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.
As we unraveled the story of Irene Charitas Schlosser and her parents, my friend Tom provided critical information that unlocked the name of Irene’s mother, Conrad Schlosser’s wife. I can’t thank Tom enough for his painstaking work and his infinite patience with me!
Conrad Schlosser’s wife is mentioned in a baptism. Her given names are Anna Ursula.
My heart lept into my throat. Another ancestor identified, at least partially.
Anna Ursula. I rolled her name across my tongue and pronounced her as mine! And I as hers, of course.
Much of Anna Ursula’s life story comes to us through her husband and sometimes by inference. Just when I thought I knew something about Anna Ursula, I discovered in fact that I did not. I love/hate it when this happens!
Introducing Anna Ursula
I thought I knew that Anna Ursula’s life didn’t begin in Steinwenden, because I thought that she and Conrad immigrated as a family to the area about 1684 from Switzerland. At that time Anna Ursula would have been married to Conrad (Cunradt) Schlosser for between 25 and 30 years meaning that she would have spend half a century or so living in Switzerland.
After I published Conrad Schlosser’s story, new information came to light from a reader, Chris, who has sent me invaluable information, both before and since. I can’t thank Chris enough either! Between Chris and Tom, I have been truly blessed.
In particular, Chris found the following information in this article:
“Johann Jakob Hauser around 1660 constructor of the “moor mill” in Steinwenden. During the 30 years war, the region Steinwemden, including among others the villages Weltersbach and Steinwenden, was heavily depopulated. It is only in a tax list in 1671, that inhabitants are again listed, among them Johann Jakob Hauser, miller in Steinwenden. [compare the copy from 1800 of a not conserved original; copy printed in: “Weltersbach. Streifzüge durch die Ortsgeschichte”, a.a.O., page 19]. Around 1660, Johann Jakob Hauser and CONRAD SCHLOSSER rebuilt the moor mill. In the 1680s, the mill was owned by Johann Schenkel.”
Wow. Just wow.
Of course, there are several tidbits of incredibly valuable information here.
First, if Conrad Schlosser was living in or near Steinwenden in 1660, the family clearly did not migrate from elsewhere in 1684.
Second, I need desperately to find the list of families in 1671, because it’s very likely that Anna Ursula’s family is among these people. Conrad would most likely have married a local girl and settled down nearby – which is where they are found in 1685, after the beginning of the church records in Steinwenden in 1684.
And yes, I have already tried to find the book in the library in Salt Lake City library. The German title of the book is Weltersbach: Streifzüge durch die Ortsgeschichte and WorldCat says it’s only available at a library in Munich and another in Frankfurt. Anyone local to either, have the book or know of a resource?
We do know that Anna Ursula wasn’t born in Steinwenden, the village, in the location where it exists today, because that village and region was entirely depopulated during the 30 Years War, but she could have been born not terribly far distant. We just don’t know, but we do know that her family had to be in the general vicinity for Anna Ursula to meet and marry Conrad Schlosser about 1660.
An original text in German written in 1980 titled “The History of Steinwenden” by Roland Paul, historian of the Palatine Region of Germany, provides information about the region. Translated and adapted for English by Dr. Claus Kirchner, Eric Dysinger, and Anne Dysinger, they state:
Researchers believe that the name Steinwenden can be traced back to the old Germanic word “winne” (as compared to the village name “Winden” in Southern Rhineland Palatine), which translates to “terrain with pastures.” Such large pastures always existed south of the village in between Steinwenden and Weltersbach, in the valley of the Moorsbach stream. The first part of Steinwenden (“Stein”) most likely refers to the remains of the original Roman estate, located between Wiesental, Bruehl and the present-day Roemerstrasse (i.e., Roman street). The village name of Steinwenden can therefore be explained as “pasture close to stones” (or stonehouse, or stonewalls).
You can see the Mohrbach in the aerial view today, beneath the village. Is that where the mill Conrad rebuilt was located?
The name Steinwenden dates to at least 1180 AD but the population living in Steinwenden after the 30 Years War would not have been the descendants of the first settlers because Steinwenden was completely abandoned during the 30 Years War and apparently until about 1660. That’s likely why the mill was being rebuilt – people were once again beginning to settle in the region.
