Johann Dietrich Koob (c 1670 -1734), Courageous Mayor of Fussgoenheim – 52 Ancestors #293

We don’t know exactly when Johann Theobald Koob was born, but we think it was about 1670, most likely in or near Fussgoenheim, Germany. This means he probably married sometime between 1695 and 1700.

My friend Christoph purchased a book about the history of Fussgoenheim. In this book, we discover that Johann Dietrich Koob was Mayor of Fussgoenheim in 1730.

Koob Mayor 1480.jpg

Interestingly, another Koob family member, Hand Nikel Kob (Johann Nicolaus Koob) was the mayor in 1701. This man was surely related to Johann Dietrich, although the relationship is uncertain.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is that in 1528 Lorenz Kob was mayor. Koob is often spelled Kob and Coob. In 1480 Debalt Kalbe was mayor. Is Kalbe another form of Koob? I’m guessing yes, but there’s no way to know.

What we can discern from these records is that the Koob family was living in this village for at least 200 years by the time that Johann Dieterich arrived on the scene, if not longer. This is stroke of unbelievable luck, because this area was entirely depopulated and abandoned during the Thirty Years’ War from about 1618 to 1648, with few of the original residents returning to their former homes – assuming they survived. The fact that we can place the surname, which I’m presuming means the same family, in Fussgoenheim before that war is an amazing stroke of fortune.

In 1700, the entire village consisted of 150-200 residents, or 30-40 houses, so the village had never been large – just group of German farmhouses clustered together. If we extrapolate that the population doubled in each generation, then the population in 1650, after the war, would have been maybe 7-10 families.  After families returned, it still wasn’t smooth sailing because there were two more invasions by French soldiers in 1674 and beginning in 1688 that took a heavy toll.

Two hundred years equates to about 8 generations. This means that these early Koob men living in Fussgoenheim in the 1500s were Catholics, given that the Reformation occurred in 1534. The Protestant Lutheran church in Fussgoenheim existed by 1600 and was probably the original Catholic church building. The current church was rebuilt in the late 1720s or early 1730s, sometime before 1733.

Fussgoenheim church records don’t exist before 1726. Aside from this list of mayors, the little we do know about Johann Dietrich Koob’s life comes from the records having to do with his children.

Four Children

We know that Johann Dieterich Koob (or Kob), Dieter as he was called, had at least 4 children, all born before the church records begin. He probably had more. We have to surmise their birth order and approximate ages based on their marriages.

  • Johann Theobald Koob was married on February 21, 1730 to Maria Catharina Kirsch.
  • Maria Catharina Koob married Johann Matthaus Sahler (or Saller) in Fussgoenheim on April 21, 1733.
  • Johann Simon Koob married next. The actual translation is important.

Marriage: the 22nd of November 1735 were married the unmarried Simon Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieterich Kob, former mayor with the young lady, Margaretha Renner, legitimate daughter of the honorable Martin Renner, local citizen.  Married after the wedding homily: Gen 2 18.

This marriage records tells us that Johann Dieterich Koob has died, but he was apparently still living in 1733 when Maria Catharina married.

Three years before, the Fussgoenheim church records state that:

January 14, 1731, a son of Johann Georg Spanier and his wife, child named Johann Simon, was baptized and the godparents were the son of Mr. Dietrick Koob, local mayor and Anna Margaretha, Johann Martin Renner’s daughter from here.

This record doesn’t indicate “late.”

  • George Heinrich Koob, the fourth child, was married in 1736.

Marriage: the 17th of January 1736 were married in the local church, he honorable young bachelor, Georg Henrich Kob, legitimate son of the late Dieter Kob(in), mayor of the exalted free county Hallberg with Anna Margaretha Kirsch(in), legitimate daughter of the late Wilhelm Kirsch, former member of the court.  The wedding homily was 1 Timothy…….?

Anna Margareta Kirsch was the sister of Maria Catharina Kirsch who married George Henrich’s brother in 1730.

It’s from these records that we discern that “Dieter” was a mayor, and roughly when he died. It’s sad that he was only able to be present for his older two childrens’ marriages.

I’m glad to see that Dieter had three sons because that means there’s a possibility that a Koob male exists today – descended directly from Johann Dietrich and carrying the Koob surname and associated Y chromosome. Y DNA is passed from father to son. By testing the Y chromosome, we can look even further back in time to determine where the Koob line may have come from – before Fussgoenheim. If you’re a Koob male from this line, I have a Y DNA testing scholarship for you. Just leave a comment or give me a shout.

