Irene Charitas Schlosser, Beware the Overlooked Umlat, 52 Ancestors #176

4-15-2018 – After this story published, we subsequently discovered that Irene is not a Schlosser. I am leaving this story because parts of this information have been on the internet for some time – and I want to be sure the entire story of why people thought Irene was a Schlosser, and how we know she isn’t, is available. For the rest of the story, including her correct surname, click here.

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.

Irene Charitas

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.

The Umlat

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.

An umlat!

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!



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27 thoughts on “Irene Charitas Schlosser, Beware the Overlooked Umlat, 52 Ancestors #176

  1. What a wonderful discovery. Just to add a small nitpicking comment at the same level as the pesky umlat: Irene Charitas’ niece was called Regina Catharina. The added m just shows in Latin that she is the object, not the subject, of that particular sentence and serves to confuse her descendants who don’t read Latin. Happy Christmas.

  2. I can really relate to this article. I was married for over 20 years to a man who was born in Germany then emigrated to Canafda and had the surname Muller (with the two dots over the u). But when English speaking people, even in Germany, wrote the surname it was written Mueller to given the reader some idea of how to pronounce it. Even after we were married, half of my documents said Muller (with dots) and the other said Mueller. It became a problem so often, I had my mother-in-law write a letter, which I had notarized, stating that they were one and the same surname. We divorced in 1994, so I don’t have this problem any more. I’ve never seen the diacritical called an umlat before. When I took German (and Austrian) lessons, the two dots were always called an umlaut which is, I suppose, what its called in German. My brother-in-law (may he rest in peace) always had a problem too as his first name was Bjorn but if written correctly it had a backslash through the o. The problem is that unlike Europeans a lot of North Americans only read and write one language.

  3. Thank you for the interesting and informative Blog! I have German ancestors. That is, I did have German ancestors. My grandfather John Ribling’s grandfather Henry Ribling was a German immigrant to this country and he settled in Johnstown, PA. I do not speak or read German but a few years ago another researcher sent me some Reibling family newsletters from Germany and, of course, they are in German and, yes, there is even an Umlat, over the “e” as I recall. Those newsletters were what I hoped would be the key to finding the German ancestors in Germany. It all became moot and no need to understand the Umlat because it wasn’t long before I discovered that my Dad was adopted by my “Grandfather” Ribling and his wife Lydia. Lydia’s family were Swedish immigrants and so was her first husband, a man surnamed Olson! No more work on the Germans, no worries about Umlats. Now I just have to try and find the Swedes – Lol! I have some luck with that as well because at Ancestry I met a “cousin” who had a lot of information on Lydia’s Swedish parents and even knew where in Sweden they had lived! Grandfather Olson, though, is still mostly a mystery though I have found him in census records and newspaper articles and I discovered that besides my Father, he had two other sons!

  4. Very interesting post, but I have one quibble. A reformed church was not a Lutheran church, which would have been callled evangelische. There were two distinct strands of Protestantism at that time in Germany. The reformed churches took their inspiration from Calvin, not Luther.

  5. Such an exciting breakthrough to learn the surname of my 6th Great Grandmother! Thank you for your persistence and time to report it to us descendants. As an aside, I think Clements’ name should be spelled Melchior (i-o-r). I have a 6th Great Grandfather Melchior Breneman who spelled it that way.

  6. I really enjoyed reading about how you worked through this process of discovery. Your persistence inspires me. Meanwhile, I learned something new. For some reason I’ve assumed the surname “Clemens/Clements” was English? So, learning there were Clements originating from Germany is enlightening to me.

    For example, my Aunt Wanda Pilant-Bond provided me with a mtDNA test result through FTDNA about a year ago. What surprised me is the large number of matches of German descent. Now, I think I understand why:

    My Aunt’s maternal great grandfather (Charles Vallandingham Turner) was the son of Nancy Elizabeth Clements and Nancy is the descendant of John Hathaway Clements. John Clements was born in Bourbon, KY and died in Fayette, IN in 1809.

    Meanwhile, my Aunt’s maternal great grandmother was Myrtle Tennessee Clements. Myrtle was the daughter of Samuel Ward Clement who was the son of the above mentioned John Hathaway Clements.