Even 8 years after the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, our homeland was in a desolate state as reflected in a 1656 entry in the direct tax book number 12: “Nobody resides yet in the district of Steinwinden [most likely the complete aforementioned area]”. This was due to the fact that the former inhabitants who fled from their homes during the war did not return. The resettlement of the area started around 1660 with, among others, the Swiss immigrants playing a major role in the noteworthy reconstruction that began under difficult circumstances and lasted for decades. The reformed church books contain the names of some of the resettlers: Berny, Buechi (Bichy, Bihy), Brennermann, Freyvogel, Hunzinger, Koller, Kyburtz, Zinsmeister and many more. Immigrants from Germany also moved to the region.
Steinwenden in 1684 consisted once again of six families, totaling approximately 25 residents. More than one hundred years later, in 1791, this number had risen to 305.
This provides us with even more fascinating tidbits. We know that no one lived in Steinwenden in 1656. We know based on church records that Conrad and Anna Ursula were there in 1685 and that Conrad was in the region in 1660, so it stands to reason that they were one of the six families mentioned in 1684. And I’d bet that they were related to the other 5 households.
We also know that in 1685, Anna Ursula’s daughter had already married one of the Swiss immigrants because they had a child baptized.
What We Do Know About Anna Ursula
We don’t know Anna Ursula’s maiden name, but we do know that her daughter was named for her so we need to be careful not to mistake the daughter for the mother (or vice versa) in the church records.
The mother, Anna Ursula Schlosser, a widow, died on March 15, 1701. According to her death record in the Steinwenden church register, she was born in 1633, during the 30 Years War. It’s unlikely that she was born in Steinwenden since no one was living there in 1656 and the article states that the earlier residents did not return. It was in 1660 that the rebuilding began.
Burial: The 15th of March 1701, Anna Ursula, surviving widow of the late Cunradt Schlosser, 68 years old.
The church record above indicates that not only Anna Ursula died, but so did her daughter two weeks prior to Anna Ursula’s death, as did her 21 year old son a week later.
Steinwenden Church Records
The Steinwenden Reformed Church records begin in 1684. In those records, we find various records of Anna Ursula and her children.
The historical records tell us that in 1684, just before the Swiss arrived, the village only had 6 families with a total of 25 people. That’s not much, especially for a location that could clearly accommodate more, and had in the past.
I’d guess that in 1684 or 1685 when the Swiss began arriving, they probably had their pick of relatively good land, not to mention that all of the trades would be needed as the village grew. However, Conrad and Anna Ursula who had settled in that area 20+ years earlier surely had already laid claim to the best lands.
The first records for any of the known surnames associated with this family are found in the marriage on April 28, 1685 of Anna Maria Schlosser to Melchior Clemens.
The second record is found on June 5, 1685 when Johann Nicholas Muller, son of Irene Charitas Schlosser and Johann Michael Muller was born and died the next day. I wonder if that was the first burial in the churchyard for this family group. This tells us that Irene became pregnant in about September of 1684. We don’t know where or when they were married, although it’s very likely in the church local to Steinwenden – wherever that was at the time. We know that the Steinwenden church records begin in 1684. The church may have already been established, although with only 6 families, that seems unlikely.
We know that Johann Michael Mueller was born in 1755 in Zollikoffen, Canton Bern, Switzerland. Between 1755 and 1785, we know that he married the daughter of Anna Ursula and Conrad Schlosser, but in which church is a mystery. This tells us that the Muller/Mueller/Miller family was in the region by at least 1784.
Michael Muller’s Cousin
A 1689 record mentions that Jacob Ringeisen of Schweitz was “serving for his cousin Michael Muller.”
Records in Steinwenden for Jacob Ringeisen begin in 1686 for Hans Jacob, or simply Jacob Ringeisen and wife Susanna.
A death record is found for Jacob on June 1, 1691, stating he was born in 1654, but no location is given although his occupation is schreiner, a carpenter. I wonder if Jacob Ringeisen was born in Zollikoffen, given that he is listed as a cousin to Michael Muller.
We believe that Johann Michael Miller was born in Zollikoffen, Switzerland in 1655 based on a record in the Reformed (Calvinist) Church there. Zollikoffen is about 161 km from Geneva, the center of the Calvinist faith. Zollikoffen is about 400 km from Steinwenden, much of the way along the Rhine River. The Schlosser family in Steinwenden was Calvinist as well.
