Were it not for two baptismal records, we would have no idea of the name of Cunrad (Conrad) Heitz’s wife, Anna Margaretha.
My cousin and friend, retired German genealogist, Tom, found these two priceless baptism records in the Mannheim church records, although I can’t include the images because they are from Archion who does not allow usage of their images.
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
The death record of Cunrad Heitz in Ramstein on January 17, 1698 says his age is 20-23 years, which puts his birth about 1675-1678, so this fits.
The second birth record is for a brother, Johannes, although we find no additional records for him 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
I wonder what happened to Johannes. Mannheim death records don’t exist for this timeframe.
According to German researcher, Chris, at the end of the 30 Years War, in 1648, only about 500 people were left in Mannheim. In 1652, the city invited foreigners to settle, offering tax abatements, customs relief and more incentives.
We don’t know when Conrad Heitz and Anna Margaretha arrived in Mannheim. We don’t know if they arrived as a couple, or if Conrad arrived as a soldier and married a local girl. The only thing we do know is that someplace, they were having children by between 1654 and 1663.
Chris found a map of Mannheim in 1663 complete with the names of residents, and Conrad Heitz isn’t found on that map, or a list of other residents whose names couldn’t be fit onto the map.
Of course, it’s also possible that the soldiers and their families weren’t actually living in the city proper, perhaps assigned to special military housing or living in the actual fort.
What this map does do, however, is to give us a feel for the layout of the city. We know that they did live here 13 years later, and the street layout and location of churches and other public buildings wouldn’t have changed much.
However, more than half of the residents present in 1663 died in 1666 when Mannheim was devastated by the plague. Many of the wealthy residents left, so the city would have been a ghost-town compared to the 1663 map.
During the time that Anna Margaretha lived in Mannheim, from at least 1676 through 1679, it was a city both recovering from and preparing for war.
Leveled during the Thirty Years’ War, Mannheim had rebuilt and was populated mostly by Protestants, many from the Netherlands. A castle was constructed which made Mannheim a target for the next war, known as the Nine Years War which began in 1688 in which France sought to unify Europe under the Catholic religion, not to mention under the French king.
Mannheim fell as a result of a siege in 1688 and was burned to the ground in 1689. A decade later it was rebuilt on the original grid street pattern between the two rivers, the Rhine and Neckar.
The map above, discovered by Chris, shows the city of Mannheim at the time of the 1688 siege. The legend on the right shows the locations of military weapons, such as cannons. If Conrad was there, he might well have been manning those cannons and assuredly was protecting the city walls in some fashion. Conrad may have already been dead before 1688, or he could have died in the siege, but not everyone succumbed. The city surrendered, allowing many citizens to escape.
It’s worth noting that after the city fell, the French granted 400 Palatine soldiers the opportunity to leave and remove themselves to Frankfurt, so if Conrad was there, he might have survived. If Anna Margaretha was witness to this frightening attack, she might have lived through this episode as well, but I think Anna Margaretha had already died by this time.
Chris notes that the French Reformed Church of Mannheim moved altogether to the city of Magdeburg after the siege, and I’d bet most or all of the parishioners went along. Soon, there would be nothing left of Mannheim as it was literally burned to the ground in March of 1689.
This map of Mannheim from 1758 shows a walled city rebuilt after 1700. The 1880 map below shows the location of the churches and public buildings. Of course, we don’t know if the churches on the 1880s map are reflective of the locations or even part of the same buildings from the 1676/1679 churches, before the fire.
Exactly how the church records survived is unknown, although I’m sure they have an amazing story all their own. I’m guessing that someone removed them from Mannheim to protect them as it became evident with the approach of 30,000 French soldiers that fighting in Mannheim was inevitable. It’s also possible that they were removed sometime between the fall of Mannheim in November of 1688 and the burning of the city in March of 1689. We’re lucky the baptism and marriage books escaped, because death records don’t begin until 1739 and those two baptisms are our only link to Anna Margaretha.
