The first hint of Conrad Heitz is found in the Miesau, Germany church records on April 17, 1684 when his daughter, Irene Liesabetha, married Michael Muller, a widower. The Miesau records of this time held the records from Miesau, Steinwenden and Ramstein.
Entry No. 23 – 17 April 1684 – Recorded in Miesau parish
Michael Müller, legitimate son of the late Heinsmann Müller, resident of Schwartzmatt in the Bern region with Irene Liesabetha, daughter of Cunrad (Conrad) Heitz, who was at this time in war service for the Palatinate in Churpfalz (Kurpfalz), were married in Steinwenden.
My original assumption was that Conrad Heitz was living in Steinwenden when his daughter was married to Michael Muller there, but after significant analysis by me and my two German experts, it looks like my assumption was probably incorrect.
Conrad Heitz never appears in any Steinwenden (or nearby) record except by reference. In fact, we do not know where he was living in 1684, although Churpfalz would be a good place to look.
What we do know is that Conrad was a soldier, probably a professional soldier.
Conrad Heitz wasn’t found on the 1684 Steinwenden tax list, but that wasn’t terribly unusual because Swiss immigrants weren’t taxed. His absence on the tax list didn’t set off any alarms. Michael Muller wasn’t on that list either and he’s know to be Swiss.
Therefore, because Irene lived in Steinwenden, and as we shall see, so did (at least some of) Conrad’s other children, my assumption had been that Conrad did too. I should have already learned about assuming anything with my German ancestors. They lived in uncertain times, even after the 30 Years War, and they never fail to prove me wrong every time I assume anything is “normal.” My family is NEVER normal.
To be clear, we know that Conrad’s young children lived in the Steinwenden area. We just don’t know if he lived there, and it seems likely that Conrad was an absentee father, although perhaps not willingly, and possibly tragically.
Conrad’s daughter, Irene’s story is quite interesting, given that her name seemed to change throughout her life. She was known as Irene Elisabetha, Irene Charitas, Regina Loysa, Regina Elisabetha and maybe a few other variants.
Recently one of my readers who has been transcribing German records mentioned the following:
I recognized the name Irene Charitas and for awhile could not figure out why, but then I remembered that I came across it multiple times in my current project, transcribing entries from the earliest church books of Zweibrücken and Hornbach. It’s not a name you forget! I first saw it in the family of Herr Superintendent Michael Philipp Beuther, who had a daughter baptized Irene Charitas.
In my experience, it was common in Pfalz-Zweibrücken for church officials, administrators, and educators to have their church book entries recorded in a mixture of Latin and German, hence the wild, uncommon names like Irene Charitas. It was by virtue of that family’s prominence that the name spread in Zweibrücken, seeing how Irene sponsored many baptisms.
Since you have a combination of ceremonial Latin and German, it would not surprise me a bit if your Irene occasionally went by a more Germanic name as an adult, or if minister’s made mistakes in recording her name. For example, Irene in German sounds a lot like Latinate “Reina,” derived from Regina, so it’s very possible that a minister assumed that “Rene” or “Irene” was short for a Christian name of Regina. The flip-flopping of the Rufname, though is something to watch carefully. Given the records you’ve provided, I would presume that “Irene Elisabetha” was her preferred German name and that the others are either derivatives or hiccups, but I would keep investigating.
However, it was digging for every detail about Irene by all her names that revealed Conrad Heitz and what we do know about his life. In fact, it was by tracking daughter Irene/Regina, all over this part of Germany that we found evidence of her siblings. That was no small feat, believe me, especially with her periodic name changes combined with social upheaval of the time.
The Hoffman Connection
Irene Heitz’s brother was named Samuel. Given his name and Irene’s, along with other records, it seems that the Heitz family was close to the Samuel Hoffman family.
Samuel Hoffman was probably the first minister of the church in Steinwenden and his wife, Irene Charitas Buether, died in Miesau in 1684. At that time, Steinwenden and Ramstein deaths were recorded in the Miesau church records.
According to the Geneanet site by R. K. Morgenthaler, Samuel Hofmann, husband of Irene Charitas born Beuther, was a minister in Weilersbach, close to Steinwenden, from 1657 onwards. We also know that Samuel Hoffmann and Irene Charitas Beuther married in 1657 in Weilerbach since this is stated in her 1684 burial record.
Weilerbach and Miesau are both equidistant of Steinwenden by about 9 miles in either direction.
We do have a 1684 Steinwenden tax list that shows Samuel Hoffmann residing in Steinwenden which also includes closely adjacent areas. Based on this, we may conclude that Samuel Hoffmann was a minister in Steinwenden in at least 1683-1684, and perhaps earlier. He may thus have been the first minister in Steinwenden after the war. Since Samuel was taxed, he probably wasn’t Swiss.
Given that two of Conrad Heitz’s children were named Samuel and Irene, it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that Samuel Hoffman and his wife, Irene, stood as their godparents and that the children were named in their honor. But when was that, and where?
Where was Samuel Hoffman after his 1657 marriage and before 1670 or so when Samuel Heitz was born? It stands to reason that Rev. Hoffman remained in the Steinwenden area, since he is found there in the 1680s.
In 1684, Irene Charitas Buether Hoffman, born in 1613, died in Steinwenden at the calculated age of 71. That means she had been 44 when she married Samuel Hoffman, probably past childbearing age.
As the minister, Samuel would have recorded church member’s deaths in his own handwriting after he preached the funeral service and comforted the mourners. When the last prayer was said, as the grave was covered, the good reverend retreated into the sanctuary of the church to do one final thing – record the burial date in the church books. Some ministers also recorded the gospel passage they chose to read, or noted that the church bells were rung. Samuel Hoffman wrote the simplest of notes, taking care of business, but nothing more. I have to wonder if he wrote the death record for his own wife into the register after they buried her in the churchyard, sitting alone, surrounded by the stone walls echoing happier times. Both a labor of grief and of love. Such it was in 1684 in Steinwenden.
