Barbara Mehlheimer’s Letter: A Daughter Found, Photos and a Family Reunited – 52 Ancestors #308

Barbara Mehlheimer (1823-1906) married George Drechsel, apparently twice, once in Germany and once after their arrival in the US. They raised 6 children in Aurora Indiana, the eldest born in 1848 in Germany before their arrival, and the youngest born in 1862 a decade after their arrival.

I wrote about Barbara Mehlheimer and George Drechsel in their own stories back in 2016. When I publish these articles, it’s always with the hope that someplace, someday, somehow they will connect with the right person. Yes, the articles are cousin-bait. Over the years, these articles have been wonderfully effective. It always makes me feel good to provide another researcher with well-documented information.

I’d be fibbing if I told you my motives are entirely altruistic. They aren’t. From time to time, one of those cousins or a complete stranger has something absolutely wonderful to share with me.

Ernest Lent III, my newest cousin, found me recently by posting a comment on an earlier article. He descends from Barbara and George’s lost daughter, baptized as Teresa Maria Drechsel, known better as Mary. Born December 28, 1862, she was living and working at the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana in the 1880 census.

The Kirsch House, something akin to a hotel or B&B with rooms to rent, a restaurant and bar, located beside the train depot in the photo above, was owned by Mary’s sister Barbara Drechsel and her husband, Jacob Kirsch.

The building at 506 Second Street doesn’t look a lot different today. But Mary wouldn’t stay in Aurora long. She climbed aboard the train in the station and headed east.

In 1881, the Aurora Lutheran church records show that Mary was living in Cincinnati, then nothing. Radio silence. That is, until recently – 139 years later.

I’d like to share this wonderful journey with you, including our amazing discoveries.

Email from Cousin Ernest

I appreciate your detailed research so much. It certainly helped fill in some gaps in my family history that I assumed were irretrievable.

The few details that I can add to the information about my Great grandmother Mary Drexler are that she was married to Gustav Brehm on September 12, 1883 in Chicago and that she died on April 19, 1953 in Chicago.

I am attaching a photo of Mary Drexler taken around the turn of the century, one of her father George Drexler, and a photo of George at the cooperage where he was employed.

George is the person seated in the bottom row on the far left of the photo. I’m sorry, that particular photo is quite faded now and somewhat damaged.

Wait? What? There Are Photos????

Ernest, I hate to tell you, but these are not just a “few details.” I have never seen these photos before. There are no known photos of George Drechsel. That is, until now.

Do you have ANY idea how important this is to me???

Drum roll….Ernest’s photos….

There are, or were, no known photos of George Drechsel. George had obviously put on his good suit, shirt and bow tie, but his shoes look quite worn.

Here’s George, colorized and enhanced, courtesy of MyHeritage.

George died in 1908 and his wife, Barbara, in 1906. Since she’s not in this photo, and there doesn’t seem to be one of her, I wonder if this picture is George sometime between 1906 and 1908 when he would have been between 83 and 85. He doesn’t quite look that old to me. Maybe more like 60, which would have meant this photo was taken in the 1880s, probably about the same time a photo of Mary was taken. But where was his wife, Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel, then? Maybe her photo has been destroyed, or yet to be discovered.

George Drechsel along with workers at the cooperage, bottom left corner. In the 1850s, there were at least three cooperage companies in Aurora, making barrels for the steamboats plying the Ohio River. The Wymond Cooperage spanned the entire two blocks adjacent Hogan Creek, behind the Kirsch House, beside the train depot. You can see one of their barrels in the photo.

Mary Drechsel probably circa 1881-1883, after moving to Cincinnati and before her marriage. The photo was taken by J.P. Weckman of Cincinnati, Ohio, listed on the back of the photo.

Mary would have taken the train back and forth from Aurora to Cincinnati as did many of the Aurora residents.

Jogging a Memory

Ernest’s photos jogged a memory for me. A couple years ago, another cousin contacted me. She had some photos too, and in those photos were some people I couldn’t identify.

Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s daughter, Margaretha (1851-1889) married Herm Rabe and had 7 children before she died. Margaretha’s granddaughter contacted me and sent along photos, some of which neither of us could identify.

In this picture, taken in July of 1898, we know that the tallest young lady in the center rear is Eleanor Rabe who would have been 13 in 1898. But who were the rest of these people. We know they were all Barbara’s grandchildren, according to the note with the photo.

I immediately identified the female at bottom right as my grandmother, Edith Lore, born in 1888, but the rest remained a mystery.

Eleanor Rabe had older siblings, but she is clearly the oldest or at least the tallest here. Her one younger sibling was John who was born in 1887, but this boy’s name is Curt, not John.

Let’s make a list of the first names in the photo:

Back row, left to right.

  • Nora – a child, definitely NOT Nora Kirsch born in 1866 who married Curtis Benjamin Lore. I think this is actually Curtis L. Lore, born in 1891, daughter of Nora Kirsch, sister to Edith on the bottom row. They lived in Rushville and it wouldn’t make sense for one daughter to be in Aurora without the other daughter.
  • Eleanor Rabe (identified by her daughter)
  • Lilly – This is probably Lilly Giegoldt, born in 1883, daughter of Lou Drechsel who married Johann Georg Giegoldt.

Front row, left to right:

  • Stella – Stella Brehm born in 1884 to Mary Drechsel and Gustav Brehm, identified by Ernest.
  • Edna – Edna Brehm born in 1888, daughter of Mary Drechsel.
  • Curt – Curt Brehm born in 1889 to Mary Drechsel.
  • Edith Lohr (misspelled, it’s Lore) who is actually Barbara Melhleimer’s great-granddaughter

Before Ernest’s email, I had absolutely NO IDEA who Stella, Edna and Curt were.

Conversely, Ernest had never seen this photo before either.

Look what arrived next:

Well, Roberta, this is getting a bit surreal – first a picture of your grandmother Edith and my grandmother Edna in the same picture – and now this!

Obviously taken within minutes of your photo….

As you might imagine, we chattered back and forth for a few days.

I asked if Ernest thought this unidentified photo might be Mary.

Ernest replied with the genealogists lament that most of us are all too familiar with:

Unfortunately, I never spoke to my grandmother Edna about her family, my interest in genealogy came too late, I’m afraid.

My Dad told me very little about his grandmother Mary Drexler Brehm. He said she was a very strict lady who practiced, in his words, “tough love.” He said that as a young woman in Chicago she would ride streetcars to pick up big baskets of laundry which she would wash and fold and then ride back to return them. I don’t think he ever knew her well, she lived in Chicago and he grew up in Columbia, South Carolina.

I’m sending a photo of Mary when she was elderly, holding my Dad. My grandmother Edna is standing behind her as is my aunt Edna Louise Lent. Mary lived to be 89 years old.

The second picture (below) is of Mary perhaps in her 30’s – I’m not good at telling someone’s age.

The third picture is a family group. I think Mary is second from the right, my grandmother Edna standing in the center, my aunt standing next to her. I’m wondering if you recognize any of the other women.

The Branch Blossoms

Of course, I was excited to add Mary’s family information to my tree. I had always wondered what happened to the “lost sister.”

Ernest noticed:

Thank you for adding Mary Drexler’s information to your family tree, it seemed to me that it somehow symbolically reunites the family.

Rest assured that I asked Ernest if he has done a DNA test. He has, and we match. He’s in the process of transferring his DNA file to Family Tree DNA where so many of our family DNA tests reside, including Kirsch lines and other family members, along with my Mom.

The Letter

Then, almost as an afterthought, Ernest added something very important:

I have an old letter, written in what appears to be an archaic German script, that I’ve been unable to get translated. It was among the effects that my Dad left when he died and I’m not sure to whom it was written or who sent it.

Several people who speak German have looked at it and were unable to make out the gist of the letter, just pick out a few words. If I can attach a photo of the letter do you know someone who might be able to help?

It could be just a “having a good time, wish you were here” letter but it could also contain valuable information.

OMG a letter? Seriously?

Ernest, send it right away!!!!

Here is the letter in 4 parts – sorry some are upside down and sideways, I couldn’t reconfigure them.

I’ve been wondering what it may say for years now, I’m very hopeful that you can get them translated.

Perhaps an epiphany lies within!

OMG!!!!

Ernest continued:

I’m quite eager to learn what the letter says! I’ve been trying to get an accurate translation for years, thinking that having been preserved for over a hundred years it may have something important to tell us. And even if it doesn’t, I’m excited about it because it’s such a direct connection to our family and our past.

In Her Own Hand 

As it turns out, the letter is from Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel (1823-1906) to her daughter, Theresa Marie Drechsel (Drexel, Drexler), known as Mary, who lived in Chicago at the time.

I had to sit for a while and just stare at this handwriting – holding space with Barbara. This is HER very own handwriting. Not only that, but she COULD write, probably having attended Lutheran school in Goppmansbuhl, Germany in the late 1820s or 1830s. Clearly, she raised her children to speak fluent German. My grandmother, three generations later, still understood German.

These letters to her much-missed daughter were scribed by candlelight using a quill pen dipped in a bottle of ink, at night, when Barbara was bone-tired from dangerous physical work like boiling clothes at 65 years of age. Work, of course, that was never ever done because clothes simply got dirty again and had to be boiled all over again a week or so later. She was “retirement age,” but there was no such thing as retirement.

It looks like Barbara prepared to write by drawing faint lines across the pages to keep her sentences straight – except for page 4 where she stopped drawing guidelines about halfway down the page – and sure enough, her sentences began to list to right. We don’t think about things like that today.

Yet, Barbara’s writing is beautiful, old-world script, despite the fact that she was fatigued and writing in the dark when she had trouble seeing. Other than her photo and fragments of DNA shared by her descendants, this letter is likely the only tangible thing that was actually physically, personally hers that remains on this earth some 132 years after she wrote those pages and almost 197 years after her birth. For most of us today, that’s the equivalent of someplace around the year 2160, with our great-great-great-grandchild unearthing a 4-page handwritten letter we sent today and sharing it with another great-great-great-grandchild – the two of them not previously knowing that each other exists.

Indeed, a mother’s hand – still healing after almost two centuries.

Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s Family

Before going further, here’s a list of Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsel’s children and grandchildren. These relationships are important in sorting out the contents of the letter.

  • Barbara “Babbit” Drechsel 1848-1930, married Jacob Kirsch in 1866 and operated the Kirsch House, a hotel and restaurant/tavern beside the train depot.
    • Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch 1866-1949, married Curtis Benjamin Lore in 1888 in Aurora. Their first child, Edith was born in 1888 and their second child, Curtis, a daughter, was born in 1891. Two additional daughters, Mildred and Eloise were born in 1899 and 1903, respectively.
    • Georg Martin Kirsch 1868-1949, married Maude Powers in 1888 in Aurora, died in Shelbyville, Indiana in 1949. Son Edgar was born in 1899 and daughter Cecile born in 1892.
    • Johann Edward Kirsch 1870-1924 married Emma Miller in 1891 in Dearborn County, Indiana and lived in Aurora during the 1890s. He died in 1924 in Edwardsport, Knox County, Indiana. They had Juanita born in 1892, Deveraux “Devero” born in 1899. Two daughters born later died as infants.
    • Caroline “Carrie” Kirsch 1871-1926 married Joseph Smithfield Wymond in 1902 in Aurora. The wealthy Wymond family owned one of the cooperage companies and whoo-boy, is there a story about this man that rivals any soap opera. Sadly, they had no children.
    • Margaret Louise “Lou” Kirsch 1873-1940 married Charles “Todd” Fiske in 1899 in Aurora and after his suicide, married Arthur Wellesley. She had no children.
    • Ida Carolina Kirsch 1876-1966 married William “Billy” Galbreath in 1921 and had no children.
  • Margaret Drechsel 1851-1889, married Herm Rabe in 1873, lived between Aurora, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio, just a few miles away.
    • Mary “Mayme” Rabe 1875-1961 married Albert Weatherby in 1892 in Cincinnati, Ohio. They had three daughters, Lorine 1893-1975, Juanity 1896-1986 and Margaret 1904-1994.
    • Frederick George Rabe 1876-1879
    • Louisa B. “Lou” Rabe 1879-1863 married Irvin Isaac Denison in 1919 and had possibly had one child.
    • Caroline Louise “Leah” Engel Rabe 1880-1951
    • Wilhelm J. Rabe 1883-1886
    • Eleanor Rabe 1885-1961 married Guy Nicholas Young and had 2 daughters, Marian 1908-1978, Eleanor 1910-2006 and two sons, Donald 1915-2000 and Guy 1929-1997.
    • John Rabe 1887-1893
  • Caroline “Lina” or “Lena” Drechsel 1854-1938, married Johannes Gottfried Heinke in Cincinnati about 1895. She may have been married previously with one deceased child, according to the census. Much of her life is a mystery.
  • Johann “John” Edward Drechsel (Drexler, Drexel) born 1856 and died sometime after 1877. It’s believed that he married and had a child in 1882, but there is conflicting information. If so, his wife, Elizabeth Louisa “Lizzie” Uffman remarried in 1888 in Cincinnati. One John Drechsel was married, a tailor and living with her parents in the 1880 census.
    • Alfred Drexel born 1882 in Cincinnati
  • Emma Louise “Lou” Drechsel 1859-1949 married Johann Georg Giegoldt in 1881 in Aurora, Indiana. They lived between Cincinnati and Aurora.
    • Barbara Margaretha Josephine “Nettie” Giegoldt 1882-1908
    • Carolina Louise Lillian “Lilly” Giegoldt 1883-1951, married Theodore Ludwig “Louis” Bosse/Busse and had two children, Raymond born in 1911 and Wilbur born in 1915.
  • Theresa Maria “Mary” Drechsel 1862-1953, lived in Cincinnati from 1881-1883. She married Gustav Brehm in Chicago where she spent the duration of her life.
    • Stella Brehm born 1884
    • Edna Marie Brehm born March 4, 1888, died 1975, married Dr. Ernest Lent in 1913 in Iowa.
    • Curtis Brehm born July 1889
    • Drexel (or Drexler) Brehm born 1900

Christoph Saves the Day

Oh, my faithful German friend Christoph. What would I do without him?!

I hate to always be asking questions and favors – but Christoph is always so very gracious. I told Christoph that he didn’t need to translate the letter word for word. Mostly, I wanted to know who it was from and if the contents shed any light on our ancestors or family history. For all we know, it could have been something totally unrelated.

Fortunately, for us, it wasn’t.

From Christoph

Here is my translation of the letter.

I also add the original German text (with all spelling mistakes) below my translation, just for your records. As you will see, some blanks remain and maybe those will be filled by somebody else in the future. But I think that the main content of the letter is clear anyway. I labeled the blanks in [] brackets and also my comments at some places.

In fact, page four (the one with several “Gutbei” at the end) seems to be a separate letter that was first misplaced and thus sent later (see translation). It is clear however, that it is the same handwriting and from the same person. Since she signs as “your good mother Mrs Drexler, Aurora, Indiana”, I would conclude that the letters were written by Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsler (1823-1906).

Her writing suggests that she had some school education, but still several words are misspelled and interpunctation is missing at times. This is true even more for the English words, she even misspells her daughter Mary`s name “Märi”. There is also “Luiswil” instead of “Louisville”, “flauer” instead of “flour” and then “Gutbei” instead of “Goodbye”. In essence, she seems to spell all English words just the way they sound to her as a native German speaker.

Barbara Drechsler also mentions a “Mrs. Kirsch” at two occasions. I do not think that this refers to her daughter (she would have called her by her first name), but rather to her daughter`s mother-in-law Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch (1807-1889), who seems to have been living very close to her house – maybe across the street?

Next, a “Lina” is mentioned. Lina is a short form of “Carolina” and from the letter it seems it is one of her daughters, too. So this would have to be Caroline Drexler married to Gottlieb Heinke. Similarly, “Luise” would have to be Emma “Louis” Drexler Giegoldt. I am not sure for all the other names, but maybe you have a better clue than me.

When Barbara writes “the father”, I do not think it is her own father, she is speaking of, but rather her husband – father of her daughter Mary. I do not know about this in American English, but it certainly was a habit in German still one generation ago. Quite similarly, my grandmother sent my mother letters, speaking about “father”, when in fact she referred to her husband – her daughter`s father.

As for the date of the letter, it only says March 17th, no year. But I think it is possible to draw out the facts and with their help narrow it down to a certain range.

Barbara`s daughter Mary already had a son, so it would have to be after 1883. But Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, who died in 1889, was still alive. So if I conclude right that she is the “Mrs Kirsch” mentioned, then the letter would have to be from between 1883 to 1889. What do you think?

So much for my comments. I hope you enjoy your ancestor`s voice from the past! (“Roberta and Ernest, I heard that you are interested in your ancestors` past, so I arranged for an interpreter to make my voice heard to you!”)

Best wishes
Christoph

Christoph, I would hug you if I could!

The Translation 

Letter of Barbara Mehlheimer Drechsler – Transcription and Translation

– page 1 –

Aurora, Indiana, March 17th

Dear children, we greet you all warmly from our hearts. I had intended to write for a long time, but had not found the time so far. Here, many are sick from the [“Krüh” – not clear, what it means. Someone suggested to me it could be a dialect word for scabies. Alternatively, it could be a variant of the word “Grippe” (flu), but these are both just guesses.]. Our father has fallen down and has hurt himself at the hand. It was not too bad, but still he is sick now anyway and cannot work. We had to give up going to church. I do not know, who will take it. [That makes no sense to me, but that is what she wrote.] I always have to take care of somebody over there. The Mrs Kirsch has no maidservant. Furthermore, they all have been sick every few weeks. Babedt [Babette?] has had “remidis” in her right leg. Cähri and Eidi have been sick. Luli and her husband are in Louisville, they both have been sick. Mr Roberts has died, he was 69 years old. Brindi is large and fat and our Luise has caught a cold, when hanging up the laundry out in the snow. I have burnt my left hand, while taking the laundry out of the kettle and it was so …

– page 2 –

… heavy and I lifted it diligently and in the necktie and his shirt was just sliding over my left hand. It frizzled and my entire hand was full of blisters. I immediately have put flour on it and said a prayer. Now my hand is well again. All this happened two weeks ago and last week I have already done the laundry again.

Mary, did you write down, what I have written to you? Put it in your bible, where it will remain safe. And if you have not received it, please let me know, since then I will resend it, it takes away the pain and cures. Now we are all healthy again. Mary, have you received my last letter from Christmas time? I had put inside a thaler painting for your little one and if you did receive it, you are a lucky one! Mister Nibaum had to work so hard, so I always am afraid that you may not have received it.

– page 3 –

I want to let you know, how it went on for the dear Lina. They have been sued, since their milk had been found to be too slurry. How could it have been their fault? They sell it just the way it has been sent to them. They had to pay eighty thaler [dollars ?] fine. That was an awful lot of money for something that had not been their fault. Lina has to work pretty hard. She has to wash big […?], in one of them sweet milk, in the next one buttermilk and in the last one butter. Lina would love me to come and help her, if only I could. Mary, please do not write this in any letter, since I am not supposed to know, because they know that it hurts me. A mother is not free from worries and cannot help nonetheless. My writing is not nice, I can only write at night. I hope and wish that you are all at good health and happy and that you all have work. So please be so good and write me soon, Mary, so that we hear something from you.

– page 4 –

Beloved child, we send you all the greetings from us all. I have to write you another time, since I have not received a reply yet. I do not know, what to think. I hope, you are not all fallen ill! If you do not have the time, then you still have your girls. They may write us a few lines. I always get a hiccup, whenever I think about you. So please be so kind once and write us a little letter about how you are doing.

The father has recovered completely, so thank God we are all healthy again.

The Mrs Kirsch has now a diligent maidservant, so now I do not have to go over to her anymore.

I had put this letter aside and then could not find it anymore. So I wrote another one and sent it to you. Now I have found it again, and so I decided to send it to you as well, so that I do not owe it to you. I hope for your reply soon! I remain your good mother Mrs Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Goodbye, dear children all!
Goodbye, dear children all, be diligent and good and pray as well, so that the good God will help you. Remain healthy all of you!
Goodbye, dear children, goodbye!

Unraveling the Threads

I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the original letter in Barbara’s own voice, but we do need to see if we can extract additional information from her letter.

Aurora, Indiana, March 17th

Dear children, we greet you all warmly from our hearts. I had intended to write for a long time, but had not found the time so far. Here, many are sick from the [“Krüh” – not clear, what it means. Someone suggested to me it could be a dialect word for scabies. Alternatively, it could be a variant of the word “Grippe” (flu), but these are both just guesses.]. Our father has fallen down and has hurt himself at the hand. It was not too bad, but still he is sick now anyway and cannot work. We had to give up going to church. I do not know, who will take it. [That makes no sense to me, but that is what she wrote.] I always have to take care of somebody over there.

The Mrs Kirsch has no maidservant. Furthermore, they all have been sick every few weeks.

Mrs. Kirsch is indeed very likely Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s mother-in-law. In fact, I have no idea who else it could be since Katharina Barbara Lemmert and her husband, Philipp Jacob Kirsch were the original immigrants.

In August 1887, Katharina Barbara Kirsch, then a widow, executed a deed to their farm in neighboring Ripley County. She turned 80 the next day and her son who lived with her was disabled from the Civil War. Both she and her son, according to the deed, were living in Dearborn County. I know that her son lived with his brother, Jacob Kirsch, at the Kirsch House until his death. I’m sure that Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch did as well. She died on February 1, 1889, so the letter would have had to have been written before 1889, given that it was dated March 17th.

Barbara goes on to provide some newsy information about her other children to their sister living in Chicago.

Babedt [Babette?] has had “remidis” in her right leg.

Probably rheumatitis. Babbit is Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s nickname, listed as such on one census.

Cähri and Eidi have been sick.

Cahri was likely Caroline Kirsch, the daughter of Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, born in 1871 who lived at the Kirsch House.