Because of the location of the city, at the confluence of two rivers, and adjacent swampy land, the city of Mannheim itself had no room for expansion. Anna Margaretha lived someplace inside this semi-circular gridded city, on one of these streets.
Given that we know that Conrad was a solder, alive in 1684 and probably deceased by 1692, and that he served in Mannheim, it’s quite possible that he perished in the service of his country in the 1688 battle or the subsequent sacking of the Palatine.
Since we know that Conrad served in Mannheim, and that was the location given in 1698, a decade after we know that Mannheim fell and nine years after we know it had been deserted, I think the 1698 record suggests that Conrad last served in Mannheim, which also suggests that he died there as well. He was probably gone by 1692 when his son was confirmed in the Steinwenden church with no mention of Conrad Sr.
No one served in Mannheim after March of 1689 and probably not after November of 1688. Of course, Conrad Sr. could have perished before or during the siege itself. Unless we’d be lucky enough to find detailed records for Shabinger’s unit, we’ll likely never know.
Anna Margaretha’s Children
We pieced Anna Margaretha’s life together through the records of her children, and her children’s records were anything but easy to piece together.
Irene Lisabetha Heitz (c1654/1663-1729) – Irene is a mystery in many ways. In her 1784 marriage record to Michael Muller in the Miesau church records, her name is recorded as Irene Liesabetha and she is noted as being the daughter of Cunrad Heitz, a soldier from Kurpfalz Region, which is another word for the Palatine.
As Irene moved to different church jurisdictions throughout her life, her name was recorded differently, initially as Irene Charitas as Michael Miller’s wife, and then later as Regina Loysa. She is noted with variations on Regina Loysa when she marries Johann Jacob Stutzman in 1696 and thereafter, except for one record where she is again called Irene. However, when she married Jacob Stutzman as Regina Loysa, she was identified as the widow of Michael Muller, so her identity has been established, albeit with much difficulty. Her death record, in yet another church in another city on March 27, 1729, says that she is “age 75.” That would put her birth in 1654, making her 52 when she had her last child, Johann Jacob Stutzman, in 1706. That’s somewhat unlikely, but not entirely impossible. It’s more likely that she was born about 1663 which would make her 43 in 1706 and 21 when she married Michael Muller. Using either calculation, she is probably the eldest child of Cunrad Heitz and Anna Margaretha, assuming that Anna Margaretha is her mother.
Irene, often referred to as Irene Charitas, has been consistently mis-identified in many records for decades. Often Charitas is shown as her last name. In fact, I did the same thing and even a second time when I mis-identified her surname as Schlosser. You can read the progression through the various records and how the life of Irene was unpeeled like an onion, here, here, and here. (Yes, this onion made me cry a lot!) You can read about her first husband, here and life with her second husband here. If you’re thinking this series reads more like a web than a story, you’re absolutely right! Just think of these as chapters in a who-done-it!
Johann Samuel Heitz (c1670-1717/1728) – Samuel is first mentioned in 1692 as a tailor in a Steinwenden baptismal record where he is a godparent. This tells us that by 1692 he is an adult with a trade, so I’m assuming at least age 20, perhaps older. He is also mentioned at Christmas 1692 when Conrad Heitz was confirmed in the church as Conrad’s brother. Samuel married the widow, Catharina Apollonia Schafer Schumacher in February 1697. She was the widow of Michael Schumacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher from Rohrbach. In 1704, Jacob Ringeisen was the godparent to one of Samuel’s children. This could be significant since Jacob Ringiesen was the cousin of Michael Muller, the first husband of Samuel’s sister, Irene. In 1717, Samuel is mentioned in the church records as the censor, which is a guardian of the church morals. In 1728, Samuel’s widow died, so he clearly predeceased her, although we don’t know when or where Samuel died. There is a 1721 record where Samuel’s daughter is a godmother, and the record doesn’t say the “late” Samuel Heitz, but it’s in a different church outside the immediate area and may simply be an omission.
