Maria Catharina Kirsch was born about 1710 to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Anna Maria Borstler (or Boerstler). We don’t have her actual birth record, because Fussgoenheim records prior to 1726 are missing. We are assuming she was born in Fussgoenheim because that’s where the Kirsch family was from, but that might not have been the case.
Her parents were married on February 22, 1695, in Bad Durkheim.
Walter Schnebel, a now-deceased local historian, notes that her parents were both godparents in Oggersheim in 1710. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had access to Walter’s original records and work.
Oggersheim was about 5 miles away from Fussgoenheim. Social and family connections were maintained throughout this part of Germany. It appears that the left bank of the Rhine was a vibrant, interconnected microcosm of its own.
Even without records, we can reconstruct some of Maria Catharina’s family based on baptismal records where the names of the godparents’ parents are provided.
We also have christening records of some of Maria Catharina’s siblings.
The first record that provides information about Maria Catharina is her sister’s confirmation in Fussgoenheim in 1727, followed by Maria Catharina’s other siblings in 1729 and 1731. Confirmations in the Lutheran church occurred generally sometime between the child’s age of 11 and 13.
Maria Catharina’s confirmation is missing. The Fussgoenheim church records begin in 1726. Therefore, we can infer, based on that information, plus her marriage date, that Maria Catharina was born about 1711, or perhaps slightly earlier.
Maria Catharina Kirsch married Johann Theobald Koob, spelled Coob in her marriage record, on February 21, 1730, in Fussgoenheim.
Translations courtesy of my friends Tom and Christoph.
Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild74, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de
Marriage: Year 1730
On the 21st of February 1730: Joh. Theobald Coob from here with Maria Catharina Kirsch(in) were married.
This record would be suggestive of Maria Catharina’s birth about 1710, or maybe a year or two earlier. She had a child in 1750, so she probably wasn’t born before 1707. Let’s bracket her birth between 1707 and 1711.
While this record doesn’t provide us with the names of Maria Catharina’s parents, later records about her siblings do.
Her sister, Anna Margaretha was married to George Heinrich Koob in 1736, the brother of Maria Catharina’s husband, Johann Theobald Koob. So Koob brothers married Kirsch sisters. No wonder I’m constantly confused when sorting out these village families.
At Maria Catharina’s sister’s wedding, the minister noted that the sermon was from 1 Timothy. If ministers then were like ministers today, they probably had favorite or appropriate scriptures and sermons for every type of event.
It’s not unlikely that Maria Catharina’s wedding sermon was also from first Timothy, so let’s see what it says.
From the book, “Sermons on Special Occasions such as Weddings, Funerals and Dedications” by Carl Wilhelm Walther, a Lutheran pastor, translated from original German publications between 1876 and 1892, we find:
Based on that sermon, it’s amazing that they had children at all, but thankfully, they did.
We’ve managed to find records for 8 of Maria Catharina’s children. There must surely have been more. Records are incomplete for Fussgoenheim during this time.
Maria Catharina’s first child, Susanna Elisabetha Koob, arrived and was baptized on June 17, 1731 in Fussgoenheim.
Johann Andreas Kirsch was the godfather of Susanna Elisabetha. Additionally, the widow of the late Mayor Koob, Anna Elisabetha, for whom the child was named, served as godmother.
Because an elderly widow clearly would not have been expected to raise this child if something happened to her parents, that honor would have fallen to Johann Andreas Kirsch. He was Maria Catharina’s first cousin, born to Johann Jacob Kirsch. Maria Catharina’s father was Johann Wilhelm Kirsch. Their common grandparents were Johann Georg (Jerg) Kirsch and Margaretha Koch, founders of the Kirsch family in Fussgoenheim.
Susanna Elisabetha Koob married Elias Nicolaus Kirsch about 1762. The couple lived in Fussgoenheim. She died sometime after 1776 and before 1798. Fussgoenheim experienced a record gap between those years.
In 1733, Maria Catharina Kirsch’s son Emanual Koob was born and baptized on May 26th. This time, Johann Michael Kirsch and his wife, Anna Margaretha were godparents.
Given that there were three Johann Michael Kirschs, all 3 with wives of the same name, we can’t be sure who the godparents were. Since it doesn’t say “judge,” “elder,” or “mayor,” we might presume this is Johann Michael Kirsch, the baker, and his wife, but that’s just a guess.