Eidi is probably Ida, born in 1876, also Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s daughter.

Luli and her husband are in Louisville, they both have been sick.

I’m presuming this is Emma Louise Drechsel, known as “Aunt Lou” who was married to Johann Georg Giegoldt in 1881. They had two daughters, born in 1882 and 1883. I wonder why Barbara didn’t mention the girls.

Mr. Roberts has died, he was 69 years old.

Based on the 1880 census, I can’t find a Roberts in that region that would be roughly the correct age. I wonder why this was important to Mary and her mother. Generally, we find the family interacting with German families.

Brindi is large and fat and our Luise has caught a cold, when hanging up the laundry out in the snow.

Caroline Louise Rabe, born in 1880, would have been the age to hang clothes on the line. I have no clue who Brindi refers to. Everyone in this family had nicknames, some of which bore little or no resemblance to their actual given name.

I wonder if Brindi is a pet or perhaps a pregnant daughter. The only daughter pregnant during this time would have been Margaretha Drechsel, whose nickname I don’t know, who had Eleanor Rabe in March of 1885 and John Rabe in September of 1887. Of course, Mary, the recipient of the letter was pregnant with Stella who was born in June of 1884 and Edna Marie born on March 4, 1888, so she would not have been the person being referred to as “Brindi.”

I have burnt my left hand, while taking the laundry out of the kettle and it was so …

– page 2 –

… heavy and I lifted it diligently and in the necktie and his shirt was just sliding over my left hand. It frizzled and my entire hand was full of blisters. I immediately have put flour on it and said a prayer. Now my hand is well again. All this happened two weeks ago and last week I have already done the laundry again.

This sounds just horrible, but provides perspective on the daily dangers of simply doing laundry. Boiling laundry. Probably miserable at best and horrid in the summer. I had to look the definition of frizzle up and it means to “fry or grill with a sizzling noise.” Ugh – my hand hurts this many years later just thinking about that boiling water. Poor Barbara.

I have never heard of flour as a remedy for burns but googling reveals it as a folk remedy with many warnings against this methodology today.

Mary, did you write down, what I have written to you? Put it in your bible, where it will remain safe. And if you have not received it, please let me know, since then I will resend it, it takes away the pain and cures. Now we are all healthy again.

I surely wonder about that remedy. Was it the flour remedy she was referring to, or something else? Apparently, something she sent earlier. I hope the family still has this Bible someplace, probably given to Mary in the church in Aurora when she was confirmed about 1873 or 1874.

Mary, have you received my last letter from Christmas time? I had put inside a thaler painting for your little one and if you did receive it, you are a lucky one! Mister Nibaum had to work so hard, so I always am afraid that you may not have received it.

“Little one” tells us that Mary had at least one child, so that dates this letter after 1884. Mary’s first child, Stella, was born in June of 1884. I was unable to figure out what a thaler painting is or was, but a thaler was the official coin in Germany until 1908. It could be interpreted as roughly similar to a dollar at that time, which of course was worth much more than a dollar today.

– page 3 –

I want to let you know, how it went on for the dear Lina. They have been sued, since their milk had been found to be too slurry. How could it have been their fault? They sell it just the way it has been sent to them. They had to pay eighty thaler [dollars ?] fine. That was an awful lot of money for something that had not been their fault. Lina has to work pretty hard. She has to wash big […?], in one of them sweet milk, in the next one buttermilk and in the last one butter. Lina would love me to come and help her, if only I could. Mary, please do not write this in any letter, since I am not supposed to know, because they know that it hurts me. A mother is not free from worries and cannot help nonetheless.

I am presuming Lina would be Caroline “Lina” Drechsel who married Johannes Gottfried Heinke in Cincinnati, although that wasn’t until 1895. There’s certainly a big piece of Lina’s life missing during the 1880s. In the 1880 census she was living with the Heinke family as a servant and noted as a cousin. In 1881 she is shown in the City Directory as a housekeeper. Maybe the Lina that Barbara references is someone else since it does refer to “they,” inferring that Lina was married. There may be an earlier marriage we don’t know about. All of the pieces don’t add up for her. Maybe this mystery will be solved one day too.

My writing is not nice, I can only write at night. I hope and wish that you are all at good health and happy and that you all have work. So please be so good and write me soon, Mary, so that we hear something from you.

– page 4 –

Beloved child, we send you all the greetings from us all. I have to write you another time, since I have not received a reply yet. I do not know, what to think. I hope, you are not all fallen ill! If you do not have the time, then you still have your girls. They may write us a few lines. I always get a hiccup, whenever I think about you. So please be so kind once and write us a little letter about how you are doing.

I suspect hiccup means that she cried.

The word “girls” in this sentence suggests that Mary had already had her second child who was born on March 4, 1888, unless she had a child in 1886 that we don’t know about that died.

This is perplexing because this page appears to be the older letter that Barbara enclosed, written before March 17th. We know that the original letter was dated March 17th, and that Barbara had not heard from Mary or at least had not received a letter since Christmas. Mary’s second child was born March 4th, 1888.  We also know that Mrs. Kirsch died in February 1889, so this entry is confounding. Mary’s first child, Stella, was born in June of 1884. No letter year scenario fits all three pieces of evidence well.

The father has recovered completely, so thank God we are all healthy again.

The Mrs. Kirsch has now a diligent maidservant, so now I do not have to go over to her anymore.

I would presume this means Barbara Drechsel Kirsch’s mother-in-law again.

I had put this letter aside and then could not find it anymore. So I wrote another one and sent it to you. Now I have found it again, and so I decided to send it to you as well, so that I do not owe it to you. I hope for your reply soon! I remain your good mother Mrs Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Goodbye, dear children all!
Goodbye, dear children all, be diligent and good and pray as well, so that the good God will help you. Remain healthy all of you!
Goodbye, dear children, goodbye!

It’s of note here that Barbara did not mention Margaretha who was married to Herm Rabe, unless that’s the reference to Brindi who is fat. That might place this letter in 1887 when Margaretha was pregnant.

On a sad note, Barbara also didn’t mention her son, John. We know little about him other than that he was living in Cincinnati by 1877 according to the Aurora church records. He, or at least someone by his name, is listed in the city directory there as a tailor, and is married in 1880 to Lizzy Uffman, living with her parents. Their one child, Alfred, was born in April of 1882. John is not shown in the City Directory after 1881, but a note in the Cincinnati Enquirer Newspaper on Sept. 5., 1882 states that a massive fire in Aurora burned an entire block, a factory, hotel and other buildings. The article says that the property of John Drexel was damaged. There is no other known John Drexel, or similar surname, in Aurora, and the last we knew of John, he was living in Cincinnati. It’s possible that they meant his father, George.

Even more confusing is the May 6, 1880, Cincinnati Daily Star report under the “Aurora, Indiana” heading that says, “Mr. Jacob Kirsch and wife attended the funeral of Mr. John Dreckler in Cincinnati yesterday (Wednesday.)”

If this John Dreckler is Barbara Kirsch Drechsel’s brother, which is likely, then the Alfred born in 1882 is not his child. That John Drechsel/Drexel/Drexler may be someone entirely different. We do know that John’s wife remarried in 1888. There may be multiple John Drechsel’s involved – and “ours” remains a mystery.

A Gift from the Past Reunites Our Family

I’m extremely grateful to Ernest for reaching out and sharing. It allowed us both to connect the leaves and branches and flesh out our trees. Ernest summed this up just perfectly:

Thank you for adding Mary Drexler’s information to your family tree, it seemed to me that it somehow symbolically reunites the family.

This is so gratifying! What a direct connection to our family, to hear our great grandmother speaking to her children over the years through her letter.

First of all, please convey my deepest thanks to Christoph for opening up this insight into our family with his wonderful translation. And to you Roberta for making this happen. I’ve been wanting to know the contents of the letter for years now.

It makes no great pronouncements, It’s just a simple newsy family letter and it’s all the more intimate because it tells of incidents that occurred, accidents that befell them, what’s going on with the neighbors.

Barbara telling Mary about the lawsuit involving Lina and the milk (but don’t tell anybody else because I’m not supposed to know) is such a natural thing to do.

Barbara, possibly in her mid-sixties at the time the letter was written, is still doing laundry by boiling the clothing in a kettle, heavy work and dangerous too.

She has sent something to Mary which she’s supposed to write down and put in her bible which “takes away the pain and cures.” A spell or charm perhaps.

There is such a lot of information to be gleaned from the letter – actually two letters, it seems.

There’s a clue within the letter that may make it possible to narrow down the year it was written. The first paragraph makes mention of so many people being sick and even one death.

The “Russian Flu” was an epidemic that swept through Indiana starting in late 1889 and lasted through 1892. There were hundreds of deaths in Indiana attributed to the flu in 1890. The epidemic spiked in January of 1892 with over 400 deaths in that month alone and then began to decline. It’s possible that the sicknesses mentioned were a result of the flu.  Kind of interesting considering our current pandemic.

Ernest is right. Further research shows that there was a significant spike in deaths in January of 1888 as well, even higher than the peak of the flu in January of 1890. If the March 17th date was in 1888, that would accommodate almost all of our date hints:

  • Written before Mrs. Kirsch died on February 1, 1889 – so the letter must be 1888 or earlier because Mrs. Kirsch was deceased by March 1889.
  • After Mrs. Kirsch deeds her land and moves to town in August 1887.
  • Barbara refers to the “little one” in her letter when describing a thaler painting sent the previous Christmas. Mary’s second child was born on March 4, 1888 and the first in 1884.
  • Page 4, apparently an earlier letter, clearly refers to “girls,” so this had to be after the second daughter’s birth on March 4, 1888 unless an unknown child was born in 1886 and subsequently died. It’s also possible that page 4 is actually from a later letter.
  • However, if Barbara has not heard from Mary, by letter, since Christmas, how did she know that Mary had given birth to a daughter on March 4th, 1888 in order to refer to “girls?” A telegraph message sent to the train depot might be a possibility, or page 4 was from a later letter.
  • Indiana deaths experienced a spike in January 1888, and the March 17th letter refers to the illnesses and death, noting that in March, people are better.

It’s so much fun to peep through that remaining keyhole into their daily lives. My best guess here is that the Match 17th letter was written in 1888. Regardless, it was written near that time and provides us with a rare and wonderful glimpse into Barbara’s life, narrated in her own words.

Thanks again to Ernest and Christoph – and everyone who saved those letters!

Addendum: German Letter Transcription

– Seite 1 –

Aurora Indiana März den 17.

Liebe Kinder seid Alle Herzlich von uns
allen [gegrüßt]. Ich wolde schon lange schreiben, und kam
nicht dazu. Hier sind vühle Laide krank an der
Krüh, unser Vater ist gefahlen aber Er
hat sich weng weh gethan an der Hand
das hätt nichts aus gemacht aber doch ist Er
krank und kan nichts mehr schaffen wir musten
die Kirche auf geben wer es nimt das weis
ich noch nicht, ich mus hald imer wen drüben
aus helfen die Misses Kirsch hat keine Macht(=Magd)
Sie wahren auch Alle baar Wochen krank
Die Babedt [Babette?] hat remidis in rechten Bein
gehabd die Cähri und Eidi wen krank die
Luli und Ihr Mann die sind in Loiswill
Sie wahren baide krank. Der Raberts
ist gestorben Er war 69 Jahre ald die Brindi
st gros und fett u. unsere Loise hat sich
weng verköldet mit Ihren wasch aufhängen
in den grosen Schnee. Ich habe mich gebründ
in meine Linke Hand ich habe die Wasch
aus den Kössel gehoben, und das wahr, so…

– Seite 2 –

…schwär, und ich hebd hald dichdig und in den
schlips über und sein Hemt [stok?] schleidet
sich gerahte über meine Linke Hand das
hat gebüzeld es wahr die ganze Hand vol
Blasen, ich hab gleich recht Flauer drauf,
und habse besprochen jezt ist Sie gans gut
das wahr in zwei Wochen alles geschehen ich
habe die lezte Woche schon wieder gewa-
schen, Märi hast Du das auf geschrieben
wo ich Dir geschikt hab, lechs in die Bibel
da bleibd es sicher, und hast Du es nicht so
las mirs wissen, so wil ich Dirs schücken
den das nimt den schmärzen und heild
so sind wir Goott sei dank wieder
Alle Gesund. Märi hast Du den letzten
Brif beken zu Weihnachten ich habe
für den Kleinen ein Dallerbild einge-
legt wen dus bekomen hast, so machst
du ein großen Pungt. Der Mister
Nibaum die hatten, so zu thun gehabd
das wahr arch, da denk ich immer Ihr habd
den Brif nicht bekomen.

– Seite 3 –

Ich wil Euch noch schreiben wie der
Liebe Lina noch gegangen ist, die sind
verklagt worden über die Milch weil
sie zu din wahr, was haben Sie dafür
könt wie Sis schücken, so verkaufens Sie
und mussten 80. Achtzich daler bezahlen
wahr das nicht ein Sinden Geld wo Mann
nichts davür kan, die Lina mus noch recht hart
schaffen Sie hat so grose [Höfen?] zu waschen
in ein ist Sismichl in ander Butter Milch
in andern Butter, die Lina nehmet mich gern
wen Ich komen könt Märi schreib nichts in kein
Brif den ich sol nichts wissen davon weil Sie
wissen, daß mirs wehe thut. Eine Mutter ist n
nicht frei von sorchen, und kann doch
nichts helfen. Mein Schreiben ist nicht schön
icht mus nur Nachts schreiben. Ich hof und
Wünsch das Ihr Alle recht Gesund und zufrieden
seid und und wen Ihr alle Arbeit habd. So
sei so gut und schreib bald Märi daß wir
auch was fon Eüch hören

– Seite 4 –

Hertz gelibde Kind seit Alle herzlich
gegrüsset von u[ns] Allen.
Ich mus noch ein mahl an Eüch schreiben, weil ich
noch keine Antwort bekomen habe. Ich weis nicht was ich
denken sol, Ihr werdet doch nicht Alle krank sein! Wen
du nicht Zeit hast, so hast du doch eine Mädchen die könen
doch so vühl thun und konen uns ein baar Zeilen schreiben
Ich hab immer Hetscher wen Ich an Dich denk, so ist es
vorbei. So seid doch ein mahl so gut und schreibt uns bald ein
Briflein wie es mit Eüch geht. Der Vader ist wieder gans
gesund, so sind wir Gott sei Dank Alle gesund. Die Misses
Kirsch hat eine fleisiche Macht jezt brauch Ich nicht mehr zu
nüber gehen. Ich habe diesen Brif weggelecht und hab
Ihm nimmer finden könen, so hab ich em anderen geschrieben
und an Euch geschückt, jezt hab ich im gefunden, und so
wil Ich im auch wieder zu Euch schücken so habd mir
nichts vir ungut. Ich Hof eine badige Andwort. Ich ver-
bleibe Eüere gute Mutter Misses Drexler. Aurora Indiana

Gutbei Libe Kinder Alle!
Gutbei liebe Kinder Alle seid Fleisich
und gut und dut auch Beeden, das Eüch
der Liebe Goott auch Hülft seid alle gesunnt
Gutbai Liebe Kinder Gutbai.

Johann Adam Kirsch (c1677 – 1734/1739), Mayor, Elder and the Free Village Wine Tavern – 52 Ancestors #307

Johann Adam Kirsch was born about 1677 to Johann Georg Kirsch, known as Jerg, and Margaretha Koch who were married in 1650 in Durkheim, now Bad Durkheim.

Given that Jerg Kirsch was a leaseholder of the Jostens estate in 1660, in Fussgoenheim, we know that the couple would have been living there at that time. By 1673, the French were once again ravaging the landscape, and between then and 1689, this area of the Pfalz was once again depopulated.

Durkheim Perhaps

Did the Kirsch family leave in 1674 when other families in this region sought refuge elsewhere, or were they still trying to stick it out in Fussgoenheim when Johann Adam Kirsch was born about 1677? There’s no way to know.

Did Jerg’s family go back to Durkheim where Johann Adam’s brother, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was married in 1695? That’s the most likely scenario, not only because we know Wilhelm was living there in 1695, but also because we know that their parents were married there in 1650. They knew the landscape, probably had family there and would have gone someplace where they had at least some resources.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch’s marriage entry in the church records indicates that his father, Jerg Kirsch, was deceased. Of course, Jerg was Adam’s father too. We don’t know when Jerg died, or if Adam’s mother was still living.

If Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, approximate age 25 in 1695, was living in Durkheim, then it’s likely that his younger brother who would have been 18 at that time was living in Durkheim as well.

The Nine Year’s war ended in 1689, officially, but it’s unlikely that former residents returned immediately. Houses and barns had been burned across the countryside – fields, vineyards, and orchards ruined.

The Kirsch brothers may have been in Durkheim in 1695, but six years later, we know that Adam had returned to Fussgoenheim.

Mayor

By 1701, Johann Adam Kirsch, then about age 24, was Mayor of the northern half of Fussgoenheim. I have to wonder how many residents were living in Fussgoenheim at that time. It would only have been repopulated for a decade, maybe less.

By 1720, the entire village only consisted of 150-200 people, or about 15-20 homes. The number of families that had returned by 1701 was probably only a handful. It had been nearly a quarter-century since they had left – again – after only living in Fussgoenheim about 15 years after returning after the 30 Years’ War. Altogether, in the 100 years between 1618 and 1718, the Kirsch family had lived elsewhere for about 66 years.

It makes me wonder why they came back at all. Perhaps it had to do with reclaiming their father’s leasehold estate rights. Something is better than nothing, and that leasehold offered at least some opportunity, even if it did require a significant amount of elbow grease.

Seeking Resources

If I can find a copy of the book, Ortsgeschichte von Fußgönheim by Ernst Merk, published in 1925, the answer might be there on page 153 where Adam’s testimony is recorded. I’m working on that task, but the book is only available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is closed due to Covid, and a library in Buffalo, NY. Fingers crossed for inter-library loan.

Another publication, Heimat-Blätter für Ludwigshafen am Rhein und Umgebung, issue 1921 No. 10 reportedly contains additional information. My German friend told me that Heimat-Blätter für Ludwigshafen am Rhein und Umgebung was a journal published from 1912 to 1939 and might well hold additional information not only about Fussgoenheim, but this region. I’m attempting to find out if this is available anyplace digitally, in a pdf file that I can copy/paste into a translator.

The answer to another mystery may be held in these documents.

Who Was Johann Adam’s First Wife?

Walter Schnebel, now deceased, researched the Kirsch family for decades with access to original records in Fussgoenheim and other German locations.

Walter’s birth year for Johann Adam was given as (about) 1677  and his death before 1740.

Walter’s exact verbiage is as follows:

(?) N.N. Greulich (* um 1680 † vor 1706, T.v. Adam Greulich); seit ca. 1677 in Fgh. (OG Merk, siehe Weistuhm 1717 Vern. 1717)

This translated to:

(?) N.N. Greulich (* about 1680 † before 1706, T.v. Adam Greulich); since about 1677 in Fgh. (OG Merk, see Weistuhm 1717 Vern. 1717)

I interpret this to mean that Walter wasn’t sure that Adam had a first wife, or possibly that he didn’t know her first name. Someplace, Walter obviously found a record.

Adam’s second wife was Anna Maria Koob.

Here’s the quandry for me.

Johann Adam Kirsch’s first recorded child, Johann Michael Kirsch born about 1700 is my ancestor.

If in fact, Johann Adam Kirsch was married to Miss Greulich before her death in 1706, and Johann Michael Kirsch’s birth year is roughly accurate, then Ms. Greulich was his mother, not Anna Maria Koob.

I’d surely like to know!

This matters – a lot.

1717 in Fussgoenheim

There’s painfully little information available for Fussgoenheim during the time that Adam lived there. The villagers would have been rebuilding following warfare from 1618-1650 and again from approximately 1673-1690.

In 1733, Jakob Tilman von Halberg, the “Lord” of the land complained that the residents refused to pay for the new church. That, combined with the fact that church records begin in 1726, suggests that rebuilding even the basics of society took more than 20 years and maybe closer to 30.

In 1717, the village elders attempted to recompile at least some portion of what had been lost. I purchased a booklet transcribed in 1968 in German that included a portion of the original 1717 record.

I scanned and utilized Deepl translator to gain at least a small window into what happened 303 years ago. When that didn’t go well, due to a somewhat archaic font, I typed the entire document, word for German word. I think I might just have inherited my German ancestors’ tenacity.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was the court clerk, cognate, or “court man” who, along with a few elders recorded as much of their history and customs as could be reconstructed. I asked a native German-speaker to see if he could give an assist to the translation, but his comment was that the challenge is that the German words themselves were archaic, and even in German, he wasn’t sure what some of it meant – let alone trying to translate into English.

I’ve included the transcribed/translated document, in total, below using both the Deepl translator and Google translate. I translated this once by copying the text into the translator, but given that the font was difficult for the translator to recognize, I eventually retyped the entire 10 pages. I discovered how difficult it is to type words that you don’t understand or know how to spell. So, in reality, this document has been translated 4 times and I’ve combined the pieces that make the most sense from all 4 versions. The crazy things we do for genealogy!

If anyone can improve on this version, PLEASE feel free😊. I have included the actual scanned pages in German for reference.

Some of this is very awkward and nuance is lost, but I think the idea is conveyed from both 1628, almost 400 years ago, and 1717, with footnotes at the end of each section. The fact that we have any of this is amazing! Thanks to Christoph for finding this book for me and his assistance.

Fussgoenheim History from Pfalzische Weistumer

This document begins with the history of Fussgoenheim.