I have often wondered if we compiled all of the earliest church records in Steinwenden and created a family tree that we would find that all of the Swiss families were related in some fashion. I would suspect that these families were interwoven long before they arrived in Steinwenden, and that they arrived as an interrelated family group. If we are ever able to find them in Switzerland, Jacob Ringeisen’s unusual name may be the key.
Hoping to find some clue about the location these immigrants came from, I asked my friend Tom to take a look. The only clue is the following entry in the church records:
28 April 1685 at Steinwenden were married Melchior Clemens, emigrant from Graffschaft Felkenburg with Anna Maria, legitimate daughter of Cunradt Schlosser, the same (place?).
Does “the same place” refer to Steinwenden or Graffschaft Felkenburg? Where was Graffschaft Felkenburg? It’s not locatable on a map today. If any reader has any idea about where to find this village, please let me know.
Chris provided me with yet another document: Fritz Braun, “Schweizer und andere Einwanderer sowie Auswanderer im ref. Kirchenbuch Steinwenden (1684-1780)”
In: Mitteilungen zur Wanderungsgeschichte der Pfälzer 1960, Folge 3/4, S. 17-32
This translates to “Swiss and other immigrants and emigrants in the reformed church book of Steinwenden (1684-1780).” Tom came to my rescue and found the actual document.
Conrad Schlosser isn’t found in this list of immigrants/emigrants. I was initially disappointed, but then again, this article only features families that moved in or moved out – not founder families. Therefore Conrad’s family is omitted, which makes me sad because if the area was entirely depopulated, we know he had to come from someplace – although I swear I do have some mystery ancestors who were born under rocks or brought by storks!
Now I’m wondering if we can infer the names of the “founder families” by comparing that 1671 tax list (assuming I can actually find a copy) and this list of immigrant/emigrant families and the families in the tax list but not in this document are the founder families. Anna Ursula’s parents would be among those founder families.
This isn’t just back door research, it’s crawling through the upstairs window by shimmying up the trellis!
Recreating the Family
Anna Ursula, the mother, was born in 1633, someplace.
Given social marriage practices of the day, she probably married Conrad Schlosser about 1653 and her first child would have followed about 1654. Those would have been glorious days of young love, assuming that her first child or children lived.
Based on the evidence we have through the church records, it’s possible that her earliest children died, unless of course she married late, in about 1659 when she would have been 26.
Given that the Steinwenden church records don’t begin until 1684, this begs the question of where she and Conrad were married and where her children were baptized.
I’ve created a possible childbirth timeline, based on Anna Ursula’s known children and her birth year, assuming she married about age 20. Notice all the years where there are no children listed, implying deaths.
- 1660? – Irene Charitas Schlosser born approximately 1660, married Johann Michael Mueller (first child born in Steinwenden in 1685)
- 1661 – Anna Catharina (never married)
- Before 1665 – Anna Maria (married Melchior Clemens in 1685)
- 1664 – Carl Schlosser (began having children in 1701, died in 1731)
- Probably about 1676 – Anna Ursula (the daughter) was confirmed in 1692 and married in 1696 to Johann Calman Hoffbauer.
- 1680 – Johannes Peter buried July 21, 1691, age 11
- 1680 – Johannes, buried March 22, 1701, age 21
There were no children born after 1680 when Anna Ursula would have been 47. Of course, as luck would have it, the church records began 4 years later.
Certainly there were more children born to Anna Ursula – the question is only if any survived. That’s a lot of blank spots. There would have been even more children born, about a year apart instead of two years, if some of the babies died at birth. The list above presumes the children lived long enough to be weaned, meaning births occurred approximately every two years.
Clearly, Anna Ursula dealt with a lot of grief in her life. Since the only death records of Anna Ursula’s children in Steinwenden after 1684 are recorded, she probably buried at least 9 children before the records began. Not to mention her parents and probably siblings and their children too.
Let’s see what we know about Anna Ursula’s children that lived, in approximate age order.
Irena Charitas Schlosser and Michael Mueller Sr.
Irene Charitas Schlosser was married to Johann Michael Mueller (Sr.) probably sometime about 1684 or maybe early 1685 given that she was probably born sometime between 1660-1665, give or take a couple years.
The marriage of Irene Charitas is not recorded in Steinwenden, but the birth of children is duly recorded every couple years in the church records beginning in 1685.
