Thanks to the combined efforts of cousin Richard Miller, my friend Tom, a retired genealogist who works with German records and blog commenter, Karen Parker, we know that Conrad Schlosser is the father of both Anna Ursula Schlosser and Irene Charitas Schlosser through the sisters’ 1689 confirmation record which refers to “Irene Charitas and Anna Ursula, Conrad Schlosser’s daughters from Steinwinden.”
Clearly, I wanted to build this family, so I checked Family Search where I have found several German Church records previously.
I found a record of Conrad’s death in the record search by surname. You can also search by location, date and record type, or a combination. If one doesn’t work, try another. Some indexed records will show up in one type of search, but not another, even though they should.
No record images are available though, as you can see beside the camera icon. Bummer!
But there’s a secret tool. This nifty work-around is thanks to Tom who was working on finding the images of these records before I even found the index.
First, A Secret Trick
Do you see the camera icon where it says “no image found?” Well, that’s not always true and images are often available, even when it says otherwise.
We’re going to use a different tool.
First, if you don’t have an account for FamilySearch.org, create one. You’ll need one in order to sign in.
Then, under the dropdown for “Search” select “Catalog.”
Enter the place name. In this case, I entered Steinwenden and it autofilled the rest of the information.
Click on the blue Search button that you’ll see below the place name.
Next, you’ll see the relevant records for Steinwenden. I’m selecting “Church records.”
I see two options, only one of which includes the dates I’m interested in that begin in 1684. Happy dance! Happy dance!
Click on that link.
Now we can view the actual records by film number, and look, the camera image at the right in the green box indicates that these records ARE imaged. They aren’t indexed, but you can use the information from the regular search to locate the information, then browse the images to find the specific record you seek.
Ok, now back to Conrad.
Conrad, Cunrad or Cunradt, his name is spelled all 3 ways in different records, was buried on February 13, 1694, the day before the Feast of St. Valentine. That typically means he died the day before. Before the days of embalming, people were buried quickly although there would have been no rush in February. According to WeatherSpark, February 9th is historically the coldest say in Steinwenden, and the temperature averages between 29 and 40 F. The ground probably wouldn’t have been frozen, so digging a grave wouldn’t have been a problem.
My friend, Tom, marked the entry with an X. How he reads and deciphers these records is utterly beyond me, but thankfully, he does. Conrad was age 59 at his death and so was therefore born in 1634 or 1635.
Conrad’s Family Revealed Through Death Records
Next we discover that his wife’s name was Anna Ursula and she outlived him, departing this world on March 15, 1701.
Anna Ursula’s death record is shown above, but there’s more there too. Conrad and Anna Ursula’s daughter, Anna Catherina’s death is recorded just above Anna Ursula’s, passing away March 3rd.
Below Anna Ursula’s death entry we find even more.
Conrad and Anna Ursula had a son, Johannes Schlosser born in 1680 who died 8 days later, on March 22, 1701, never having married. His death entry is the one beneath his mother’s entry, above.
That was one ugly March.
Another son, Carl was born in 1660 and died in 1731.
Carl’s death is recorded in the index, as well as the actual church record, below. Sometimes deaths appear in the actual records that don’t know in the Family Search indexes.
A third son, Hans Peter, probably Johann Peter, was buried on July 31, 1691, having died at age 11. He would have been born about 1680, probably not long before the family immigrated to Steinwenden from Switzerland. It’s possible that Johannes and Hans Peter were twins, but more likely that the birth year is off because only the general age of death is given in the church record, not the actual birth year.
The 31st of July 1691 was buried in Steinwenden, Hans Peter Schlosser, son of Cunradt, aged about 11 years. Steinwenden Ev-Ref Kirche, BA (Homburg), Bavaria
Unfortunately, none of these records tell us where the Schlosser family originated or the occupation of Conrad.
Church and Graveyard
I would bet that Conrad is buried in the churchyard in Steinwenden. If the graves were marked at the time with more than a wooden cross, one wouldn’t be able to locate them today, because burial plots are reused in Europe. In some cases, family members are simply buried on top of or in the same place as an earlier ancestor. In other cases, the bones are removed to an ossuary to continue to their return to dust, freeing up the grave space for others, perhaps unrelated, to be buried. Customs and actual usage vary by location.
The church today in the center of Steinwenden was built in 1852, long after Conrad died, but the original church was probably located in the same location, and if not, certainly nearby. Keeping in mind that when Conrad and the Swiss immigrants settled in Steinwenden, there were only 6 families in residence, and one of those 6 could have been Conrad since we don’t know exactly when he arrived although it looks like it might have been in the spring of 1685. Six families, 25 people, and a church whose records begin in 1684!
