Seriously – only me. This would only happen to me. And I thought three Michael Kirsch’s living in the same village were bad.
We’ve been following Rudolph Muller’s life where we found him as an adult in Grossheppach, Germany.
- Johann Rudolph Muller (circa 1630-1692), Swiss Blacksmith in Grossheppach, Germany
- Margretha Muller (c1632-1689), Wife to Rudolph Muller, Born in Switzerland
- Painting the Life of Rudolph and Margretha Muller in Grossheppach, Germany
- Rudolph Muller’s Blacksmith Shop in Grossheppach
In the Grossheppach records, cousin Wolfram in his one-place study of Grossheppach had discovered information indicating that Rudolph was from Switzerland, and more specifically, Stein am Rhein.
Wolfram also discovered a notation that Margretha, Rudolph’s wife, was from Kanton Zurich.
They were naturalized in 1662 and became citizens of Grossheppach.
Of course, this left us with many questions and only breadcrumbs reaching back to Switzerland.
The information in the Grossheppach records was recorded many years later. As genealogists, we’re all familiar with official records that contain incorrect information. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rabbit holes I’ve been down with those.
So, was Rudolph and Margretha’s information correct? If so, what more can we discover? Canton Zurich is a big place. Why was there no more specific information?
Before we continue to unravel this unbelievable puzzle, I need to thank several people, without whom this would NEVER have been solved:
- My cousin, Tom
- My cousin, Pam
- My cousin, Wolfram
- My village cousin, Chris (I’ll explain about village cousins in a separate article.)
- Henry, the Stein am Rhein historian
And for the record, only Wolfram is related on this particular line. I’m just blessed with knowledgeable and generous cousins.
I’ve tried to give appropriate credit where credit is due, but there were probably 100 emails flying back and forth, so if I’ve omitted or confused credit for something, I just apologize in advance. In some cases, two people found the same thing about the same time because they are just that good!
We also unraveled more information about Margretha, Rudolph’s wife during this same exchange, but that will have to wait.
In the beginning, it looked like there wasn’t much of a mystery.
Famous last words…
It Looks Like Tom Solved the Riddle
I found a baptism of a Rudolf Muller, son of Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller on 8 Feb 1629 in Stein am Rhein Evangelical Church.
Hot diggity Tom. Great find. Rudolph Muller was born on February 22, 1629. From the Grossheppach records, we thought he was born about 1630 so this fits perfectly.
I sent this on to cousin Wolfram who speaks German as his native language.
Where is the baptism from?
I can translate for you the 4th entry incl. headlines. It is clearly readable:
Getauffte Kinder, im Jahr // baptized children in the year
- DC. XXIX. I/ 1629
Monat und tag deß empfangenen Tauffs. / Namen. / Vatter. / Mutter. / Tester. // Month and day of the baptism / Names. / Father. / Mother. / Godfather(&-mother)
- / Febr. / Rudloph. / Jacob Müller. / Ursula Müller. / H. Benedict Gulding[er]: Ellisabeth Win(t)zin. // this I do not have to translate 😉 But what is clear, the surename of the mother Ursula was also Müller. So her Father was “Müller”.
So, if this is the baptism record of Stein am Rhein, then it looks really quite good! As long there are no other Rudolph Müller in this book, either before (then the parents have to be checked or a later record Rudolph Müller (1640 latest).
Yes, we surely do need to check for another baby by the same name, but what are the chances? Rudolph isn’t a terribly common name. Plus, it’s not even preceded by Johann, so it’s even more unique.
It does bother me a bit that in the Grossheppach records, he’s mentioned, at least in some cases, as Johann Rudolph Muller. But not much. Often men were called by their middle name throughout their life, and of course, Muller and Mueller were interchangeable. Johann s the official first name of probably 90% of the German babies born during this timeframe, so he would have been called by his middle name. Even if his first name wasn’t actually Johann, the people in Grossheppach might well have assumed that it was.
In the meantime, Tom unearthed more:
I found a 1616 marriage also for this person’s parents.
Jacob Muller from Turbenthal
Ursula Muller from Nussbaumen
7 July 1616 in Stein am Rhein
I’ve gathered the family group: Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller, their marriage and the baptisms of their children. There is no further evidence that they stayed in Stein am Rhein.
Perhaps they all relocated to Germany.
If this is your crew, I will translate them for you. Let me know what you think at your convenience. Exciting though!