Tragically, Irene only had one child that lived to adulthood unless Irene Charitas Schlosser Muller had a child or children before 1685 that lived, but for whom we find no records at all. Her known children are:
- June 5, 1685 – Johann Nicholas Muller born and died the next day. Godparents: Hanns Georg Scheimocher; Nickel Stahl; Hans Georg ?, wife.
- July 9, 1688 – Johann Abraham Muller born and died (within a few months – date illegible). Godparents: Abraham Wochner, tailor; Hans Bergter from Krotelbach; Mar. Magd., H. Hofmann’s wife.
- April 30, 1687 – Samuel Muller born and died the same day, shortly after birth. Godparents: H Samuel Hoffman and his wife.
- June 7, 1688 – Catherina Barbara born, died July 21, 1691. Godparents: Maria Catharina, wife of Jonas Schror ………..Samuel Lo.., the tailor
- April 24, 1691 – Eva Catherine Muller born and died on June 29, 1691, 2 months old, just 5 days after the child above died. Godparents: Eva, wife of Hans Ulrich? Berny, Catharina, wife of Hans Georg Dreysinger; Kilian ?, Michael Frey.
- October 5, 1692 – Johann Michael Mueller who died in the US in 1771, age 78 years. Godparents: Johann Michael Schuhmacher; Balthasar Jolage; Christina, wife of Hans Bergter (Bergtol) from Krodelbach (Krottelbach). Johann Michael Mueller’s eventual wife was a Berchtol.
Irene Charitas’ husband, Johann Michael Mueller, died on January 31, 1695.
The fate of Irene Charitas is uncertain. She may have died before Michael’s death, or she may not have. There is no church record reflecting her death. However, the widow of Johann Michael Mueller, by the name of Anna Loysa Regina married Jakob Stutzman in the Steinwenden church on September 29, 1695. This, of course, suggests that Irene Charitas died long enough before Johann Michael Mueller for him to remarry before his own death in January 1695. That means that Irene would have died between October 5, 1692 and January 31, 1595, so 2 years and a couple months gap. If this was the case, where is Irene Charitas’ death record or Johann Michael Mueller’s remarriage record? He clearly died in Steinwenden, so there is no reason to think he had moved.
Further complicating the matter, in later records pertaining to Johann Michael Mueller Jr., Jacob Stutzman’s wife is referenced as the mother of Johann Michael Mueller. We know when Johann MIchael Mueller was born, so he had to be the son of Irene Charitas. Needless to say, this is very confusing because the records contradict themselves.
There is evidence pointing in both directions, so for now, I’m going to leave the question of Irene Charitas’ death unresolved. We will visit this topic in the future in a separate article.
At Anna Ursula’s death, she had buried all but one of her daughters and all but one of Irene Charitas’ children. She had also buried her son-in-law and she may have buried Irene Charitas as well.
Anna Catherine Schlosser
Born in 1661, Anna Catharina Schlosser didn’t marry and died March 3, 1701, just two weeks before her mother.
Anna Maria Schlosser and Melchior Clemens
Based on church records, we know that Irene’s sister, Anna Maria Schlosser was married to Melchior Clemens on April 28, 1685 in Steinwenden. What goodies can we dig up about her?
The baptism of Johann Michael Clemens, son of Melchior Clemens & Anna Maria Schlosser is a very important family record, because Michael Muller is a godparent and it confirms the family connection a second time! (Thanks so much to my friend Tom for finding these images and translating the records.)
- January 31, 1686 – Johann Michael, parents: Melchior Clemens & and Anna Maria from Steinwenden. Godparents: Hans Georg Schuhmacher; Michael Muller and Jacob Orsels wife.
While their first child was born and baptized in Steinwenden, the rest were not. Apparently Melchior was Catholic, because their subsequent children were baptized in a Catholic church. I wonder what kind of a scandal or family rift that caused!
The Thirty Years War that ended in 1648 was a bitterly fought and extremely devastating war that depopulated much of Germany, including Steinwenden. While the issues were not entirely religious, there was certainly a Catholic versus Protestant component.
I’m guessing, but I don’t know, that Anna Ursula was at the baptism of each of her grandchildren regardless of which church, Protestant or Catholic, they were baptized in.
The next two children were baptized in the Catholic Church in Glan-Munchweiler, about 7 miles from Steinwenden.
- February 17, 1689 – baptized Joes (Joannes) Severinus, legitimate son of Melchioris Clemens & Anna Maria, his lawfully wed wife of Stenweiller. Godparents: Joes (Joannes) Valentinus Brenler; Severinus Clemens, both of Ramstein & Anna Catharina of Stenweiller.