Catholics and Protestants
Speaking of the church, this family has a somewhat unusual religious mixture.
On April 28, 1685, when Conrad would have been 50 years old, his daughter, Anna Maria married Melchior Clemens in Steinwenden. The typical marriage location was the church of the bride if the church of the bride and groom were different – assuming they were both of the same religious sect – meaning Catholic or Protestant.
In this case, the only church in Steinwenden was a protestant church which implies that both the bride and groom were protestant.
Anna Maria’s first child was born and baptized in this church on January 31, 1686, but then the unthinkable happened. Anna Maria apparently converted to Catholicism, because their subsequent children were baptized in the Catholic church in either Glan-Munchweiler, about 7 miles distant, or Ramstein, about 3 miles distant in the opposite direction.
Children cannot be baptized in the Catholic church unless both parents are Catholic.
Typically, the godparents must be Catholic too, given that the duty of the godparents is to raise the child in the event that something happens to both parents, and raise that child in the Catholic religion.
However, in this case, an exception was made for some reason. We have no way of knowing whether the churches in this region were relatively lax, or something else came into play, but regardless, an exception was made.
Ironically, it’s those Catholic church records that provide insight into Conrad Schlosser’s religion.
In 1694, Carl Schlosser, Conrad’s son and the brother of Anna Maria Schlosser Clemens stood up as the godfather in the Ramstein Catholic church for the son of his sister, Anna Maria. Carl is noted in the Catholic church record as “the honorable young man, Carolus Schlosser, Calvinist of Steinweiler.” Carolus is the Latin form of Carl. Honorable in this context probably means that his parents were married at his birth, but still, this record of a protestant standing up for a Catholic child at baptism is quite unusual.
This baptism occurred on May 9th, less than 2 months after Carl and Anna Maria had buried their father, Conrad, recorded for posterity (and grateful descendants) in the Steinwenden church records. Might this recent death have softened the resolve of the priest in Ramstein, or perhaps the reason the baptism took place in Ramstein is because that church was more lenient that the Catholic church in Glan-Munchweiler where the previous three children had been baptized.
At that time in Germany, the protestant church consisted of two branches. Beginning in the 1500s, many Germans accepted the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the Evangelical or Lutheran church was formally established in 1531, breaking from the Catholic church.
Another group of protestants who accepted the creed of the Swiss Calvinist reformers eventually became members of the Evangelical Reformed Church which broke with the Catholic church about 1530.
Calvinists were named such by the Lutherans who opposed the sect referring to French reformer John Calvin (1509-1564). It was a common practice in the churches of the day to name what they perceived to be heresy after the founder of the heretical movement. Hence, Calvinism.
While the Calvinists and Lutherans were both protestant sects, they viewed each other as heretics and the Catholics thought both sects were heretical.
John Calvin (born Jehan Cauvin in France) preached at the St. Pierre Cathedral, the main church in Geneva. Of course, by the time that Conrad Schlosser was born in 1634, Calvin had been deceased for 70 years and the Schlosser family would have been learning the tenets of the faith from ministers of the Calvinist faith.
This tells us something of the Schlosser family history in the 100 years before Conrad’s birth, since the 1530s. The Schlossers had been separated from the Catholic faith for 100 years or less, about 4 generations. In that time, someone converted to Calvinism.
Calvinists differ from Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theories of worship and the use of God’s Law for believers. For example, Calvinists of the time believed that Christ is actually present at the Lord’s supper, in spirit, but present just the same, as opposed to those who believed that the supper simply serves as a reminder of Christ’s death. Confession was also a part of the Calvinist faith.
Calvinist religious refugees poured into Geneva Switzerland, especially from France during the 1550s. In Switzerland, protestant churches were typically Calvinist, while Lutherans were found more in northern Germany. This further points to the Schlosser family’s Swiss origins and raises the possibility of French origins before that.
The Calvinists were known for simple unadorned churches and lifestyles, as show in this painting by Emanuel de Witte from about 1661, only a couple decades before our Calvinist Schlosser family is found in Steinwenden.
5 Points of Calvinism
The 5 points of Calvinism, referred to as TULIP, are as follows, according to Wikipedia’s article on Calvinism:
The central assertion of these points is that God saves every person upon whom he has mercy, and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or inability of humans.
- “Total depravity“, also called “total inability”, asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person is enslaved to sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God, but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved (the term “total” in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as they could be). This doctrine is derived from Augustine‘s explanation of Original Sin. While the phrases “totally depraved” and “utterly perverse” were used by Calvin, what was meant was the inability to save oneself from sin rather than being absent of goodness. Phrases like “total depravity” cannot be found in the Canons of Dort, and the Canons as well as later Reformed orthodox theologians arguably offer a more moderate view of the nature of fallen humanity than Calvin.