I’m was happy, basking in family discovered, and I would remain happy for a few hours, right up until I checked my email again.
Cousin Pam who studied overseas was searching at the same time and found a transcribed record in a German local family book about Stein am Rhein. Local historians often volunteer their time to create these documents. Bless their generosity is all I can say.
Rudolf Mueller born on February 22, 1629. That’s wonderful, confirmed Tom’s work, and would save Tom from translating those children’s records.
But then, Pam found another record from the same place that looked promising.
Hans (short for Johann) Rudolf Mueller.
This is not the same family that Tom found?
This Johann Rudolph Mueller was born and baptized on May 22, 1629, in Stein am Rhein to different parents.
We really do have two babies by nearly the same name, in the same place, born three months apart – just like Wolfram mentioned. Is he psychic?
How is this even possible?
I skipped the hiccup which made this situation even more confusing.
The original records that Pam found showed the two babies born on the same day, but attributed to different parents. It appeared to be an erroneous entry in the family book, but as it turned out, the error was in the baptism date, not the record itself.
Yes, there were actually two babies born with the same or very similar names to two Muller/Mueller families.
I’m only showing the correct records here because I don’t want to confuse anyone else.
Trust me, we were very confused and so was the historian, Henry, who had compiled the website. He was kind enough to go back and check the original records.
Of course, since Tom had found the marriage of the parents Jacob Mueller and Ursula Mueller, I made the logical deduction that was the correct entry, and the entry for George Mueller and Magdalena Schnewlin was in error.
Wolfram Finds the Second Baptism
As it turns out, there WERE two babies by the same name, baptized in the same place, and they were both in that original record on the same page in the church book. Wolfram spotted it.
O.K. This is now really difficult and I am not sure, if we can surely say who was our Ancestor Johann Rudolph because the other baptism is below in line 13. With the parents Jörg Müller and Magdalena. This is really a pity. Furthermore according to the online family book neither the one nor the other has married. So for a definition there would be a marriage-record needed or some documents of local authorities which shows who has moved (if something like this is available at all…)
Tom concurred. Finding the marriage document of Rudolph Mueller or Hans Rudolph Mueller or Muller to Margretha/ Margaretha whatever her last name was would be crucial to determine which baby was our Rudolph Muller. Or was either baby our baby?
Now, I’m doubting everything.
I can’t get this topic out of my head. I checked the online family book of Stein am Rhein again. Henry Straub, who created the book included sources for the data. And on the page of the one Hans Rudolph Müller who was born in May 1629 (father: Georg Müller) he noted a “Bevölkerungsverzeichnis” as a source for the baptism, which is basically a CENSUS. And not only one but three. As I read correctly they are from 1634, 1637 and 1640. This source has not been noted with the one which was born in February 1629 (father: Jakob Müller). That indicates for me, this second one was not alive anymore even there is a minor option, that this family has moved away after 1630. So the probability seems to be high, that the first-mentioned (born in May and father Georg Müller) is the Johann Rudoph Müller we are searching for.
I think it is worthwhile and I will get in contact with Henry, the Stein am Rhein historian, and ask about his opinion. And I think he will be happy to have another connection outside of Stein am Rhein.
Henry Digs Deeper and Hits Paydirt
Henry, the historian replied to my email asking about the dual entries showing both baby Rudolph’s born on the same day.
It seems that I made a serious mistake: there is only one Hans Rudolf Mueller (Müller) born/baptized in Stein am Rhein May 22, 1629, to Georg (Jörg) Mueller and Magdalena.
So far I can not say what went wrong (and might never find out).
There were two Rudolf Müller born in 1629 one “Rudolf” bapt. February 22nd and the “Hans Rudolf” bapt. May 22nd. The error was that I made a wrong connection to the parents.
The family of Jakob Müller and Ursula Müller apparently left Stein am Rhein, they were not registered in the census of 1634.
The 1634 Census
Henry provided the census record information.
Important other sources for Stein am Rhein exist, a kind of early census, made from 1634 till 1702. Georg (Jörg) Müller, his wife and children (still alive and not yet married) were last recorded in 1643:
“Das Dorf (hamlet, village) Hemishoffen
Nr. 8 Jörg Müller H
Hans – dienend
Christen – dienend
Rudolf – dienend
«dienend» indicates that they were not living any longer in the household of their parents. With other words that their parents had only a small farm and could not feed a larger family. The following census (1650) only contains the recently wed Hans Müller, his wife Anna Fischer(in) and their child Margret (1 year old).