W. Ludeigshefen. first sure mention in 1291 as violin home, 1343 as foot home (Christman, settlement names I, s 171 ff. in the 14th century, the n oberdorff and underdorf divided place belonged partly to the count of leiningen, partly to the lords of falkenstein, whereby both lords of the village used their own mayors. The Liningingian part of the lower village, from 1385 to the middle of the 16th century in the fiefdom of the Knights of Meckenheim, was bought by the lords of Hallberg in 1729/31 and since 1731 by Baron von Hallberg (Chancellor Jakob Tillmann von Hallbert.) The Falkenstein’s, in the course of time several times as fiefdoms, lastly 1629-1726 to the family Kessler von Sarmsccheim, granted rights to Ober and Unterdorf to the Duchy of Lorraine in 1667 with the County of Falkenstein; 1728/29 as Lorraine fiefdom to the family von Hallbert. In the agriculturally rich district, since time immemorial extensive property of various spiritual foundations (Seebach Monastery, Limburg, Lobenfeld, Schonfeld, Neustadt Monastery, etc.) Petry, Rheinland-Pfalz, S, 109, E Merk, local history of F (1925) K. Kreuter, local history of F., in: Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen 1925 Nr 20 Fabricius, Unt. Nearby area, S, 499 f.

StARch. Speyer WS or Kreigverlust. Dr. bei Ernst Merk, Ortsgeschischte von F (1925) S 156 ff (A) and by K. Kreuter in Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen Jg. 1921 Nr. 9 (B) In the following reprint of the text A which seems to be more true to the original spelling than B.

1628

Copia Fussgenheimer wiesumbs, according to the falkenstein chancellery, was sent in 1628.

  1. Item one assigns the community four days of the full court, the first on the Monday after the twelfth, the second on the Monday after Easter Monday 1), the third on the Monday after St. Peter’s Day 2), the fourth on the Monday after St. Michaelmas 3), and the four days of court shall be uncommitted.

  1. Item has the commonwealth a little bit of money to give away, that it may lend it to whom it will, and when a schoolboy is born, it should be granted to him for another, when he does what is proper, i.e., a commoner’s bidding for nothing.
  2. Item the same request of the commoner shall turn their way for a mile, and what he goes further, one shall give him for a mile six pfenning.
  3. Item directs the community to the junk twenty-eight (year old?) malter korns to the beedt below and above.
  4. Item is shown in the upper part in Seebach well atz, front and governing service.
  5. Items are rejected by two men from every court, since people are in them, the junker. a) [Note that a) and other letters or numbers with ) are references to endnotes.]
  6. The lower part of the item is similar to Seebacher court. b)
  7. Item they, the lordship, came here and find no hay and straw in the scrubbing, so they shall mow down to the meadows outside a town up to the Schauerheim 4) market, and if it is expedient that they do not save enough, so they shall mow outside again one more time than long and much, until their opportunity is again to travel home.
  8. Item one points at the lower part of the same as the Seebacher guth uf der thumbherrn well. [This did not translate entirely.]
  9. If it was a matter of fact that an unusual 5) man was coming to the village, the schoolmaster shall take him home where he belongs,
  10. Item indicates a common one a free bakehouse, if it is otherwise free. 6)
  11. The same beaker [baker?] shall have two sifters and two sieves and two baggages, who are good, which he shall lend to the people, the poor men as the rich, due to bake to him, and it is so, which bakes two malt, he shall give three loaves.
  12. Item which bakes an age, he shall give 3 c) breads, and which bakes half an age, he shall give according to number, and the woman may make the breads small or large as she wishes; and if it is proper to point out that the breads are becoming too small, the woman shall put on her pouch (bag) and give six bright defenses before the three breads; And if it were proper for the baker to put much flour under the bread, the woman shall put on her purse (pouch), and shall give two bright (light-colored) protections before the mead (meel), and the woman shall lift up her mead (meel), and the woman shall be punished by the basin.

[Note that a second translation of a given word is shown in (). Also note that the last sentence beginning with “and the woman…”, replaced with “and sell the woman with impunity from baker.”]

  1. The same baker shall bake the same bread properly, and if it is pertinent that the same bread was not baked properly, then the same man shall carry the bread before the churches and shall let the bread be seen and shall pay the bread to the pitcher according to honorable men’s knowledge. d)
  2. Item it is to have also the same baker some horse, with it he is to take the dough from the people and bring home the bread.
  3. The same baker shall not draw more cattle in his yard, than what he needs in his yard, and if it is pertinent that the backer (baker) did not hold such a thing, he has broken his freedom and she may bake whatever she wants.
  4. Item shows the common one way to the bitz 7) between Henn Beckern e) and the bakehouse, that a donkey may go in with two heretics.
  5. Item is assigned to the bachstaden eight schuch far from the Genheimer mark to the common wag.
  6. Item is assigned eight schuch far from the woge to the Dornferrt.
  7. Items are rejected by water f), and the one who oppresses them does violence and no right.

[Alternate translation: Item shall be put to one’s charge and thrown to the commoner. He does violence and no right.]

  1. Item you know: which in the community has no field in the mark, which should dig two times wide from the streets glue ditch unfriendly.
  2. When they have done this, they shall heap the grain without harm, and after that they shall ask g) the people of God (the court) for every kind of grain, and shall not refuse them, and when they have done this h), they shall give every driver a week, and should say to them: just thank your master. (Thank only your master.)
  3. They shall also give the community two quarters of wine, they shall not be angry or lazy (foolish.)
  4. Item shows the way through the German Herm court to the the thumbherm garden.

  1. Item the landlords shall have four oxen go into the long meadows, they shall have their yoke, they shall eat where they like to eat, and when a someone came into the marks and stopped there, one shall help out with it
  2. Item they shall have a farmhand to keep the oxen, and he shall have a basket in his arm, and what the oxen shit, he shall pick up, that the martens (maddies,madmen?) may (do) not beat the scythes with (on) it.
  3. Item the same servant shall have a staff, he shall have two kickhel, one he shall put on one foot, the other under the thuhnn; whatever he may deign to do, that shall be pleasing (given) to him.
  4. Item there are two meadows marked in Fussgoenheimer, which are to be from St. Georgentag 8) on up to St. Johannstag 3); they shall be pacified; the community shall have its way, and if it is proper that a beast (cattle) should come unscrupulously (unwholesomely) to him, and if he came to whom (meadow, lady) they were directed, he shall shout out three times: If no one comes to drive the beast out, he shall take his right handler in his hand, and shall drive the cattle out unharmed.
  5. Item it is supposed to hold the hospital property of Durkheim a footbridge over the brook.

Item es soll das spitalguy von Durkheim halten ein steg uber die bach.

Footnotes for above:

1) 6. Januar.
2) 24. Juni.
3) 29. Sept.
4) Schauernheim, so. Fussgoenheim.
5) too unfinished – naughty, unjust, wrong, vicious as opposed to justified? DWB. XI, 3, Sp. 538 ff.; or as much as ungeberdig = undisciplined, unruly, unruly in the gene set? DWB, ibid. Sp. 621 ff.; or as much as ungeberdig = unreliable, unruly, disobedient? Cf. DWB, ibid. Sp. 908 and IV, 1,3, Sp. 5349
6) i.e. the village lord
7) Bitz, Bitze = good meadow style, (fenced, surrounded) meadow garden. Zink, Pfalz field names
8) April 23rd

a) Probably misprints instead of real junk.
b) Deviating from a reads Art. 7 in B: Item also today and straw on the Seebacher yard.
c) Reading “3” after Merk doubtful.
d) More respectable (honorable).
e) Henn Beckern Gembackern.
f) follows for alpine pastures.
g) follows the.
h) follows ride.

Part II.

1717

St Arch. Speyer, Gemeindearchiv Fussgonheim No. 1. notarial instrument Or., 36 parchment leaves in 3 layers, sheets 1, 2, 11, 12, 17-22 missing; the writing is heavily faded in places and difficult to read. Dr. in extracts by K. Kreuter in Heimatbl. Ludwigshafen 1921 No. 10. No genuine Weistum, but one after the loss of all older legal records (in the Palatinate Succession Circle) of Schultheiss and court in F. arranged notarial statement of the village right, whereby obviously in the way one proceeded in such a way that the Schltheiss on Grunt of collected reports (from whom?) and recorded the transferred rights in writing and a notary then questioned seven aged parishioners about the correctness of the individual sentences (seats) asked. In the following,

Dr. Schultheiss and the court’s remarks introducing the document (about the request of the mayor and the court) and the “instructed” legal sentences (seats) without the statements of the seven interviewees attached to the individual articles and under exclusion of the articles – only incompletely preserved in the presentation – in which the property of the community is described.

(Alternate translation of the last portion of this item:

A notary public then questioned seven elderly parishioners of tiber about the correctness of the individual seats. 1m following Dr. the remarks introducing the document (tiber the request of Sehultheij3 and Gerieht) and the “designated” legal seats without the seats assigned to the individual articles statements of seven interviewees and under the appearance of those – only incompletely preserved in the submission – articles in which…the community’s property will be torn up.)

Fusgenheimer wisdom from 1717

…a) Christoph Hauck and Willhelm Kirsch, men of the court, also Andreas Kirsch, Dieter Coob and Hanss Jacob Spannier, together with seven other inherited burgers from the court and the community of Fussgenheim, took some of the items from the court and the community of Fussgenheim with them, when they immediately presented too old acquaintances and witnesses, still pre-registered in the morning in the presence of the yoke noble, vest and highly distinguished gentleman

Johann Philipp Falcken, churpfaltzichen ausfauths of the lobli(che)n chief magistrate Neustadt, also gentleman Johann Melchior Faeth, at the time of his schooldays in Schauernheim, as a particularly bedded gentleman witnessed by a written presentation of thickly painted village righteousness oral recitation, who, in the french war, created for the village of Fussgenheim all the judicial protocols.

Alternate translation of the above paragraph:

Johann Philipp Falcken, churpfaltzisehen ausfauths of the 16bli[che]n oberampts Neustadt, also lord Johann Melchior Faeth, at Schauernheim, when particularly anhero witnesses of begotten masters were thickly bemoaned by written presentation of the eggs of the justice of the village, who will design and the village of FuBgenheim in the french 6) war, all court records, white thumb and other written documents, according to which the rights and justices of the village were to be proven to the best of their ability, leyder (b made a deal and was (a total) completely lost, whereas they provided and foresaw that when the old people still alive in the court and out of the community passed away with death, the old, well-born village rights and customs of the village are lost with the young burgers or descendants, even contested and disputed, or at least caused by all kinds of regulations and interferences (precautions and interjections) to which dear descendants of the village inmates are subjected due to their thirst and costs at the village of Fussgoenheim.

In addition to each of the two village parts, each of part was accompanied by various land and village rulers, with whom a body ruler had to recognize one body ruler, each of whom (which) brought his own special rights and regalia to exercise in the orth, but all the community is allowed to enjoy their freedom at all times, and especially from the side of the most merciful bodily control one is instructed to put a stop to everything that is running against the old right and comes from here, and to everything that is newly praying.

For this reason, they had decided in some cases, since otherwise there would be no other way to hold means before them, as the village rights accounts are demonstrably preserved and the long use and practice are safeguarded, and to listen to the old persons and the community about such legal rights, to instrument their testimony formally, and then to put it behind court for the future good evidence of the matters.

If, therefore, I, the notary public, together with both the chief magistrates, and especially the gentlemen called upon to do so and the witnesses standing here present, would have duly bedded me, the notary public, and their gracious village and bodily lordships, they would have been paid a sum of money by the very least that would not harm them, as their high and lower jurisdiction as well as the regalia and fautheylichkeit could be recognized and there was no obstacle to assisting them, and after the village rights and freedoms were reportedly confiscated, the resident old people were allowed to be questioned and the fee was paid for one or more instrumented documenta, one exemplary on parchment, to be shared with them (to help heal.) What village rights and justice, also with regard to the same property itself, as reported above, is presented to me, the notary, by Schultheiss Englehardt;

Whereupon the following seven old men took

  1. Adam Kirsch
  2. Jacob Antes
  3. HanB Adam Hauck
  4. Theobaldt Bilrstler [probably Boerstler]
  5. Matthes MuBpach
  6. Hemp Nickel Coop and
  7. Adam Gifft

How they, the community, those in quiet possession, come and use up to now, faithfully obeyed, heard, and questioned in the presence of one instead of being mercifully listened to, whose testimony is to be diligently recorded about it and were of lasting content.

Now follow the preregistered one, notario, handed over to me the rights, justice and property of Dorff’s Fussgenheim, also what each of the people who had been deported from it had said and gave me clear words.

  1. Firstly, in addition to the two schools, the court will be composed of burgers from the upper and lower villages, which court will have to judge and decide all matters arising in the field and elsewhere together. But what happens especially in the upper and lower villages, everyone has the power to come to a final decision and to let them be fined (2.
  2. Secondly, the servant is appointed (ordered) by the court, has his freedom from the woman, too, with annual enjoyment of a field and knowledge 3). (Alternate translation: Servant is ordered by the court also has from the community its freedom with annual enjoyment of one field and ?.)
  3. Thirdly, the community has put the bells and the clock out of its own means and belongs to them autonomously, therefore the community has to dispose of them. (4
  4. footnote (5
  5. Fifthly the people in the upper and lower villages had the complete joyfulness and the hour here, from immemorial years ago, in quiet possession and enjoyment in such a way that neither the village rulers nor the body rulers may not be entitled to it. For this reason (that is why) no one on either side has been threatened (warned) to leave the congregation (community) under what right and freedom, and against which something new is demanded (in return), the most gracious dominion of the body (rulership) is after the clausul, so to be followed after the body, guilty of vigorously manuteniring (6 the serf (bondswoman) against it ), the more so, since, according to the rights of the same liberties, too, by long possession, so running over human endings, acquiriret (7 can become (8.
  6. Sixth, the church (community) has brought the free wine tavern in the village in such a manner that every burgher is permitted to do business, to serve wine, beer, and brandy, of which neither one nor the other has to pay money, to give creutzergeld or other condition, but rather all this freely enjoys set, but enjoying all the freedom that comes from traditions from time immemorial and were therefore been kept so the community wants to keep this free right and no one has the right to interfere with them in this (9.

Ah, the German tavern – so important as a community gathering place, circa 1470, above. Bartering and trading took place between citizens. Politics were discussed, loudly, of that you can be assured. Plans were made and sealed with a handshake and a beverage. Celebratory toasts were hailed, with everyone joining in, and grief was softened there too. Friends and family are the glue of the community, and in this case, held together with a bit of wine, beer and brandy – and had been, from time immemorial, as they testified.

This 1658 tavern scene by Flemish artist David Teniers probably looked much the same throughout Europe.

Perhaps the residents, who would all have known each other well, played cards and smoked a bit.

By Chris Lake – Flickr: 16th_century_wine_press, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19365588

Fruits for distilling German brandy known as Obstbrand or Fruchtbrand and vineyards growing luscious grapes for sun-kissed wines were prevalent in this region, of course. Every home might have had its own wine press which could also be used to press apples for cider.

I don’t know where the free wine tavern was located, or if the building still exists, but Fussgoenheim wasn’t very large, so it was assuredly in one of the buildings on the main street – the only street at the time. My guess would be about dead center – equally accessible to everyone. Perhaps by the market center or shared grazing meadow for livestock.

Here’s a link to a beautiful historic German tavern that might have resembled the one in Fussgoenheim.

No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=384908

I can see Adam and the other bürgers, village citizens, pulling up a chair and gathering around the time-worn tables as they lift their glasses, perhaps with a beautiful, clear Riesling made from the world’s finest Pfalz white grapes, and mugs of much-loved German beer.

Here’s to the free wine tavern that was important enough to be recorded for posterity.

  1. Seventhly, the community is entitled (granted) to the freedom to hunt the free pastureland, which every commoner in the whole region is entitled to do freely and without hindrance in such a way that he is entitled to shoot, hunt, target, with or without a dog, and be able to possess, when and where he thinks fit, what justice for hunting the flock has obviously been driven by the inconceivable years and is in constant possession of that, as it were, which the daily actus possessorij testify abundantly (indicate) (10.

8-16…(11

17-19 [Concerning the properties belonging to the community; due to the loss of the preceding articles the list of wisdom in the submission is incomplete.]

The community reminded the people that it was commonplace and customary in ancient times that those who sat in the village were not supported by any craftsmen (counted among the craftsmen,) so even though the lords of the manor may have the right to set up a branch (number) and to draw the craftsmen to it, the community does not recognize itself as guilty, These people take over their work in this, and are intent on remaining in the work with such, but to keep the free hand in this, to take over frembde outside the place to villages (except for the assumption of the village) (12.

1) In the notarial deed follow:

a) Remarks of the notary about the motivations that led him to make the legitimate request of SchultheijJ and GeTicht, and about the years he had initiated: first of all, he had to approve the 7 congregational and members of the court by the Shiirjste remembers, probably all of them and read points and then to take them into account at every what they themselves know of this and what they can expect from their parents or ancestors professed to have been or to have done something; and so that all may be stable and strong, and serve the community and the descendants instead of a wisdom [!], they have been reproached to give previously hand faithfully to the aydtes instead of giving them, yes, if necessary further on to give the real aydt, which handgelobniis presents the same freely, after they had previously been pleasantly protected from false zeugniis and mayneydt warned themselves to hiiten;

b) “interrogatoria generalia” meaning the name, age, religion, status and profession of each de: 7 respondents of recent questions, whether born in F. or how long otherwise there ansiissig whether knowledge of the war loss of the Briejschajten, protocols and other evidence, including whether or not everyone is willing to testify truthfully to say what he knows himself or what he knows from his parents or others old people in the Dorj about the rights, righteousness and property

I heard from Doris F.

2) The parties all agree; one of them remarks with regard to the second sentence that he remembers that the mr. brother of KeJ31er once wanted to hold the court, but the most merciful body-ruler had forbidden it, whatever remained.

3) Is confirmed unanimously by all the respondents, but one of them adds that he himself had never had a field, and a another reports that his stepfather seye had also been a buttel (servant or farmhand), probably but did not enjoy the field.

4) The respondents affirmed read out the sentence.

5) The text of this article and statements 1-6 auj Bl, 11 and 12 are lost. Ojjenbar deals with art. 4 of taxes, because the answer of Adam Gijjt received in Bl. 13 is that dajJ it as he remembers what he heard from his father in F. and that he had only given a headline in F. and that Taxes on 3 Turks, Friulia and county taxes I know nothing.

6) i.e. to protect, preserve.

7) i.e. acquired.

8) In detailed statements, all seven respondents confirm the traditional freedom from Fronden. One of them answers that he doesn’t know that he threatened to kill someone. or only one horse biB to the village, likewise also of his old father, who turned 88 years old, never ground heard that she froze; another testifies that he knows not otherwise, but that they are joyful, that they have heard such things even from old ones, even that one not once had to go out before the village,

The answers of Adam Kirsch and Jacob Antes see in Heimatbl. Ludwigshajen 1921 No. 10 and at Merk p. 153 if. However, moreover, it is implied that every Dorjteil its 14 Malter Beethkorn (Bedekorn) jiihrlich the rulerajt auj 4 hours far (to Neustadt or Dilrkheim); the carnival pilgrims miljJJten through the youngest Bilrger after “Fremersheim” near Alzey.

My German friend, Chris’s commentary: “I tried to locate the “Heimatblätter von Ludwigshafen […]”, which is one of the sources. It seems difficult to get those, they are not online and physically only in a few libraries.”

Chris explained the above entry: “Beede” or “Bede” originally was a kind of “voluntary gift” to the lords, which over time developed in a kind of tax. “Malter” is an old corn measure.

“Chickens for carnival” maybe needs to be explained as well, he said. “In former times, taxes were usually imposed at specific times of the year. This could be New Year, Christmas, Easter… in this case Carnival time. And as many people did not have real money in coins, they gave their tax in the form of natural goods, in this case, chickens.”

Now, of course, I wonder when Carnival was held. I’m betting on the fall when wine was pressed and produce harvested. That would be a logical time for celebration and wine made everyone feel festive. Think Oktoberfest today.

Oktoberfest was born in Germany, and everyone joins in and has fun.

We know that Adam’s descendants played in the band and sang in the choir in Fussgoenheim, a century later.

Chris interprets this section to mean that, “Essentially, what Adam Kirsch and the others are telling is that they never in their lifetime had to do any compulsory labor (“Frondienst”, or in the old term used here: “Fronden”, as a verb for the service “fröhnen”, “gefröhnet”) for the landlords. To my understanding, the purpose of the “Weistum” texts was an interesting ones: Today, we would assume that every landlord just imposed the new laws on the village, as they pleased. But in medieval right and apparently even in 1717, it was even more important to keep the rights of the people based on the local habits. So, if there are several Fussgoenheim inhabitants stating that they never had to do compulsory labor, then this would be a right they would also have in the future. And this, as other things, seems to have been a matter on which the village people were fighting about with the later von Hallberg lords.”

9) The respondents confirm this freedom of the villagers, whereby one of them (Hans Nickel Coop) remarks that in the front of the village above he could not report anything else than how the same have been confessed, which freedom has also been granted there, but hiitte of such a one who rules, who is compelled to desire something, who rules there as well, after but his father, as the schoolmaster, has contradicted this same thing, his finite and no longer desired anything, but stayed away.

10) Only two responses to this article have been received in the submission, both of which are in agreement; the second respondent responded [a, as he himself had done for the 40 years of such justice in the act driven here, also heard by his father, that it came from this way seye, and seye also alhier burgers, who take it.

11) These articles (pp. 17-22 of the template) jehlen.

12) This legal sentence is also confirmed as correct by the seven interviewees; in F. it is stated that never gave Zilnjte. There follows the notarial certification with the signatures and the partially preserved seals of the notary Johann Henrich Noretuiorji, councillor of Speyer, and the two witnesses Falck and Fedth.

a) Anjang jehU, cf. the preliminary remark.

b) behind this word oiienbar a rest sign.