- “Unconditional election” asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, his choice is unconditionally grounded in his mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those he has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God.
- “Limited atonement“, also called “particular redemption” or “definite atonement”, asserts that Jesus’s substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus’s death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is intended for some and not all. Some Calvinists have summarized this as “The atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect.”
- “Irresistible grace“, also called “efficacious grace”, asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God’s Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, “graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ.” This is not to deny the fact that the Spirit’s outward call (through the proclamation of the Gospel) can be, and often is, rejected by sinners; rather, it’s that inward call which cannot be rejected.
- “Perseverance of the saints” (also known as “perseverance of God with the saints” and “preservation of the believing”) (the word “saints” is used to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not of those who are exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven) asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with (1 John 2:19), or, if they are saved but not presently walking in the Spirit, they will be divinely chastened (Hebrews 12:5–11) and will repent (1 John 3:6–9).
The Wikipedia article contains a chart comparing Calvinism and Lutheranism. While to the Calvinists and Lutherans, I’m sure the differences were dramatic, today, they seem rather like unimportant details.
Conrad Schlosser might be rolling around in his grave right about now (if he still has one,) given what I just said!
The German name Schlosser translates to locksmith, fitter or metalworker, in English. This leads me to wonder what a locksmith would have done in the 1600s, in Germany or Switzerland.
Locksmiths were also metalworkers, which could have extended to other types of metalwork, including locks.
However, I did find one incredibly beautiful German lock and key that is about 400 years old.
A German locksmith, Peter Lenlein, has been credited with creating the first watch in the early 1500s, so locksmiths certainly existed by 1635 when Conrad was born. We don’t know when this family adopted surnames although surnames in Germany were in widespread usage before 1500. We will probably never know whether Conrad was a locksmith or not, but clearly at some point in his direct paternal line, someone was either a locksmith or worked with metal of some sort.
Conrad’s Y (paternal) DNA would have been carried by his sons. Of Conrad’s three sons born, only one lived to adulthood to marry and reproduce.
Carl Schlosser was buried on January 16, 1731, age 66 years and 3 months of age in Steinwenden. This record provides his birth in about October 1664, probably in Switzerland. Unfortunately, few Swiss records have been either transcribed or microfilmed.
Carl’s marriage at age 36 in January 27, 1701 is recorded in the Steinwenden church records, although 36 is somewhat late to marry.
Hans Carl Schlosser, son of the late Cunrad Schlosser of Steinwenden married Agnes, legitimate daughter of the late Hans Peter Hunen von Weisenheim.
Thankfully, Carl did marry, because even though he married late, he had a large number of children, which means there’s a prayer of a male Schlosser descendant for Y DNA testing today.
Carl and his wife set about having children right away, and continued for the next 20 years:
- December 18, 1701 – baptism of Anna Regina Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes, died immediately after baptism. Carl’s sister, Regina Haffner was one of the godparents
- December 24, 1702 – baptism of Anna Margaretha Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes, baptized quickly and died soon afterwards. Same godparents as 1701 child.
- June 20, 1704 – baptism of Johann Michael Schlosser, son of Carl Schlosser and Agnes. Godparent was Elisabeth, wife of Johannes Muller, but we don’t know who this Johannes Muller was. Given that Irene Charitas Schlosser had married Johann Michael Mueller (deceased in 1694), this Johannes Mueller could be related, although he is probably not a son of Johann Michael Mueller. The only son of Johann Michael Mueller known to to survive was his namesake who was age 12 in 1704. However, the child’s given name was Johann Michael, so maybe.
- July 29, 1705 – baptism of Anna Ursula Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes.
- August 19, 1708 – baptism of Anna Catharina Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes.
- March 17, 1711 – baptism of Maria Barbara, Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes.
- November 12, 1733 – baptism of Regina Catharina Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes. On October 8, 1724, the burial of Regina was recorded in church records at age 11.
- November 26, 1716 – baptism of Johannes Schlosser, son of Carl Schlosser and Agnes. On March 20, 1720, the burial was recorded in the church records for Johannes, age 4.
- September 24, 1719 – baptism of Anna Margaretha Schlosser, daughter of Carl Schlosser and Agnes.
Unfortunately, only one of Carl’s sons survived, meaning that son’s descendants are our only prayer of finding a Schlosser male who carries Conrad’s Y chromosome today.
Equally as unfortunately, I can find no trace in the church records or at Ancestry of Johann Michael Schlosser after his birth.
Regardless of how you descend from this line, I’d love to hear from you.
Update: March 2018 – Irene Charitas was not a Schlosser, but a Heitz. Please see the followup articles.
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