- August 26, 1691 – baptized Anna Appolonia, legitimate daughter of Melchioris Cleman & Anna Maria, his lawfully wed wife of Stenweiller. Godparents: Jacob Crentz & Anna Margreta both of Stenweiller.
Appolonia’s marriage was also recorded in this church in 1712:
On the 26th of May 1712, no impediments having been found, were married in the church before witnesses the honorable young man Joes (Joannes) Nicolaus Heller, legitimate son of the honorable Thomas Heller & Catharina his wife of Reweiler with the virgin, Anna Appolonia, legitimate daughter of the honorable Melchioris Clemens of Stenweiler.
The rest of the children were baptized in the Catholic Church in Ramstein, about 4 miles in the opposite direction from Steinwenden.
- May 4, 1694 – the Sunday after Easter was baptized the legitimate son: Joannem Sepherinum Clement, born of the honorable parents: Melchiori Clement & Anna Maria. Godparents from Steinweiler: Sepherinus Clement of Ramstein and his wife, Anna Magdalena, both Catholics & the honorable young man, Carolus Schlosser, Calvinist of Steinweiler.
It’s very unusual to find a protestant acting as the godparent for a Catholic child.
Twenty-one years later, we find this child’s marriage record as well.
On the 22nd of January 1715 were married Severus Clemens of Steinwenden & Margareta Catharina Zinsmeisterin of the same Steinwenden.
- December 3, 1697 – baptized Reginam Catharinam, legitimate daughter of the honorable married couple Melchioris Clemens, hunter & Anna Maria his wife. Godparents: Joes (Joannes) Jacobo Breull, young man & Regina Catharina Steurin, both of Ramstein.
- September 29, 1700 – Baptized Anna Christina, legitimate daughter of Melchioris Clemens & Anna Maria, his lawfully wed wife. Godparents: Lady Anna Christina, famous nobleman and the famous Lord Ernesti Schmedding,?
We find Anna Christina’s marriage as well. These children were clearly raised Catholic.
On the 4th of November 1722 were married, Jacobus, legitimate son of the deceased Theodorici Wuest of Obermohr & Christina, legitimate daughter of the late Melchioris Clemens of Steinwenden.
It would normally be unusual that more of Anna Maria’s siblings did not stand up with her children when baptized, but given the religious split, the fact that there were any Protestant godparents at all is rather amazing. What does surprise me is that Anna Maria’s mother wasn’t a godparent, which suggests that the rift between mother and daughter might have been quite wide and deep after Anna Maria’s switch to Catholicism.
I do wonder what the occupation of hunter for Melchior entailed at that time.
On the first of July 1713 died Michael (Melchior) Clemens of Steinwenden and was buried in the cemetery there.
We don’t know how old Melchior was, but if he was about the same age as his wife, he would probably have been about 20 when he married in 1685, so 48-50 at his death. I wonder if his occupation had something to do with his demise.
I also wonder why Michael wasn’t buried in consecrated holy ground, given that he was Catholic. It was noted that he was buried in Steinwenden – and I’m presuming this would have been in the Protestant church cemetery. There was no Catholic church in Steinwenden at that time.
It appears that all 5 of Anna Maria’s children lived, the last being born just half a year or so before Anna Ursula’s death. I wonder what happened to Anna Maria after Melchior’s death. I found no further records.
Born in October 1664, Hans Carl Schlosser, son of late Cunrad Schlosser, married Agnes Hunan in Steinwenden on January 27, 1701, just about 6 weeks before the deaths of his mother, sister and brother. Carl died on January 16, 1731, just 11 days short of his 30th anniversary, aged 66 years and about 3 months.
This is Anna Ursula’s only son who reached adulthood and had children. Carl married late in life, age 37, but at least Anna Ursula had the opportunity to see him married. Unless she was grievously ill, I’m sure she attended.
Unfortunately, Anna Ursula did not live long enough to greet any of Carl’s children:
- December 18, 1701 – Anna Regina died immediately after baptism, Godparents: Hanss George Deysinger, Anna Christina, wife of Wilhelm Pfeiffer from Weltersbach, Regina, wife of Johann Nickkel Haffner from Limbach.
- December 24, 1702 – Anna Margaretha Schlosser, was baptized quickly and died soon afterwards. Same Godparents as above.