Johann Adam’s Death

After the 1717 reference, we know little other than Johann Adam was deceased before 1743 when the property lines were redrawn by the Hallberg family with the intention of expanding their holdings at the expense of the townspeople. Ironic that Adam’s 1717 testimony may have influenced or even saved his family 36 years later, in 1753, when the Kirsch family once again returned to Fussgoenheim and by court order, reclaimed at least some of their land.

There are no church records before 1726, and no Kirsch burials before 1734. Adam’s wife, Anna Maria Koob, is the first Kirsch burial recorded in the book.

21 March 1734 Anna Maria Kirschin, lawfully wed wife of Adam Kirsch, buried in a Christian manner?, died on the 18th of the same (month); aged 54 years.

Her burial record says, “Anna Maria Kirsch(in), wife of Adam Kirsch,” not widow, nor does it refer to him as “former” or “deceased.” This suggests that Adam is still alive in 1734.

However, his death is not recorded in the church books through 1742.

In 1743, the Kirsch families were evicted from Fussgoenheim because they refused to sanction a fraudulently drawn map by von Hallberg, but there is no indication that Adam Kirsch is one of the people booted, although I all Kirsch men seemed to have been removed. There are no Kirsch burials beginning in 1743 for the next two decades. My friend Tom checked Ellerstadt too, with no luck.

Adam could have still been living.

Adam’s son, Michael Kirsch, the Mayor, owned three properties in 1743, shown on that map, likely inherited from Adam.

Adam’s Children’s Marriages Bracket His Death

We don’t really know if Adam was married once or twice.

If Walter is right and Adam Kirsch was married first to Ms. Greulich who died in 1706, daughter of Adam Greulich, and first child Michael Kirsch was indeed born about 1700, then Adam’s first child was by his first wife.

  • Johann Michael Kirsch’s first child was born about 1725, and his second unquestionably in 1726, so it’s unlikely that Michael was born after 1706. His birth year is approximated as 1700.

Adam Kirsch’s next children with Anna Maria Koob, born in 1680, were:

  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch born about 1706, married Maria Catharina Spanier in 1727. This marriage entry does not say that Adam is deceased, and refers to him as the sibling of the mayor.
  • Maria Catharina Kirsch 1715-1778, married Johannes Neumann on May 5, 1739. In the marriage entry, it states that she is the daughter of the “late honorable Johann Adam Kirsch, former Palatinate Unterfauth.”
  • Peter Kirsch, born about 1716, married in 1736 to Maria Barbara Spanier, died before 1760.
  • Johann Jacob Kirsch, born about 1718, married Maria Catharina Schuhmacher in February 1740, his marriage also stating that Johann Adam Kirsch, Unterfauth, was deceased.

While we have no records, children were probably being born until about 1723. Any children who were born and died before 1726 would not have been recorded, as the church books either didn’t exist or have been destroyed.

It’s certainly possible that Adam’s first wife died in about 1703 or 1704 giving birth to their second child who also perished.

If Adam Kirsch remarried in about 1705, he and Anna Maria Koob would have had approximately 9 children, only 4 of which are accounted for. They likely buried 5 babies or young children. If Anna Maria Koob was his only wife and the mother of Michael, they likely lost two additional children.

Adam died sometime between March of 1734 when his wife passed away, and May of 1739 when his daughter married.

We know that in that five year window, the family was living in Fussgoenheim, the new church had been built, and his wife was laid to rest in the churchyard. Adam likely had more children than is reflected in the marriage records. If so, several probably passed as infants and are buried in the churchyard with Adam, most of his adult children, grandchildren and wife or wives. There’s a lot of sorrow and a lot of love buried there.

Lives celebrated by the minister at the funeral, and then, later, at the wine tavern, sharing memories that made everyone laugh and cry, perhaps at once.

We know so little about Johann Adam Kirsch’s life, yet it was obviously full of adventures and challenges – although the word adventure may not be at all how he viewed the situation.

Adam grew up as a refuge, became a young mayor by 1701 when there may have been few others to serve, and was clearly a respected elder by 1717. He buried at least one wife, if not two, and children. He may have died, a refuge one again, refusing to capitulate to an overlord, resting on principle. Willing to wager for “all or nothing.”

The 1753 “accounting” document that details further information about the descendants of Johann Georg, Jerg, Kirsch, in particular those expelled from the village in 1743 for a decade, may reveal more about Johann Adam’s life, and death – and perhaps details about his first wife, if she existed, as well.

I feel that we are just so tantalizingly close to disclosing more in the buried crumbs of records that remain about the quaint vintner village of Fussgoenheim. So close, but so far away.

A toast to you, Adam! A toast to you.

___________________________________________________________

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Johann Adam Borstler (before 1650 – before 1695), Kirchengeschworener – What’s That?? – 52 Ancestors #306

We discover that Johann Adam Borstler is the father of Anna Maria Borstler in her 1695 marriage record to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch in Durkheim, now Bad Durkheim, in Germany.

Unfortunately, Johann Adam wasn’t able to walk his daughter to the church, or down the aisle. There was no giving her hand in marriage.

Anna Maria is referenced as “surviving legitimate daughter of the late Johann Adan Borsler, former resident and kirchengeschworener from here.”

This tells us, of course, that Johann Adam had died and that he was from Durkheim, both very useful pieces of information. I’m unclear if this simply means he lived in Durkheim as an adult, meaning that he was a citizen and might have been born elsewhere, or if that means that he was born in Durkheim.

Johann Adam’s daughter was born about 1675, judging both from a normal age at marriage as well as the fact that her last (known) child was born in 1718, so Johann Adam would not likely have been born after 1650, just about the time that the Thirty Years’ War was over. If he was about the same age as his wife, he could have been born anytime from roughly 1625-1650. Those dates encompass nearly the entire duration of the Thirty Years’ War, so his marriage and subsequent adulthood must have been anything but “normal” and filled with terror on a daily basis. How does constant strife and warfare ever become “normal” and what is it like to live like that? Perhaps faith was all they had.

History strongly suggests that indeed, Johann Adam Borstler was born in Durkheim, because only three cities in the Palatinate were left standing for most of the war; Frankenthal, Durkheim and Speyer.

Kirchengeschworener

The word kirchengeschworener is an old German word with no exact translation, according to my German genealogist friend, Chris. A kirchengeschworener was an elected or appointed representative of the church community (“church-sworn”) that worked with the pastor to perform functions like supervising property including roads near the church, maintaining records regarding ownership, managing church assets, collecting income and bookkeeping. In some places, thisperson also performed services as a counselor.

A kirchengeschworener was then a historical form of church leadership found in the old texts as early as the 1500s and into the 1700s in some places. Today, we might translate this duty or position as church elder, church father or deacon.

In one case, the kirchengeschworener was specifically responsible, among other things for “funding the corpse,” which, in this case, meant “Holy Corpse” or changing the host.

The Church

The Thirty Years’ War ended in 1648 when Johann Adam would either have been just being born or perhaps as a young man. He would have witnessed the slow process of rebuilding.

The countryside was devasted, entirely destroyed and depopulated, and most cities fared little better.

Borstler Dannstadt church.jpg

Durkheim wasn’t large, not the way we think of cities today. In this drawing from the 1700s, we see the ruins of the Limburg Abbey in the distance in the hills, with the village below and the church tower standing to the right.

The church tower faces west, with Durkheim standing at the base of the mountainous Palatinate Forest.

Borstler Limburg abbey

By Friedrich Haag – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35589426

The Limburg Abbey, overlooking Durkheim, a landmark always in view, had stood as a sentinel in the distance for 800 years.

Borstler St Johannis Church Durkheim

This 1630 pen and ink drawing of St. Johannis, or St. John’s Church shows the church, churchyard, and surrounding buildings. Little would have changed from 1630 until the burning of the church in 1689. This would have been the church that Johann Adam cared for, and very clearly cared about. The adjacent Latin school would have been where his children were schooled, and it’s possible that one of these houses at the rear of the church is where he lived. A trusted caretaker might well have lived nearby.

Johann Adam’s parents are likely buried in the churchyard that he passed inside the walls each time he entered the church.

The earliest church records that exist are burials beginning in 1640, but it was here, in this gothic baptismal font dating from 1537 that Johann Adam Borstler was likely baptized, and likely baptized his children as well.

Borstler baptismal font Durkheim.jpg

We know that Adam walked past this very baptistry thousands of times in his lifetime.

It’s interesting to note that the church, now known at the castle church, first mentioned in 946 is walled, fortified, and that 1630, the year this drawing was rendered was well into the Thirty Years’ War, a dozen years after it began and long after the rest of the Palatinate cities were laid waste.

Adjacent buildings include the Latin school, and of course, the churchyard is in view. Not shown are gravestones for the hundreds of burials that would pack this churchyard full over the preceding 684+ years.

It would be here, in this churchyard, that Johann Adam Borstler was assuredly laid to rest, sometime after his daughter’s birth about 1675 and before her marriage in 1695.

We might be able to speculate a bit about what might have happened to Johann Adam, although we will never know for sure.

Amazingly, the church was spared during the Thirty Years’ War, but warfare began again when invaded by the French in 1673 after the French king decreed that the Palatinate should be made a desert. This war escalated until Durkheim was taken in 1689 and very nearly burned to the ground.

Somehow, at least some of the church books were saved, thankfully. That’s nothing short of a miracle. The church itself burned, the walls so hot they buckled. The bell mounts melted and the bells dropped to the floor, melting into a molten puddle. The church books were clearly not in that building.

I have to wonder if Johann Adam, in his capacity as kirchengeschworener, had something to do with that. Did he hide those books away, outside of the church to keep them safe – unwittingly salvaging them for me to find him more than three centuries later? A gift, perhaps, to undreamed-of future generations. At that moment, the only future he was probably thinking about was survival – not someone 10 generations distant. With the fire and devastation, would there be any future for his family or would flames, death and foreign soldiers consume his entire family for eternity?

I also wonder if Johann Adam perished during this time, one way or another.

He could have been a relatively young father when he died, or he could have been several years older. Given his level of responsibility within the church, I’d think he would have earned that trust over the years, which would suggest he was older. It also tells us he was educated because he would have needed to be able to read and write. Could some of the handwriting in those church records actually be his own script?

If Anna Maria was a middle child, born about 1675 when he was 35, and he died in 1689, he would have been 49. Of course, he might not have died at this point in history. All we know for sure is that he was gone by her marriage in 1695, recorded in those very same church books.

How bittersweet.

The old portion of the church still remains after being repaired and restored in 1717, although the tower has been rebuilt.

Borstler Durkheim st john church

You can read more about the church here and here.

Other Records in Durkheim

There are other early records in Durkheim, although none that we can definitively tie to our Johann Adam Borstler. Translations courtesy of Tom.

Burial: 16 Aug 1684

On the same day was buried, Anna Maria, dau of Hans Adam Borstler, age 1 ½ years……

This could have been the daughter of our Johann Adam Borstler, and the sister of Anna Maria, having been born in early 1683.

Or, this child could have been the daughter of another Johan Adam Borstler. Yes, of course there were two men in the same place by the same name. This IS my family, after all.

Burial: Laetare Sunday the 4th of April 1700 committed to the earth here in a Christian ceremony, Joh. Adam Borsler, citizen, age 47 years. Text 2 Cor, verse 5, last.

This man could have been the brother of Anna Maria, having been born about 1657. If so, that tells us that his father was born no later than 1632.

I’m always fascinated by funeral sermons of specific times and places, because certainly ministers reused their favorites, so the same passages might have been read at for Johann Adam Borstler’s funeral when he died.

2 Corinthians 5

1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,

3 Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

7 We live by faith, not by sight.

8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [1] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Anna Maria Borstler surely attended the funeral of the man with the same name as her father. She had been married in that “church” 5 years before, although the actual building had not yet been rebuilt. It’s very likely that this man was closely related to the family, if not Anna Maria’s brother. Often, children were named after Godparents, so our Johann Adam may have been his godfather, if not his father, standing beside that baptismal font 47 years earlier, in 1653.

Was this man, still relatively young, laid to rest in the cemetery adjacent the burned church beside our Johann Adam Borstler?

The Johann Joachim Burschler Family May Provide a Clue

Tom found and translated several other early records of similar surname spellings, with little concrete to show for the effort, unfortunately.

However, there are some interesting findings, trails and hints. Keep in mind that early records are in archaic script, not always in good shape, and surnames were spelled however the person writing them down decided to spell them.

One Johann Joachim Burschler, a cooper, born about 1620, given that he married in 1643, was having children during this time. He married three times, first to Anna Catharina Voltz who died in 1668, next Otilla widow Korb (possibly Koob?) whom he married in 1676 and who died in 1677, then to Anna Catharina widow Storck.

Johann Joachim’s recorded children were:

  • Georg born 1647, died 1667
  • Johann Simon born 1649 married Anna Margaretha Burckhard in 1671. There is a Hans Simon who died in Schauernheim in 1708 and in 1712. One of the Simons married a Koob in about 1686 in Fussgoenheim.
  • Johann Adam born 1652, married Anna Ottilia Pantzer in 1679, which precludes him from being the father of Anna Maria Borstler who married in 1695 and was born about 1675. There is a slight possibility that he could have been married previously and had Anna Maria.
  • Hans Diether born in 1658 and died in 1682. The godparents were Diether Renner from Schauernheim…she wife (some text unreadable)…and Adam Stupp, citizen and shoemaker here. This ties this Borstler family with the Borstler family of Schauernheim who is tied to the Borstler, Kirsch and Koob families of Fussgoenheim, creating a circle of connections. A Johann Jacob Borstler died in Schauernheim in 1704.
  • Johann Joachim born in 1661, died in 1667.

There is no mention of children with Anna Catharina Storck, who, if she was Johann Joachim’s age, would have been about 60, beyond childbearing years.

Two children of Johann Joachim Burschler, certainly another spelling of Borstler, connect with Schauernheim and Fussgoenheim where Anna Maria Borstler moved with her husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch.

While Johann Joachim Burschler may not have been our Johann Adam Borstler’s father, he may have been his uncle or cousin. These Borstler families are connected, or maybe intertwined is a better word, in this region of the Palatinate, with the Renner, Koob and Kirsch families found in Schauernheim, Fussgoenheim and Mutterstadt.

Y DNA

A male with the Boerstler or similar surname has not yet tested their Y DNA which would help us learn even more about our Borstler family. We know that these four families from the Borstler line immigrated to the US, and several had male children who may have male descendants today.

  • Hans Michel Borstler born August 1701 in Schauernheim to Johann Michael Borstler and Anna Margaretha Lackinger, died 1767 in Berks County, PA, married Anna Catharina Krehl in Assenheim in 1726.
  • Jacob Borstler born 1700 in Fussgoenheim to Johann Theobald (Dewald) Borstler and Maria Catharine Kemp (Kamp), married Catharina Peter in PA about 1727 and died in Berks County, PA. They had son, Johann Georg Berstler born in 1732 in Oley, Berks County, and died in 1790 in Bethlehem, Northampton Co., PA. This line had sons with Borstler, Berstler, Burstler, or Buerstler males today.
  • George Borstler (Berstler,) brother of Jacob, above, born about 1712, died in Alsace, Berks County, PA.
  • George Berstler born in 1734 in Ludwigshafen to Johann George Boerstler who died in 1798 in Schauernheim, immigrated, served in the Revolutionary War and died in Berks County, PA. He had sons Johann (John) 1775-1823, Jacob born in 1776, Samuel born in 1780, and David born in 1791.

I have a Y DNA testing scholarship for any Borstler or similar surname male from these or connected lines. Are these your relatives? Please reach out!

_____________________________________________________________

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Anna Maria Borstler (c 1675 – >1740), Bride in Durkheim – 52 Ancestors #305

The fact that we know anything at all about Anne Maria Boerstler or Borstler is nothing short of a miracle.

Were it not for the chance discovery of her marriage record in Durkheim (now Bad Durkheim) to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch on February 22, 1695, we might never have known her name nor that of her father.

Anna Maria’s marriage was recorded in the church record book, along with the name of her deceased father, Johann Adam Borstler.

Kirsch Boerstler marriage

Translation, courtesy of Tom, from Bad Durkheim Evangelical Parish Records on Ancestry.

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

Were married by the pastor J. Darsch? Joh. Willhelm Kirsch, surviving son of the late Joh. Georg Kirsch with Anna Maria, surviving legitimate dau of the late John. Adam Borsler, former resident and kirchengeschworener from here.

We know that Anna Maria’s father-in-law’s family took refuge in Durkheim during the Thirty Years’ War when the Palatinate was depopulated. We’ve found records of the Boerstler family in various places in this part of Germany before the War, but most records were destroyed when the farms were abandoned during the Thirty Years’ War. This record tells us that Anna Maria’s father was a trusted elder of the church in Durkheim before his death.

We also know that at least some families, or the next generation, slowly returned to their home villages in the countryside after 1650, but had to evacuate again between 1673 and 1689 when the Palatinate was once again invaded and burned to the ground, leaving the residents starving and without even clothing.

In the 1670s and 1680s, the Kirsch and Boerstler families already had a history and connections in Durkheim, given that Durkheim was only one of three cities that survived at least somewhat intact and their families had lived there for nearly half a century.

I was actually quite surprised to discover that Anna Maria Borstler and Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married in Durkheim given that the city was nearly completely destroyed when French troops engaged in a scorched-earth campaign upon the orders of the French king.

Anna Maria would have been a teenager as she witnessed the city burn around her in 1689.

Borstler Bad Durkheim 1787.png

Durkheim rebuilt quickly after the ending of the war in 1689, but still, it’s remarkable that she was able to be married there just 6 years later. This engraving shows Durkheim in 1787. The church with the tower is where I thought Anna Maria was married in 1695. But, as it turns out, she couldn’t have been married there.

This amazing article, written by the Christlieb-Chrislip-Crislip family genealogist provides the best detailed documentation of the church I’ve found.

You can see photos of the beautiful Schlossekirche, here, formerly St. John’s Church, originally constructed in the 1300s.

In 1689, the church was gutted by fire, the walls suffering such intense heat that the bells fell out of their mounts and melted onto the floor of the church. Only the hulk remained, not being rebuilt until 1727 when the walls had to be reinforced with iron bars due to the damage from the heat of the 1689 fire. Somehow, at least some of the churchbooks were saved with burials from as early as 1640. I wonder if Anna Maria’s father was instrumental in their salvation. The books must have been removed before the fire, with the minister continuing to make entries, even though the church itself lay in ruins for 40 years.

Clearly, Anna Maria didn’t marry in the church building of her childhood.

Still, the Protestant citizens would have worshipped someplace during that time – perhaps in a makeshift church or someone’s home.

Borstler bad durkheim church.jpg

The part of the church to the rear, shown here, is original, as is the street. The cemetery, where Anna Maria’s father was probably buried, was located just to the right of the church.

Did Anna Maria walk up this street and pause for a moment to glance at his grave, on the way to wherever she would be married?

Anna Maria’s Church and School

Borstler St Johannis Church Durkheim.jpg

This 1630 pen and ink drawing of the St. Johannis Church depicts the church, of course, the churchyard surrounding the church where the parishoners would have been buried, and the school. You can see the street, in the photo above, to the right of this drawing. The street itself hasn’t changed, the curve behind the church still quite identifiable.

If Anna Maria was born sometime between 1670 and 1677, at the latest, she would probably have attended the Protestant Latin School near the church. It’s almost certain that all these half-timber wooden structures burned during the war, but this drawing provides us a rare glimpse of the neighborhood that Anna Maria would have frequented as a child. I can’t help but wonder if she lived in one of these houses, given that her father was one of the two primary church caretakers.

Inferring Anna Maria’s Life

Given that Anna Maria was married in February 1695, she probably had her first child in 1696, and a new baby joined the family thereafter every 18 months to two years.

We know almost nothing about Anna Maria’s life, except by inference.

We know that she and her husband served as godparents in Oggersheim in 1710. It’s possible that Oggersheim was the closest functioning church to Fussgoenheim where they probably lived at that time.

Borstler bad durkheim map

We know that Anna Maria’s deceased father-in-law held leasehold rights in Fussgoenheim, just 5 miles or so from Oggersheim, after 1660 and before his death.

Anna Maria’s brother-in-law, Johann Adam Kirsch, had returned to Fussgoenheim and was mayor in 1701.

We know that in 1717, Anna Maria’s husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, noted as the court clerk or cognant, was scribing tetimony along with a few other elders in the village documenting village customs before the war, which means that the family was well-established and living there.

The Fussgoenheim church records are incomplete for several periods of history. No records exist before 1726, possibly because there was no church which meant there was no minister, and because the Fussgoenheim citizens took their children to the next closest church for baptisms until they could afford to rebuild their own.

The first Kirsch burial we find is in 1735, followed by multiple Kirsch deaths every year except for 1742. From 1743 to 1762 there are none.

The church in Fussgoenheim was rebuilt in about 1726, after which time four of Anna Maria’s children were confirmed in what would have been a beautiful brand-spanking-new church.

Anna Maria Borstler and Johann Wilhelm Kirsch’s four known children are:

  • Maria Catharina Kirsch was born about 1711 and married Johann Theobald Koob on February 21, 1730. Was that date intentionally selected, given that it would have been the day before her parents’ 35th wedding anniversary?

Anna Maria would have attended her daughter’s wedding, about 60 years old at the time. Not “old” by any measure today, but certainly viewed with an “elder” status at that time – having survived warfare, fires, plagues, pestilence, moving to a ruined area in the countryside to begin anew, not to mention multiple childbirth and deaths.