Samuel Hoffman Remarries
In 1685, Samuel Hoffman, then a widower, remarried. German genealogist, Tom, notes the burial of Herr Samuel Hoffmann recorded in neighboring Konken parish on January 5, 1718. Tom feels that this would indicate that Samuel Hoffmann was probably about 10 years younger or more than his first wife Irene Charitas Beuther and at his death, would have been in his 90’s. If Samuel had been about the same age as Irene, that would put his age at death at 105.
Given his age at remarriage, between 62 and 72, I was quite surprised when Samuel Hoffman began having children with his new wife. I wondered if this Samuel is the son of the original Samuel who married Irene Charitas Beuther, but records confirm otherwise.
Marriage: 13 January 1685
Herr Samuel Hoffman, widower, p.p. (all proper titles assumed) with Maria Magdalena, legitimate daughter of Hans Cunrad Hepp, servant innkeeper? in Winden.
Samuel Hoffmann and his 2nd wife Maria Magdalena Hepp are found in many Steinwenden links to the Muller and Heitz families. Samuel’s new wife was clearly at least three if not four decades his junior.
Samuel Hoffman served as a godparent for a son born to Johann Michael Muller and Irene Heitz in 1687. Clearly Irene Heitz Muller was close to Samuel Hoffman too, not just Irene who had died.
A decade later, Irene Heitz Muller had remarried to Jacob Stutzman and moved to Krottelbach, but returned to Steinwenden to be the godmother of a child born to Samuel Hoffman and his wife Maria Magdalena. At this time, Samuel would have been 70 or older.
Landesarchiv Speyer > Steinwenden > Taufe 1684-1698, Taufe 1698-1738, Taufe 1724, 1738, Trauung 1684-1780, Beerdigung 1685-1780, Konfirmation 1685-1779, Bild 17 www.archion.de
Baptism: Entry No. 221
Child: Irene Elisabeth
Date of Baptism: 3 February 1697
Parents: H(err) Samuel Hoffmann & Maria Magdalena from Steinwenden
Godparents: Irene, Jacob Stitzmantz wife from Brodelbach (Krottelbach); Elisabetha, wife of Balthasar Jolage; Dominicus Stutzman, unmarried.
The baby was named for Irene and if anything happened to the parents, Irene Heitz Stutzman would raise her namesake.
This 1697 record ties Herr Samuel Hoffmann & Maria Magdalena (his 2nd wife) with Irene Heitz Muller Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s wife from Krottelbach and with Dominicus Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s brother!
At this point, I have to ask myself how Samuel Hoffman knew Jacob Stutzman’s brother, Dominicus well enough to ask him to stand up for his child as a Godparent. Dominic is the Stutzman sibling that never moved to Konken area where Jacob Stutzman lived. Instead Dominic lived and died in Zweibrucken. How did he know the Reverend Samuel Hoffman?
Tom notes that Hoffman may have known Dominic from Zweibrucken which is about 25 miles from Steinwenden, or 32 miles from Weilerbach. Zwiebrucken is where Samuel Hoffman’s first wife, Irene Charitas Beuther was from. It’s also where the Stutzman family was found before 1682. Did the Hoffman, Miller and Stutzman families all know each other from Zwiebrucken?
Furthermore, I would still like to figure out how Cunrad Heitz, a solder from Kurpfalz, near Mannheim, came to name his two children after a minister in Weilerbach, 32 miles distant. There seem to be some critical puzzle pieces missing.
Let’s look at our Heitz records.
After the 1684 marriage of Irene Heitz to Michael Muller, additional Heitz records begin to be found in 1692 in Steinwenden and continue there except where otherwise noted. Irene’s marriage was the first Heitz record found.
- June 4, 1692 – Samuel Heitz, tailor along with Irene, Michael Muller’s wife (and others) are godparents to Johann Samuel Lantz, child of Ludwig Lantz and Esther Barbara from Steinwenden.
This tells us that Samuel Heitz is an adult because he has an occupation.
- Christmas 1692 – Confirmation of Cunrad Heitz, brother of Samuel Heitz, tailor.
This is an important record, because it suggests the age of Cunrad Heitz to be about 12 or 13, so born about 1680. Cunrad was actually born in 1676, so he was confirmed at age 16. It also confirms that these two men are brothers. Conspicuous in this record is the absence of a parent.
- June 21, 1693 – Elisabeth Catharina, wife of Philip Heintz and Michael Muller of Steinwenden are godparents (with others) for Catharina Margaretha, daughter of Hans Jacob Schmidt and Elisabeth from Dittweiler.
I originally thought that this Heintz record was probably a Heitz record. However, there were no additional records found, and Tom found the Philip Heintz marriage to his wife: “Philip Heintz, son of Jost Heintz (deceased) from Alsenz marries 1687 11 Nov. in Steinwenden to Elisabeth Catharina, dau of Hans Caspar Christman of Schwander?”
- August 22, 1694 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparents (with others) for Johana Agnetha, daughter of H(err) Samuel Hoffmann and Maria Magdalena of Steinwenden.
- December 12, 1694 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparent (with others) to Johan Samuel, son of Hanss Georg Berny and Anna Elisabeth from Obermohr.
- July 22, 1696 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparent (with others) to Johann Samuel, son of Hanss Georg Deysinger & Catharina from Steinwenden.
- February 5, 1697 – Samuel Heitz, son of the late Cunrad Heitz, from Ramstein marries Catharina Apollonia, widow of the late Michael Schumacher. (Note that on November 10, 1693, Hans Michael Schuhmacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher from Rohrback married Catharina Apollonia, legitimate daughter of the late Burchard Schafer from Turckheim (Bad Durkheim.)
