Steps up to microphone at the podium, alone, on stage (in this case, a blog article.)
The press corps is gathered (readers) and the lights are bright, white hot and glaring. (Who turned the heat up anyway?)
“Ahem.” <clears throat>
From offstage someplace, “We’re live in 4, 3, 2, 1…”
“I’d like to take this opportunity to update the birth announcement of Andreas Kirsch with new and improved parents.”
Cough. Choke. Sputter.
Every genealogists nightmare, right?
Who is Andreas Kirsch?
As new records become available, of course genealogists want copies, and that sometimes means that we have to revisit previous conclusions based on earlier information. All genealogists know that a new piece of information can turn a previous conclusion up-side-down – or at least complicate things or cast serious doubt.
No one wants to be wrong, but I’m oh so grateful when someone finds something new or that was previously unknown or missed and points it out to me. I do admit, I always have a “well, drat” moment, but I really think these are teachable events for myself and others as well. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I wrote about Andreas Kirsch of Fussgoenheim, Germany and in that article, I had stated that I could not find his actual baptismal record, but we did have his purported birth date from other indexed records.
Church records in Fussgoenheim, such as marriage records of Andreas’ children showed that Andreas was indeed the father of our immigrant, Philip Jacob Kirsch and his sister, Anna Margaretha Kirsch who married Johann Martin Koehler who immigrated as well. In Anna Magaretha’s 1821 marriage record, it states that she is the daughter of “the deceased Andreas Kirsch and his surviving wife Elisabeth Koehler, present and consenting.” Of course, this not only tells us who her parents are, but that her father has died and her mother is still living.
Later, Philip Jacob Kirsch’s own marriage record provided his parents’ names:
Philip Jacob Kirsch, the legitimate unmarried son of the deceased couple, Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Koehler and Katharina Barbara Lemerth, the legitimate unmarried daughter of the deceased local citizen Jacob Lemmerth and his surviving wife Gertrude Steiger, both of protestant religion.
We’re home free, right? Yes, as far as who the parents of Philip Jacob Kirsch are, but maybe not relative to the identity of Andreas’s parents. We really do need that missing baptismal record.
My introduction to my German friend Chris was when he pointed out that additional records had become available and there was more than one Andreas Kirsch in Fussgoenheim. Not only that, but the Andreas born in 1772 might not actually be an Andreas at all!
Who was this Chris guy I’d never heard of before anyway? Was he right? Were there really two Kirsch men whose records were intermingled? I didn’t want to believe that. I didn’t even want to consider that. Do you know how many ancestors I’d have to chop off my tree if the wrong man was attached?
And yes, you’ve guessed it, I had identified the “wrong” Kirsch birth record back in the 1980s when my translator was reading and translating these records page by page. Many Fussgoenheim records are missing, and not all remaining records had been microfilmed at that time. Many had been terribly water damaged or torn and the microfilm image quality itself was poor. These factors combined prove very challenging and cause errors to occur.
Chris discovered the mistake and had the misfortune of getting to tell me. I took it pretty well, all things considered. Chris is such a nice person, but I was upset because I’d fallen in love with those families that I fully believed were mine over the past 30 years. But Chris’s information was compelling, and there was simply no ignoring his research – no consigning it to the sidelines. It was in-your-face front and center and had to be dealt with.
I was very unhappy – but not with Chris. With myself. With the genealogical “condition” in general which of course periodically includes discoveries of errors past, and with the bad fortune of the combination of missing/damaged and confusing records.
It’s like I had written my ancestors obituary some 198 years after his death with the wrong parents and now, I had to somehow straighten it out and correct the error.
Crumb! Crumb! Crumb!
Chris Unravels the Mess
I’m providing Chris’s commentary here to illustrate his meticulous (successful) search methodology. Please note that Chris was working from much better record copies obtained from Archion.de, but Archion doesn’t allow their images to be published. The one image I’ve included is from the original Fussgoenheim church book obtained many years ago from the Family History Center.
From Chris (edited slightly for readability and clarity):
For some reason today, I thought back about your post on the Kirsch family from Fussgoenheim. So, being the curious person I am, I went back to the records, with some surprise to wait for me. I think you will like it!
First, I went back to your post:
I planned to have a look at the baptism record of your Andreas Kirsch on 10 August 1772. I found a baptism record for a Kirsch relative at the right date, but it was not an Andreas, but a Johannes that was baptized this day! The parents of this Johannes, however, were the ones you have listed in your article as the parents of Andreas; Johann Valentin Kirsch and Anna Margaretha Kirsch.