In 1763, Emanual stood as godfather when his older sister’s son, also named Emanual, was baptized.
In 1761, Emanual married Margaretha Elisabetha Renner in Schauernheim, eventually having 2 boys and a girl. His death is recorded in the Dannstadt church records on June 1, 1805.
Three years later, on April 20, 1736, a new daughter, Maria Catharina Koob was baptized. Her grandmother, Maria Kirsch(in), widow, was the godmother.
While grandmother could mean on either side, Maria Catharina’s mother was named Anna Maria, and would have been called Maria, while Johann Theobald Koob’s mother was named Anna Catharina.
Maria Catharina’s father had already passed away by this time.
About 1764, Maria Catharina Koob married Andreas Kirsch, son of Johann Georg Kirsch and Anna Margaretha Hartmann.
Another son, named for his father, Johann Theobald Koob, arrived on August 24th, 1738, and was baptized 5 days later.
On Feburary 11, 1766, he married Catharina Barbara Wassa in Schauernheim. They had 6 children, the last one in March of 1775. Two were known to have survived to marry. Johann Theobald died before 1778 by which time his widow had remarried.
Maria Catharina Kirsch’s family was growing, and so far, every child seems to have lived.
Unfortunately, their run of good luck came to an abrupt end in 1740 when a newborn daughter died.
Perhaps this child’s birth was difficult. Perhaps the cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. Maybe the baby was born prematurely. One thing is for sure, Maria Catharina called for her mother who was present at the birth of this baby, and a few hours later, at the baby’s death as well.
I’m sure mother and daughter wrapped their arms around each other to ease their pain, probably cradling the baby between them as she passed. I’ve been that mother.
I wish the reverend would have recorded the baby’s name. The family assuredly remembered her as something other than “the baby that died in 1740.”
Should I give her an honorary name today?
I don’t know if it’s proper or not, and I won’t record it as such, but I’m posthumously naming her Barbara, in honor of my mother.
That child was not anonymous.
Catholicism was replaced with the Protestant faith in this part of Germany two hundred years before, after the Reformation in 1534. A protestant church existed here as early as 1600 and likely before. Still, in 1740, the concept that a baby needed to be baptized immediately, especially if they were weak and might pass away was something that remained of or had been incorporated from the Catholic faith and tenets.
Soon, Maria Catharina was pregnant again and son, Johann Dieter Koob, probably short for Johann Dieterich or Diederich arrived almost exactly a year later on September 30, 1741.
While his older brothers seemed to remain in the Dannstadt area, Johann Dieter lived in Fusgoenheim, passing away on December 19, 1816. He married a cousin who shared all four of his grandparents, Maria Katharina Koob, daughter of Georg Heinrich Koob and Anna Margaretha Kirsch.
On June 21, 1742, Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Catharina stand as godparents for the child, Johann Theobald Kirsch, son of Johann Michael Kirsch, the Mayor, and his wife, Maria Magdalena Michet. Johann Michael Kirsch, also my ancestor along with his first wife, was a first cousin to Maria Catharina Kirsch.
But then, silence for Maria Catharina Kirsch. Well, at least until 1746.
This would normally cause me to believe that the church records were missing during this time, at least for this family.
It’s true that Maria Catharina was missing IN the records, but that’s because the family was missing from the village, along with most of the other Fussgoenheim families as well.
We are now entering a time of high drama!
Trouble had been brewing on the home front.
In 1743, numerous families were evicted from Fussgoenheim as punishment for standing up for their rights against an evil and unscrupulous “lord,” Jakob Tilman von Hallberg. He attempted, almost successfully, to strip the residents of their land. Johann Theobald Koob, along with several others, was jailed for 14 days, then evicted, along with his family.
They must have hated that man. He did his best to destroy them.
Many Kirsch family members were among those cast out, as was Maria Catharina, although in her case, it was because her husband refused to sign Hallberg’s fraudulent land survey, not because she was a Kirsch.
Still, her father, then deceased, and brother would have been hereditary landowners, presumably from Maria Catharina’s grandfather, Jerg Kirsch who died before 1695. The last mention we find of Maria Catharina’s mother is in that 1740 record when unnamed daughter died.
