Margretha Muller (c1632-1689), Wife to Rudolph Muller, Born in Switzerland – 52 Ancestors #321

We don’t know Margaretha or Margretha’s birth surname, but we do know that she was born in Switzerland and married Johann Rudolph Muller, probably in Switzerland as well – sometime before the birth of their first child in Grossheppach, Germany in 1661. Clearly, the young couple migrated from Switzerland before that time, probably about that time, and not long after their marriage.

They theoretically could have met and married in Grossheppach, on the Rems River in Germany after both families migrated, but there are no records to support that theory – and church records in Grossheppach do exist during this timeframe.

It’s most likely that the newlyweds answered the call of the German nobles for settlers in the German lands that had been devastated and depopulated during the Thirty Years War which had ended in 1648. It took generations to recover from that war – in terms of rebuilding and in terms of population loss which averaged 50%, but ranged from 30% to 100% in various regions.

Grossheppach, shown here in 1686, was spared the worst of the devastation, so was probably more stable with at least some remaining original population. Note the mill – you’ll see it again later!

Grossheppach, a small village, is located smack dab in the middle of the wine-growing region, but Margretha’s husband, Rudolph, was a blacksmith and ferrier.

Like many women of that era, what little we know about Margretha is from the church records.

Margretha’s Birth

We can estimate the year of Margretha’s birth based on when her last child was recorded in the Grossheppach baptismal records.

Her first child in the Grossheppach church records was born in 1661 and her last child was born in 1675. If we presume Margretha was about 43 when the last child was born, that places her birth at about 1632, give or take a couple years in either direction.

If Margretha was born about 1632, she likely married sometime after 1652. She may have married and had children in Switzerland, but there are no burial or marriage records for Rudolph and Margretha in Grossheppach as parents to children not born there.

My suspicion is that the young couple married and saw settlement in Germany as the “great adventure” that awaited, promising reprieve from taxes among other perks for settlers.

Opportunity awaited.

They may have migrated with others. After all, there’s safety in numbers and family is more likely to help you in a time of need than unknown strangers.

One-Place Study

How lucky could I have been to stumble across a one-place study about Grossheppach families, which you can find here.

The one hint I can find about the Swiss location of Margretha is in the document of tracking “foreigners” in Grossheppach, in German, on page 59 where we find the locality, name of the individual, a year, and what the researcher found.

In this case, the locality is “Schefen, Kanton Zurich (=Stafa?), the individual is Margaretha, no known birth surname, This indicates von “Shefen” which translates literally to “from sheep,” followed by (wird Bg. in GH) which means became a citizen in Grossheppach.

Her husband’s information is noted with him being from Stein am Rhein. What the heck is Stein am Rhein? It’s the name of a village!!!

The researcher also lists Rudolph as “Bg.” meaning berger, and farrier. This is the researcher’s list of ancestors, so I suspect that the researcher descends through daughter, Veronica.

If this location is indeed accurate, this provides us with a location, probably for both Rudolph and Margretha. I’ve written to the researcher and heard back just before publishing this article today. Hint – there will be a chapter 2😊

Stein am Rhein is breathtakingly beautiful, the central, compact medieval old city still quite visible. It was probably walled at one time.

By Hansueli Krapf – Own work: Hansueli Krapf (User Simisa (talk · contribs)), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8395907

Be still my heart!

Stein am Rhein is a small, stunningly beautiful village on the Rhine River in Switzerland, with the medieval church still intact. Just take a look. OH MY.

By JoachimKohlerBremen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50871067

I’m trying to tell myself NOT to fall completely in love until I can confirm the accuracy of this information. I already want to climb on a plane.

By JoachimKohler-HB – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87543300

Stein am Rhein is 20-25 miles from Zurich as the crow flies.

Church records do exist for Stein am Rhein, but I’d need the transcribed records, only available at the Family History library in Salt Lake, here, as opposed to the unindexed and German script original records, here. Not only that, but Stein am Rhein has records dating from the 1400s. I might have to seek out someone with expertise in Swiss records who can actually read that script!

Stein am Rhein would have been about a 100-mile journey to Grossheppach.

Let’s hope there are records in Switzerland and they are somewhat available. My heart is racing just thinking about an additional 200 years of possible records and ancestors.

