Conrad Schlosser’s daughters, as in plural. I’ve seen assumptions made before, so I asked if she could translate the record, and she did, stating the following:
Auf Ostern means “at Easter.”
u is the abbreviation for und, meaning “and.”
Tochter with an umlaut over the o, means “daughters.” (If there’s no umlaut of the o in Tochter, then it’s singular, “daughter.”)
von means “from.”
So it’s: “1689 at Easter. Irene Charitas and Anna Ursula, Conrad Schlosser’s daughters from Steinwinden”
In case you’re interested, in the entries below the ones for Easter, “Auf Weynachten” means “at Christmas,” and “Auf Pfingsten” means “at Pentacost.”
Don’t ask me how I managed to miss the significance of this, but I did. I would like to blame it on being distracted by two birthdays that week in the family, but that’s no excuse for missing something this critical to my genealogy. Not to mention, I owe Karen a huge debt of gratitude, and yes, I’ve e-mailed her to say such.
As it turns out, I owe my friend Tom, a second huge debt of thanks, because he is the one who saw the comment and realized its relevance for me. Not to mention he dropped everything, found original documents and translated them for me. I’m telling you what, this man is on Santa’s “good list!”
When I saw Tom’s e-mail arrive with the title “Irene Charitas,” I skipped right over everything else and jumped to that e-mail in which he called my attention to Karen’s comment.
A pesky umlat. Two little dots!
Have two dots ever been more important?
Of course, we don’t have umlats in English, and little did I understand the significance of that umlat, especially in this case – making a plural from a singular.
Here’s my reply to Tom:
So, Irene Charitas was originally Irene Charitas Schlosser. That helps.
One more cog in the wheel.
Now we know that Conrad was Irene Charitas’ father. I wonder what other entries are in those records for him. I wonder if his wife is mentioned in any of them.
I wonder if the fact that the wife isn’t mentioned in this record means his wife is dead at that time.
So many things to wonder.
So excited that one more piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Whoever would have thought an umlat would make that much difference!
Tom replied as follows:
Michael Muller is one of the godparents for the first child of Melchior Clemens and Anna Maria Schlosser, daughter of Conrad in a 1686 baptism. The child was named for him.
Conrad Schlosser’s wife is mentioned in another baptism. Her given names are Anna Ursula.
And there you have it, the surname and parents for Irene Charitas, after all of these years, all because of an overlooked umlat.
I’ve never been more grateful for an umlat! Or for Karen and Tom!
That Nagging Question
Do things ever nag at you? Is there sometimes just something that isn’t right, but you can’t put your finger on it?
There was for me with these records, when I realized that both Irene Charitas and her sister, apparently both confirmed in 1692, were not children. Irene Charitas was about 27, born about 1665, very clearly an adult, and Anna Ursula had to have been 13 or older for her mother to have given birth when she was 45 years of age or younger, although the mother’s last child appears to have been born when she was 47 years old.
Originally, I thought this record was a baptism. Tom pointed out to me that this was a confirmation, and confirmation in the Lutheran church is typically performed on young adults and is referred to as an “affirmation of baptism.” That helped put the record in context and explain why the people being confirmed, called confirmands or confirmants, were older.
Were both Irene Charitas and Anna Ursula being confirmed at the same time? It appears that way, although I initially thought that Irene as standing up for her sister, but after the retranslation, it doesn’t look that way. No witnesses are mentioned and the godparents would have stood up with the family at their earlier infant baptisms.
Next, I pondered the possibility that perhaps Irene and her sister had not been baptized as infants, but given the fact that the Lutheran church still wasn’t terribly far from its Catholic roots at this time in history, I doubt that seriously. All children were baptized.
The Catholic Irony
There’s a great irony here relative to Catholic roots. Irene Charitas Schlosser had a sister, Anna Maria who married Melchior Clemens in Steinwenden in 1685.
Anna Maria and Melchior had a child, Johann Michael Clemens, in Steinwenden who was christened on January 31, 1686. Johann Michael Mueller, Irene’s husband, was the child’s godfather, but then the unthinkable happened.
Apparently Melchior was Catholic, because their subsequent children were all baptized in the Catholic church.
Given that the godparent’s duty was to see that the child was raised and in particular, raised within the church in the event something happened to the parents, I wonder how that would have worked in this circumstance. Surely that means that Anna Maria became Catholic as well, so the family was officially divided. I have read records of other families in this region that never spoke again or even acknowledged that the “other” side of the family existed after part of the family “defected” to the dark side. By the way, the definition of “dark side” is based entirely on perception.
I want to say that all is well that ends well, but frankly, we don’t know how that ended and religion can be an extremely divisive topic, especially following shortly on the heels of the 30 Years War which ended in 1648 and ravaged the very land in Steinwenden that the Schlosser family settled on in the early 1680s.
More than 30 years later, Germany had been so depopulated during that war that much of its land still lay fallow, creating opportunity for these immigrant families, often escaping religious persecution elsewhere. Extreme hardship and displacement due to differences in religion and very strongly held views were fresh in everyone’s memory – if not still an everyday occurrence.
For a Lutheran family member to return to Catholicism might not have been well received.
However…Carl Schlosser, the brother of both Irene Charitas and Anna Maria was the godfather in 1694, in the Catholic church for the son of his sister, Anna Maria. He is noted in the Catholic church record as “the honorable young man, Carolus Schlosser, Calvinist of Steinweiler.” Honorable in this context probably means that his parents were married at his birth, but still, if the Catholics were willing to allow a “Calvinist” and Carl, “the Calvinist” was willing to stand up in a Catholic church with his sister and nephew – maybe the family relationship was just fine after all despite being members of different religious sects that had recently been at war.
I hope so. Life is hard enough without religious differences dividing families.
New DNA Possibilities
Along with newly discovered sisters come new possibilities for people who qualify to test for mitochondrial DNA – that carried by Irene Charitas and her sisters, contributed to them by their mother.
Sadly, Irene Charitas Schlosser didn’t have any female children who lived.
What this means is that if anyone descends from Irene’s sister’s female children through all females, to the current generation, where the tester can be male – the mitochondrial DNA will be that of Irene Charitas’s mother, Anna Ursula.
Anna Ursula gave her mtDNA to her children of both genders, but only females passed it on. The only one of Irene Charitas’ sisters who had female children who lived was Anna Maria Schlosser who married Melchior Clemens or Clements. They had three daughters who would be candidates, as follows:
- Anna Appolonia Clemens born August 26, 1691, married on May 26, 1712 to Johannes Nicolaus Heller of Reweiler in the Catholic church in Ramstein..
- Reginam Catharinam Clemens born December 3, 1697. Unknown if she married.
- Anna Christina Clemens born September 29, 1700 and on November 4, 1722 she married Jacobus Wuest of Obermohr in the Catholic church in Ramstein.
If you descend from these women through all females, I have a testing scholarship waiting just for you!
Not The End
That’s not quite the end of the discoveries yet, but the next chapter is literally not written. There’s a plot twist too!
We now have at least some evidence that suggests that Irene Charitas Schlosser Mueller might not have died around 1694, as previously thought, but I’m holding off on that because the evidence is actually rather unusual in addition to being somewhat contradictory and, frankly, I don’t want to miss another doggone umlat!