- July 29, 1705 – Anna Ursula, Godparents: Johann Wigant, legitimate son of Philipp Dulman, miller in Glan-Munchweiler, Anna Ursula legitimate daughter of the late Andreas Rabe of Stenweiler, Anna Elisabeth legitimate daughter of Wilhelm Pfeiffer of Weltersbach.
Now, of course, I’m wondering about whether or not Anna Ursula Rabe was named after our Anna Ursula, and if those two women are related in some fashion.
Finally, 4 years later, a child lived.
- August 19, 1708 – Anna Catharina, Godparents: Catharina Barbara, daughter of Philipp Cullmann, miller in Munchweiler; Anna Apollonia, daughter of Melchior Kleemanns (Clemens) from Steinwenden; Wilhelm, legitimate son of Hanss Wilhelm Berny from Steinwenden.
- March 17, 1711 – Maria Barbara, Godparents: Maria Lysbeth, wife of Simon Friess, smith in Steinwenden; Catharina Barbara, daughter of Philipp Cullmann, miller from Munchweiler; Theobald Lang from Steinwenden.
- November 12, 1713 – Regina Catharina, Godparents: Margaretha Catharina, daughter of Jacob Zinssmeister from Steinwenden; Regina Elisabeth, Tobias; Johann Michel, legitimate son of Jacob Crentz from Steinwenden. This child died on October 8, 1724 at age 11.
- November 26, 1716 – Johannes, Godparents: Johannes Schlecht, carpenter from Steinwenden; Samuel Kirch from Weltersbach; Maria Madl., wife of Bartel Deisinger from Steinwenden; Barbara, wife of Theobald Lang of Steinwenden. This child died on March 20, 1720 at age 4.
- September 24, 1719 – Anna Margreth, Godparents: Anna Margreth, surviving widow of Michel Jung of Steinwenden; Andreas Zinssmeister, son of Jacob Zinssmeister of Steinwenden; Seibert Clemens of Steinwenden.
It appears that 4 of 8 children born lived, or at least we don’t find death records. That mortality rate was normal at the time, but it breaks my heart just to think about losing any children, let alone that many – half.
Anna Ursula Schlosser married to Johann Calman Hoffbauer
Anna Ursula (the daughter) was married on June 26, 1696 in Steinwenden.
- March 17, 1697 – Baptism of Johan Carl, Parents: Calman/Culman Hoffbauer & Anna Ursula from Steinwenden. Godparents: Hanss Carl Schlosser; Eva Ersabeta Hoffbauerin, ?.
February 13, 1698, Johann Culman Hoffbauer, master shoemaker, age 26, was buried.
Anna Ursula wasn’t even married 2 years before she was left a young widow with a baby who would celebrate his first birthday without his father.
Hans Peter Schlosser
The burial record for Hans (probably Johann) Peter Schlosser on July 31, 1691, Anna Ursula’s son, tells us that he was age 11 at his death. He was one of Anna Ursula’s youngest children, if not the youngest, and would have been born about 1680.
With this child’s death, Anna Ursula may have lost her baby. However, based on the death records, if the years are accurate, Hans Peter and Johannes who died in 1701 the week after his mother may have been twins.
Living Children (When Anna Ursula Died)
Even though Anna Ursula clearly had more children than the records in Steinwenden indicate, it appears that only 7 lived long enough to be recorded in the Steinwenden church. Of the surviving children, two died in 1701 in the same month as Anna Ursula.
- Anna Ursula may have buried daughter Irene Charitas as well.
- The fate of daughter, Anna Ursula, is unknown along with that of Irene Charitas.
- At Anna Ursula’s death, only daughter Anna Maria is known positively to be alive.
- Anna Ursula buried her son, Hans Peter, in 1691, three years before her husband’s death.
- Anna Ursula’s son, Johannes died a week after she did.
- I strongly suspect the death of her daughter, Anna Catharina, two weeks prior and her son, Johannes, a week later were somehow connected with the cause of Anna Ursula’s death.
- Anna Ursula’s only other son, Carl, lived until 1731.
I wanted to assemble a chronology of Anna Ursula’s life in Steinwenden. Based on the church records, we actually know what she was doing on certain days. I’ve tried to bracket similar events. Happy event rows are peach colored. Sad events are blue. As you can see, a great many are bracketed together with a birth and death following in short order. Yellow rows are the only grandchildren who lived. Of course, those are very happy events!