I’ve reconstructed the family of Samuel Heitz and Catharina Apollonia through church records:
|Johan Adam||December 26, 1697|
|Maria Magdalena||March 1, 1699||1712|
|Anna Elisabetha||September 1, 1700||March 31, 1741, burial April 2||Married Johannes Friess|
|Hans Adam||August 7, 1703|
|Johann Heinrich||August 14, 1703|
|Eva Catharina||July 13, 1704||1717||Married Johann Nicholaus Schwind July 27, 1728|
|Maria Margreth||October 31, 1706|
|Catharina Barbara||September 24, 1713||October 29, 1713|
Johann Cunrad Heitz (1676-1698) – A Mannheim church record shows Hans Cunrad’s birth on August 1, 1676 and lists his parents’ names. His mother’s full given name is Anna Margaretha although in keeping with tradition, no birth surname is listed for her. Cunrad’s first mention in the Steinwenden church records occurs in 1692 as being confirmed at Christmas. He’s noted as the brother of Samuel, the tailor. This would suggest Cunrad was 12 or 13 so born about 1690, although according to his baptismal record, he was born in 1676. Perhaps the family was unable to have his confirmation when it would normally have occurred in 1688, which was when Mannheim fell to French forces. On January 17, 1698 Cunrad (Jr.) died in Ramstein, unmarried and was noted as the son of Cunrad Heitz, deceased, soldier of Mannheim,
Johannes Heitz (1679-?) – Johannes’ baptism is recorded in 1679, but no further mention is found. Death records in Mannheim don’t exist before 1739. In his baptism record, his mother’s name is given as Margaretha. He may have died before the church records began in Miesau and Steinwenden, in 1681 and 1684, respectively – or he could have died elsewhere.
Anna Catharina Heitz (born 1677/78 or 1680/84) – On January 15, 1715 in Kallstadt, Catharina, “daughter of the late Cunrad Heitz from Ramstein…(margin),” married Johannes Shumacher. Cunrad Heitz, Jr. who died in Ramstein in 1798 was age 20-23 and unmarried, so Catharina must be the daughter of Cunrad Heitz, Sr. and the location of Ramstein must have been referring to her residence, or former residence.
In Weilach, a farm outside Kallstadt, Catharina was living with her sister, Irene Heitz Muller Stutzman who was at that time married to Johann Jacob Stutzman. Based solely on Catharina’s 1715 marriage, she would have been born about 1695 or earlier. As the sister of Irene, Catharina would probably have been born before 1684 due to the lack of any mention of Irene’s mother in the existing church records. Either way, the connection with Irene/Regina by living at Weilach is unmistakable. The following year Catharina and her husband, a cowherd, while living on the estate managed by Jacob Stutzman, give birth to a child and Irene/Regina stands up for the child, her niece, as Godmother. Irene/Regina’s son by her first marriage, Michael Muller/Miller, stands up for Catharina’s child born in 1722.
Catharina’s husband is given as Johannes in the difficult to translate 1715 marriage record. In two other records he is called respectively by the name of Nicholas Schumacher (1716) and Johannes again in 1722 when another child is born. Family Search shows him as Johann and Johanni in all three birth records.
It’s worth noting perhaps that Samuel Heitz’s wife, Catharina Apollonia’s first husband was Michael Schumacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher. Schumacher, German for shoemaker, was a very common surname, so this may simply be a coincidence.
The three known children of Anna Catharina and Johann or Niclaus Schumacher are:
|Susanna Elisabetha||January 17, 1716||January 19||Baptized in Kallstadt|
|Maria Elisabetha||October 14, 1719||October 19||Baptized in Kallstadt|
|Johann Michael||January 15, 1722||January 20||Baptized in Kallstadt|
Catharina’s age is estimated based on the fact that she gave birth in 1722. If she was 43 in 1722, she would have been born in 1679. We know that Catharina could not have been born in 1679 because her mother, Anna Margaretha, had another child in May of that year.