  • Anna Catharina Kirsch was born about 1715, but we know nothing more so she may have died after her confirmation in 1727.
  • Johann Andreas Kirsch was born in 1716, confirmed in 1729 in Fussgoenheim, married Anna Barbara Sorg in 1737 in Friedelsheim and died about 1745. Freidelsheim was about 4 miles away, half way between Fussgoenheim and Durkheim.
  • Anna Margaretha Kirch was born about 1718, confirmed in 1731 in Fussgoenheim and married Georg Heinrich Koob, brother of her sister’s husband, in 1736. Anna Maria would have attended this wedding too, in the newly-rebuilt Fussgoenheim church.

Based on these births about 1711, 1715, 1716 and 1718, we can surmise that there would have been other babies born in:

  • 1696
  • 1698
  • 1700
  • 1702
  • 1704
  • 1706
  • 1708
  • 1710
  • 1713

That’s 9 infants, or perhaps more, that died as babies or young children. Their oldest child would have been confirmed about 1707 or 1708, many years before the church records in Fussgoenheim began in 1726.

Of course, it is possible that some of the children didn’t perish young and married prior to 1726. If they moved elsewhere, it would have in effect erased any trace of their life in Fussgoenheim. Their oldest child would have been marriage-age about 1720 when Anna Maria’s youngest child would have been about 2.

It’s almost certain that some of those babies would have been buried in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim, or perhaps in Durkheim before they returned to Fussgoenheim after their marriage. Of course, for Anna Maria, she might well have lived her entire life in Durkheim, so it wouldn’t necessarily be “returning” for her, simply starting life anew outside of Durkheim. Fortunately, Durkheim wasn’t terribly distant, about 6 miles, certainly walkable but much easier riding in the back of a cart.

Anna Maria’s grandchildren began arriving in June of 1731. For a few years, she was able to enjoy watching them peacefully play in the farmyards, orchards and fields of Fussgoenheim.

Borstler orchard.jpg

Location, Location, Location

It’s possible that Anna Maria was deceased by 1743 when a map was drawn of the properties in Fussgoenheim. Widows were noted on the property that had been their husband’s and there is no widow of Wilhelm Kirsch shown.

If Anna Maria had passed away, either the William Kirsch land, inherited from his father, had passed to someone else, or into the hands of her two daughters whose husband’s homes are listed as locations 6, 16 and 23.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim under village numbered

Theobald Koob married Maria Catharina Kirsch. It’s interesting that the two Theobald Koob properties abut Mayor Michael Kirsch’s land and George Koob was living across the street, just north of Peter Kirsch.

Michael Kirsch owned three pieces of land, and it’s entirely possible that one of those had been Wilhelms, passing to Michael when Wilhelm passed on. A 1753 accounting, if we can get our hands on it, should answer those questions.

Noel in her drive through Fussgoenheim didn’t intend to capture one of the properties of Theobald Koob, but she did, inadvertently.

Just north of the main intersection in town, on the right hand side, the home of Theobald Koob was located between the corner and Michael Kirsch’s just before the curve of the street in the distance.

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse

Theobald Koob’s property was beyond the building with the red roof, likely the white building with the brown roof.

Noel accidentally caught a glimpse of George Koob’s property too.

Borstler George Koob home.jpg

The yellow building visible across the street from the Michael Kirsch home (at left) was where George Koob lived with his wife, Anna Margaretha Kirsch.

During WWII, Marliese, a Kirsch descendant, corresponded with the Kirsch family who had immigrated to Indiana 90 years before, sending photos. At that time, the house beside the Michael Kirsch home was reported as the Koehler home. Who knew it once belonged to Theobald Koob?

Theobald Koob’s property that abutted the Kirsch home no longer stands, but miraculously, thanks to Marliese, we have a photo.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler homes

The house with the “O” was the Theobald Koob home, with the X being Michael Kirsch’s.

Anna Maria Borstler Kirsch may have lived with one of her daughters as she aged. If so, she lived in one of these three locations. She assuredly knew these homes as well as her own, visiting her daughter, entering without knocking like the residence was her own.

In a small, crossroads farming settlement, I’d wager that every village woman was in and out of every single house. Everyone was related to everyone, one way or another, not to mention group activities like food preparation and preservation, childbirth, and caring for the sick and infirm. There was no mortician then and people died often. Families lovingly washed bodies and prepared them, at home, for burial. Yes, everyone just made themselves at home and did what needed to be done.

The Autumn of Anna Maria’s Life?

We don’t know for sure when Anna Maria died or where she is buried, but we do know that she lived in Fussgoenheim and that she resided there when her last child was born about 1718. Her husband was the court cognate in 1717 and there is scant reason to believe they lived elsewhere thereafter, meaning she would have died in Fussgoenheim – although there is a shred of doubt.

This much we know for sure – Anna Maria died sometime after 1740.

On April 16, 1736, Anna Maria served as godmother to a granddaughter named Maria Catharina Koob, born to her daughter, Maria Catharina Kirsch and Johann Theobald Koob.

On October 14, 1740, Anna Maria was once again called to Maria Catharina’s bedside as she prepared to deliver her fifth child. The baby, in obvious distress and described as weak was baptized immediately in the home, with Anna Maria as godmother. She bore sad testimony to the baby’s death, as the church record notes that the child was deceased within a few hours. Sadly, this tiny girl’s name wasn’t recorded, and I can’t help but wonder if she would have been named for her grandmother, Anna Maria, as was tradition.

Anna Maria had delivered her (probable) namesake granddaughter, baptized her and buried her. How incredibly sad.

Given that burial records exist between 1735 and 1743, and we know Anna Maria was living in October 1740, there’s a real possibility that she may have died after 1743 when she would have been about 70.

Several Kirsch families were expelled from Fussgoenheim in 1743 when they refused to validate the “redrawn” map submitted by the nobleman, Tilman von Hallberg, that deprived families of most of their hereditary land. Given that Anna Maria’s husband, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was deceased by this time, and she was elderly, it’s unlikely that she was evicted, although there is a house, adjacent the church on the south side with the name Wilhem Kirsch, but no mention of “widow.” Still, given that she seems to have still been living, in that there’s no known death record for her, I can’t help but wonder if this is where she lived.

Kirsch Wilhelm 1743 map

If so, Anna Maria lived adjacent the church, probably in the structure with the red arrow, below.

Borstler church Wilhelm Kirsch property.png

It’s possible that this property belonged to one of the two younger Johan Wilhelm Kirsch’s alive at that time. We simply don’t know, but we do know that while the elders refused to sanction this map submitted by Hallberg in 1743, he drew it sometime prior to 1743. An accounting made in 1753, when the family was allowed to return to the village, may provide the missing details.

There are no Kirsch burials from 1743 to 1762. If Anna Maria did leave Fussgoenheim during that time, as did the Kirsch families and Johann Theobald Koob, she likely went to Ellerstadt with the rest of the Kirsch clan or perhaps with her daughter Maria Catharina and Johann Theobald Koob to Weisenheim am Sand. Or, she could have died in Fussgoenheim and the record could simply be missing. If she died nearby, I can’t help but wonder if they wouldn’t have brought her back to Fussgoenheim to be buried. Neither Ellerstadt nor Weisenheim am Sand was far distant.

If Anna Maria is buried in the churchyard in Fussgoenheim, she is resting beside Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, her daughter, Anna Catharina, her unnamed granddaughter, and several more small graves that held children of her own. Eventually, her two daughters and grandchildren would be laid to rest nearby.

There are no gravestones marking burials in the Fussgoenheim churchyard today, nor records of who was buried there. Yet we know that the dust of our ancestors’ rests here, behind the church that was probably constructed as Anna Maria watched, perhaps from next door.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

Anna Maria’s heart would have rejoiced to see a new church built between 1726 and 1733 where she could worship. The religious wars had taken so much from them, breaking their hearts, but not crushing their souls. She watched her own church burn, along with the rest of the village in Durkheim in 1789.

Anna Maria would have celebrated this new church, lifting her voice in joyful hymns, watching her family gather in the pews. This rebuilt church was more than a building – a beacon of hope lighting the way into a better, more stable future. As she surveyed her family, children and grandchildren as they gathered for baptisms and burials in the little church in Fussgoenheim, Anna Maria knew full well that one day soon enough, it would be her turn to be carried from the church into the churchyard for her eternal sleep.

Mitochondrial DNA

Anna Maria Borstler’s mitochondrial DNA was inherited from her mother, and her from her mother, back into time immemorial.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both sexes of children, but only passed on by females. Anyone who descends from Anna Maria through all females to the current generation, which can be males, carries her mitochondrial DNA.

Anna Maria’s mitochondrial DNA can help connect her to her mother and inform us of where her ancestral line came from in the more distant past. We don’t know who her mother was.

We know that her daughter, Maria Catharina Kirsch who married Johann Theobald Koob had had two daughters, Susanna Elisabetha Koob and Maria Catharina Koob who both married Kirsch men.

Daughter Anna Margaretha Kirsch married George Heinrich Koob and had daughter, Maria Catharina who married Johann Diether Koob and had three daughters.

If you descend from Anna Maria Borstler through all females to this generation, which can be male, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you. Please reach out!

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch (c1670 – c1723), Piecing Life Back Together in Fussgoenheim – 52 Ancestors #304

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was born about 1670, someplace in the Palatinate, but we don’t know where for certain – or exactly when. His father was known as “Jerg” Kirsch, short for Johann Georg Kirsch who married Margaretha Koch in September of 1650 in Bad Durkheim.

Given that Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was married in the same city in 1695, one could make the argument that he was born there sometime around 1670, or at least between 1650 and 1670.

Another argument could be made that Johann Wilhelm was born in Fussgoenheim because his father was noted as a leaseholder of the Jostens estate in Fussgoenheim in 1660.

If Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was born in Fusgoenheim, he certainly spent time in Bad Durkheim for some reason, because that’s where he married Anna Maria Borstler on February 22, 1695.

Kirsch Boerstler marriage.png

Translation, courtesy of Tom, from Bad Durkheim Evangelical Parish Records on Ancestry.

Marriage: 22 Feb 1695

Were married by the pastor J. Darsch? Joh. Willhelm Kirsch, surviving son of the late Joh. Georg Kirsch with Anna Maria, surviving legitimate dau of the late John. Adam Borsler, former resident of Kirz?

In 1710, both Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and his wife were found in the in Oggersheim church records according to Walter Schnebel’s records, probably as godparents.

Johann Wilhelm’s brother, Andreas, noted as single, died in Oggersheim in 1712.

Kirsch durkheim oggersheim

We don’t know what, or why, but there was some connection to Oggersheim.

Unfortunately, the church records in Fussgoenheim are missing prior to 1726, but we find the confirmation of Johann Wilhelm’s daughters beginning there in 1727, so we know they were in Fussgoenheim before that time. In fact, significantly before.

In 1717, Fussgoenheim was still trying to recover from both the Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, although the area didn’t begin to be repopulated until 1650 or so, along with the later French incursions beginning in 1673 and not ending until 1697. People starved during this time, and many fled across the Rhine River for safety.

The Kirsch family had unquestionably lived in Fussgoenheim, at least after the Thirty Years’ War and before the Nine Years’ War, which actually lasted longer than 9 years.

We know this to be a fact based on a Fussgoenheim document preserved from 1717. This old historical document is written in very old German language, but the essence of the document is that Fussgoenheim was attempting to reclaim some semblance of social organization.

Wilhelm Kirsch and Christoph Hauck, both noted as a “courthouse clerk,” (Deepl translation) or “court man” or “judge” (by Walter Schnebel) along with Andreas Kirsch, Dieter Coop (Johann Dietrich Koob born in 1670) and Hans Jacob Spannier worked with 7 “old men” from the village who are noted as:

  • Adam Kirsch (born 1677)
  • Jacob Antes
  • Hanss Adam Hauck
  • Theobaldt Biirstler (Borstler)
  • Matthew Musspach
  • Hemp Nickel Coop (probably Hans Nicolaus Koob)
  • Adam Gifft

The 1717 notes indicate that all court records and other written documents, “rights and righteousness” were totally destroyed along with all old, traditional rights and customs of the village. The unidentified 88-year-old father of one of those men was still living, meaning he had been born in 1629, during the Thirty Years’ War. We know that Johann Wilhelm’s father was deceased by 1695, so the 88-year-old is not his father.

I’ll include the entire Deepl translated document in the future article for Johann Adam Kirsch since Adam was one of the elders mentioned.

The devastation wrought by the French soldiers in the 1670s and 1680s explains why Johann Wilhelm Kirsch was living back in Bad Durkheim when he married. The villages were again burned, the residents left with nothing, not even clothes.

We only know about four children belonging to Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, based on their marriages or confirmations. There may have been additional children, of course, and probably were.

We don’t know when Johann Wilhelm Kirsch died, but Walter Schnebel, now deceased local researcher who grew up beside the ancestral Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim records his death as occurring before 1723, along with his brothers Johann Jacob Kirsch and Daniel Kirsch.

I wish I knew how Walter determined that Wilhelm was deceased before 1723. There is obviously a record of some type someplace. I suspect it’s a 1753 accounting that I’ve seen Walter reference which details family descendancy relative to land.

The lack of records in Fussgoenheim makes documenting Wilhelm’s life extremely difficult.

We know that Wilhelm was born sometime after his parent’s marriage in September of 1650 and roughly 1670 which would have made him roughly 25 years old at his own wedding in 1695.

Between his birth and marriage, it’s likely that Wilhelm lived in Fussgoenheim between 1660 and the 1670/80s when his family had to seek refuge again as the French overran and destroyed what had been rebuilt in Fussgoenheim.

Thanks to his marriage record, we know that Wilhelm’s father had died by 1695, although we have no idea when his mother died. In fact, we know nothing more about her at all except that she clearly lived long enough to give birth to Wilhelm’s siblings between 1650 and roughly 1677.

Sometime after 1695, Wilhelm returned to Fussgoenheim with his wife and family. He could have been living there when he and his wife were godparents in Oggersheim in 1712.

Johann Wilhelm may have decided to return to Fussgoenheim after his marriage in order to reclaim his citizenship rights, those held by his father, or to be near his siblings, one of whom was mayor in 1701. By 1717, Wilhelm was clearly established.

We know that Johann Wilhelm can read and write, because otherwise, he would not have been the court clerk taking those notes in 1717. I wonder where the original document is currently archived, because it would stand to reason that if I can obtain a copy, I would be viewing Johann Wilhelm’s own handwriting – or maybe that of the other clerk, Christoph Hauck. Perhaps the man who scribed the notes signed the document. Hmmm, I think I need to make some inquiries.

How I wish I could ask Wilhelm what was meant by some of those archaic words. Not just literal translation, but events that he, his brother and the other village elders documented. Clearly, they had information about Fussgoenheim families reaching back, at least, between 1660 and the war that began in 1674.

We know that in 1717 there were only between 7 and 12 people whose memory extended back in time far enough, a half century+, to be useful in reconstructing information about the old village, residents and family structure.

This tells us that these families, when they returned to Fussgoenheim, likely would have settled on the land in the center of the village where they could offer each other protection and shelter, if needed. Originally, that was the only village.

There were probably only a handful of families in 1660 when Jerg Kirsch and his children settled in Fussgoeneim. Most had died during the Thirty Years’ War, and those who survived had relocated decades earlier. Of course, those few who returned got to evacuate all over again just a few years later. Starting over yet a third time in the 1690s would have been a difficult decision to make, although other options may not have been much better.

Citizens rebuilt their lives for a generation or so in peace and quiet, but a few years later, in 1743 Lord von Hallberg attempted to redraw land boundaries and confiscate residents’ lands. We know that the Kirsch families had expanded to occupy several homes in the village. Wilhelm only had one known son, Johann Andreas, so he might well have inherited Wilhelm’s rights. If so, that means that it’s likely that Andreas is shown on the 1743 “redistricting” map submitted to the town fathers by Hallberg, which they quickly rejected.

Unfortunately, we can’t read all of the names on this map, but we can place several known Kirsch males in specific houses. We can also read two additional locations that show Kirsch inhabitants, but I can’t decipher the first name.

Of the male grandchildren of our progenitor, Jerg Kirsch, who would be entitled to some form of inherited rights, we have six Kirsch men who potentially could be noted on the map in the locations that we can’t read.

Having said that, it’s fairly certain that Wilhelm lived in one of these Kirsch properties before his death. There are no properties without names.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim Kirsch property

Properties attributed to Kirsch men are as follows:

  • Michael Kirsch, Schultheiss, which means mayor – three properties on the right-hand side. Other Kirsch families may have lived in these homes.
  • Martin Kirsch, red arrow upper left.
  • Peter Kirsch, red arrow center left.
  • Michael Kirsch’s widow, who we know is Anna Margaretha Spanier. Her son is Peter Kirsch.

The green arrows are:

  • Center left – may be another Kirsch male, beside Martin Kirsch, but I can’t read clearly – could be Andreas.
  • Upper right on the bend – clearly a Kirsch surname, but can’t read the first name.

Not shown on this map, but on an adjoining map to the south, we find a William Kirsch listed adjacent to the Lutheran church on the lower left, above, and the second property from top, below.

Kirsch Wilhelm 1743 map.png

This William Kirsch would have been living in 1743, so if Johann William Kirsch who was born about 1670 died before 1723, that property would not have been his – nor did he have a son named William, at least not that we know of.

Kirsch Ruchheim street

The locations of those two properties today are shown with red stars, above.

All of the Kirsch men would have lived within a block or so of each other. The village in 1720 only consisted of 150-200 people. At 5 people per household, that’s only 30-50 houses, and with 10 people per household, that’s just 15-20 homes. The 1743 map shows 32 which would suggest perhaps 160 residents with about 60 adults.

The intersection of Amstrasse, Ruchheimer and Hauptstrasse is now and was then the center of town.

Fussgoenheim Ruchheimer and Hauptstrasse

Noel, on her detour through Fussgoenheim on my behalf took this photo from the intersection that looks up Ruchheim Street towards the curve where one of the Kirsch properties was located, across the street from the blue building in the distance.

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse

The location below, on the curve on Ruchheimer Street, is relatively easy to discern. I wish that Google maps had street-view in Germany.

Kirsch Ruchheim property.png

The property on present Amtsstrasse, below, is someplace in the center of the block.

Kirsch amtsstrasse.png

The City Hall is the building to the far right. Of course, in 1717, there probably wasn’t any city hall or civil building yet constructed. The church had not yet been rebuilt either, so I’d wager that the city hall came after the church in terms of priority. Church records begin in 1726, so I’d bet that’s when the church was completed.

Fussgoenheim Rathaus

The few records available for Johann Wilhelm Kirsch belie the complexity of the time in which he lived. He personally sat at the table and recorded the efforts to piece life back together in 1717 after two devastating wars, listening to the stories and testimony of the village elders – the few that had survived. The fact that we know they had returned by 1701, yet were only in 1717 beginning the process of documenting the social, land and inheritance structure previously in place bears silent testimony to the difficulty of rebuilding literally from scratch.

I’d wager that it took that long to stabilize the community in such a way that farms were producing, mills rebuilt and the food supply reliably restored. Clearly, that would have been the first priority before focusing on documenting the social and family constructs of a village ripped to shreds 99 years before, beginning in 1618 until at least 1650 and then again from 1674-1689. It was a difficult task indeed, but thankfully, Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and his brother preserved as much as they could, probably from stories told by their parents before their death. Ironic, somehow, that the family histories of those village elders, their genealogy, would save the day, laying the foundation for future generations.

Johann Wilhelm Kirsch would be very pleased, I’m sure, to know that 303 years later, the beautiful, quaint, lovely village of Fussgoenheim has grown and matured, but remains intact and is still a place he would recognize.

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Fussgoenheim, Mutterstadt and Palatinate Families During the Thirty Years War – 52 Ancestors #303

Several of my German families lived in the Palatinate in Germany before, during, and after the Thirty Years’ War.

The Palatinate, also known as the Pfalz, encompassed an area that stretches today from Bad Kreuznach in the north to Schweigen in the south. It is bounded on the east by the great Rhine River, and on the west by the smallest German state, Saarland.

30 Pfalz map.png

I’ve indicated these landmarks with the arrows, above. The Palatinate is the roughly circular area in the center.

30 Europe map

You can see in this larger photo of the region that not only does this area share a border with France, it’s small as compared to its massive neighbor.

During the Thirty Years’ War, the areas on the western side of the Rhine were utterly devastated, laid to waste, and depopulated for decades stretching into generations.

Historian and archivist, Winfried Seelinger at the Dannstadt archives calls this region, “God’s Little Acre” and says that it has probably always seemed so. Not only is the Rhine basin the warmest, sunniest corner of Germany, its fertile fields grow the famous German wines along with fruits and vegetables. As he says, people who descend from ancestors here come from sturdy stock – survivors of wars, pestilence, misery, and hard work. For those who did survive, there are many more who didn’t.

After the Thirty Years’ War ended, some of the original families tried to return to the area where they had previously lived. Virtually nothing was left – no semblance of their previous life except perhaps for rubble. The homes were destroyed, probably burned, and the fields were overgrown from 30 years of neglect.

30 15 years.jpg

To give you an idea of what 10-15 years of neglect in a field looks like, the photo above is the field behind my house. When we first moved here, the owners mowed the entire field because it was used as a horse pasture. No trees were standing. The woods on the far side of the field was mature when we arrived.

Sometime between 10 and 15 years ago, they stopped mowing the part of the field on the left half of the photo where the trees are growing. Keep in mind that this field is down a steep hill that is probably the height of a two story house, or maybe more, so the trees on the left are probably 3 or 4 stories high today. And this in just half of the duration of the war. After 30 years, the German farmers would literally have to start over, especially if they were growing investment crops such as orchards and vineyards where the vines and trees must be mature to produce. I can only imagine the level of dejection they must have felt if they did return to survey the extent of the damage and they found a scene like this amid ugly, overgrown rubble reminding them of death. The mocking ghost of a life that once was.

Some families did not attempt to return. Many didn’t survive and for those who did, thirty years is a generation. Young couples in 1618, if alive, were old in 1650. Few records survive from contemporaneous resources. Many that do were written later, or, in some cases, have to be inferred.