Gone too Soon

Dieter’s burial record is recorded in the Fussgoenheim church books.

Koob Johann Dieter death

Burial: 21 November 1734 midday between noon and 1 p.m. died Herr Johann Dieterich Kob former mayor here and was buried on the 23rd of the same (month). Funeral Text: 2 Cos. V ? 1…

This record reveals that he died on November 21st and was buried on November 23rd. His time of death is noted as after noon. That day was a Sunday. Unfortunately, the record doesn’t give his age, but the burial record of his wife, a few months later, gives hers.

Burial: the 20th of April 1735 in the afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. died, the widow of the mayor, Anna Catharina Kob(in), aged 60 years.  Funeral Tex …..

Anna Catharina was only 60, so born about 1675. She may have been a little younger than Johann Dietrich Koob, but probably not a lot. He apparently died when he was about 60-65 as well.

Funeral Sermon Invokes Courage

Fussgoenheim distance.jpg

I love it when the reverend records the funeral text. This allows me to read what was said, and with a bit of imagination, to close my eyes and see what might have transpired that cool fall day in the Lutheran church that smelled of fresh-hewn wood, sporting a new white steeple, nestled in the little village of Fussgoenheim, beneath the mountains, in Germany.

2 Corinthians 5:1,6-10

We have an everlasting home in heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:1,6-10

A Reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a Dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

This passage speaks of courage.

Courage

Dieter was mayor of Fussgoenheim in 1730. We don’t know when he became Mayor. Most of the information we find about occupations are from various church records where that information is sometimes, and sometimes not, included, almost as an afterthought.

We know that in 1701, he wasn’t Mayor, but Hans Nikel Koob was. Johann Dieter Koob was a young man in 1701, most likely just married.

Born about 1670, his childhood would have been filled with memories of invading French troops and devastation. He probably lived through the destruction of their home, possibly more than once.

While the Thirty Years’ War ended before he was born, there was more devastation in store for the families who lived in this area.

In 1674, this area was again ravaged by Louis VIV’s armies.

In 1688, the French King sent nearly 50,000 men with instructions “that the Palatinate should be made a desert.” His commander gave the half million residents 3 days notice that they must leave their homes, causing thousands to die of cold and hunger. Many who survived became beggars on the streets of other European cities. Again France devastated the area.

During the War of the Grand Alliance from 1689-1697, the French troops under Louis XIV, ravaged the Palatinate, again.

In 1707, another French army did the same. By now, every castle on the Rhine had been destroyed. The French occupied the Palatinate for a year, sending anything of value back to the coffers of King Louis XIV.

This would have either broken Dieter, or strengthened him with incredible resolve – and yes – courage. His trials were not yet over. In fact, one might say, they were just beginning.

In 1728, Jakob Tilman von Hallberg initially obtained half of the village through noble inheritance becoming the feudal lord. Then, on September 14, 1728, he acquired the entire village.

In 1729, Hallberg began a resurvey of the land, ostensibly in order to understand the relationship of the residents to each other, and how taxes were to be charged. Some land was privately owned, but most was not. However, the “resurvey” whittled the privately owned land via inheritance down to approximately one third of the originally sized farms by redividing property and building new roads. This left some fields disconnected from their owner’s property, and Hallberg then considered them abandoned and confiscated them for himself.

The history of the village of Fussgoenheim tells us that according to the land survey, the district of Fußgönheim comprised at that time 2,869 3/4 acres of land, 95 % of which were in the possession of clergymen or of certain masters or were communal property. Only 146 3/4 acres were owned by private persons. According to the renovation protocol, Hallberg had 386 acres of land as his own property. This would be the so-called “abandoned property” confiscated by him.

The village population was probably about the same as it had been in 1700, so about 30-40 homes total.

Private owners averaged about 15 acres each, but the resurvey shrank their farms to 4.67 acres, on average.

I don’t know how the villagers and Dieter felt about Hallberg in 1728, but surely in 1729 when it was noticed that he was “cheating” by having shortened the measure of the rod he was using to resurvey the properties, concern followed by unrest would have built gradually among men’s conversations at the local tavern or after church, then burst open like a seed pod in summer.

The situation grew increasingly difficult.

Another dispute arose over the community’s sheep pasture, the lease of which had brought the community an annual income of 100 gulden. Hallberg claimed the pasture for himself in a letter of feudal title dated July 30, 1728. The residents, on the other hand, referred to their “old rights.” The dispute ended in 1733 with a compromise: Hallberg got the sheep pasture under the condition that not too many sheep graze on it.