Putting these events in chronological order made me realize just how difficult and grief-filled Anna Ursula’s life was. The sad fact is that this was probably somewhat “normal” for the time. Life was extremely difficult for our ancestors. Some days I’m amazed that against the odds, I exist at all.
Anna Ursula’s children are noted in green at the top in the white rows. At Anna Ursula’s death, only two children, in green, were living except for Johannes, at the bottom, who died a week later. At least she didn’t have to bury him. It’s unknown if the two daughters in teal were living at Anna Ursula’s death
Anna Ursula only lived for a total of 16 years after church records began chronicling her life.
In that time, she:
- Buried her husband in 1694 (grey)
- Buried her son in 1691 (red)
- Buried her daughter in 1701 (red)
- Possibly buried a second daughter between 1692 and 1695 (teal)
- Buried 2 son-in laws (gold) in 1695 and 1698, seeing one if not two daughters widowed
- Buried at least 5 grandchildren (light blue rows not otherwise marked)
- Died perhaps knowing a second son would probably perish as well, which he did a week later (red)
Take a look at July of 1791. In 8 days Anna Ursula’s daughter lost two children, and Anna Ursula lost her own son two days later. Three deaths and burials in 10 days. That’s beyond brutal.
Looking at the death index for 1691, we don’t see an epidemic, so it appears that these three deaths were clustered in this family, and only this family. On June 1, 1691, 6 weeks before the 3 Schlosser deaths in 10 days, Johann Michael Mueller’s cousin, Hans Jacob Ringeysen, died as well at age 37. He may have been living near this extended family group.
During the 16 years in Steinwenden church records, Anna Ursula’s daughter, Irene Charitas buried at least 5 children plus her husband, leaving her, best case, with a 2 year, 3 month old child. Worst case, Anna Ursula’s daughter, Irene Charitas, had also died during that time.
While I’m sure that Anna Ursula was thrilled that her namesake daughter was married on June 26, 1696, and had a child on March 17, 1697, she would have been devastated when her daughter’s husband died 11 months later, leaving her youngest daughter a widow with a small child.
How would Anna Ursula have helped her widowed daughters, given that she was already a widow herself?
Perhaps she depended on her eldest son, Carl, who hadn’t yet married. At this point, in 1698 it’s entirely possible that the following people were living in one household together, simply trying to pool their resources and put food on the table:
- Anna Ursula, then 65
- Her oldest son, Carl, then about 35
- Daughter Irene Charitas in her early 30s (if she was living) with son Johann Michael Muller, age 6
- Daughter Anna Ursula in her 20s, a widow with an infant boy
- Daughter Anna Catharina, about 37, having never married
- Youngest son Johannes, about 18
I cannot imagine this was a happy family under the circumstances.
Anna Ursula’s dance with tragedy didn’t end in 1698 with her son-in-law’s death. She may have been estranged from her only other married daughter, Anna Maria.
Anna Ursula’s daughter, Anna Maria, became Catholic about 1689, which may have effectively left her dead to her mother. There is no way to know today, more than 300 years hence how icy that relationship became, or if it ever thawed. Anna Ursula did not name a daughter after her mother or a son after her father, nor did either parent stand up with her children as a godparent.
Estrangement is also a form of death, sometimes more painful because it is a choice.
What Happened in 1701?
Anna Ursula’s adult daughter, Anna Catharina, died twelve days before Anna Ursula’s death in 1701 and her son, Johannes, a week after her death. What killed these people?
Anna Ursula would have been 68 years old when she died, a long life for that time in history. Her daughter, age 40 and her son, only 21, also perished in that horrible March of 1701. Did that leave her daughter, Anna Ursula, widowed 4 years almost to the day before her mother’s death, again homeless with her child? Had daughter Anna Ursula remarried and moved on, or died? We simply don’t know.
Checking FamilySearch church records for deaths in Steinwenden in 1701, we don’t find many.
In total, there is one death in January and one on February 21st, 1701 but that woman was born in 1615 and was elderly.
Beware the ides of March.