Before I discuss the records that involve multiple ancestors, I want to review the Thirty Years’ War and how it affected the Palatinate, called the Pfalz at that time in Germany. The region, on the fertile Rhine plain but within sight of the mountains and Palatinate Forest was then and is still known for its vineyards. In fact, one of the 1700s records in Fussgoenheim refers to the “wine tavern.”

30 vineyard

By Dr. Manfred Holz (Diskussion) – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28597736

Hambach Castle, now rebuilt and overlooking vineyards, below, near Neustadt, guarded the way on the old Roman trade routes and marked a location on the Way of St. James, also known as the Camino de Santiago, the point from where Emperor Henry IV began his pilgrim’s Walk to Canossa in 1076.

30 Hambach castle.jpg

By Dr. Manfred Holz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16403797

The Palatinate is steeped in history, and the families that resided there at the beginning of the 30 Years’ War likely had lived on same lands in the Rhine Valley, God’s Little Acre, for time out-of-mind – loving, fighting, defending their rich heritage. They were the descendants of Celts who had settled along the Rhine River hundreds to thousands of years before.

The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 and was quite influential across Germany and England by 1534, eventually rocking the religious foundation of all of Europe. Early, the Palatinate remained Catholic, but in the 1560s, under Elector Frederick III, adopted Calvinism and became the bulwark of the Protestant cause in Germany. The Palatinate was divided into two parts, the upper and lower region. The area west of Mannheim, Worms and Ludwigshafen was in the lower region, known as the Rhenish Palatinate.

The Thirty Years’ War began in 1618 when the Protestant-dominated Bohemian Estates offered the Crown of Bohemia to Frederick the Vth, grandson of Frederick III, rather than the conservative Catholic, Emperor Ferdinand II.

Frederick V accepted the Bohemian Crown in 1619 and was driven from Bohemia in 1620.

By this time, the Thirty Years War was in full swing and the Catholic troops utterly devastated the Palatinate over the next three years.

30 war hangings

This epoch was absolutely brutal in the Pfalz as is illustrated in this drawing titled, “Les Grandes Miseres de la guerre,” drawn in 1632/1633.

According to Winfried, the area of the Palatinate where my ancestors are found after the war was entirely depopulated and abandoned. The population of this region was almost entirely wiped out, beginning in 1620 with the Palatinate Campaign, also known as the Spanish conquest of the Palatinate.

In August 1620, the Army of Flanders in the service of the King of Spain and headquartered in Brussels, 25,000 men strong, marched into the Lower Palatinate. By the first of October, they had taken several major cities. Fighting raged throughout the region with the Catholic troops engaged in scorched-earth warfare.

One by one, the major cities fell and the smaller villages were pillaged, looted and burned. In November 1623, nearby Mannheim fell, leaving only the fortified city of Frankenthal under Protestant control. Frederick fled into exile, but the citizens had no place to go as the Spanish occupied the Palatinate.

30 Frankenthal.jpg

A year later, Frankenthal, shown above, where many of my family members had sought refuge, fell too and would not be reconstructed until 1682. During that time, people lived amid the ruins as best they could. In 1789, Frankenthal was again burned to the ground. No place was safe and people earlier displaced were once again on the move, seeking shelter anyplace they could find hope of safety.

The Protestant army in the Palatinate was a volunteer effort coordinated by an English knight. They became isolated into pockets by defeats in several regions and finally in March of 1623, James I, King of England and the father-in-law of Frederick V, ordered their surrender.

Frederick believed that his possessions would be restored to him, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, his lands were given to Bavaria and a Catholic counter-reformation was underway.

The population reduction in the Palatinate as a whole exceeded 66%.

This War didn’t end until 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia.

Thirty years is an entire generation, or more. People had found some semblance of a new life wherever they made their “temporary” home, had forged alliances, and were in no hurry to return to devastation in the countryside.

Exile

The few people who survived the onslaught sought exile in Bad Durkheim, Frankenthal and Speyer, all three of which saw enduring warfare and eventually succumbed to the Catholic troops, and fire.

Winfried tells us that the entire Palatinate agricultural region was entirely devoid of population from about 1634 to 1650, and that repopulation was very slow thereafter. Everything had been entirely destroyed, including church and civil records. By way of example, only 5 families returned to the Dannstadt, a village of about 7,500 people today, and probably fewer returned to Schauernheim.

In both 1652 and 1660, the Bishop of Speyer issued calls for people to come and settle, or resettle, in the Pfalz. Many Swiss and Germans from other areas along with displaced Jews began lives in the villages of the Palatinate.

But warfare STILL wasn’t over.

More War

In 1673, King Louis XIV declared war on this part of Germany, annexed the lands to the Rhine and in 1674, this area was again ravaged by his armies.

The Bishop wrote on January 9, 1679.

The town of Lauterburg, and the villages around there are in such a desolate and pitiful state that the people don´t even have anything to wear. Some have run away, and those who remain do not even have bread to eat.

Winfried indicated that this description applied to all regions in the Pfalz

In 1688, the French King sent nearly 50,000 men with instructions “that the Palatinate should be made a desert,” launching what would become known as the Nine Years’ War or the War of the Palatine Succession. His commander gave the half-million residents a 3-day 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, annexing it for their own.

30 Speyer

This etching shows the city of Speyer before and during the fire of 1689. Speyer was one of the locations that refugees from the villages and farms of the Palatine had fled. Once again, they would have to seek safety elsewhere as the city of Speyer almost totally destroyed.

From 1689-1697, French troops under Louis XIV once again ravaged the Palatinate. Many refugees fled across the Rhine, with France eventually offering incentives for the residents to return when they realized they needed residents to work the land and people to tax. Some did return, but many didn’t, having established new lives. Enough was enough.

Peace and tranquility returned to what was left of the Pfalz as the villages rebuilt not only their churches and homes, but also their population and civil structure. The French, however, were never far away, lurking like a watchful predator. The village of Rehhutte was occupied by French troops from 1734-1745.

In 1756, catastrophic weather conditions including hail destroyed the entire harvest.

Then in 1789, you guessed it, France invaded again.

In 1807, yet another French army did the same. By now, every castle on the Rhine had been destroyed. The French occupied the Palatinate until 1808, sending anything of value back to the coffers of King Louis XIV.

This dark period in history finally ended in 1816, almost 200 years after the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo when Europe was re-divided, and the Pfalz was given to Bavaria where it remained until after the first World War. The Holy Roman Empire and feudalism ended, along with serfdom and constant invasions, which, combined, made the lives of both peasants and wealthier citizens miserable.

Anyone who could immigrate or leave did in the 1700s with many settling with other Palatinate Germans in Pennsylvania. The outward-bound tide continued into the mid-1800s.

30 peasant.jpg

The carnage that occurred during the 1600s and 1700s has been described as nothing sort of war crimes. In this drawing, a peasant begs for mercy in front of a burning farm. Few received grace and were more likely to join those hung in the trees.

The Thirty Years’ War itself wasn’t just violent, but led to unremitting famine and plagues. Warfare not only killed soldiers, but legions of civilians as well. Many regions were entirely abandoned, for not only years but in some cases decades.

The population was almost, if not entirely, displaced at one time or another. In most cases, multiple displacements – constant insecurity and danger that only occasionally eased for a bit and never ended.

Pestilence and disease raged. Typhus, scurvy and bubonic plague accompanied the soldiers, infecting everyone in their wake. What few contemporary records exist provide harrowing details of starvation in huge numbers, including reports to the church of cannibalism.

Truthfully, I find it nothing short of amazing that I exist at all today. I am the descendant of people made of unremitting grit and who were the fortunate few. Grit, bravery and determination only take you so far. Eventually, either you’re either lucky, or not.

My Palatinate Families

Needless to say, most Palatinate records, specifically village and church records begin in the 1700s, after the wars of the 17th century ended and the regions had some opportunity to rebuild. It’s not surprising, given what they had endured at the hands of the Catholics that the area was almost uniformly Protestant, Lutheran to be exact, with a few Jewish immigrants and Huguenot refugees settling in the abandoned areas.

My mother had several German lines from the Palatinate.

The first couple, Philipp Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert immigrated and settled in Ripley County, Indiana in 1847. As it would be revealed, other close and more distant family members from Fussgoenheim and Mutterstadt also immigrated to the same or nearby locations – retaining family bonds forged in Germany.

Mom’s second line was George Drechsel, from Speichersdorf, and Barbara Mehlheimer, from Goppmannsbuhl, who immigrated in 1852, settling in neighboring Dearborn County, Indiana.

Their children, Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel married in 1866 in Aurora, Indiana.

Mom’s third German line was the immigrant Johann Michael Miller who immigrated in 1727 and married Susanna Agnes Berchtol. Both of their families were from the Steinwenden/Krottelbach area of the Palatinate. Their children would marry other German families for generations, every generation until my German-speaking great-grandmother married a Dutch immigrant instead of a nice German boy.

Additionally, Mom had several lines known as 1709ers, German people desperate to leave the Palatinate. There was a major freeze in the winter of 1708/09 in the Palatinate. On January 10, 1709 the Rhine River froze and was closed for five weeks. Wine froze into ice. Grapevines died. Cattle perished in their sheds. Desperate, thousands of Palatinate citizens traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam in late February and March, seeking relief.

Rotterdam was completely overwhelmed and shipped them on to England where the Germans had heard that the Queen was giving free land in America. Their exodus was an unwise gamble born of desperation because they wound up stranded in impoverished tent cities in England in 1709 before eventually finding their way as laborers to the colonies.

Mom also had ancestors from other parts of Germany, but in this article, I’m focusing on the families that lived in the Rhine basin near the neighbor villages of Mutterstadt and Fussgoehein where these families were living after the Thirty Years’ War.

While I’m telling the stories of each of these ancestors as individuals in my 52 Ancestors series, the heartache spread throughout the entire Palatinate, affecting everyone. There was personal loss made worse by a mass mourning. The survivors, while hungry and desperately poor, were still the lucky ones. Most of the people died. All of their homes were destroyed. That they survived at all is nothing short of miraculous.

I’ve placed the several families in German towns and villages in “God’s Little Acre” as far back as I can. After we lose their specific family lines, sometimes we can glean additional tidbits from community history.

Acknowledgements

Before going further, I want to take this opportunity to thank the following people for their assistance in compiling not only the specific family records, but the history of the region and earlier records of those who carried the family names, but whom we can’t directly place as ancestors. Given the repopulation of the area after 1650, it’s very likely that later citizens in the 1700s with a specific surname were related to the earlier residents of the same name.

  • Walter Schnebel – a cousin, now deceased, grew up as a neighbor to the Kirsch family in Fussgoenheim and compiled a great deal of historical information over several decades of research. His family has graciously contributed his research for future generations.
  • William – a very generous researcher in a nearby village who has graciously offered to assist my search and photograph some of my family locations. William, I can’t thank you enough.
  • Noel – a lovely blog-subscriber who took photographs of the Kirsch ancestral home in Fussgoeheim during her vacation. She’s amazing and I’m so grateful.
  • Tom – my friend, cousin and retired German genealogist who I have become very close to over the past several years. I don’t know how I’d do this without him.
  • Christoph – my good friend whose ancestors lived where my ancestors lived. They probably knew each other. Christoph, a native-German speaker and history buff discovers absolutely amazing resources that I can’t find. Christoph and Tom joined my life about the same time when Christoph discovered an error I had made!
  • Winfried Seelinger – historian and archivist at the Dannstadt archives who gracioiusly sent me valuable family and historical information about this region during the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Elke Hall – my German translator in the 1980s and 1990s when I first began this journey. She retired many years ago, but I still find historical and genealogical gems in her long and lovely letters.
  • My cousins, Marliese (now deceased) who wrote letters to the Kirsch family in Aurora, Indiana during WWII and her daughter Heike.
  • My cousin Joyce (deceased) whose husband Don is also descended from the Koehler, Kirsch and Koob ancestors. Joyce and her husband were stationed in Germany during the 1960s and she began her research then and was kind enough to share before she passed away.
  • Cousin Irene Bultman, also sadly deceased, who lived near Aurora, Indiana and provided me with the Kirsch letters that Marliese had written.
  • My mother who accompanied me on the trips to find her relatives, or at least the trail they had left behind. I miss her.

30 Mom cemetery Kirsch

  • My cousins who have taken DNA tests and provided records to help unravel our family.
  • Countless others who have contributed hints, tips, photos or kindnesses. We are not on this journey alone and breakthroughs are so often thanks to the generosity of strangers.

I am incredibly grateful for the presence of these people in my life, their giving spirit and their patience with my never-ending questions.

Let’s start with the Kirsch family beginning with the immigrant parents. Like many families from these villages, I descend from multiple ancestors in the same family line. In small villages, you marry whoever is available to marry, which means you often marry cousins, close or distant. One of the benefits of the displacement due to warfare was the addition of new DNA to the pot, but it also made tracing the families immensely more difficult.

The Kirsch Family 

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Philip Jacob Kirsch, farmer 1806 Andreas Kirsch, Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler 1880 Born  Fussgoenheim, Germany, died Ripley County, Indiana Katharina Barbara Lemmert
Andreas Kirsch, farmer 1774 Elias Nicolaus Kirsch, Susanna Elisabetha Koob 1819 Fussgoenheim Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler
Elias Nicolaus Kirsch 1733 Johann Michael Kirsch, Anna Margaretha 1804 Fussgoenheim Susanna Elisabetha Koob
Johann Michael Kirsch, Mayor until 1757 C 1700 Johann Adam Kirsch, Anna Maria Koob Before 1759 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Margaretha, surname unknown
Johann Adam Kirsch, unterfauth, mayor in 1701 C 1677 Johann Georg Kirsch, Margaretha Koch Before 1740, alive in 1717 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Maria Koob
Johann Georg (Jerg) Kirsch, baker, co-tenant of Josten estate in 1660 letter C 1620, married 1650 Bad Durkheim where is a baker Before 1695 Lived in Fussgoenheim, probably born elsewhere Margaretha Koch
Line 2
Maria Catharina Kirsch 1701-1711 Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, Anna Maria Borstler After 1772 Married and lived in Fussgoenheim, birth and death locations are uncertain. Johann Theobald Koob
Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, gerichtsmann, court man C 1670, son of Johann George Kirsch born c 1620 Johann Georg Kirsch, Margaretha Koch Abt 1723 Lived in Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain, married in 1695 in Bad Durkheim Anna Maria Borstler

 

Johann Georg (Jerg) Kirsch, above C 1620 Before 1695 Lived in Fussgoenheim, probably born elsewhere Margaretha Koch

Based on these records, it appears that Johann Georg Kirsch, known as Jerg, spent the time during the Thirty Years’ War in Bad Durkheim, settling in Fussgoenheim after the war.

30 kirsch map.png

In the Kirsch line, you’ll note that the birth locations of the three oldest generations are uncertain. There are no church records in Fussgoenheim until 1726.

We do have a marriage record for Johann Georg Kirsch in 1650 in Bad Durkheim, followed by a record in the archives stating that in 1660, he is the co-lessee of the Josten estate in Fussgoenheim. Of course, that doesn’t tell us where he was between 1650 and 1660, where he was born or where the family was before that time.

There is nothing to indicate that the Kirsch family was in Fussgoenheim prior to the Thirty Years’ War.

Kirsch Immigrants to the US

Walter Schnebel’s records indicate that Kirsch family immigrants from Fussgoenheim, other than my ancestors, include:

  • Anna Margaretha “Marie” Kirsch born Feb. 16, 1804, my ancestor’s sister, married Johann Martin Koehler who died in Germany. She immigrated with her brother’s family and children, and died on Nov, 30, 1888 in Dearborn County, Indiana.

Walter lists an Illinois group.

  • Daniel Kirsch born September 7, 1795 to Daniel Kirsch and Eva Rosina Haas, married Catharina Barbara Lehmann, immigrated in 1836 and died on December 19, 1837 in Monroe County, Illinois.
  • Johannes Kirsch born July 13, 1817 to Johann Daniel Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lehmann, married Elizabeth Knewitz, then Maria Katharina Mohr, died March 24, 1861 in Monroe County, Illinois
  • Maria Catharina Kirsch born March 19, 1821 to Johann Daniel Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lehmann, married Andreas Probst, died July 18, 1877 in Monroe County, Illinois.

There seem to be three distinct groups, the Monroe County, Illinois group, the Dearborn County, Indiana group and a St. Louis, Missouri and area across the river in Illinois group.

  • Johannes VI (John) Kirsch born October 14, 1804 to Georg Heinrich Kirsch and Anna Barbara Ellspermann, married Margaretha Beckmann, died August 1, 1883 in Lawrenceburg, Dearborn County, Indiana. Immigrated in 1853 with their children.
  • Anna Elisabetha Kirsch born Dec. 14, 1828 to Johannes Kirsch IV and Maria Catharina Koob, married Philipp Jacob Kohler (Koehler), died June 28, 1876 Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana.
  • Johannes (John William I) Kirsch born August 1, 1835 to Johannes Kirsch IV and Maria Catharina Koob, immigrated in 1859, married Caroline Kuntz in Dearborn, Indiana.
  • Andreas Kirsch born October 23, 1817 and Valentin Kirsch, brothers, born August 29, 1819 to Johann Adam Kirsch and Maria Catharina Koob immigrated on September 16, 1936 from Le Havre to New York on the ship “Henry IV.” It’s likely that Andreas is the same person whose gravestone stood at the now-defunct St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Franklin Twp., near where Philip Jacob Kirsch lived, with a death date of Sept. 19, 1891. If this is correct, Philip Jacob is his uncle and it’s likely that Valentine lived locally as well.

It’s unclear from Walter’s spreadsheet if he connected thee following immigrants back to the Fussgoenheim families, or if he was searching for potential Kirsch family members in the US. After looking at the rest of his spreadsheet surnames, I suspect he connected these families in some fashion. Ironically, in the early 1980s in St. Louis, I recall seeing a restaurant named the “Kirsch House” and thought it remarkable. Now, of course, I wish I had stopped.

  • Diether “Peter” Kirsch and Susan immigrated to Ohio and had 5 children who began being born in 1842.
  • Johannes “John” and Cathie lived in Cleveland, Ohio between 1880 and 1900 along with their 5 children born beginning in 1850.
  • Adam Kirsch and Charlotta Louisa in St. Louis Missouri and St. Clair County, Illinois having children born beginning in 1869 in Illinois.
  • Adam Kirsch and Mary having children in Ohio beginning in 1877.
  • George Kirsch and Caroline having children in Cleveland Ohio beginning in 1874.
  • Martin Kirsch and Elizabeth Bernhardt having children in Madison, Illinois beginning in 1885.
  • William Kirsch and Lizzie Langenwalter having children in the US beginning in 1891.
  • John Kirsch and Emma Salomi Bauer having children beginning in 1890 in St. Louis, MO, Collinsville, IL beginning in 1890.

In the future, if Kirsch males from these lines take the Y DNA test, we’ll know if they connect for sure.

Kirsch DNA

There is a Kirsch DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

We have a male representing the Y DNA of the Kirsch line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Catharina Kirsch. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Catharina through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Koch Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Margaretha Koch Bef 1630 Stephen Koch Married in Bad Durkheim, died in Fussgoenheim Johan Georg (Jerg) Kirsch
Stephen Koch Bef 1610 Bad Durkheim

Margaretha was likely born during the Thirty Years’ War and Stephen before.

Koch DNA

We don’t have either the Koch Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Margaretha Koch. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Koch male that descends from the Stephen Koch line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Margaretha Koch through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Boerstler or Borstler Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Boerstler C 1670 Johann Adam Borstler After 1736 Lived in Fussgoenheim, married in 1695 in Bad Durkheim Johann Wilhelm Kirsch
Johann Adam Boerstler Before 1650 Lived in Bad Durkheim when his daughter married Margarethe
Line 2
Anna Barbara Boerstler 1695 Johann Jacob Boerstler and Anna Stauber 1762 Born in Schauernheim, died in Mutterstadt Johann Sebastian Reimer
Johann Jacob Boerstler, Mayor of Schauernheim 1694-1702 C 1659 1704 Lived and died in Schauernheim, possibly born in Beindersheim near Frankenthal although documentation is lacking Anna Stauber

Borstler family records are found in a wide range of villages in the Palatinate. In addition to the villages where my ancestors and earlier mentions are found, Walter also shows connections to Lambsheim, Assenheim, Rehutte and Oppenheim, all in this same general area.

30 Borstler map

Johann Adam Borstler along with Margaretha and Hans Jacob were found in the early records, their births having taken place between roughly 1640 and 1655. Hans Jacob died in 1704 in Schauernheim.

Schauernheim and Dannstadt church records both begin in 1673.

The Borstler family is found early in Fussgoenheim where one Theobaldt Burstler (probably Borstler) is living in 1717 and noted as an old man who has knowledge of the earlier customs, rules and rights of citizens.

Walter Schnebel shows that Johann Michael Boerstler born about 1659 is interviewed in 1717 as well, being the leaseholder of the Munchhof estate.

This would suggest that both of these men were from Fussgoenheim and had knowledge of the area from before the warfare in the 1600s, establishing the Boerstler line in this specific area.

The Borstler family is found as a leaseholder at the Munchhof estate south of Schauernheim and in the early Schauernheim records.

In 1704, Hans Jakob Borstler died after being noted as the Mayor from 1694-1702. This is my second Boerstler line.

Hans Michael Borstler died in 1724 and was noted as a leaseholder at the Munchhof estate. His son, Johannes was born about 1684 and married Maria Margaretha Koob in 1724 in Dannstadt. They continued as leaseholders at Munchhof where Johann Theobald Koob, displaced from Fussgoenheim, then living in Weissenheim am Sand, purchased one quarter of the leasehold estate in 1748.