I am unclear whether the “from Ramstein” note refers to Samuel Heitz or the late Cunrad Heitz, but this is not the only reference to Ramstein. Ramstein is less than 2 miles from Steinwenden. This record indicates clearly that Conrad Heitz is deceased by this time.
In fact, the road from Miesau to Weilerbach runs directly through Ramstein. Steinwenden is a side trip, literally, “off the beaten path.”
This record tells us that Conrad Heitz died sometime between April of 1684 when Irene was married and February of 1697. He was probably deceased by the 1692 confirmation, given that he wasn’t mentioned. I wonder why there is no death record for Conrad in the church books. Given that he was a soldier, perhaps he did not die in this region, or maybe because he did not live in this region.
I suspect, based on the entry from 1698 for Conrad Jr. that the reference to Ramstein refers to Samuel, not the deceased Conrad Sr.
- May 9, 1697 – Samuel Heitz from Steinwenden godparent (with others) to Johann Samuel, son of Johan Simon Fries and Maria Elisabetha from Steinwenden.
- December 26, 1697 – Johann Adam born to Samuel Heitz and Catharina Apollonia from Steinwenden, Hans Adam Schumacher godfather (with others).
- January 17, 1698 – Death of Cunrad Heitz, Ramstein, unmarried son of the late Hans Cunrad Heitz, former soldier in Manheim. Age 20 to 23 years. This death of Cunrad Heitz is from Steinwenden church book.
This entry about Hans Cunrad Heitz, where it indicated he is a “former soldier,” meaning that he is dead, and gives the location specifically as Manheim may be more important than it seems. It may actually be giving us Cunrad’s death location.
- March 1, 1699 – Maria Magdalena baptized, daughter of Samuel Heitz and Catharina Appollonia from Steinwenden. Godparents: Magdelena, wife of Herr Samuel Hoffmann, Jacob Stutzman from Weylach and Anna Maria, daughter of Hans Cunrad Ausinger from Turckheim (Bad Durkheim).
This again ties to Bad Durkheim. What is the connection between Bad Durkheim and Steinwenden? The name Hans Cunrad also makes me wonder about an earlier generational connection. Was Hans Cunrad Ausinger named for Hans Cunrad Heitz, or were they both named for someone else? Are they connected, specially given that Bad Durkheim is not close?
- September 1, 1700 – Anna Elisabetha baptized, daughter of Johann Samuel Heitz and Catharina Apollonia from Steinwenden.
- October 9, 1701 – Samuel Heitz from Stenweyler godparent (along with others) to Johann Samuel, son of Simon Wolff and Anna Maria from Steinwenden.
- June 12, 1702, Kallstadt– Samuel H(eitz) (margin) from Stenweiler im Westrich, Elisabeth, wife of Hanss Michael Schum (margin) from Ramsen, godparents to son of Hanss Jacob Stotzmann, farm administrator at Weilach and his wife Regina Elisabetha.
It appears that Samuel Heitz made his way from Steinwenden to Kallstadt to be a godfather to his sister’s child. Clearly, they were close.
Note that Kallstadt is about a mile north of Bad Durkheim, a name we repeatedly find in these records.
Chris points out that the Ramstein church records are scattered. Reformed records from 1591 to 1657 can be found in the Spesbach church books, from 1657 onwards in Miesau, and only from 1698 onwards in Steinwenden. Tom spread the net further, checking each location, but no additional Heitz records were found before 1684.
The next group of records are again from Steinwenden.
- August 7, 1703 – Hans Adam buried, son of the local Samuel Heytz.
- August 14, 1703 – Johann Henrich buried, son of Samuel Heytz.
Every time a see two deaths in such close proximity, I always wonder what happened. Was this a community issue, or just within this family? We don’t have birth records for these children, so it’s possible that they were twins, especially given that the next children we find were born just 11 months later.
- July 13, 1704 – Eva Catharina baptized, daughter of Samuel Heitz and Catharina Appollonia, godparents Jacob Ringeisen from Reichsbach (with others).
This tells us where Jacob Ringeisen, Michael Muller’s cousin, is living in 1704. Reichenbach is 6 km from Steinwenden, about a 10 minute drive today. I wonder if Jacob’s only connection is as the cousin of Irene’s deceased husband. These families may have a connection from before they settled in this area.
- October 31, 1706 – Maria Margreth baptized in Steinbruch, daughter of Samuel Heitz and Catharina from Steinwenden (mayor from Steinbruch was one of the godparents).
- 1712 Confirmation of Maria Madl, daughter of Samuel Heitz, tailor of Steinwenden.
- September 24, 1713 – Catharina Barbara baptized, daughter of Samuel Heitz and Catharina from Steinwenden, died on October 29th.
- January 15, 1715, Kallstadt – Catharina, daughter of Conrad Heitz from Ram (margin) married to Johannes Schumacher, legitimate son of Jo (margin) Schumacher from Golding?
This record was certainly a surprise! Another daughter of Conrad?
It looks like Catharina is another sibling of Irene, especially when combined with the following record where Catharina is living on the Weilach estate with Irene/Regina and her husband, Jacob Stutzman.
- January 7, 1716, Kallstadt – Nicholas Schumacher, cow herder at the Weilach farm and wife Catharina, a young daughter Susanna Elisabeth was born, godparents Regina Elisabeth, wife of the farm administrator and Jacob Stutzman.
- 1717, Steinwenden – confirmation of Eva Catharina, daughter of Samuel Heitz, censor (church guardian of morals) from Steinwenden.
Note Samuel’s new occupation.