Margretha’s Life’s Story Spun Through Her Children

A huge thank you to Tom for finding and translating these Grossheppach records.

By Silesia711 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911537

Margretha’s known children were all born in Grossheppach and baptized in the local church which includes the remains of a fortified wall.

If Sibilla, born in 1661 was Margretha’s first child, this was truly a heartbreaking time. Margretha had looked forward to the arrival of her first baby, loved her, and then lost her 24 short weeks later. I wonder if the baby struggled from birth or contracted some childhood disease that ripped her from her mother’s arms and broke her heart.

Baptism: 6 May 1661 + Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Sibilla

Parents: Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Lienhardt Herman; Margretha, Ulrich Schweikhardrt from Stutg(art); Sibilla, Stöckler(in) from Stutgardt, farm maid.

Note that one of the godparents was also named Sibilla, which might be a hint indicating a relative.

Burial: 19 Oct 1661 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Sibilla, 2 weeks old, child of Rüdolph Müller, smith

These churchyard fortifications likely enclosed the cemetery at the time Margretha buried her baby.

Von Silesia711 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911538

In this aerial view, you can see the area that would have been the cemetery, with its fortified wall remaining yet today, at the lower right.

The treed area may be another portion of the ancient cemetery, now returned to nature.

Margretha became pregnant about the same time that Sibilla died, and the first son, Hanss Rudolph, named for his father, arrived the following August.

Baptism: 7 Aug 1662 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Hanss Rüdolph

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Leonhardt Herman; Ulrich Schweickhart from Stutg(art); Sibilla Glöckhler(in) also from ?

The next two baptisms are somewhat confusing. Someone later stamped the church records with dates. Obviously these two children could not have been born 8 months apart – or at least not unless the first child died and the second child was very premature. If these girls had been twins, they would have been baptized at the same time. There are no death records, nor any further records for either Anna Magdalena nor Anna Margretha.

After I originally wrote this article, cousin Wolfram who lives in Grossheppach and has access to the original records and corrected this record for Anna Margaretha’s birth in 1663.

Baptism: 12 Feb 1663 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Anna Magdalena

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Schmid from Grunbach; J.L. Herman, miller; Daniel’s wife, Magdalena.

Baptism: 11 Oct 1664 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Anna Margretha

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Leonhard Herman, miller; Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler; Anna Margretha, wife of Ulrich Schweickh(a)r(t).

Given that the next child, Veronica, didn’t arrive for 21 months, it’s unlikely that Anna Margretha died at or near birth.

Baptism: 29 July 1666 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Veronica

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Daniel Ziegler….; Hanss Eiber……; Maia Elisabetha Blaror(in)?

Two years and a few days later, Hanss Jacob joined the growing family.

Baptism: 9 Aug 1668

Child: Hanss Jacob

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Ulrich Schweigger from Stuttgardt; Jerg Lienhard Herman, miller; Magdalena, Daniel Ziegler’s wife.

A death record for Hans Jacob exists on August 18, 1675, but with no parents’ names, and is most likely this child. Just 9 days after his 7th birthday.

The next baby arrived 16 months after Hanss Jacob, just before Christmas. By this time, assuming all children except two lived, when Anna Barbara was born, Margretha would have had four children ages 16 months to 7 years. I’d say she had her hands full.

Baptism: 17 Dec 1669 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Anna Barbara

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Schmid, schoolteacher in Grunbach; Jerg Lienhard Herman, miller; Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler.

Anna Barbara died on October 31, 1679.

It would be almost three years before the next child arrived, hinting at a child that was stillborn in late 1671. We don’t see births of children who were not baptized in the records – nor burial records.

Baptism: 6 Sept 1672 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Sibylla

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Schmid, schoolteacher in Grunbach; Jerg Lienhard Herrman, miller; Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler.

It’s interesting that they named a second child Sibylla. It’s also interesting that the original godmother, Sibilla, of the first Sibilla born in 1661 is not present for this baptism. That original Sibilla Stockler(in) or Glockler(in) was only present for the births in 1661 and 1662, causing me to wonder why she wasn’t present later, and isn’t present for this birth when the child is apparently named in her honor. Of course, this makes me wonder if she died.