The next 3 deaths in the church records are the Schlosser family members:
- March 3, 1701 – Anna Catharina Schlosser born 1661, father Cunrad Schlosser
- March 15, 1701 – Anna Ursula Schlosser born 1633, widow of Cunrad Schlosser
- March 22, 1701 – Johannes Schlosser born 1680, father Cunrad Schlosser
Given that these three individuals all died in less than 3 weeks, but no one else in the village died during that time, I’d wager that we weren’t dealing with something like the flu, but instead with something fatal but localized. Dysentery is a virus and highly contagious. Typhoid is bacterial, but is also highly contagious and can be passed from person to person. Cholera is caused by water contaminated by fecal matter and is contagious as well, but perhaps not as highly so as Dysentery and Typhoid. Food poisoning has been suggested as another possibility.
Was this the same thing that struck a decade earlier, in July of 1791, killing three family members in 10 days then as well? I wonder if the church records for other time periods carry similar tales for other families. What was going on in Steinwenden?
I find it very strange that three people in the same household died in less than 3 weeks, including a young (presumably healthy) male age 21, but no other deaths occurred in the community. German farm villages were organized such that the houses were built against each other in the town, generally walls adjoining. Everyone used the same water supply and there was little space between neighbors.
This contemporary photo of Steinwenden, shows the way that houses were constructed at that time on the same street with the Protestant church, which would be located in the historic part of town.
In the above satellite view, the village isn’t terribly large, even today, and the cemetery may well be located behind the church. Note that the older buildings across the street to the right of the church, on the corner, are the same white side-by-side Raisch buildings as pictured above.
The undated photo above of historic Mutterstadt in the early 1900s, a village in the same region of Germany, shows the way that houses were traditionally constructed in villages. Side by side, with the farmers going outside the village to tend their fields each day. It would be very unusual for something contagious to strike only one family.
Were these deaths really just bad luck? That’s difficult to believe.
The next death in the 1701 church records isn’t until August, and there are only two more for the entire year. The Schlosser family experienced 3/8th or nearly half of the deaths in the entire village that year in March.
Perhaps we don’t know the full story. This makes me wonder about other scenarios. What happened to this family in 1691 and 1701 that didn’t happen to any other family? Sadly, the church records stand stubbornly mute.
Regardless of the cause of death, it was a very difficult time for this family.
Still, I can’t help but wonder what actually happened. I surely wish the minister had recorded a cause of death. A few strokes of the pen would make all of the difference.
Anna Ursula’s Mitochondrial DNA
Anna Ursula’s mitochondrial DNA would be available to us today through her female children through a continuous line of females until the current generation, which can be male.
Did Anna Ursula have any female children that had female children?
Of all of the children born to Anna Ursula Schlosser, only daughter Anna Maria who married Melchior Clemens (Clements) had daughters that lived at least long enough to marry.
- August 26, 1691 – Anna Appolonia Clemens, Godparents: Jacob Crentz & Anna Margreta both of Stenweiller. In the Catholic church of Glan-Munchweiler.
On May 26, 1712, Joes (Joannes) Nicolaus Heller, son of Thomas Heller and Catharina his wife of Reweiler, with the virgin, Anna Appolonia, daughter of Melchioris Clemens of Stenweiler.
- December 3, 1697 – baptism of Reginam Catharinam Clemens, Godparents: Joes (Joannes) Jacobo Breull, young man & Regina Catharina Steurin, both of Ramstein. In the Catholic church in Ramstein.
- September 29, 1700 – Anna Christina Clemens, Godparents: Lady Anna Christina, famous nobleman and the famous Lord Ernesti Schmedding, ?. In the Catholic church in Ramstein.
On November 4, 1722, Christina, daughter of the late Melchioris Clemens of Steinwenden married Jacobus Wuest of Obermohr in the Catholic church of Ramstein.
At least two of Anna Ursula’s granddaughters married, as noted above, increasing the chances of female descendants.
I find no records of these daughters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Ancestry shows trees that spell Heller as Keller. Three daughters are shown, with daughter Anna Katharina Keller born in 1714 and dying in 1783. Perhaps someone connects.
We have three candidates for maternal lines to carry the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Ursula, and I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descended from these three daughters through all females to the current generation. In the current generation, males and females both can test because women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on. Therefore, male children carry their mother’s mitochondrial DNA – and that of their direct line female ancestors.
It’s rather amazing how much we discovered about Anna Ursula Schlosser, despite not having any church baptismal records for her or her children. We’re quite fortunate to have Anna Ursula’s death record. Maybe some of Anna Ursula lives on today in the DNA of her descendants!