Oh, this is heartbreaking. I can’t help but wonder what happened to Rudolph’s parents and where he lived. Who raised those children? Where did they go?
There are no further records in Stein am Rhein concerning Jörg Müller and any of his 3 other children.
Emigration (or immigration) were not always a one-step move; if nothing important (birth, marriage, or death) happened, no records were made. Unfortunately shortly after the 30 years’ war (1618-1648) in many of the parishes in Germany records were not kept or the precision is missing. Sometimes also the new arrivals preferred not to reveal much about their past.
If you like to have copies of the original records, please let me know, I recorded many documents with a digital camera.
And, of course, all if this is happening as the Thirty Years War raged throughout Europe. It’s amazing that there WAS a 1643 census AND that it still exists, along with church records from that timeframe.
Jorg, short for George, lived in house number 8 in Hemishoften, literally, right next door to Stein am Rhein on the Rhine River.
The old buildings in Hemishofen are well-preserved today.
Hemishoften was probably just a wide spot in the road paralleling the Rhine, then as now.
This little hamlet is too small to have its own church, so the people who lived there would have traveled the mile or so to the church in Stein am Rhein.
At that time, these properties would have been the “cheap seats,” in part because they were outside of the city walls where no protection was afforded the residents. Any marauding soldiers approaching on the Rhine would have made quick pickings of isolated farmers with no protection.
It stands to reason that if they were already poor, and something happened, Jorg and Magdalena would not be able to support their children. But is this the right family?
Or, was our Rudolph the son of Jacob and Ursula?
Jacob Muller and Ursula Muller’s Family
Tom made me laugh with his next comment.
The only “saving grace” if you can call it that, is that if you find nothing else, it will make another interesting story. THIS IS REALITY GENEALOGY AT ITS BEST!
Is that ever an understatement. How do you tell a super confusing story without it being super confusing?
Tom was already on this, unraveling the threads.
I mentioned yesterday that I gathered all of the records for the family: Jacob Muller & Ursula Muller.
The baptism of Anna Muller in 1622 indicates that Jacob Muller was then living in Biberach. An important point.
The death of Rudolf Muller, son of Jacob Muller of Biberach on 24 May 1629 (the year labeled the Pest Year), solves your problem.
Your Rudolf would seem to be this family: Georg Muller & Magdalena Schnewlin
Indeed, Tom solved this puzzle. Given that Jacob’s son, Rudolph died in 1629, five days before our Rudolph was born back in Stein am Rhein – our Rudolph must be Johann Rudolph Mueller, the son of George Muller and Magdalena Schnewlin. The couple living in Hemishofen in 1643, without their children.
Stein am Rhein
Now that we’ve confirmed that our Rudolph was indeed born ar at least baptized in Stein am Rhein, let’s bask for a minute in the beauty of this village on the Rhine River, located on the border between Switzerland and Germany.
Rudolph would have walked these very streets and seen these exact buildings as he grew up.
According to Wikipedia, in or about 1007, Stein am Rhein was a sleepy fishing village on the Rhine River. However, it occupied a strategic location where major road and river routes intersected. Emperor Henry II moved St. George’s Abbey to this location and granted the abbots extensive rights over the village and its trade so that they could develop it commercially.
This endeavor was quite successful. During the Reformation, the abbey was taken over by Zurich. Today, the abbey, 3 churches, the castle, city walls, tower, and gate along with many historic buildings remain and are extremely well cared for.
Rudolph’s ancestors may have lived in this village someplace. It’s actually very unusual that they lived in the countryside, especially during the war. People were either merchants or farmers. German and Swiss farmers lived inside the city wall and tended their fields outside. The city walls provided protection from invaders.
To a poor peasant boy who probably seldom got to town, Stein am Rhein would have been a sophisticated city and full of magic. I can’t help but view this through the eyes of an awed child as he entered through the city gate, above.
The beautiful town hall.
These frescoes are original. Imagine what they looked like when Rudolph visited these shops.
I supposed it goes without saying that I desperately want to visit Stein am Rhein. Of course, I say that about all of the locations where my ancestors lived.
You can enjoy more photos, here.
The Rhine passes the quaint village of Stein am Rhein, providing lifeblood. But Rudolph wouldn’t have sailed away on the Rhine River. Instead, he would have struck out overland for Grossheppach and a new life.
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