Boerstler Immigrants to US

Hans Michel Borstler born August 1701 in Schauernheim to Johann Michael Borstler and Anna Margaretha Lackinger, died 1767 in Berks County, PA, married Anna Catharina Krehl in Assenheim in 1726.

Jacob Borstler born 1700 in Fussgoenheim to Johann Theobald (Dewald) Borstler and Maria Catharine Kemp (Kamp), married Catharina Peter in PA about 1727 and died in Berks County, PA.

George Borstler (Berstler,) brother of Jacob, above born about 1712, died in Alsace, Berks County, PA.

Borstler DNA

We don’t have the Y DNA of a Borstler male. I have a testing scholarship for any male who carries that surname and can document descent from the Boerstler line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of either Anna Maria Borstler or Anna Barbara Borstler. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Stauber Family

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Stauber 1659 Hans Stauber 1729 Schauernheim Johann Jacob Boerstler
Hans (Johann) Stauber, farmer Before 1639 Schauernheim Margarethe

The Stauber family is found in Schauernheim, according to the Schauernheim history, with Anna born there in 1658 or 1659, but her sister Margarethe was born on October 2, 1641 in Speyer. We don’t where the Stauber family lived before the war, but they were clearly in Speyer during that time.

30 speyer.png

Stauber DNA

We don’t have the Y DNA of a Stauber male. I have a testing scholarship for any male who carries that surname and can document descent from the Hans Stauber line.

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Stauber. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Stauber through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Koob Family

The Koob family married into the Kirsch family many times over several generations.

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Susanna Elisabetha Koob 1731 Johann Theobald Koob, Maria Catharine Kirsch After 1776 Fussgoenheim Elias Nicolaus Kirsch
Johann Theobald Koob, leaseholder at Munchhof C 1705 Johann Dietrich Koob, Anna Catharina After 1766 Died either Fussgoenheim or Munchhof Maria Catharina Kirsch
Johann Dietrich Koob, Mayor in 1730 C 1670 1734 Died Fussgoenheim, birth location uncertain Anna Catharina, surname unknown

The Koob family was found in early records in Fussgoenheim and surrounding villages.

30 Koob map.png

The first mention that Walter found of the Koob surname was in the 1430s where Jost Kob is mentioned as a leaseholder, then in the 1470s and 1480s where Lorenz and Christmann Kob are noted as mayor, respectively, and Velten, Hensel, Hans and Henrich are noted as jurymen. Walter did not indicate where, but since this is the Fussgoenheim spreadsheet I’m using, I’d presume it was there.

Claus Koob is mentioned in 1553 and is noted as the mayor in Schauernheim in 1520.

In 1530 and 1540, Hans and Wendel Kob are noted as jurymen, presumably in Fussgoenheim, with Wendel also noted as a leaseholder. Both also contributed to defend against the Turks in 1585, as did Henrich and Michel.

In 1585, according to Winfried, there is a tax list to “defend against the Turks.” In a separate section of taxed individuals who have a lot in Schauernheim but live elsewhere, we find Wendel Kob, noted as the mayor. We would interpret this to mean he was the mayor of Fussgoenheim during the Turkish invasion.

In 1595 in Mutterstadt, it was noted that the family sought safety for 16 years in Frankenthal. We find mention of children of a Valentine Koob and Margaretha whose children were born in both Mutterstadt and Frankenthal between 1627 and 1649.

Records survive in neighboring Schauernheim earlier than in Fussgoenheim. In those records, we find Andreas Koob who died in 1627 and was the mayor there in 1617.

Between 1613 and 1627, Endres Koob is the Mayor in neighboring Dannstadt. Andres, probably the same person, is noted in September 1592 on the war tax register and again in 1617 on a tax list, noted as Mayor.

We find Koob family members by 1714 in nearby Weisenheim am Sand.

The Koob family was known to have been in Fussgoenheim in the early 1700s. Fussgoenheim records indicate that in 1701, Hans Nikel Kob was mayor and still living in 1717, noted as an old man. Elder residents were providing information about property, family lines, citizenship and such before the war.

Johann Dietrich Koob was mayor in 1730.

Between 1573 and 1701, no information is known about who was mayor, but in 1528, Lorenz Kob was mayor and in 1480, Debalt Kalbe was noted as mayor. This history reaches far back before the Thirty Years’ War, so I suspect that the Koob family was displaced, but then returned.

A Hans Simon Koob died in Schauernheim in 1708 and 1712. In 1709, he’s mentioned as a vineyard owner, so obviously there were two men by the same name living there in that timeframe.

We also find early Schauernheim marriages to Koob females, even though we don’t know who their parents were. Records connect the Schauernheim and Fussgoenheim Koob families, as well as Koob family members who lived in Weissenheim am Sand prior to 1743.

The Koob family living in Weissenheim am Sand who would provide shelter to Johann Theobald Koob after he was expelled from Fussgoenheim in 1743 was likely the son of Hans Nikel Koob, the Mayor of Fussgoenheim.

These families were all somehow connected and lived in this area before the Thirty Years’ War. It’s that connection and alliance that may have saved them.

Koob Immigrants to the US

Georg Koob born August 15, 1865 and his sister, Maria born April 4, 1868 to Johann Dieter Koob II and Elisabeth Claus immigrated to the US.

George Koob died in Port Clinton, Ottawa County, Ohio on May 21, 1942.

Koob DNA

We don’t have Koob Y DNA so I have a Y DNA testing scholarship for any Koob male descending directly from Koob males through all men.

We also don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Susanna Elisabetha Koob, so I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Susanna Elisabetha Koob through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female

The Koehler Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler 1772 Johann Peter Koehler, Anna Elisabetha Scherer 1823 Born in Ellerstadt, died in Fussgoenheim Andreas Kirsch
Johann Peter Koehler, farmer C 1723 Johann Peter Theobald Koehler, Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer 1791 Married in Ellerstadt in 1762, died there Anna Elisabetha Scherer
Johann Theobald Koehler, tax collector in Rehhutte 1696 Johann Thomas Koehler, Anna Barbara Garnschrag 1767 Seckenheim, tax collector in Rehhutte, Neuhofen in 1735, died in Neustadt Anna Elisabetha  Ulzhöfer
Johann Thomas Koehler C 1663 Mathes Koehler, Anna Maria Zee 1729 Born Seckenheim, married and died in Ladenburg Anna Barbara Garnschrag
Mathes Koehler, church council member, gemeindsmann C 1645 Wolfgang Koehler 1708 Married in Ivesheim, died in Seckenheim Anna Maria Zee
Wolfgang Koehler, beer brewer and baker in Seckenheim 1622 Johannes Koehler 1708 Born Neckarau, died Seckenheim unknown
Johannes Koehler Before 1600 1675 Born Mannheim, died Neckarau unknown

From the records, it looks like the Koehler family may be one that crossed the Rhine for safety. I’d wager that there are Koehler family lines there that connect with ours that are later found in Ellerstadt. I believe that Marliese indicated that her oral family history indicated as much and that her family had located some distant family members.

30 Koehler map

Walter Schnebel notes that Johann Theobald Koehler “came in 1761 from the Rehhütte/Limburgerhof to NW.” I don’t quite know what NW stands for, although I suspect Neustadt. Generally, it’s an abbreviation for a town and sometimes, only Walter can decipher them, except he can’t now.

It’s also worth noting that the translation of his wife’s name, Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer was translated years ago quite differently, as Jlleshofer.

Walter’s research indicates that in the 1720s, the family lived in Rehhutte and in the 1740s, they seem to have moved to Ellerstadt where numerous records exist.

Koehler Immigrants to the US

The only known Koehler immigrants are the children of Johann Martin Koehler, who died in 1846 in Fussgoenheim, and Anna Margaretha Kirsch who immigrated with her brother after Martin’s death. Three of her four surviving children married in America.

Koehler DNA

We have a Y DNA tester representing the Koehler line.

We do not have Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler’s mitochondrial DNA. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Margaretha Elisabetha through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Scherer Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Elisabetha Scherer 1741 Johann Philipp Scherer, Anna Margaretha 1784 Born Heuchelheim, died Ellerstadt Johann Peter Koehler
Johann Philipp Scherer, innkeeper at the Lion Inn in Heuchelheim 1702 1755 Heuchelheim death, birth unknown Anna Margaretha surname unknown

Heuchelheim bei Frankenthal is only 8 miles up the road from Ellerstadt.

30 Scherer map.png

Walter shows a Johannes Scherer, “from Burchsal” in Fussgoenheim having a child in 1758 that died 6 years later. Given that Johann Peter Koehler was from Ellerstadt and they married there in 1762, this is may not be the same family line. Bruchsal is the opposite direction from Ellerstadt as Heuchelheim.

Scherer DNA

We have neither the Y DNA of the Scherer line, nor the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Elisabetha Scherer.

I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male Scherer descending from Johann Philip Scherer through all males to the current generation.

I also have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Elisabetha Scherer through all females to the current generation which can be either male or female.

The Ulzhöfer Family (formerly translated as Jlleshoefer)

I believe this name is spelled Ulzhöfer, based on Walter’s records, but it was originally translated as Jlleshoefer.

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Elisabetha Ulzhöfer 1704 Ulrich Ulzhofer 1735 Born Bruehl, married Seckenheim, died Rehhutte Johann Peter Theobald Koehler
Ulrich Ulzhöfer

This record reaches back to the time when families would have still been resettling after warfare.

30 Ulzhoefer map

This location of Bruehl is far from the area where the Koehler family is found and may not be the correct Bruehl.

Ulzhoefer DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Ulrich Ulzhoefer or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Elisabetha Ulzhoefer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Ulrich Ulzhoefer directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Elisabetha Ulzhoefer through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Garnschrag Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Garnschrag 1666 Hans Valentine Garnschrags 1747 Ladenburg Johann Thomas Koehler
Hans Valentine Garnschrags Bef 1646

Ladenburg is only a few miles from Mannheim and an area where refugees from west of the Rhine seem to have settled.

30 Garnschrag map.png

Garnschrag DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Hans Valentine Garnschrag or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Garnschrag. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Hans Valentin Garnschrag directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Barbara Garnschrag through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Zee, Zeh Family

 Ancestor Birth Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Zee 1646 1722 Married Ivesheim died Seckenheim Mathes Koehler
Friedrich Zee, Zeh Bef 1625 1694 Died Ivesheim

Village center to village center is about a mile, so these people could literally have lived within sight of each other. I wonder if any type of bridge existed at the time.

30 Zee map

Note that the surname See is also in Fussgoenheim. I don’t know if this is a different spelling of the same name, and if it’s the same family. These records date back to the Thirty Years’ War, so these families could have wound up just about anyplace.

Zee, Zeh DNA

We don’t have either the Y DNA of Friedrich Zee or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Maria Zee. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Friedrich Zee directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Ann Maria Zee through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Lemmert Family 

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Katharina Barbara Lemmert 1807 Johann Jacob Lemmert, Gerdraut Steiger 1889 Mutterstadt Philipp Jacob Kirsch
Johann Jacob Lemmert, farmer 1775 Johann Peter Lemmert, Maria Katharina Reimer 1808 Mutterstadt Gerdraut Steiger
Johann Peter Lemmert, farmer 1736 Johann Peter Lemmert, Anna Maria Steiger 1781 Mutterstadt Maria Katharina Reimer
Johann Peter Lemmert, customs officer, farmer 1705 Balthasar Lemmert, Anna Barbara Ortwer 1738 Mutterstadt Anna Maria Steiger
Balthasar Lemmert, customs agent, landlord of the White Swan 1676 Johann Jakob Lemmert, Katharina Funckh 1750 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Ortwer
Johann Jakob Lemmert, court cognant 1636 Needs to be translated 1714 Mutterstadt Katharina Funckh
Line 2
Rosina Barbara Lemmert (line 2) 1669 Johann Jakob Lemmert, Katharina Funckh 1743 Mutterstadt Johann Jakob Renner
Johann Jakob Lemmert, above 1636 1714 Mutterstadt Katharina Funckh (Funk)

Unfortunately, Walter doesn’t have Lemmert on his spreadsheet. His focus was Fussgoenheim, and I have only found Mutterstadt Lemmert records.

Lemmert DNA

We need the Lemmert Y DNA and I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male descending from a Lemmert male through all males to the current generation.

We also don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of either Katharina Barbara Lemmert or Rosina Barbara Lemmert, so I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female.

The Funckh (Funk) Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Katharina Funckh C 1635 Ventin Funckh Lived in Mutterstadt Johann Jakob Lemmert
Veltin Funckh Before 1615

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows the only Funk as Oswald Funk born about 1647 in the Canton Bern, Switzerland and died in 1708 in Mutterstadt. However, the note says the married couple moved from Switzerland about 1710 to Mutterstadt. One or the other is incorrect – perhaps a typo. I do wonder if Oswald Funk is connected to Veltin (Valentin).

Funckh (Funk) DNA

We don’t have either the Funckh (Funk) Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Katharina Funckh (Funk.) I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Ventin Funckh (Funk) directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Katharina Funckh (Funk) through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Reimer Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Katharina Reimer 1740 Philip Heinrich Reimer, Anna Barbara Renner 1803 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Lemmert
Philip Heinrich Reimer 1718 Johann Sebastian Reimer, Anna Barbara Borstler 1756 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Renner
Johann Sebastian Reimer, judge 1692 Ludwig Reimer, Anna Margaretha 1766 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Borstler
Ludwig Reimer, court cognant, master sentinel, watch-master, lieutenant, judge 1651 Bartholomous Reimer, Odilla Kobss 1712 Mutterstadt Anna Margaretha surname unknown
Bartholomous Reimer 1617 1707 Born and died in Mutterstadt, married in 1650 in Frankenthal Odilla Kobss (is this another spelling of Koob?)
Line 2
Maria Saloma Reimer 1752 Johann Jacob Reimer, Rosina Barbara Renner 1791 Mutterstadt Johann Philipp Steiger
Johann Jacob Reimer, shoemaker 1723 Johann Bernard Reimer, Anna Katharina Sager 1795 Mutterstadt Rosina Barbara Renner
Johann Bernard Reimer, gerichtsverwandter, schoffe, court related, alderman C 1687 Ludwig Reimer, Anna Margaretha 1757 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Sager
Ludwig Reimer, above 1651 Bartholomous Reimer, Odilla Kobss 1712 Mutterstadt Anna Margaretha surname unknown
Bartholomous Reimer, above 1617 1707 Born and died in Mutterstadt, married in Frankenthal Odilla Kobss (is this another spelling of Koob?)

These records suggest that the Reimer family was from Mutterstadt before the war and returned after. The Koob family was in Mutterstadt before 1650, so the families would have known each other before they sought refuge in Frankenthal.

30 Reimer map.png

As I look at the 12 km (7.5 miles) path to Frankenthal, today, I think about the hundreds of families that walked that exact route on their way to desperately-needed safety, probably leaving everything behind except literally what they could carry. Lucky families might have had a cart and an ox to pull it.

It’s interesting to note that Walter shows an Ottilie Koob born about 1627 in Mutterstadt to Valentin Koob and Margaretha. While two children are attributed specifically to Valentin and Margaretha, one born in Frankenthal in 1649 plus Ottilie, four other children were born during this period to unknown parents. Barbara was born in 1637 and another Ottilie in 1644, both in Mutterstadt. Johann Franz and Johann Debold Koob/Kob were born in Frankenthan in 1649 and 1659 respectively. With that much age spread, it’s unlikely that all these children were born to the same parents, not to mention two Ottilies.

Is Odilla Kobss the younger Ottilie Koobs who was born in 1627 in Mutterstadt andperhaps married in Frankenthal while the family was sheltering there?

Reimer DNA

We have Reimer Y DNA, but we don’t have mitochondrial of either Maria Katharina Reimer or Maria Saloma Reimer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from either woman through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Sager, Seger Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Sager 1689 Rudolph Sager 1751 Born Ruchheim, married and died Mutterstadt Johann Bernard Reimer
Rudolph Sager Died Ruchheim Elisabetha surname unknown

The name is spelled Seger in some records.

The village of Ruchheim is just up the road from Mutterstadt.

30 Sager map

Sager, Seger DNA

We don’t have either the Sager Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Sager male that descends from the Rudolph Sager line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharina Sager through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Steiger, Staiger Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Maria Steiger 1705 Daniel Steiger, Maria Katharina Klein 1789 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Lemmert
Daniel Steiger, church elder, kirchentester 1669/1670 Johann Theobald Steiger 1736 Mutterstadt Maria Katharina Klein
Johann Theobald Steiger, Mayor 1673-1693 C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt
Line 2
Gerdraut Steiger 1783 Johann Philipp Steiger, Maria Saloma Reimer 1829 Mutterstadt Johann Jacob Lemmert
Johann Philipp Steiger, farmer 1748 Johann Martin Steiger, Maria Magdalena Weber 1794 Mutterstadt Maria Saloma Reimer
Johann Martin Steiger 1716 Johann Theobald Steiger, Anna Katharina Bereth 1758 Mutterstadt Maria Magdalena Weber
Johann Theobald Steiger 1689 Blasius Steiger 1742 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Bereth
Blasius Steiger, Mayor 1794-1814, customs collector for 7 years 1655 Johann Theobald Steiger 1733 Mutterstadt Anna Clara Bayer
Johann Theobald Steiger, above C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt
Line 3
Anna Maria Steiger C 1658 Johann Theobald Steiger 1734 Mutterstadt Johann George Orth
Johann Theobald Steiger, above C 1625 1694 Mutterstadt

The Mutterstadt Family History book says that Johann Theobald was born in Mutterstadt in 1625, which is during the Thirty Years’ War. This suggests the Steiger family lived in Mutterstadt before the war.

Steiger, Staiger DNA

We don’t have either the Steiger Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of either Anna Maria born 1658, Anna Maria born 1705 or Gerdraut Steiger. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from the Steiger male line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Maria, Anna Maria or Gerdraut Steiger through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Bayer Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Clara Bayer C 1655 Mutterstadt Blasius Steiger

The only other Bayer family in the Mutterstadt Family History book is Maria Katharina Bayer born about 1745 in Assenheim and who died in Mutterstadt.

Walter, however, shows a Konrad Bayer born about 1760 who left for the Ukraine in 1785 with 5 persons.

In 1758, an Elias Bayer (Baier) was born in Roxheim to a Joahnnes Bayer and Katharina Schmid.

It’s unclear if any of these Bayer individuals are connected to Anna Clara Bayer.

Bayer DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Clara Bayer. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Bereth Family

 Ancestor Birth Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Bereth 1696 1721 Born Schwetzingen, married and died Mutterstadt Johann Theobald Steiger
Johann Georg Bereth C 1656 1710 Schwetzingen Margaretha Ackerman Maudach (of Huguenoten)

I was not able to find a location by the name of Huguenoten. Cousin Joyce recorded that she was “of Huguenoten,” but I now suspect this was an indication that she was a Huguenot refugee. Was he as well?

30 Bereth map.png

Schwetzingen is across the Rhine River from Mutterstadt, which causes me to wonder how this couple met. Is Swetzingen a location where the Bereth family took refuge from the war?

Bereth DNA

We don’t have either the Bereth Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina Bereth. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Bereth male that descends from the Johann Georg Bereth line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharina Bereth through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Klein Family

 Ancestor Birth   Death Location Spouse
Maria Katharina Klein C 1675 Daniel Klein 1733 Mutterstadt Daniel Steiger
Daniel Klein Before 1655 Mutterstadt

Daniel’s parents were probably displaced when he was born.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows a Jacob Klein born about 1610 in Mutterstadt, married Sept. 9, 1640 in Frankenthal to Veronica and had son Johannes about 1659 in Mutterstadt. This suggests that the Klein family sought refuge in Frankenthal too.

In the Jewish section of the book, Abraham Klein was born about 1759 in Obrigheim, in the Pfalz, married Rosine Theresia Kahn. Two of his children died in Mutterstadt. This line does not seem to be related to Maria Katharina whose name is decidedly more Protestant, with a traditional saint name of Maria.

Klein DNA

We don’t have either the Klein Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Katharina Klein. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Klein male that descends from the Daniel Klein line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Katharina Klein through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Orth Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Orth 1685 George Orth 1757 Married and died in Mutterstadt Balthasar Lemmert
Johann Georg Orth, baker Before 1665 Abt 1696 Mutterstadt Anna Maria Steiger

It’s noted in her marriage record that her father’s name is George Orth, citizen of Mutterstadt, but it was translated in other records as Ortwer and in one record as Ortel.

The Mutterstadt Family History books shows his name as Johann Georg Orth, a baker. Walter had access to the original records, not to mention was quite familiar with Mutterstadt families and who they connected to, misspellings or not.

Walter had no records for Ortwer, but several for Orth. However, his earliest Orth records are children born to Johann Jacob Orth and Anna Maria Becker in Gonnheim beginning in 1670.

Another Orth group was born 1700-1730 in Freinsheim, but at least one died in Ellerstadt.

It’s unclear whether any of these connect to the Mutterstadt family.

Orth DNA

We don’t have either the Orth Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Orth. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male that descends from Johann George Orth directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Orth through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Renner Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Renner 1721 Johann Peter Renner, Anna Katharina Schuster 1787 Mutterstadt Philipp Heinrich Reimer
Johann Peter Renner, court cognant, farmer 1679 Johann Peter Renner 1746 Mutterstadt Anna Katharina Schuster
Johann Peter Renner, farmer 1645 1709 Born Frankenthal, died Mutterstadt Susanna Elisabeth Wentz
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer, Mayor 1655-1661 1610 Mutterstadt Margaretha Buchheimer or Anna Elisabetha unknown
Line 2
Rosina Barbara Renner 1732 Johann Adam Renner, Anna Barbara Raparlien 1773 Mutterstadt Johann Jacob Reimer
Johann Adam Renner, farmer 1695 Johann Jakob Renner, Rosina Barbara Lemmert 1746 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Raparlien
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer 1662 Johannes Renner 1730 Mutterstadt Rosina Barbara Lemmert
Johannes Renner, farmer 1632 Mutterstadt
Johann Jakob Renner, farmer, Mayor 1655-1661, above 1610 Mutterstadt Margaretha Buchheimer or Anna Elisabetha unknown

Johann Jacob Renner, born about 1610 served as mayor in Fussgoenheim from 1655-1661.