I was a bit puzzled, why a child named “Johann Andreas” or even only “Andreas” later on should not be written as such in the baptism entry. As you point out yourself in your article, Johann was such a common name at this time, that I thought they definitely would have written the second name “Andreas” as well. So I went on.
Further down in your article you mentioned that “your” Andreas Kirsch was buried in 1819. So I checked the burial entry.
“Am 20. May starb und am 22. ejusdem ward begraben der hiesige Bürger Andreas Kirsch, Ehemann von Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler, in einem Alter von 45 J., 3 Mon. und 14 Tag.”
My translation: “On the 20th of May died and on the 22nd of the same month was buried the local citizen Andreas Kirsch, husband of Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler, at age 45 years, 3 months and 14 days.”
Again, the listed wife of this Andreas Kirsch is the one you note in your post as well, but if you calculate back from the death date 20 May 1819 with the age at death, you do not end up in 1772, but rather on 6 February 1774.
So, again I went back to the baptism records and find one on this very day for an Andreas Kirsch. Please note that the parents (in the first column) are not the ones you have in your post, but an Elias Kirsch and his wife and Anna Elisabetha. The second column notes the child`s name Andreas, the third column the witnesses Andreas Kirsch and Maria Katharina, third column: birth date 6 February 1774, fourth column date of baptism 8 February.
In summary, I think that your cousin Walter was right to link the Johannes Kirsch born in 1772 with a wife Maria Catharina Koob, while you were right linking the Andreas Kirsch born in 1774 with the wife Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler.
However, these men, Johannes and Andreas, were not one and the same. I had selected the wrong one as my ancestor, mistaking Johannes for Andreas. No, I really don’t know how, but it happened.
Andreas’ wife is confirmed as Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler but his father, based on Andreas’ death record, followed by Chris finding Andreas’ actual baptismal record, shown above, was Elias Kirsch, wife Anna Elisabetha who had no birth surname listed.
Who was Andreas’ mother?
Identifying Andreas’ Mother
My friend and cousin Tom discovered more about Andreas’ mother. Her name wasn’t exactly Anna Elisabetha.
As translated by Tom:
Baptism: 17 June 1731
Parents: Joh. Theobald KOOB and his wife, Maria Catharina, a daughter was baptized and named:
Godparents: Johann Andreas Kirsch & Anna Elisabeth, widow of the late mayor (village elder), Koob.
Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records
Susanna Elisabetha had been shortened to Anna Elisabetha during her lifetime.
Now I’m paranoid. Are we sure this is the right person?
Tom found more records that suggest strongly that yes, indeed, it was. The records of Elias Kirsch and his wife baptizing their children hold clues in terms of who the godparents were, especially the record where Emanual Koob is noted as the mother’s brother.
Translated by Tom:
Elias KIRSCH and wife, Anna Elisabetha
A son was born, baptized and named: Emanuel
The Godparents: the mother’s brother, Emanuel Koob and wife, Maria Elisabetha
Born: 23rd of April 1763 Baptized: the 26th of the same – Entry No. 50
1766 Elias KIRSCH and wife, Susanna Elisabetha
A son was baptized and named: Georg Henrich
Godparents: Georg Henrich Koob, the juror and wife, Anna Margaretha
Born: 12th of March 1766 Baptized: the 16th of the same – Entry 73
1772 Elias KIRSCH and wife, Anna Elisabetha
A daughter was baptized and named: Maria Catharina
Godparents: Johann Theobald Koob, the juror and wife, Maria Catharina
Born: the 30th of September 1772 Baptized: the 30th of the same
Clearly, Elias and Anna Elisabetha were very close to the Koob family members.
Sawed Off Branch
It was painful, but I did it – sawed that rotten branch right off the tree and grafted the correct information. The grafting felt therapeutic after the removal.
Andreas Kirsch was born on February 6, 1774 and baptized two days later in Fussgoenheim to Elias Kirsch (1733-1804) and Susanna Elisabetha Koob (born June 1731). It feels good (now) to know I have the right ancestor. Andreas died on May 20, 1819, also in Fussgoenheim, but I don’t have a death date for Susanna.
I removed the erroneous conclusions from the first Andreas Kirsch article and will post a link to this article there as well.
A huge thank you and debt of gratitude to both Chris and Tom. I’m sure Andreas’ is resting easier now that he’s connected to the right parents.