- April 5, 1721 – Johann Ludwig, son of Johann Michal Muller and wife Susanna Agnesa, baptized. Godparent (with others): Eva Catharina, daughter of Samuel Heitzen, citizen in Stannweiler.
Irene (Regina) and Samuel Heitz are siblings, so Eva and Michael are first cousins. Johann Ludwig is the great-grandchild of Conrad Heitz. Eva Catharina is Ludwig’s first cousin once removed. (Yes, I had to draw a picture!)
- January 6, 1728 – Catharina Apolonia, surviving widow of the late Samuel Heitz, former master tailor here, Steinwenden. Age 56 years minus 3 months and 6 days.
Irene’s brother, Samuel Heitz, died sometime between April 1721 and January 1728.
- July 27, 1728, Kallstadt – Eva Catharina, surviving legitimate daughter of the late Johann Samuel Heitz, former resident of Sennweiler, to Johann Nicholaus Schwind, surviving legitimate son of the eldest member of the court, Jost Rudolph Schwind.
Apparently Eva Catharina went to live with her aunt Irene/Regina and Jacob Stutzman in Kallstadt after her parents’ deaths. She would have been age 24 when she married.
It appears that Irene/Regina and Jacob Stutzman had become the anchors of that family.
We find neighboring Ramstein mentioned repeatedly in these records.
Ironically, one of my family members was stationed here in the late 1980s and my mother wanted to visit. Had I ANY idea, I would have visited myself – mother in tow. I’m sure that family member had absolutely no idea that they may have literally been on top of our ancestral family home. The population of the base personnel and dependents at about 23,000 dwarfs the population of Ramstein-Miesenbach with about 7,500 residents.
Ramstein was so small that their church records were incorporated into the Miesau, then Steinwenden records. Remember that in 1684, there were only 9 families in that entire region due to the depopulation resulting from the 30 Years War. By 1802, Ramstein had all of 302 people living there.
Apparently both Conrad Heitz Jr. and Samuel Heitz at some point lived in Ramstein, which suggests that the family may have lived closer to Ramstein than Steinwenden, or maybe between the two, although typically people lived in villages at that time. Farmers tended to walk to their fields and home again at night, with village houses and walls clustered together, providing protection. So there would have been no isolated farms in-between and there still aren’t today.
If the Heitz family wound up in Ramstein and Steinwenden, where did they come from?
Tom found two baptism records of Heitz children in Mannheim, although I can’t include the images because they are from Archion who does not allow usage of their images.
The death record of Cunrad Heitz (Jr.) in Ramstein (Steinwenden Ev Ref parish) on January 17, 1698 says his age is 20-23 years, which puts his birth about 1675-1678. The record also gives his deceased father’s name as Cunrad as well, and states that he was a soldier from Mannheim.
The first Mannheim birth record is for Hans Conrad Heitz on August 6, 1676 which would make Cunrad 22 at his death.
1676 6 August
Child: Hans Conrad
Parents: Hans Conrad Heitz, soldier under H(err) Hauptmann Schaben(ger) Company and Anna Margaretha, his lawfully wed wife.
Godparents: Conrad Keller, ?, under said Company and Elisabetha ?
Bild 105 Mannheim Evangelical, Archion image
The second birth record is for a brother, Johannes, although we find no additional records for Johannes in either Mannheim or Steinwenden.
1679 21 May
Parents: Hans Conrad Heitz, soldier under Herr Hauptmann Schaben(ger)’s Company & Margaretha, lawfully wed wife.
Godparents: Johann Schwartz, soldier under Herr Hauptmann Schaben(ger)’s Company and Catharina, his lawfully wed wife.
Bild 149 Mannheim Evangelical, Archion image
I wonder what happened to Johannes.
The entries indicate that Conrad Heitz was a member of Captain Johannes Schabinger’s Company. Johannes Schabinger was from Bavaria. He was in Bretten and Mannheim, Baden and probably in other places in Bavaria. This might help us.
Mannheim is maybe 50 miles from Steinwenden.
Finding information about the “Shabinger Company” might be enlightening, indeed.
Chris’s search continues:
A web search for “Hauptmann Schabinger” (the two words in combination flanked by ” “) returned one book page, confirming that this Schabinger was from Bavaria.
Furthermore, I found out that there is a small booklet especially about the life of this Johannes/Hans Schabinger, see no. 5 below “Sonderhefte” on the following page: http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Badische_Familienkunde
There is another publication by the same author: “Freiherr von Schabinger”:
“Der Pfeiferturm. Beiträge zur Heimatgeschichte.” Beilage in Brettener Nachrichten im August 1949: Hauptmann und Kommandant. Johannes Schabinger (1620-1654) von Karl Friedrich Schabinger Freiherr von Schowingen
If these life dates are correct, then Johannes Schabinger seems to have died already in 1654! Accordingly, I am not sure how helpful a search for him would be to locate Conrad Heitz, who certainly was still alive in 1684.
Further research into Johannes Schabinger revealed two baptisms of his children in Bretten in the 1650s, and the death of his wife there in 1671 where she is mentioned as a widow and that he died in 1654.
Ah, the FamilySearch index for the 1671 death of Susanna Schabinger states she was widowed. So Johannes Schabinger was not alive anymore in 1671. Strange enough, the Heitz records make no mentioning of this. It seems possible to me that Johannes Schabinger was famous at least locally at the time and this was the reason that Conrad Heitz having been a soldier below Schabinger was mentioned even after Schabinger`s death.
Tom, our German genealogist, feels that Schabinger was prominent enough that the company was named in his honor, even though Schabinger was deceased at the time.
Unfortunately, searching for more information about Schabinger won’t help with the search for Conrad Heitz. Sometimes you just have to go down the rabbit hole.