This also causes me to ponder the possibility if she is a sister or maybe niece to Margretha. The (in) suffix to her surname indicates that she is not married, so either Stockler or Glockler would be her birth surname.

Fortunately for me, this child named Sibylla lived. She’s my ancestor and her story can be found here.

Baptism: 27 Sept 1674 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Child: Jerg Lienhardt +

Parents: Hanss Rüdolph Müller & Margretha

Godparents: Jerg Schmidt, schoolteacher in Grunbach; Jerg Lienhard Herman, miller; Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler.

I noticed that Jerg Leinhard Hermann, the local miller, is the godfather for six of seven of Margretha’s children. This close association also suggests a close relationship. Their last child, who, unfortunately, did not live long, was named for Jerg Leinhard.

Burial: 31 January 1675 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Cause of Death: ?

Decedent: Jerg Lienhard, 18 weeks old

Child of Hanss Rüdolph Müller, smith.

It appears that Margretha ended her childbearing years in almost exactly the same way she began them. In 1675, Margretha was likely in her early to mid-40s. She had given birth to at least 9 children whose baptisms appear in church records.

Given the three-year space, she probably had one stillborn child who was simply buried but not baptized, meaning she had at least 10 children.

We don’t know that Margretha didn’t have more children that died in Switzerland before settling in Germany, or after the child born in 1675. We do know that the last child baptized, in 1675, Jerg Lienhard passed away 18 weeks later.

To Margretha, who 14 years earlier had lost her firstborn daughter 24 weeks after she was born, this must have seemed terribly, horribly familiar.

Margretha’s Death

Margretha died on October 30th, 1689 when she was about 57 years old.

Burial:30 Oct 1689 Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Buried the wife of Rudolph Müller.

At the time of her death, none of her children had married. Her eldest son would have been 27 years old, but he wouldn’t marry until 1696.

Daughter Veronica would marry a year after Margretha’s death, in 1690.

Sibilla, born in 1672 would have just turned 17 that late October day when the family gathered inside the medieval church to hear Margretha’s funeral sermon, then walked outside to bury her mother’s coffin. Sibylla didn’t marry for another several years, in 1698.

There are no marriage records for any other children, before or after Margretha’s death.

No grandchildren were born before Margretha died, so she never had the opportunity to enjoy those cherubic faces. I hope they all heard stories about Margretha and her life, including her family left behind in Switzerland.

In 1689, Margretha’s home was probably bustling with activity as her adult and near-adult children helped with household activities. Her son named for his father, or two sons if Hans Jacob survived, likely assisted Rudolph in the blacksmith shop and as the local ferrier.

Von Silesia711 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911528

The men may have worked in this very barn, or one similar, still standing, in Grossheppach.

The daughters would have assisted Margretha with the never-ending household chores and probably took care of her in her final illness.

Von Silesia711 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66912145

Margretha’s home might have looked like, or could even been this medieval cross house in Grossheppach.

Von Silesia711 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911532

Or maybe this one.

Regardless, Margretha would have been in and out of all of these homes over the years. They would have been familiar, likely open to the neighbors, most of whom were related, at any time. Women likely came and went, especially in a time of need – childbirth, illness and the ever-present death.

Two years later, Rudolph remarried to another Margaretha. He died a year later, in 1992, joining Margretha and their children in the cemetery beside the church in Grossheppach.

It’s somehow ironic, and not just a little sad, that Margretha’s daughter, Veronica died in 1708 at only 41 years of age. Of course, there were many causes of death, but I always wonder about childbirth for women of childbearing age. Her sister, Sibilla, was a midwife and I wonder if she delivered Veronica’s children.

Unfortunately, the minister, in the Register of Souls, incorrectly attributed Veronica’s step-mother, who was also named Margaretha, as her mother. I realize that’s an easy mistake to make, but it hurts my heart for Veronica’s mother, our Margretha.

Hopefully, this error meant one thing – either Veronica and step-mother Margaretha had a wonderful relationship. Of course, it could also be that the minister was new to the church and didn’t know the family history. We don’t know exactly when this register was compiled, but it was clearly after 1711.

Seelenregister (Register of Souls) Grossheppach Evangelical Church

Veronica (spouse of Johann Jacob Mahler); died 11 January 1708, aged 41 years, 6 months.