    Do you suppose these Clements would be of German descent, which would explain the German descent matches I’ve been observing? Are there any projects on FTDNA that I should place my Aunt’s test results in?

    Thanks again. I really enjoy reading about your research.

    • I know there are some German projects. Look under the projects in the geographic regions or maybe search the word German or Germany.

      If you can use other family members or matches to see which side or line those matches are coming from, that would be very useful.

  7. This is what I found on Roots Web today.
    Dale Landon

    Cindy Krueger 2009-04-27 20:19:19
    I also sent this as an email to you but don’t know if the email address is active…I saw your Zinsmeister line on rootsweb and was so excited about it, I am a descendant from Margaretha Catharina Zinsmeister who married Sibert (is actually Severin) Clemens. I am a Clemens. I had no idea the Zinsmeister’s originated from Switzerland. Interesting. My Severin Clemens actually didn’t die in 1726, that was his uncle (?) or perhaps cousin. There are 2 Severin Clemens’ in that same area, my Severin lived in Steinwenden and the other one lived in Ramstein. The Severin Clemens who died in 1726 was married to Anna Magdalena Breull. My Severin Clemens, who was married to Margaretha Zinsmeister, died sometime after 1755. He was the son of Melchior Clemens and Anna Maria from Steinwenden. I am thinking the Severin who died in 1726 was perhaps Melchior’s brother. There are still Clemens living in the Steinwenden area and Kindsbach. My Great Grandfather Peter Clemens immigrated in 1859 and settled in Dyersville, Iowa, as a wagonmaker. I was born in Dubuque, Iowa. Thank you for all your work on the Zinsmeister family. Who are you descended from? Thanks, Cindy Krueger

  8. Roberta, a wonderful post, with insightful comments.
    A question about the usage of ‘umlaut’ which you spell as umlat; is this a specific spelling to signify a plural ?

    You may enjoy this article on the diaeresis from the 2012 New Yorker.

  9. Wow, fascinating! And such a good reminder about how it’s all in the details. Also, I like your reminder that just because a family is one religion generation after generation doesn’t mean you should assume they are always that religion.

  10. It’s umlaut, not umlat.

    > although the mother’s last child appears to have been born when she was 47 years old.
    In your experience, how likely is that?

  11. Thanks, Roberta. I am also a descendant of Johann Michael Mueller and Irene Charitas Schlosser. I always thought Charitas sounded more like a given name than a surname, so thanks for solving the mystery!

  12. Very interesting article indeed. I myself have German ancestry too. I will definitely keep my eyes open to this type of punctuation marking when looking at my family tree. Thanks for writing this particular article. I do love your articles by the way very informative.

  13. Hi, please, I apologize for using this comment space, however, I am late to this DNA testing. I didn’t find the Big-Y coupon or the current holiday pricing for it either. I took your suggestion to purchase the Y-37…then buy the Big-Y up[grade. My emails from FT may have it embedded to click to open? Does anyone even have a big-Y coupon? Any help is much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Unless your DNA is already at FTDNA, I don’t think that will work because your Big Y has to be batched before you get the 111 upgrade for free. You don’t have time now to receive a kit in the mail and then return it and get it batched for processing before year end. However, if you hold tight a minute, there are coupons coming today in a post. Last ones of the year and they do apply to new purchases.

  14. This is really great information, Roberta! I love that I can update my 8th great grandmother, Irene Charitas(Latin for Charity or Love of God) with her correct surname AND her parents, some new 9th great grandparents, Conrad and Anna Ursula Schlosser! I just want to confirm one thing regarding the following statement: “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.” So this first child Johann Michael Clemens was christened/baptized in the Reformed Church in Steinwenden, correct? It was the later children who were baptized in the Catholic church(including the unnamed child for whom Carl was named godparent)…..just want to make sure I got that right… Thank you for all you do to enlighten our lives regarding genealogy and DNA…..

  15. In the German document 1689 confirmation of Irene Charitas and Anna Ursula I think the signature at the bottom could be that of Jacob (Hans) Zinsmeister father of Margaretha Catharina who married Severin Clemens son of Melchior Clemens and Anna Maria Schlosser. And maybe not that of Jacob Ringeisen. Not that it makes much difference! To me the name looks like it starts with a Z and not an R. Cindy Krueger

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