In 1684, Cunrad is mentioned as being in the service in Kurpfalz. I thought Kurpfalz was a specific place, but according to Wikipedia, Kurpfalz is German for the Elector Palatinate, a fragmented territory that was administered by the Count Palatine of the Rhine. This region stretched from the left bank of the Upper Rhine, from the Hunsruck Mountain range in what is today the Palatinate region of the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the adjacent parts of the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine (bailiwick of Seltz from 1418-1766) to the opposite territory on the east bank of the Rhine in present-day Hesse and Baden-Wurttemberg, up to the Odenwald range and the southern Kraichgau region, containing the capital cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim. The old map below drawn by Johannes Janssonius in 1650 depicts the Palatine. Mannheim is just slightly below the center and to the right.
Based on the other pieces of information we have gathered, it seems like the most important clue is the mention of Mannheim. In three other documents, we know that Cunrad is mentioned in conjunction with serving in Mannheim.
The history of Mannheim itself may shed a bit of light on the subject.
The Encyclopedia Britannica provides us with information about what was happening in Mannheim during this timeframe.
The area of Mannheim is marshy, lying at the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Neckar. In the 8th century, the site belonged to the abbey of Lorsch and to the south lay the castle of Eicholzheim.
In the beginning of the 17th century, elector palatine Frederick IV founded a town based on gridded streets where Mannheim sits today, populated chiefly with Protestant refugees from Holland. The strongly fortified castle made the city a target in the Thirty Years’ War and Mannheim was mostly leveled, being five times taken and retaken beginning in 1622. By 1688, Mannheim had recovered from its former disaster, but was captured by the French during what was known as the Rhine Campaign, falling on November 11, 1688 to 30,000 French Catholics, soldiers of King Louis XIV. In 1689, during the Nine Years’ War, Mannheim was burned to the ground. (It’s unclear how some of the church books survived.) Ten years later, Mannheim began to be rebuilt.
Did Conrad die in Mannheim in 1688 or 1689 in the service of the Palatine, protecting protestant religious freedom and defending Germany from the French?
The church books in Steinwenden are maddening silent about the death of Conrad Heitz, Irene Elisabetha’s father. We know from other records that he died between 1684 and probably 1692, but when and where?
We also know that he was a soldier, probably a professional soldier. Chris mentions that many Swiss men were mercenaries for other countries, including Germany. Did Conrad die away from home, buried someplace in an unmarked grave? Was he buried under the rubble of Mannheim in 1688 or 1689?
Were the deaths of men who died away at war recorded anyplace? What records exist of the men killed in the Nine Years’ War? Were the families notified? How were the families even located if they evacuated Mannheim for outlying areas?
Chris found a 1694 death for a Conrad Heitz in Dudenheim.
Dudenheim is no place close to Steinwenden.
Steinwenden is about 50 miles from Mannheim where the 1670s baptisms took place.
Dundenheim is significantly further away, but Conrad was a soldier.
However, further searching by Chris revealed that the burial on January 16, 1694 was for a man who was a shoemaker. A Conrad Heitz was also born in Dundenheim in 1647, so it’s unlikely that this shoemaker was the same man as our Conrad who was a solder.
Rats, another rabbit hole and a wrong rabbit.
Sometimes you have to sniff out a lot of wrong rabbits before you stumble upon the right one.
Where was the Heitz Family From?
The short answer is that we don’t know. The long answer is that there are hints.
The association with the Samuel Hoffman, Stutzman and Miller families might be a clue. Zwiebrucken might be a clue.
Samuel Hoffman was the minister in Steinwenden and also at one point lived nearby in Weilerbach where he married Irene Charitas Beuther in 1657. How Irene Charitas Beuther got from Zwiebrucken to Weilerbach is unclear, but that migration path might be how others from Zwiebrucken arrived in Weilerbach and nearby villages like Steinwenden.
Samuel Hoffman was apparently NOT Swiss, because he was on the 1684 Steinwenden tax list.
We can’t tell if Conrad Heitz was German or Swiss, because we don’t know that he ever actually lived in Steinwenden. His absence from the tax rolls there tells us exactly nothing.
Conrad Heitz was living in or near Mannheim in 1676 and 1679 when two of his children were born. His daughter Irene was probably born in the 1650s or early 1660s, but her baptism is not found in Mannheim.
Given the references to Conrad Heitz being a soldier, in 1676/79 in Mannheim, in 1684 (present tense in Kurpfalz which incorporated Mannheim) and in 1697 (past tense in Mannheim,) 21 years apart, this suggests that he was likely a career soldier. His unit may have moved around, and of course, Conrad and family probably moved with it. The fact that two of his unit members stood as godparents when he baptized his children suggests that the other families in the unit became surrogate family as the unit was uprooted as they moved from place to place. The families most likely to be present to fulfill Godparent responsibilities if something happened to the parents? The families of fellow soldiers, of course. Your fellow military families were the only constant in a continually changing landscape.
If you were in an unfamiliar church, the Reverend himself or his wife might stand up with you as Godparents when you were baptizing your children. What better guarantee if you went to meet your maker early that your children would be raised in the church?
A history of the Shabinger unit would be most helpful, but alas, that isn’t to be found, at least not online.
Originally, Chris found evidence of a Heitz family in Alsace, France which is quite close to Germany. Chris’s own family descends a French Reformed family in Mannheim, so we know that there were French Reformed living in Mannheim, at least in 1712 when Chris’s ancestor arrived.
However, it appears much more likely that Conrad Heitz was Swiss, in part because he is associated with protestant reformed churches and other Swiss immigrant families.