Father: Rudolph Müller, citizen and farrier (smith) from Switzerland Cand (Kanton?); died 1692.

Mother: Margaretha, born in Switzerland, a chambermaid; died 23 March 1711, about 71 years of age.

Note by Tom who performed these translations: This Margaretha is Veronica’s step-mother. Her birth mother died in 1689 and was also named Margaretha.

This does cause me to wonder if step-mother Margretha truly was also from Switzerland, or if the two Margrethas have been intertwined, which I suspect is the case. If the step-mother is also from Switzerland, this tells us that perhaps several Swiss families settled in Grossheppach – and maybe they are related or from the same region or village.

Was our Margretha a chambermaid, or was the step-mother the chambermaid? Was chambermaid somehow different than “housewife” in that time and place? If so, how?

Godparents

I’m always so grateful when ministers include the names of the various godparents with baptisms. I wish when records are indexed, the godparents’ names were indexed too, because they are often the keys to unraveling relationships.

I compiled this table of godparents in order to see who is found in multiple baptisms and what can be discerned about those individuals. People who journeyed from out of town were more likely to be relatives than those who might have been godparents because they were neighbors or village officials.

It’s worth remembering that the Godparents were responsible for raising the child, and raising them up in the church, if something were to happen to the parents. Before the days of modern medicine, that happened all too often. Godparents were making this solemn promise in from of everyone, including God.

Godparents made a serious commitment, which is why they are often trusted family members.

Child Godparent Location Comment
Sibilla 1661 Jerg Leinhardt Herman, Margretha In 1657, one Georg Leonhard Hermann married Maria Magdalena Krausin. This family seems to have been in Grossheppach for several generations, so not Swiss.
Sibilla Stockler(in) Stuttgart, farm maid Given the same first name, the distance from Stuttgart and her peasant status, this person is likely related.
Hans Rudolph – 1662 Jerg Leinhardt Herman This family is found in the region in the earlier 1600s, so not Swiss.
Ulrich Schweikhardt, Stuttgart I don’t find this individual, but I do find this family in Stuttgart earlier than this timeframe, so apparently not Swiss.
Sibilla Glockler(in) Also from…[probably Stuttgart] These 3 people at this baptism are the same as the 1661 baptism, so likely all 3 connected in some way. There is a 1626 birth in Stuttgart for Anna Sybilla Gletler or Gloeckler.
Anna Magdalena 1664 Jerg Schmidt Grunbach Jerg died in 1686 in Grossheppach. Grunbach was perhaps 2 miles distant.
J. L. Herman Miller Probably Jerg Leonhard Herman
Daniel’s wife, Magdalena Probably Daniel Ziegler, see below
Anna Margretha – 1664 Jerg Leonhard Herman Miller
Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler
Anna Margaretha, wife of Ulrich Schweickh(a)r(t)
Veronica 1666 Daniel Ziegler
Hans Eiber Mayor in Grossheppach
Maria Elisbetha Blaror(in)?
Hans Jacob 1668 Ulrich Schweigger Stuttgart
Jerg Leinhard Herman Miller
Magdalena, Daniel Ziegler’s wife
Anna Barbara 1669 Jerg Schmid Schoolteacher in Grunback
Jerg Leinhard Herman Miller
Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler
Sibylla 1672 Jerg Schmid Schoolteacher in Grunbach
Jerg Leinhard Herrman Miller
Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler
Jerg Leinhardt 1674 Jerg Schmidt Schoolteacher in Grunbach
Jerg Leinhard Herman, miller
Magdalena, wife of Daniel Ziegler

Typically, when we see the same people repeat as godparents, especially when they have to travel from out of town, that often means they are relatives, and probably close relatives – often siblings.

Stuttgart is not nearby, about 11 miles distant. Either Rudolph or Margretha had some connection to the individuals from Stuttgart.

In this case, the fact that these families were living in this region for at least a generation suggests strongly that they were not from Switzerland, but perhaps they had married people who were, or there is a connection from an earlier generation.

By Silesia711 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911535

Johann Rudolph and Margretha appear to be particularly close to Jerg Leinhardt Hermann, the local miller. They both would have seen the former Grossheppach mill, above and below, daily.

Von Silesia711 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66911533

Why Johann Rudolph Muller and Margretha selected the same godparents for their children repeatedly will have to remain a mystery, at least for now.