Fortunately, not for Maria Catharina, but for me as a genealogist, there are a few sparse clues about Maria’s Catharina’s family from records generated during and after the 1743 kerfuffle and eviction.
A 1743 map shows the various Kirsch and Koob properties. Maria Catharina Kirsch and Johann Theobald Koob owned two different properties.
A property belonging to the widow of Johann Michael Kirsch is shown, so we know that if a widow was still living, she would have been shown on the map, indicating interest in the property owned by her deceased husband.
A property is shown with the name Wilhelm Kirsch, just south of the church at the top of the map, above, but Maria Catharina’s father was noted by Walter as deceased before 1723. Therefore, if Maria Catharina’s mother was still living, she surely would likely have been shown as a widow – although there are some properties that are owned by someone with a Kirsch surname that we can’t read.
The Wilhelm Kirsch residence by the protestant church could have been Maria Catharina’s father’s property, but there are two other Johann Wilhelm Kirschs that were grandsons of Jerg Kirsch. It’s possible that Maria Catharina Kirsch did have a brother Johann Wilhelm that we aren’t aware of, given that we only know of three siblings for Maria Catharina. However, Walter Schnebel had access to the 1753 property accounting that resulted from the 1743 evictions, and he did not ascribe a brother by that name to Maria Catharina.
We don’t know exactly which house Maria Catharina grew up in, but she certainly didn’t move far when she married – just down the street.
What happened to Maria Catharina when she and her small children were so ruthlessly evicted from their home; their possessions – even their clothes – confiscated?
She must have been terrified while her husband, Johann Theobald Koob, was jailed, along with several other cousins and neighbors. What would happen? What would become of them? Had Johann Theobald perhaps already sent his family to stay with relatives, just in case something beyond just bad happened?
We have no way of knowing if Hallberg had previously threatened eviction. If so, was it perceived as a hollow threat? Or, did he spring that on them as a way of negotiating their release from jail? That would be an evil choice to have to make. I wish we knew more.
There was no “due process” as we perceive it today in the US. Monarchs and nobility ruled at that time. Period. It’s actually amazing that these citizens had the gumption to stand up to Hallberg, at all – and they paid dearly.
In 1743, Maria Catharina had 5 living children, the oldest being 12, the youngest about 2. She was very probably pregnant for another child who was likely born in late 1743 or perhaps early 1744 – possibly while her husband was jailed. That would have been perceived as a lever by Hallberg, but knowing Germans, it would likely only have angered Johann Theobald Koob, and made his resolve even stronger.
So not only was her husband jailed, and the family evicted, but she was heavily pregnant and giving birth someplace in the midst of all that upheaval. There’s no church record, so apparently, she did not give birth in Fussgoenheim or the record is missing.
We also don’t know when Maria Catharina’s mother died, but it was likely sometime between 1740 when her child died and 1743 when the map was drawn. It was assuredly before 1753 when the accounting took place, because Maria Catharina’s mother was not mentioned.
It must have seemed to Maria Catharina, only in her early 30s, that the world was ending, and indeed, it was, as she knew it.
As farmers in a German village, their entire livelihood was dependent on access to their land – that tiny strip shown behind their homes.
You can still see that field today, pointed to by the red arrows. Their field likely stopped at the green arrow, which is the local stream. But it’s possible that they also farmed some land on the other side of the creek as well.
That barn today with the black roof located sideways to the other buildings spans the entire width of both 11 Hauptstrasse and 13 Hauptstrasse, so it’s likely two property widths wide as is the field behind that is entirely brown.
The Hallberg survey reduced landowners from about 15 acres each to an average of 4.67 acres each, a huge reduction.
Without land, they would become serfs, indentured servants, nearly slaves, in another village that would offer them shelter in exchange for their servitude. No one wanted poor people to tax the municipality, so everyone had to be able to offer something useful.
Hallberg knew this and was gambling that they would not be willing to take that risk.
He was wrong. If Germans are anything, they are tenacious. Not only didn’t they simply capitulate, they waged war, for decades.
Being evicted in Germany during this time wasn’t just a matter of moving next door and setting up shop. This was a severe threat, and then an action, with incredible consequences.
And clearly, they couldn’t, and certainly didn’t want to go anyplace where Hallberg was in charge.