Swiss Heitz Family
Chris found an immigrant Heitz family from Zurich, Switzerland. This find is particularly interesting because this man was a pastor and was of an age to potentially be Conrad’s brother. If indeed, Conrad Heitz was Johannes’ brother, that might well explain why he knew the Samuel Hoffman family well. Chris also wondered if it’s possible that Conrad Heitz was a minister himself, and that’s how he was serving the military.
- born in Zurich 1 July 1632
- married in Knonau, Switzerland on 7 September 1659 to Magdalena Wirth (* ca- 1632, daughter of Jakob Wirth)
- both of them emigrated to Sinsheim, Wurttemberg, Germany in 1659
- 1659-1661 Johannes Heitz was diaconus in Sinsheim, Wurttemberg, Germany
- 1661-1667 priest in Waldmichelbach, Hesse, Germany
- from 1668 onwards priest in Mittelschefflenz near Mosbach, Wurttemberg
Three children of this couple Heitz-Wirth:
1) Anna Elisabeth, baptized 17 August 1661 in Waldmichelbach
2) Johannes, baptized 3 February 1664 in Waldmichelbach
3) Elisabeth, baptized 3 December 1667 in Waldmichelbach
This above information is taken from the book “Schweizer im Odenwald” – “Swiss in the Odenwald region,” page 115.
Chris looked up the three known baptism records in Waldmichelbach, but no other Heitz family member is listed among the godparents so this Heitz family may or may not be connected to the Conrad Heitz in Mannheim.
This site shows the Johannes Heitz family, but doesn’t show siblings for Johannes.
Sincheim is about 50 km from Mannheim.
Chris: At the very least this tells us that the family name Heitz existed in Switzerland in the 17th century! If Irene Liesabetha Heitz who married Michael Müller was of Swiss origin, then this would be enough of a connection for me (same country of origin and same religious belief).
Steinwenden Church and Cemetery
Given that the Heitz family records are recorded in the Steinwenden church, it’s clear that they attended this church. Marriages took place there, baptisms, confirmations and yes, funerals too. Ramstein records are also found in the Steinwenden records from 1698 forward.
The deceased were probably buried outside in the churchyard.
Where was the churchyard in Steinwenden?
During earlier research, my cousin, Richard Miller had kindly provided pictures of an old “bell tower” in Steinwenden that he was taken to. I had questioned whether or not the current church was the old church. How did the bell tower connect, and where was the bell tower?
Chris to the rescue:
Remember, when I sent you that information on the “old cemetery hill” in Steinwenden along with the Google map of its location?
Remember, Roberta, how I was not able to answer, where the “bell tower of the old church” was, that your cousin Richard Miller was guided to?
Well, it is the same location!
The present Steinwenden reformed church was built in 1852, but the old church was not at the same place (as I assumed, since this is how it is usually done). The old church, which was constructed much earlier and first mentioned in 1377 was located a bit further south [of the new church]. As you can see from the construction date, this church was originally a Catholic church, later changed to one of Reformed belief. While this old church was demolished in 1822, its bell tower remains to date. It is called “Römerturm” – “Roman tower”, although it is certainly not from Roman times, but much later. However, there are remainders of an old Roman building nearby (the so-called “Villa Rustica”) and it is thus speculated that this old church was built on the fundaments of a much older tower from Roman times
Anyway, now I know you would like to see some pictures. In addition to the book – from which I will scan and send pictures later on – they are available on the internet, if you look for example at the following page: http://www.gemeinde-steinwenden.de/steinwenden.html
Using the browser, Chrome, and Google Translate, I was able to read the text, and is it ever interesting!
If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you find a slideshow of four old postcard pictures.
Look at the first picture: You see the present church in the center and the remaining bell tower (Römerturm) of the older church to the right.
On the second of the four pictures you have an aerial view. The present church is on the top in the center, the old bell tower a bit to the right further down. Here it is easy to see that the old church was located on a hill. On the third of the four pictures you have another view of both church locations.
Thankfully, the aerial allowed me to use Google Maps to locate that area today. The current church is at the arrow near the top and the area that houses the old tower and the cemetery is indicated by the second, lower, red arrow.
In the aerial above, the actual tower is just slightly to the left of the tip of the right red arrow. If you look closely, you can see the tower roof.
I have cropped this image to just about the edges of the original circle which was on the top of a hill, and the square tower roof is clearly visible in the middle.
But Chris wasn’t finished with his research:
When I tried a Google search for “Steinwenden Römerturm,” I also found a coloured picture of this old church tower on a genealogy page in the US: http://www.dysinger.us/genealogy/index.php
This Dysinger page may be interesting for other reasons as well: On this page you will also find an English translation of a book chapter from the book by Roland Paul: http://www.dysinger.us/genealogy/documents/Steinwenden_History.pdf
I’m so grateful for the Dysinger documents published after Eric’s 2012 and 2013 trips to Steinwenden. In those documents, Eric Dysinger tells us that,” The wall surrounding the former church was used for centuries as a burial place for the dead of the village. At times, it was even used for dead from towns around Steinwenden. After the creation of new cemeteries in Steinwenden and Weltersbach in 1905, funeral services here became sporadic with the last funeral serviced in 1921. In 1955, a de-dedication ceremony was performed on the graveyard and soon after the tombstones were leveled.” I have never heard of a de-dedication ceremony.
As an American, and as a genealogist, this is agonizing to read, but it is the European custom.
Eric also tells us that, “The original Catholic church, mentioned in 1377, probably constructed between 1150 and 1250, became Reformed. The main building of the church was connected to the south side of the tower. The church fell into ruins in 1788 and was demolished in 1822.”
Also, he has pictures from his visit to Steinwenden in 2012, including an old Steinwenden map: http://www.dysinger.us/genealogy/documents/Steinwenden_Information.pdf
The map Chris refers to above is newer than 1850 and older than 1955. Someplace, in one or some of those houses, our family lived. The Heitz and Muller family, and in that graveyard, shown on the map, at least some of them are buried.