Mitochondrial DNA

The mitochondrial DNA of Margretha would have been passed on to her children of both sexes, but only females pass it on.

We don’t know what happened to three daughters:

  • Anna Magdalena reportedly born in 1664
  • Anna Margaretha reportedly born in 1664
  • Anna Barbara born in 1669

We know that two of Margretha’s daughters did in fact marry and have children, Veronica and Sybilla.

Veronica

From the Register of Souls, we see that Veronica had six daughters.

  • Veronica’s daughter Veronica born in 1700, died in 1717.
  • Veronica’s daughter, Anna Barbara Mahler married Jacob Kloepfer in 1732 and died in 1763. It looks like she had one daughter in 1733, but only three children are shown in the Grossheppach book through 1737.

Sibilla

Margretha’s daughter, Sibilla Muller born in 1672 married Johann George Lenz/Lentz in neighboring Beutelsbach in 1698. She had two daughters who lived.

  • Elisabetha was born in 1709, but we know nothing more.
  • Anna Barbara Lenz born in 1699 and died in 1770 married Johann Georg Vollmer in 1729, having four daughters who lived to adulthood:
    1. Barbara 1729-1744
    2. Maria Elisabetha 1732-1795
    3. Regina 1738-1740
    4. Anna Maria 1740-1781

Descendants of these females, through all females, to the current generation which can be male or female would carry the mitochondrial DNA of Margretha. I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first person who qualifies.

Stay Tuned

Just before I finished this article, I received a reply from the researcher who performed the one-place study of Grossheppach. They, indeed, to descend from Johann Rudolph Muller and Margretha through daughter Veronica – and – they have additional information they are willing to share. Bless that person.

As it turns out, they still live in Grossheppach.

I’m doing the genealogy happy dance.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come!

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12 thoughts on “Margretha Muller (c1632-1689), Wife to Rudolph Muller, Born in Switzerland – 52 Ancestors #321

  1. Hi Roberta — your blog posts are amazing. On this occasion I am amazed at a coincidence — my mother’s grandmother’s family was from Stein am Rhein and came over from Switzerland in the 1800s to settle in Minnesota. Others have had luck in locating the Salt Lake City copies of church registers from earlier years, and you likely will have luck as well.

  2. It’s always interesting to read these tales that you can pull from the records you’ve discovered. When your ancestors came from Switzerland they likley had some trouble with the differences in dialects, I bet. (With my low intermediate standard German, I can hardly understand Swiss German, as heard on modern TV programs for example.) Something to consider when looking for contextual clues. — Incidentaly, I have a half-sister in Upper Franconia named Sybille… yes with a final “e” instead of an “a”. It’s a nice name. — Also, many of my ancestors (East Frisian area), going back to the 1800’s, so far, often have a family member as a godparent… and with their name/names then given to the newly baptized infant. — Oh yes, one more reaction… I came across the same thing with one of my West Pomeranians… a direct ancestor who married three times. By the time one his children from his first marriage was wed, the wrong mother was identified in the record. That really made me sad too… once I figured this out.

  3. Roberta, I read your posts weekly and enjoy them very much. Is there a way to search for specific articles? I am interested in your articles about Claiborne Co. Tenn. You once mentioned a woman who seemed to almost match one of my ancestors, I would like to review that. Several of my sncastors lived ti Claiborne county at one time or another. Thank you for the great work you are doing.
    Jim Harp

  4. You are so lucky to have ancestors from such a beautiful area! If and when you go, please share photos with us!

  5. Hi Roberta, congrats on the great find of the Grossheppach place study! I glanced through their ancestor list on the page and saw they have quite a few Ruehle/Riehle on it, have you checked those out yet?

    Thanks for the post and pics, always a pleasure.

  6. I have visited the area several times as we have friends who live a few villages east in Steckborn. My first thought when reading the foreigner information for Margaretha was Schaffhausen. It is about a 15-20 minute drive from Stein am Rein as long as you don’t end up behind a tractor.

    When you get to visit be sure to visit the Rhinefall. Unexpected and beautiful. Wishing you the best of luck!

  7. Pingback: Painting the Life of Rudolph & Margretha Muller in Grossheppach, Germany – 52 Ancestors #322 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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