Catharina Baur (1608-1688), Survived the Destruction of Heiningen – 52 Ancestors #287

Catharina Baur was born August 21, 1608 in Heiningen to Leonhardt Baur & Margareta Jauss.

Catharina Baur birth

Baptism: the 21st of August 1608, child: Catharina. Father Lientin? Baur, Ulrich’s son. Mother Margaretha. Godparents Petter Wolff and Anna, wife of Jacob Ganss.

This record also tells us the name of Catharina’s grandfather, Ulrich Baur.

Catharina would have been 10 years old when the Thirty Years’ War brought waves of devastation that consumed much of Europe over the next 30 years.

Still, war didn’t stop love, although it might have inconvenienced it a bit. One might suggest that perhaps warfare delayed marriages, but it might actually have had just the opposite effect, encouraging people to marry more quickly than they might have otherwise. The sense that time might be short, and there was none to waste might have prompted relationships to be solidified in days or weeks instead of a courtship taking months.

When Catharina was 29 years old, she became the second wife of Johannes Haag, also known by the names of both Hanss and Koss. The Haag surname was often written as Haga in the early records, perhaps a phonetic spelling.

Catharina was not Koss’s first wife. He had married Margaretha, whose surname is unknown, in 1628. They baptized a child in 1631, but no further records exist for either Margaretha or their child. Burial records for that timeframe are missing.

We know that Margaretha died sometime before 1637 when Hanss Haga married for the second time on August 27, 1637, in Heiningen to Catharina Baur.

Johannes Haag marriage 1637

Marriage: the 27th of August 1637 Hanss Haga called Kos a widower here and Catharina, surviving legitimate daughter of Leonhardt Baur, of blessed memory, from here.

“Of blessed memory,” tells us that Leonhardt was probably deceased.

The Thirty Years’ War

Not only did Catharina marry in the midst of a war, by the time she married, she had already survived the destruction of the village of Heiningen in 1734 by Imperial Catholic soldiers marauding the countryside after the Battle of Nordlingen. The Lutheran Michaelskirche church history in Heiningen tells us about the death, devastation, and trauma to the people, and that many were killed through unspeakable atrocities.

I wonder if Catharina’s father died in 1734.

None of Catharina’s 8 siblings survived to adulthood. Due to the lack of death records and no mention of her mother in Catharina’s marriage record, we don’t know if her mother attended her wedding or was a few feet away, outside in the churchyard.

We do know that none of Catharina’s mother’s siblings appear to have survived either. Life was tough in Germany in the 1500s, and one was significantly less likely to survive to adulthood than to perish.

During the 30 years that the war lasted, Heiningen’s population dropped from 1000 in 1618 to just 200 in 1648. Catharina, Koss, and one child were three of those surviving residents.

By that time, Catharina had buried 4 children in the churchyard, clearly along with hundreds of close and distant family members.


Katharina would have baptized all of her babies in the beautiful Michaelskirche, located in the center of Heiningen, inside the village’s fortified wall surrounding the church. Then Lutheran, Michaelskirche was built in the 1200s and was Catholic before the Reformation in 1534.

Catharina Baur Michelskirche aisle

Of course, the church would have looked somewhat different at that time, but probably not substantially. The entrance, through the north tower would have been to the left rear, and the sacristy to the right, near the cross.

It would have been here that Catharina sat and squirmed as a child, wept tears of grief during funerals and tears of joy at weddings, especially those of her children. It was here that she prayed for the weak and ill to survive, and for the souls of those who did not.

It was probably here that Catharina sheltered in 1634 when the troops destroyed the village, the “house of God,” literally protecting her, allowing her to survive.

And it was here that Catharina would have married widower, Koss Haga in 1637, in the midst of a war. Perhaps he had sheltered her or her family in 1634.


Catharina Baur baptismal font

The 16th-century gothic baptismal font, minus the copper bowl added recently, held the water as each of Catharina’s 7 children were baptized, their godparents standing with the parents, promising to raise them in the ways of the Protestant church and the Lord.

How hopeful Catharina must have been for her newborn babies on baptismal days.

Godparents were crucial at that time because all-too-many children were orphaned by warfare, infections, childbirth, typhoid, dysentery, and other afflictions and diseases. Godparents stepped in to raise parentless children.

Catharina herself was baptized in this very font and, eventually, would have stood by this baptismal bowl as a godmother herself. She may well have stood up with her two grandchildren, baptized in 1671 and 1686, named Catharina in her honor.


All things considered, it’s absolutely amazing that Catharina lived to be almost 80 years old and died of an “old person’s” affliction, a stroke.

Catharina Baur Haag died on July 16, 1688 in Heiningen.

Catharina Baur burial

Burial: 16 July 1688

Catharina, Hanss Haag(en) Koss, surviving widow died from a stroke; her age 80 years, less two months.

Reaching 80 years of age was probably remarkable. Similar to what the minister scribed, her neighbors, who were likely all family members of some description, probably referred to her as “almost 80,” quite a landmark, especially given everything she had seen, endured, and survived.

Catharina’s funeral would have been attended by the entire village of course, among them her 3 surviving children and 12 grandchildren. Another 4 grandchildren would be born and baptized in that same baptismal font after Catharina’s death.

Catharina Baur church yard

Catharina would be joining 4 children and 13 grandchildren in the churchyard, meaning that she had buried her husband and more than half of her children and grandchildren.

Catharina must have been an incredibly strong person. Peasant life in Germany was not for the faint of heart.


Catharina had a total of 7 children, all in Heiningen, 3 of whom lived to adulthood. At least she was able to enjoy her grandchildren during her decade of widowhood.

  1. Elisabetha Haag, born June 29, 1640; married August 1, 1665 in Heiningen to Johannes Alt, born 1640 in Regensburg, Bavaria.
  2. Anna Haag, born August 13,1641; no family found.
  3. Barbara Haag, born July 5,1643; no family found.
  4. Johannes Haag, born February 19, 1645; no family found.
  5. Leonhard Haag, born June 27, 1647; no family found.
  6. Michael Haag, born January 4, 1649; married 28 July 1671 to Margareta Bechtold; died 9 April 1727 in Heiningen. My direct ancestral couple.
  7. Johannes Haag, born May 20, 1653; married Margareta Hässler on May 18, 1680; died February 24, 1703 in Heiningen.

Unfortunately, none of Catharina’s daughters lived to adulthood, married, and had surviving daughters themselves, so Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA does not descend to living people today – at least not through Catharina directly. Typically, we would look to Catharina’s sisters or her mother’s sisters to see if they had female offspring who have descendants through all females to the current generation. That won’t work in Catharina’s case, because none of Catharina’s sisters survived either, and her mother’s parents are unknown.

Catharina’s mitochondrial DNA line has daughtered out, meaning it’s extinct to us today. Perhaps it lives on in unknown family members.


A special thank you to my friends Tom and Christoph for their never-ending assistance, research and patience, and to the Michaelskirche in Heiningen for the beautiful church photos and history.



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