They couldn’t stay. Where did they go and what did they do?
Weissenheim am Sand
We find no records of Maria Catharina and family until a baptism pops up in Weisenheim am Sand for Johann Matheus Koob.
January 16, 1746, a son, Johann Matheus, parents Johann Theobald Koob and wife, Maria Catharina. Godparents Johann Matheus Sahler and wife, Maria Cath.
The Koobs had a history of intermarriage with the Sahler family.
Johann Matheus Koob would eventually become a leaseholder of the Munchhof estate that his father hadn’t yet purchased when he was born. Johann Matheus married there to Katharina Margaretha Becker in about 1775, having three children. Matheus died on January 3, 1816, probably at Munchhof – the burial record in the Dannstadt church books.
Johann Theobald Koob was related to Johann Dieter Koob, the customs collector in Weissenheim am Sand. Johann Dieter and his wife Maria Kunigunda were the godparents of their son, Johann Dieter Koob, the baby baptized in Fussgoenheim in October 1741.
We don’t know for sure, but Johann Theobald Koob and Johann Dieter Koob, the customs collector were probably first cousins.
In any case, they were clearly close, because Johann Dieter and his wife served as godparents for Johann Theobald and Maria Catharina’s baby in Fussgoenheim.
We have to speculate a bit at this point, but since we find Johann Theobald Koob noted as living in Weissenheim am Sand in 1746 when Johann Matheus was baptized and in 1748 when he purchased a leasehold share of Münchhof – we have to imagine that Maria Catharina and family sought and received shelter with their cousins in Weissenheim am Sand.
We find Maria Catharina Kirsch and Johann Theobald Koob in the records again in 1748, when Johann Theobald purchased a portion of the farm estate of Münchhof, south of Dannstadt.
Maria Catharina probably had a child in 1743, 1745 and possibly 1748. When children lived, births occurred every 2 years, and when a baby died, the next birth was generally about 12 months later. Based on this, we might surmise that perhaps the 1745 baby passed away – or at least one child, if not more, during this timeframe.
Sometime in 1748, the family moved to the large farm, Münchhof, owned by the University of Heidelberg, having purchased the right hereditarily to lease one-quarter of the farm in perpetuity. In fact, Koob descendants still live on part of that farm today.
I don’t know exactly how Johann Theobald Koob earned a living in Fussgoenheim. Without further information, we’ll have to presume he was a farmer. We know positively that beginning in 1748, the family was farming at Münchhof.
We catch up with Maria Catharina in the baptism records of Dannstadt on the 5th of December, 1750 when she had her last child Johannes Koob. He went on to marry Maria Katharina Kloos. They lived in Fussoenheim where he died on January 28, 1833.
No further baptisms tell us that Maria Catharina was probably 42 or 43 by this time.
Maria Catharina’s life seems to be divided into 5-year segments. Married for a dozen years, then evicted in 1743, apparently to Weissenheim am Sand before moving to Münchhof in 1748.
I wondered how Maria Catharina and Johann Theobald even heard about a portion of the Munchhof even being for sale. Weisenheim am Sand is more than 12 miles distant. However, there’s a potential hint in the Dannstadt church records. Maria Catharina’s mother was Anna Maria Borstler, daughter of Johann Adam Borstler. The Schauernheim church records tell us that one Hans Michael Borstler died in 1724 and is noted as being the Munchhofpachter, or Munchhof leaseholder. His eldest son, Johannes born in 1684 married Maria Margaretha Koob in 1724 in Dannstadt. A Borstler is also recorded in Fussgoenheim in 1717, so there seems to be some continuity between these families and locations.
Return to Fussgoenheim?
Finally, in 1753, Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Catharina Kirsch and family were allowed to return to Fussgoenheim.
I don’t know how that decision would have been made. Was the home in Fussgoenheim nicer or life easier there than at Münchhof? It was clearly less remote.
Or, did they return as a matter of principle, given that they had fought Hallberg since his 1729 fictitious survey? That hard-won victory took 24 years, nearly a quarter of a century.
How could they NOT go back after all that? It’s also possible that if they didn’t return, they would forfeit some of their rights.
Regardless of why, they probably did return to Fussgoenheim where we find records for some of Maria Catharina’s children. Johann Theobald, her husband is mentioned as a citizen of Fussgoenheim in 1766.