This implies that Michael Müller and the rest of the village would have attended church services in the old church and when their turn came, were buried on the hill in circles slowly radiating out from around the old hilltop church as the bell in the tower rang.
Yes, I understand that leveling old cemeteries is something that must seem very strange for you. I think it is simply a matter of space, since the population density in Europe is much higher and living space is limited.
I still wonder if maybe, maybe, some of these tombstones from the old cemetery in Steinwenden have been conserved somewhere… (No information on this in the book.)
…and even more detailed present-day pictures of the old church tower in the document “Steinwenden – the Return” on the Dysinger page: http://www.dysinger.us/genealogy/browsemedia.php?mediatypeID=documents
Of course, because genealogists never run out of questions, I want to know if Eric, or anyone else has any idea what happened to those tombstones. I suspect my burials are too old to have had tombstones remaining in 1955, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
Eric indicated that Roland Paul, the local historian, knew nothing about the fate of the tombstones. He did, however, know that none of the early houses remain – nothing before 1760. I had hoped to be able to identify the house/property in which various ancestors lived, even if the current house wasn’t the old house, but Roland also indicates that there are no property records this old either. Apparently, the tombstones are gone, the houses are gone, and so are the records.
Eric was kind enough to send this snippet from a 1785 map, 100 years after Irene Heitz and Michael Muller married. The old church is shown at left and was still in use at that time, just three years before it fell into disuse. I wonder if the old building simply got too old and cumbersome to maintain.
A drawing in the book, 800 Jahre Steinwenden, (800 Years of Steinwenden) by local historian Roland Paul, shows a map of the church interior. I’ve drawn the outline, below, roughly to scale, based on Roland’s research. Apologies for my lack of artistic ability.
The entire church was 6 times the length of the tower, left to right. The width, top to bottom (north to south) seems to be twice that of the tower on the right half, and two and a half times that of the tower on the left half. The tower was tucked into a cranny.
The graves surrounded the original church. After the structure was torn down in 1822, I’m sure that the land that the original church occupied was then utilized for additional burials, but the oldest burials would have been clustered around the original church, probably expanding from near the church outward until the yard was full.
If this church was in use in the 1100s until the 30 Years War depopulated the region in the 1620s-1660s, there would have been a lot of burials. Let’s say, for example that there were 300 people living in the village and surrounding area at any one time, and 4 generations per hundred years. That would mean that there were at least 1200 people buried per century, and probably more when you account for babies born that died. Over a period of 500 years, that would mean approximately 6000 people buried in this churchyard. This explains the European custom of “reusing” graves. In the Netherlands, we found several generations of family members had been buried in the same grave plot. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Move grandpa over and make room.
My ancestor Johann Michael Mueller Sr. (1655-1695), Irene Lisabetha Heitz’s first husband, along with their first 5 children are assuredly buried here. I hope Michael was buried alongside his children and they are resting together for eternity, even if it is under another structure today.
While we know that at least two of Conrad’s children, Conrad Jr. and Samuel, are buried here, and several of Conrad Sr.’s grandchildren, we still don’t know what happened to Conrad himself. But, I have a theory…
After sifting through these records again and again, I have a theory about Conrad Heitz, his wife, Anna Margaretha and the Heitz children.
We know that the first Heitz record in the region was the 1684 marriage between Irene Lisabetha Heitz, Conrad’s daughter, and Michael Muller, a widower. That marriage took place in Steinwenden and in that record, Conrad is referred to as follows:
“Conrad Heitz, who was at this time in war service for the Palatinate in Churpfalz.”
This says absolutely nothing about Conrad living in or near Steinwenden, although the record does say that the marriage took place there and that Conrad’s service was “In Churpfalz.”
If Conrad is in Chrupfalz, which we’ll interpret to mean near or in Mannheim, based on other information, how did his daughter come to be married in Steinwenden? Typically marriages take place in the bride’s home church.
Given that two of Conrad’s children were named Irene and Samuel, and Samuel Hoffmann’s wife was named Irene Charitas Beuther, we either have a huge coincidence on our hands, or pieces of evidence.
Conrad Heitz’s wife, Anna Margaretha is never mentioned after the 1679 birth of child Johannes recorded in the Mannheim church records.
We know that at that time, Conrad was a soldier and regardless of where he is, his wife is giving birth in close enough proximity to Mannheim for two births to be recorded in the Mannheim church records three years apart. Other soldiers and their wives stood up as godparents, so apparently the unit is stationed here, at least part of the time. Perhaps they were guarding Mannheim from invasion. Clearly, Conrad and Anna Margaretha were in the same place at least occasionally.
Irene and Samuel were the older children, based on the records we do have.
Five years after the last recorded birth in 1679, in 1684, daughter Irene is marrying Michael Muller in Steinwenden, and her father is still referenced as being in the service near Mannheim.
How and why did Irene get to Steinwenden? Young women simply didn’t travel alone then, nor did they have occupations. They either lived with their family members or their husbands after marriage.
Never is the mother from the 1676 and 1679 birth records mentioned in Steinwenden. Nor is Conrad, except by reference.
Were the children taken to Steinwenden for their safety, as their father continued to fight the Nine Years’ War. In 1688, Mannheim fell. Did Conrad perish in that campaign or when Mannheim burned in 1689?
If the wife of a professional soldier died, what happened to the children?
My bet is that they were raised by the Godparents, because a soldier father clearly couldn’t decide to stay home and raise children. And if he wasn’t being a soldier, how would he earn a living? Presumably, he hadn’t been honing other skills.
If two of the Godparents were a minister and his wife, who had no children of their own, it wouldn’t take much speculation to suggest that the minister and his wife would raise all of the children if the mother died, not just the two they stood up with as Godparents.