There is a gap between the August 1676 and May 1679 Mannhaim births, so Anna Catharina could have been born in about December of 1677 or January of 1678. For Anna Catharina to have been born 18 months before the August 1676 birth, in February of 1675 would have put her age at 47 in 1722 when she gave birth to Johann Michael Schumacher. Not impossible, but unlikely.
We also don’t know why Anna Catharina didn’t have children after 1722. She may have been past childbearing years, or the records could be missing, she or her husband could have died, or the family could have moved.
If Anna Catharine was born after Johannes Heitz in 1679, it could have not have been before May of 1680, and that’s assuming that Johannes died shortly after birth.
Therefore, Anna Catherine was probably either born in 1677/1678 or between 1680 and 1684 when Irene is marrying Michael Muller in Steinwenden with no indication of her mother’s presence. Anna Catharina’s absence in Steinwenden church records as a godmother for her sister’s children would most likely be explained by the fact that she was significantly younger than her sister, too young to stand up as a godmother.
While admittedly sketchy, this does give us something of a timeline for Anna Margaretha’s life.
Assuming that Anna Margaretha was also the mother of Irene Elisabetha and the other Heitz children, we know the following:
- Her husband was a professional soldier and was noted as being from both Kurpfalz in 1684 when Irene was married and Mannheim in 1676, 1679 and 1698 when Cunrad Jr., her son, died.
- Anna Margaretha was living in Mannheim in 1676 and 1679 when sons Johann Cunrad and Johannes were born.
- We know that by 1684, at least one of the children of Hans Cunrad Heitz Sr. and Anna Margaretha was in Steinwenden. Not one time is there ever any mention of Anna Margaretha in any of the church records there, which leads me to believe Anna Margaretha died between 1679 and 1684 when the first mention of the Heitz family is found in Steinwenden through the Miesau church records.
- There is also no mention of the child Johannes, so it’s likely that both Anna Margaretha and Johannes died between 1679 and 1684.
Living as the wife of a professional soldier could not have been easy. Conrad would have been gone often, with no assurance that he was ever coming home. If he did return, would he be injured? Was he injured or maybe disabled? What kind of a husband was he?
How did the family of a soldier survive? Clearly, they couldn’t very well farm with Conrad being absent and Anna Margaretha having small children. Not only that, but Anna Margaretha lived in a walled city at the confluence of two rivers. Her options were very limited. Did the Palatine state support the soldier and their families?
The families of soldiers probably moved when the unit moved. If so, was Conrad in Miesau, Ramstein or Steinwenden? What brought him there? Or was he ever in those locations? Were his children there because they were being raised by someone, perhaps the Reverend Samuel Hoffman and his wife, Irene, after his wife, Anna Margaretha died?
Did the Heitz family know the Michael Muller family from elsewhere? Is that why Jacob Ringeisen was involved too? Did they know Samuel Hoffman and his wife Irene Beuther somehow? Is the fact that they named a child both Irene and Samuel simply a coincidence? What is the connection?
If not the Hoffmans, then who was raising the Heitz children in Steinwenden, and why?
There is always so much room for error when we have to deduce significant amounts of information, but sometimes that’s our only option. Let’s take a look at what we have, and what makes the most sense.
Irene is the oldest child that we know of. There could have been earlier children born to Anna Margaretha. Since we have neither her nor her husband’s birth, marriage or death records, we have to deduce information from the births of the known children.
If Irene was 20 when she married Johann Michael Muller in 1684, and her mother Anna Margaretha was 20 when Irene was born, then Anna Margaretha would have been born about 1644. She could easily have been born earlier, but not much later.
How much earlier?
If Anna Margaretha’s last known child born in 1679 was born when she was 43, then her birth would have been about 1636.
Now we have Anna Margaretha’s birth date bracketed as 1636-1644, an 8-year span. Not terribly bad for having only sketchy information about her children.
Based on her absence in church records, we’ll estimate Anna Margaretha’s death date as 1679-1684.