What Happened to Maria Catharina’s Children?
Maria Catharina’s children seem to have been scattered between the places that she had lived. Fortunately, they were close enough that she was probably able to see them, at least from time to time.
Maria Catharina’s oldest child, my ancestor Susanna Elisabetha Koob married her double first Kirsch/Koob cousin, Elias Nikolaus Kirsch in 1763 and lived her life in Fussgoenheim. We don’t know when she died other than it was after 1776 when Fussgoenheim records no longer exist, and before the records began to be kept again in 1798.
It appears that the eldest son, Emanual Koob, remained at Münchhof, because he married in Schauernheim in 1760 to Margaretha Elisabetha Renner, had 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter, and died in Dannstadt on June 1, 1805.
Daughter Maria Catharina Koob married Andreas Kirsch in 1764 and lived her life in Fussgoenheim, dying there on December 10, 1807. They had 8 children, Johann Dieter in 1764, Catharina Margaretha in 1765 who married Jacob Holzwarch, Maria Catharina, Anna Barbara who married both Christoph See and Friedrich See, Maria Catharina, Susanna Margaretha, Maria Catharina and Andreas. Only 2 of those children are known to have lived.
Johann Theobald Koob also married in Schauernheim in 1766 to Katharina Barbara Wassa and died before 1778, leaving her a young widow with children.
Johann Dieter Koob married Maria Katharina Koob in about 1773 and died in Fussgoenheim on December 8, 1816.
Johann Matheus Koob, listed as a leaseholder at the Munchhof, married about 1775 and, according to the Dannstadt church books, died on January 3, 1816, probably on the Munchhof estate.
Maria Catharina’s youngest child, Johannes Koob married Maria Katharina Kloos about 1762 and died in Fussgoenheim on January 28, 1833.
Two of these children, daughters Susanna Elisabetha Koob and Maria Catharina Koob would have passed the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Catharina Kirsch to their offspring. Only females pass it on. If someone today descends from one of these daughters through all females to the current generation, which can be male, I have a mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship for you. Maria Catharina Kirsch’s mitochondrial DNA will allow us to peer back in time before surnames in Fussgoenheim, hopefully pointing us to earlier generations as well.
The Final Goodbye
We don’t know when Maria Catharina said her final goodbye.
The last sighting of Maria Catharina is on September 30, 1772 when her daughter Susanna Elisabeth Koob and husband Elias Nicolaus Kirsch had a daughter. Maria Catharina and Johann Theobald Koob, the court member, were godparents. The baby was baptised at home, the same day, in the house due to weakness and subsequently died.
The Fussgoenheim records are absent beginning in 1776 and don’t resume until 1798, so Maria Catharina died sometime after 1775, assuming the records are complete until that time. Six granddaughters were named for her, but we know that she stood by their graves and buried at least three of her namesake granddaughters.
At least she would have been able to enjoy several of her 25 known grandchildren, playing in the street and fields of Fussgoenheim and Munchhof.
It’s likely that both Maria Catharina Kirsch and Johann Theobald Koob are buried in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim, across the fields they so ardently defended for a quarter century – finally reclaiming their home and small farm from the greedy hands of the Hallberg dynasty.
Maria Catharina would be pleased to know that their efforts were not in vain. The Fussgoenheim property remained in the hands of the Koob family for the next 200 years or so, on the main street, just across the street and down the block from the church.
In fact, so did Munchhof which still remains in the Koob family today. In the 1966 photo below, the Koob home on the Munchhof estate is the house located at the furthest right with the VW beetle parked in front.
It was this home that Johann Theobald Koob had purchased in 1748, along with tenant rights to the land, and where Maria Catharina raised her children, at least for several years. It’s this land that was passed down to their children and descendants to present day – 272 years later.
In 1801, the Munchhof property was damaged during the French occupation, but we don’t know to what extent or how the Koob home fared.
The Koob home on the Munchhof took a direct hit by a bomb in 1942, but was subsequently rebuilt on the same foundation. This drawing depicts the original home as it looked before the bombing. Assuming this was the original building on this land in 1748, this home provided sheltering arms folding around this family – a secure respite to Maria Cathariana Kirsch, her husband and children after two decades of terror, angst and uncertainty.
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