So far, we’ve identified five of Conrad’s children, all found in Steinwenden or with their siblings.
|Irene Lisabetha||~1654/66||1684 Michael Muller||1729||Remarried to Jacob Stutzman in 1696|
|Johann Samuel||Circa 1670 or earlier||1697||1717/28|
|Johannes||1679||No further mention|
|Anna Catharina||<1684||1715 Kallstadt|
Given that Conrad Heitz Sr. is referred to as a solder in 1676, 1679, 1684 and 1698, I suspect that he was a professional soldier, perhaps a mercenary. Given that any reference to his wife, Anna Margaretha disappears after the 1679 baptism, as does that child, I suspect that they both died. The next time we find any trace of this family, it’s 1684 and Irene is marrying Michael Muller in Steinwenden.
By 1692, we know that Samuel Heitz is a tailor and that Conrad, still a child, is being confirmed in Steinwenden. We don’t discover the existence of Anna Catharine until 1715 when she marries, clearly living with her sister Irene and Irene’s second husband.
My theory is that Anna Margaretha died between 1679 and 1684, and that Samuel Hoffman and his wife, Irene, were raising the Heitz children.
In 1679, if Irene was the eldest, she would have been between 13 and 24. Her brother Samuel was probably a few years younger. Conrad was still a baby, and Catharina’s age is unknown although based on when she gave birth to children, she was likely born between 1677 and 1684.
If Anna Margaretha died, Conrad would have been mostly an absentee parent, and while Irene could care for her siblings, she certainly could not run a household and do everything an adult would have done – especially not with two infants.
Therefore, the family as well as the church would look to the godparents. The godparent of Conrad was also a soldier, so that person might not have been in much of a position to help if he was even yet alive.
If Irene and Samuel were Godchildren of Samuel Hoffman and Irene Charitas, who were childless, it stands to reason that they would have raised all 4 Heitz children – not just the two for whom they served as Godparents.
Hence, the children would have lived with the Hoffmanns in Weilerbach, near Steinwenden, and would have attended the Steinwenden church when Samuel Hoffman began preaching there. We know that Hoffmann was in Steinwenden by 1684 because not only was he on the tax list, but his wife, Irene, died there.
Furthermore, if Irene Charitas Beuther Hoffman was a “foster mother” to Irene Lisabetha Heitz, having raised her for some time, it would be understandable why Irene Lisabetha might be called Irene Charitas in the church records after Irene Charitas Beuther Hoffmann’s 1684 death.
Everyone connected the two Irene’s together, including Samuel Hoffman who was still the minister in the Steinwenden church and probably wrote the records that referred to Irene Lisabetha Heitz as Irene Charitas. Perhaps she reminded him of his wife, and he didn’t even realize he had written his deceased wife’s name.
Can we prove this? Very unlikely. But it’s the most logical explanation for the evidence we have found.
I know this is really, REALLY a longshot in the dark, but there’s always a chance, right?
Conrad Heitz would have passed his Y DNA down to his sons, who would have passed it on to their sons. If sons continued to descend in a straight line until today, a Heitz male would carry a copy of Conrad’s Y DNA.
Conrad had 3 sons, as best we can tell. We know that Conrad Jr. died without having married. Johann and Samuel could have had sons, although I suspect that Johann died young.
- Johann was born in 1679 but there are no further records of him. I presume he died, but maybe not.
- Johann Samuel Heitz, on the other hand, lived in Steinwenden and had several children with wife Catharina Appolonia. They had two known sons who died as children; Johann Adam and Johann Henrich. They also had 5 daughters; Maria Magdalena (1699), Anna Elisabetha (1700), Eva Catharina (1704), Maria Margaretha (1706) and Catharina Barbara (1713).
The birth records are somewhat spotty for Samuel’s children. For example, we have two death records for male children without corresponding birth records.
There is also an obvious gap between October of 1706 and September of 1713. Following earlier patterns, we would expect a child to have been born to Samuel and Apollonia in January of 1708, June of 1709, December of 1710, June of 1712 and then of course the 1713 recorded birth.
Those spaces give us 4 opportunities for unknown male children.
There’s also the potential for Conrad Heitz and Anna Margaretha to have had additional male children that we aren’t aware of today.
- Descend from any of the known Heitz children
- Descend from any of the male Heitz men through all men and carry the Heitz surname today
- Are a Heitz descended from this area and this time
- Descend from the Rev. Johannes Heitz and Magdalena Wirth line
- Descend from the Johann Kasper Heiz (1594-1636) and Magdalena Lavater (1601-1637) line
- Have an unidentified Johann Conrud (Conrad) Heitz in your family records, born sometime before 1645
I’d love to hear from you.
I’d like to thank my friend and cousin, retired German genealogist, Tom, along with our Native speaking German research partner, Chris. This research would not exist without these two amazing men.
I would also like to extend my deep gratitude to Eric Dysinger for sharing the fruits of his labor so that others from Steinwenden can see and better understand our common history.
I’d also like to thank Roland Paul for documenting Steinwenden. While his book is no longer available, I did find one on the used book market and I’m looking forward to translating sections with the help of online translators. Yes, that’s difficult BUT much better than not having the information, right? I’m sure our immigrant ancestors felt equally as frustrated when they arrived on the shores of America not speaking one word of English. I’m sure that our ancestors never anticipated that their descendants would be equally as frustrated with not being able to read their language, especially not when written in combination scribbles, um, I mean script, of German and Latin.
I’d also like to thank my blog commenter for enlightenment on how the names of Irene Charitas, Irene Lisabetha and Regina Loysa might have become conflated.
This isn’t the first time commenters have helped me immensely.
It takes a village😊