Another accusation against Hallberg was that he had transferred the tithe income of middle-class farms. In Fußgönheim there were three bourgeois courts which had a share of the tithe income.

Hallberg withdrew this income on the grounds that the owners refused to contribute to the costs of building the Lutheran Church.

The lucrative “Weinschank,” i.e. the right to run a wine tavern, was auctioned by Hallberg for 120 gulden annually; before that it was free.

Hallberg also introduced a new levy of 15 Malcer oats to be paid annually to his magistrate.

In the face of massive resistance from the community, Hallberg had the village siezed for two months by a corporal and six men. When the inhabitants refused to pay 71 guldens every 114 days for their accommodation, he had 7 cattle, 1 cow, clothes, guns, and household goods taken away without further ado and auctioned them off in Worms.

Later documentation accuses the next Mayor, Johann Michael Kirsch of instigating riots and civil unrest. In 1743, the village jurors refused to sign the resurvey and Dieter’s son, Johann Theobald Koob, among them, was expelled from the village from 1744 to 1753.

It took courage to stand up against the lord. It was a battle that peasants, even comparatively wealthy farmers, as compared to serfs, probably couldn’t win.

Given that Dieter would have been about 60 in 1730, and died 4 years later, I can’t help but wonder if the stress of the David vs Goliath war with Hallberg contributed to an untimely death. I also wonder about worse.

Courage, indeed. These times tested his mettle at a level we can’t even imagine today. Confiscation of land was no idle threat, with the memory of 4 separate events that resulted in horrific devastation to the residents from 1618 through 1798 fresh in everyone’s minds. There was no question that the threat of losing everything was all too real. Yet, these brave German men persisted in the face of unwinnable odds.

Dieter died in the midst of this battle, but his son, Johann Theobald continued the fight. Against all odds, the Koob family was allowed to return to Fussgoenheim, triumphant, in 1753, although we don’t know what happened to Dieter’s original land. His battle had not been in vain. I’d wager his son, Theobald, visited his grave to have a celebatory glass of wine.

The Future

Life would change dramatically for Dieter’s descendants after at least a few decades of relative peace. In 1792, the feudal government disintegrated and a new form of government emerged with the French once again in charge until 1816 when this part of Germany was freed from the French. At that time, Andreas Koob, Dieter’s great-grandson, became the first mayor of Fussgoenheim in 18 years and German would once again become the official language.

Koob mayor 2.jpg

More Koob men would follow in Dieter’s footsteps as Mayor of Fussgoenheim. He apparently started a tradition.

Not the End

While Johann Dietrich Koob is the earliest Koob ancestor that I can currently document in Fussgoenheim, he was neither the end, nor the beginning.

We know positively that generations preceded him in Fussgoenheim. Based on the baptismal record for his son’s child, it’s unlikely that Johann Nicholas Koob, an earlier mayor, was Dieter’s father, but we can’t rule that out at this point entirely. However, it’s possible that Mayor Koob was raising Dieter if something had happened to his parents amidst the preceding warfare.

It’s likely that Lorenz Kob, Mayor in 1528 was our ancestor too. He was assuredly a relative, even if not a direct ancestor.

It’s probable that Debalt Kalbe was really Koob in 1480 as well.

The Koob legacy in Fussgoenheim and this part of Germany reaches back hundreds of years in time.

It also reaches forward in time. Three Koob men, all his descendants, would follow in Dieter’s footsteps as Mayor, one immediately after the French occupation, shepherding the citizens through that difficult time into a new era.

  • Andreas Koob was the first mayor after the French occupation ended in 1816.
  • Johann Dieterich Koob was Mayor from 1830 to 1834, Dieter’s namesake great-grandson.
  • Jakob Koob III, Mayor 1900-1909, built the current town hall, the Rathaus in German, that still stands on the main corner of Fussgoenheim.

Koob Rathaus.jpg

We are fortunate to have a photo of Jakob, the Mayor who took office in 1909.

Koob, Jakob mayor 1909

We have no way of knowing, of course, what Johann Dieter Koob looked like, but with the generations of intermarriage and gene-sharing within the small community, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to look at Jakob Koob III, the Mayor in 1909, and surmise that he at least resembled his Koob ancestors somewhat.

Jacob Koob IIII was Dieter’s 4 times great-grandson and married Anna Margaretha Koob.

Do we see the shadow of Johann Dietrich Koob when looking at Jacob III or Anna Margaretha?

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