Anna Margaretha was between 35 and 48 when she passed away. Young by any measure. Certainly not a death of old age. Something happened.
We know that Anna Margaretha left unmarried children when she died. Given that their father, a soldier, was clearly often absent, Anna Margaretha’s children must have been especially close to her. She was the ever-present parent – so when she died, a gaping void must have opened in their lives, along with uncertainty about their future.
What would happen to them? The visual I see is tearful, frightened children huddled together, clinging to each other, with eyes full of fear as they surround their deceased mother’s body.
How did a soldier take care of children without a wife, especially in a time of war?
Godparents were expected to step in when parents died. The two children whose baptismal records we have from the 1676 and 1679 records list other soldiers in Conrad’s military unit as their godparents.
Where was the unit when Anna Margaretha died? Where were those soldiers? How would they care for children?
We know that Irene was in Steinwenden in 1684 and we also know that Cunrad Jr., who was also underage was in Steinwenden in 1692 when he was confirmed. We know that Cunrad Sr. was alive in 1684 because he is referred to in the present tense as a soldier in the service of the Palatine. Conrad Sr. was probably deceased by 1692 at the confirmation of Cunrad, Jr. who is listed as the brother of Samuel (instead of son of Cunrad). Anna Margaretha isn’t mentioned either.
Samuel, the second oldest, a tailor, was an adult with a trade by 1692, married in 1697 and appears to have lived lifelong in Steinwenden.
By 1697, we know positively that Cunrad Sr. is dead and in 1698, his final notation was that he was a soldier in Mannheim, with no mention of Steinwenden. We also know that no soldier has served in Mannheim since 1688.
It would appear that the military godparents did not raise these children – and that the children stayed together. Three of the 5 known children are mentioned in Steinwenden church records.
Perhaps the Reverend Samuel Hoffman and his wife, Irene, were raising these children. It’s not unlikely that they were the godparents of both Irene and Samuel Heitz. That would clearly explain the continuing close connection between the Heitz and Hoffman families – especially if Samuel Hoffman and his wife Irene Charitas, with no children themselves, were godparents for two of Anna Margaretha’s children. If they took three of the Heitz children to raise, it’s probable that they took Catharina and Johannes as well, if Johannes was alive.
Maybe Anna Margaretha truly could rest in peace after all, as unlikely as that sounds.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to both genders of their children, but only the daughters pass it on. Therefore, anyone today who descends from Anna Margaretha through all females to the current generation, which can be male, carries Anna Margaretha’s mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA has a story all its own to tell. It reveals the history of Anna Margaretha’s direct matrilineal line and provides information not available any other way. Mitochondrial DNA is a periscope directly down one line back in time.
Anna Margaretha had two known daughters, both of whom had daughters.
Irene Heitz Muller Stutzman, wife of Jacob Stutzman had one daughter who survived:
Anna (also noted as Maria in some records) Catharina Stutzman/Stotzman born in 1699 married Johann Adam Schmidt on February 18, 1721 in Kallstadt, Germany.
We know that Catharina and Adam had at least one daughter, Johann Regina Schmidt, probably in or about 1722, but the year is smeared.
Clearly Anna Catharina and Adam Schmidt could have had additional daughters. Their one known daughter, Johann Regina Schmidt could have married and had daughters to continue the mitochondrial DNA into future generations.
Anna Catherina Heitz, wife of Johannes Nicholaus? Schumacher had two known daughters born in Kallstadt:
Susanna Elisabetha Schumacher born January 17, 1716.
Maria Elisabetha Schumacher born October 14, 1719.
Anna Catherine could have had additional daughters. Either or both of her daughters could have married and continued the line.
If you are a known descendant of Anna Margaretha Heitz through any of her children, I’d love to hear from you.
If you descend through one these daughters through an unbroken line of females to the current generation, which can be male, I have a mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship waiting just for you. You carry Anna Margaretha’s mitochondrial DNA. How cool is that!!!