Walter’s note, also found in the Mutterstadt Family History book, says, “Family fled to Frankenthal for 16 years because of the chaos of war, came back to Mutterstadt in 1650.”

This tells us that at least a few families managed to tough it out in Mutterstadt until 1634. I wonder if they left during the Palatinate Campaign from 1619-1622 and returned, only to leave again in 1634. I wonder what caused them to leave in 1634. There must have been some precipitating event. How I wish for journals of my ancestors. Walter’s note about leaving for 16 years in 1734 appears on multiple families, which would suggest that they all decided, together, that it was indeed time to leave, understanding what would happen to everything. Yet, they decided to walk away because their alternate choice was death.

Walter shows that a Wendel Renner was born about 1575 and had 2 known sons, Marx and Hans Sebastian who lived in Dannstadt and Schauernheim. Johann Jacob and/or Johannes Renner might have been his sons as well.

The Renner family was clearly established in this area before the Thirty Years’ War.

Renner Immigration to the US

Walter lists several immigrants:

  • Johann Jacob Renner born October 17, 1702 in Mutterstadt to Johann Jacob Renner and Rosina Barbara Lemmert was the brother of my ancestor, Johann Adam Lemmert. Johann Jacob married Helena Barbara Sach in 1726 Oggersheim and died in Chester County, PA in 1766.
  • Hans Veltin (Johann Valentin) Renner born Dec. 10, 1703 in Dannstadt to Johann Diether Renner and Magdalena Cheru, married Anna Margaretha Wessa and died in 1780 in Bedminster, Bucks County, PA.
  • Anna Kunigunde Renner born April 1, 1711 in Dannstadt to Johann Martin Renner and Anna Magdalena died in 1749 in Pennsylvania.
  • Her brother, Hans (Johann) Conrad Renner born May 5, 1715 in Dannstadt married Verena Becker, immigrated in 1738 and died in 1749 in Pennsylvania.

I wonder if this group traveled together.

Renner DNA

We don’t have either the Renner Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara or Rosina Barbara Renner. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Renner male that descends from the Renner line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara or Rosina Barbara Renner through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Schuster Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Katharina Schuster C 1690 Mutterstadt Johann Peter Renner

Anna Katharina Schuster was having children in Mutterstadt by 1718 and until 1734.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows only later Schusters who originally hailed from Altlussheim.

Schuster DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Katharina Schuster. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Katharine Schuster through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Wentz Family

Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Susanna Elisabetha Wentz C 1640 1721 Died in Mutterstadt Johann Peter Renner

Walter’s records provide us with Susanna’s name and notes that they had 2 children in Mutterstadt. Given that Johann Peter Renner was born in Frankenthal, it’s certainly possible that they were married there. The Mutterstadt family book shows no Wentz until in the 1700s.

Wentz DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Susanna Elisabetha Wentz. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Susanna Elisabetha Wentz through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Weber Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Magdalena Weber 1724 Johann Martin Weber 1751 Mutterstadt Johann Martin Steiger
Johann Martin Weber, court man, church elder 1700 Elke could not read father’s name. 1748 Mutterstadt Maria Magdalena Schunck

While we can’t make a connection, the Weber surname is found in the region by historians and researchers. Y DNA from the various lines would confirm or eliminate the possibility that this was the same family line.

30 weber map

Walter Schnebel finds one Albertus Weber, an alderman, born about 1640 marrying Apollonia Beck in Weisenheim am Sand.

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows Hans Weber born about 1520 in the small village of Wiesoppenheim Worms. He died about 1590 in Mutterstadt. He is listed on the register of those paying taxes to defend against the Turks in 1584 on the Neustadt register.

Weber DNA

We don’t have either the Weber Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Magdalena Weber. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Weber male that descends from the Johann Martin Weber line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Magdalena Weber through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

The Schunck Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Maria Magdalena Schunck 1688 Johann Georg Schunck 1748 Married and died in Mutterstadt Johann Martin Weber
Johann Georg Schunck Bef 1668 Died in Missling, Baden (?)

This record came from my now deceased cousin, Joyce, who researched in Germany while her husband was stationed there. She notes that Johann Georg Schunck died in Missling, Baden. I don’t find Missling or Misling or anything similar on a map. Clearly, it existed at one time.

Baden, at that time, bordered the Pfalz, on the right of the Rhine River.

30 baden.png

The Mutterstadt Family History book shows a Caspar Schunck born about 1695 noted as a “wagner from Missling (Baden)” where Missling has the German character that translates to English as ss. He married about 1714 and had 4 children in Mutterstadt.

Leonhard Schunck was born about 1655 and had a child in Mutterstadt in 1686, so the Schunck progenitor had come from Missling to Mutterstadt sometime before 1686. I wonder if Leonard was the brother of Johann Georg Schunck.

Schunck DNA

We don’t have either the Schunck Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Maria Magdalena Schunck. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Schunck male that descends from the Schunck line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Maria Magdalena Schunck through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female

The Rapparlien, Rapparlie, Rapparlier Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Rapparlien 1701 Abraham Rapparlien, Anna Barbara Hoertel 1750 Mutterstadt Johann Adam Renner
Abraham Rapparlien, gutsbestaunder, (unknown translation) 1669 or 1672 Abraham Rapparlien, Anna Blancart 1736 Mutterstadt Anna Barbara Hoertel
Abraham Rapparlien, baker, judge or court bailiff Before 1645 1696 Born in Guines near Calais, France, died in Mutterstadt Anna Blancart

The Rapparlien family wasn’t the only family from near Calais. Christian Deyo who died in 1686 or 1687 in Mutterstadt was also born near Calais. The Calais region and Huguenot families are discussed, here.

30 Rapparlie map

I strongly suspect but cannot prove that the Rapparlien family was French Huguenot.

The Mutterstadt family history book notes beside the entry for Abraham Rapparlie the elder that religious refugees came around 1662 to Mutterstadt. Abraham did well for himself as a baker and a judge or bailiff in the court in Mutterstadt. His wife, Anna Blancart was born in Flanders.

30 Flanders 1509.jpg

This map of Flanders in 1609 shows that it encompassed part of what is today France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Calais and Guines was part of Flanders at that time.

30 Calais 1477.png

Calais in 1477.

In spite of the war-related upheaval in the 1600s, the Rapparlie family felt that there was more opportunity in Mutterstadt than elsewhere. Perhaps because after the war, so much of the land had been depopulated, and settlers were actively being sought. This is somehow ironic as we think of the mass exodus of residents from this region throughout the 1600s. It never occurs to us that some people would welcome the opportunity to settle on and work vacant land.

30 Calais Guines

Guines is located about 6 miles from Calais.

Unfortunately, the Protestant records only exist for 1668-1685, while the Catholic records remain from 1628-1796. Abraham was born before 1645, so his records aren’t available, and his known children were born between 1664 and 1687, in Mutterstadt.

The great news is that these records were transcribed in 1891 for the Huguenot Society of London. The transcription document states that Guines was the religious center of Protestantism in the north east of France in 1685, at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Protestants were “very numerous” in the district after 1558. Thankfully, a transcript of the Protestant records is available, here, and while Rapparlie doesn’t appear, having left about 1662, the records are full of Blancart and similar names.

Rapparlie, Rapparlien, Rapparlier DNA

Along with another Rapparlie researcher, I began the Rapparlie DNA project at Family Tree DNA several years ago. To date, we have two males who descend from the Mutterstadt line. Not only do they not match each other, neither of them match anyone on Y DNA, at least, not yet.

We need additional Y DNA testers from the Rapparlie line. I have a DNA testing scholarship for a Rapparlie male descended from the Muttertstadt line through all males to the current generation.

I have a mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Rapparlie(n) through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.

The Blancart Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Blancart C 1642 1717 Born in Flanders, died in Mutterstadt Abraham Rapparlie(n)

Anna was likely born in the Huguenot community near where Abraham Rapparlie(n) was born, Guines, near Calais, now in France. The Blancart name is found with various spellings such as Blanchart and Blanchard in the Huguenot transcriptions.

Blancart DNA

We don’t have the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Blancart. I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Anna through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.

The Hoertel, Hertel Family

 Ancestor Birth Parents Death Location Spouse
Anna Barbara Hoertel 1682 Johan George Hoertel 1735 Mutterstadt Abraham Raparlien
Johann Georg Hoertel, juror in Mutterstadt, miller in Rehhutte C 1643 1715 Mutterstadt, Rehhutte Anna Catharina

Rehutte isn’t far from Mutterstadt. There doesn’t seem to be much there today, but Johann George was a miller.

30 Hoertel map.png

Hoertel, Hertel DNA

We don’t have either the Hoertel Y DNA or the mitochondrial DNA of Anna Barbara Hoertel. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Hoertel male that descends from the Johann Georg Hoertel line directly through all males to the current generation. I also have a scholarship for anyone descending from Anna Barbara Hoertel through all females to the current generation, which can be either male or female.

Lessons from the Community

We can easily see that while individual genealogies are exceedingly valuable, we gain a broader understanding of those families if we evaluate the historical events that were occurring in the region. Evaluating their family networks, meaning the the families with whom they are affiliated, their FAN (Friends and Neighbors) Club, hat tip to Elizabeth Shown Mills, often produces additional insights. When possible, people stay together and travel with family members because survival, historically, had demanded such.

Let’s face it, you’re more likely to look after blood kin, your brother and his children, for example, than a stranger. The more family you had nearby, the more assistance was available, and the better your chances of survival.

Having grouped our families and their locations in detail by surname above, let’s see what kind of information we can glean by looking at the community, meaning the entire family grouping, as a whole.

Family Location Before War Refuge Location During War After War
Kirsch Unknown Bad Durkheim Fussgoenheim
Koch Unknown Bad Durkheim Fussgoenheim by marriage
Boerstler/Borstler Unknown, possibly Beindersheim Bad Durkheim Mutterstadt, Fussgoenheim, Schauernheim
Stauber Unknown Speyer Schauernheim
Koob Fussgoenheim Frankenthal Fussgoenheim, Munchhof, Weisenheim am Sand
Koehler Mannheim, Neckarau East of Rhine Ladenburg, Iversheim, Seckenheim, Rehhutte, Neustadt, Ellerstadt, Fussgoenheim
Scherer Unknown Distant – Heuchelheim Ellerstadt
Ulzhofer Unknown Possibly Bruehl – distant Bruehl, Seckenheim, Rehhutte
Garnschrag Unknown East of Rhine Ladenburg
Zee Unknown East of Rhine – Iversheim Seckenheim
Lemmert Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Funckh (Funk) Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Reimer Mutterstadt Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Sager Unknown Unknown Ruchheim, Mutterstadt
Steiger Mutterstadt Unknown Mutterstadt
Bayer Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Bereth Unknown, possibly Huguenot, wife “of Huguenoten” East of Rhine – Schwetzinger Schwetzinger, Mutterstadt
Klein Unknown Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Orth Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Renner Mutterstadt Frankenthal Mutterstadt
Schuster Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Wentz Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Weber Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt
Schunck Unknown Unknown Misling, Baden, Mutterstadt
Rapparlie(n) Guines near Calais Guines near Calais Mutterstadt
Blancart Flanders Guines near Calais Mutterstadt
Hoertel Unknown Unknown Mutterstadt, Rehhutte

Epilog

Based on this information, it looks like the entire remaining population of Mutterstadt may have gone together to Frankenthal in 1634. Koob from Fussgoenheim is also found in Frankenthal. There are no reports of these families in Speyer or Bad Durkheim. 

30 walk.jpg

I can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the image of parents, pregnant mothers, carrying crying children, tears streaming down their own faces, helping the elderly along, hand in hand, desperate but not beaten. Perhaps Mutterstadt was burning behind them, and other villages around them.

The escape to Frankenthal must have lived on as legend in these families for generations. Or, perhaps it was so horrific that the stoic Germans dared never mention that departure from life as they knew it.

Other families sought shelter in different locations.

The Boerstlers were clearly in the region before the war and may have already had ties to Bad Durkheim where we find family records. The Kirsch progenitor married in Bad Durkheim, but we don’t know where the Kirsch family was from before the war.

This compiled work allows us to search the records of both Frankenthal and Bad Durkheim for specific families, surnames and records – much more productive than shooting in the dark.

Several family members who are later found together are also clustered east of the Rhine in the same and adjacent villages.

Furthermore, this type of summary project helps me flesh out the details in their lives. To imagine their flight to Frankenthal with their neighbors who were also their relatives, both close and distant, perhaps helping each other as they stumble and fall along the path, encouraging each other in an attempt to rein in their own terror.

I can feel the overwhelming dread they experienced when returning to Mutterstadt and Fussgoenheim, walking down that same road in the opposite direction some 16 years later, minus several family members resting someplace in graves. Returning home, such as it was. Perhaps they visited the cemetery beside the rubble of the church to tell their family members that they had come back.

I suspect they brought along with them other refugee families who needed new permanent homes. Maybe they were now relatives too. And of course, some children would have married and babies would have been born. Refugees or not, some things about human nature never change.

Returning to “God’s Little Acre,” was, for them, perhaps the sprouting of seedlings after a devastating forest fire. They had survived. Raised children. Brought new life into the world. And now, the next generation would begin anew, carving a future out of the ruins of the past.

_____________________________________________________________

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Genealogy Research

Henry Bolton, the Victualler & Sarah Corry/Curry; Their Ancestors and Life in Medieval London – 52 Ancestors #294-301

I met my cousin Pam Bolton some years ago. She and I both descend from our common ancestors, Henry Bolton and his second wife, Nancy Mann. Pam proved to be an ace genealogist, learned to work with DNA and has made inroads using both types of tools.

Together, we administer the Bolton DNA Project at Family Tree DNA which we invite all Boltons of any line and all descendants to join. Our search endeavors using both DNA and records don’t end with that project.

Using diligent research, Pam made headway identifying the parents and neighborhood of Henry and his brother, Conrad, on the waterfront in historic London before their “kidnapping” and immigration in 1775 where they were promptly sold into indentured servitude to pay for the passage they didn’t choose.

We kept hoping for a Y DNA match to a Bolton in England, but so far, that hasn’t happened. There is an Irish match at 25 of 37 markers whose ancestor was born in 1625 spelled Bolton and a Boldan from Germany born in 1813, so maybe there is some truth to early family legends. Neither have upgraded to the Big Y test which would further refine the connection and identify how long ago the lines diverged. Both could be reflective of either happenstance surname matches or even movement, in the case of Germany, since the 1700s.

Research was then at a standstill for a few years until Pam hired Anthony, a professional genealogist in London. Feet on the ground combined with someone who knows the ropes makes an absolutely huge difference.

Pam was kind enough to share her research with me, so that I, in turn, can share it with you. Above all, we want the information about Henry, Conrad and their ancestors to be accurate, or at least as accurate as we can make it. Anthony’s work eliminates a lot of possibilities, and provides likely scenarios, but there is no smoking gun, no absolute proof. We need to be clear about that. There is, however, substantial evidence.

If you have questions, including about Anthony’s contact information, suggestions, or more information, please feel free to contact us by either commenting on this article or emailing Pam who is spearheading this research at rudywoofs@yahoo.com.

I want to say a big, huge, thank you to Pam. You’re amazing!!!

Legends

Pam was fortunate to have heard the family legends. Not only through her direct line, but through the families she contacted over the years during her research who gladly shared their stories. She found similarities in many.

Legend told us that Henry’s father, also named Henry, had owned some sort of shop along the Thames River near or on London Bridge.

London Bridge 1616

London Bridge, with houses built on it, 1616.

Another tradition was that Henry’s mother was named Sarah and there was therefore one girl so-named in every generation in her honor.

The story of the boys being lured onto the ship, which turned out to be the Culvert, on the Thames River and kidnapped in order to be sold to pay their passage descended through both her family and mine through different sons of Henry.

Yet a different version of the story involved a wicked step-mother that wished to be rid of them.

Add to that a different legend of a shipwreck in which Henry and Conrad’s parents both died.

Rumors persisted in some families that Bolton was either Dutch or German.

My family told the story of a German “valentine” from Henry’s sweetheart in “the old country” that he kept in a Bible. Of course, the area where they lived in London was a neighborhood of immigrants, and early English secretarial script could have been mistaken for another language. I certainly can’t read it.

Henry supposedly had with him a card from a Methodist church or school where he studied, but no one that I know of has ever seen that document, nor the reported valentine. Henry could definitely write though, because he signed several documents in his lifetime. Someplace along the way, he obtained some education.

I wrote about Pam’s findings in the article, Henry and Conrad Bolton, 240th Immigration Anniversary, along with the questions her newly-found information raised.

Pam had found a marriage bond between a Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry in 1754 where he is noted as a widower. The couple married at St. Botolph Aldgate, northeast of St. Katherines by the Tower church and neighborhood, a working-class, poor, immigrant, riverfront area within sight of London Bridge.

Not long after, baptisms for children including Henry and a son, Conrath were recorded in nearby churches. Were these baptisms for our Henry and Conrad, even if the dates did not align perfectly with the ages the boys had claimed to be upon arrival in 1775?

Bolton emigrants.png

The ship’s captain could have inflated their ages, hoping to get more money when he auctioned them for their 7 years of indentured servitude.

While the name Henry was fairly common, the name Conrath Ditirnick Bolton, born to one Henry and Sarah was very distinct. However, this record shows Conrath born in 1765, so only 10 years old, not 16, when they were kidnapped.

Bolton ConrathSimilarly, the births for baby Henry Bolton didn’t align with him being 15 in 1775 either.

It seemed like there might have been multiple couples by the name of Henry and Sarah Bolton living in London and having children at the same time. I know, what are the chances?

Pam found one Henry Bolton, a victualler, living in Ship Alley. Widower Henry Bolton, a victualler married Sarah Corry in 1754.

London Bolton map

To make matters even more confusing, Pam found an 1806 will for a Henry Bolton who mentioned a wife, Sarah with minor children, Sarah and Henry William.

Was this the same Henry? The same Sarah or the same Henry and a second wife named Sarah? Or neither? What was going on? We needed help.

Introducing Anthony

Pam found professional genealogist, Anthony. Almost all of this information is taken from Anthony’s report, lightly edited, with a few comments and some additions such as maps and pictures provided by me. I have added churches and cemeteries where our ancestors and their children were either baptized, lived or buried, and structures from their neighborhoods like a city gate that would have been familiar to them on a daily basis. This allows me, and you, to walk in their footsteps, at least a little bit, from afar both in terms of time, more than 250 years ago and far away.

Anthony’s report starts here:

The first step was to check the baptism of ‘Conrath Ditrick Bolten/Bolton’ on 24 February 1765 in the original parish register of the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in the City of London.

We found:

Conrath Ditirnick Botten [or Bolten, or Botlen, if it is badly written] [son] of Henry & Sarah – 6 [days old], was baptized on 24 February 1765

We searched for, but could not find, a record of an infant burial or a later burial for Conrath or Conrad Bolten/Bolton – a promising piece of circumstantial evidence that he survived to go to America, as you had hoped.

1709er-st-katherines

St Katherine by the Tower church no longer exists today, torn down to build docks.

Marriages

We then searched for marriages between the parents, Henry Bolten (or variants) and Sarah, in the period 1740-1765 in the London area. We found two possibilities:

Clandestine Marriage Westminster, London [by Mr Deneveu]

11 February 1752
Henry Boulton Stockings Maker of St Leonard Shoreditch Widr & Sarah Bates of St Lukes Mdsex Wid.

The second marriage took place at St. Botolph Aldgate.

Bolton Aldgate church.jpg

St. Botolph Aldgate church today.

Bolton St Botolph churchyard.png

The churchyard of St. Botolph Aldgate, shown above.

St Botolph Aldgate London

Date of Marriage: 26 Sep 1754

Hen Bolten of the parish of St George Middlesex Widr and Sarah Corry of this parish Spr married in this church by licence this twenty sixth Day of September in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty four. Sarah appears to have signed in the place of the witnesses who were Wm Barnell and Mary X Denton her mark

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage 2

Note that we have both Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry’s signature on this document.

As this stated that the marriage was by licence we searched for and found the document in question in the records of the Bishop of London:

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage

He have Henry’s signature on this document as well.

Henry Bolton of the Parish of St George in the County of Middlesex Victualler and [blank]
25 September 1754
the above bounden Henry Bolton a widower and Sarah Corry spinster

This, to be clear, was the licence which allowed the couple to marry.

St. George is also known as St. George in the East, shown here in 1870.

Bolton St. George map.png

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31418742

Bolton Stepney map

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40290848

St. George in the East is beside the Tower.

Births and Baptisms

We then searched for children baptized to couples called Henry and Sarah Bolton (or variants) in London in the period 1740-1790:

Bolton Shoreditch.png

Several baptisms were in St. Leonard Shoreditch. Not terribly far, but also not in the neighborhood of St. Katherine by the Tower. St. Katherine was where the docks are today, and the iconic Tower of London is at left, beside the Tower Bridge.

Bolton tower of london

This painting is from the late 1500s and shows the Old London Bridge in the background, probably much as it looked when Henry and his ancestors lived there.

Bolton tower 1737.jpg

This 1737 engraving depicts the Tower of London from the waters of the Thames which were always busy, a river of commerce.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 12 July 1752
Henry son of Henry & Sarah Bolton of Dunkirk Court. Born the 10th & Baptized ye
12th Inst

St Leonard Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 9 December 1753
John S[on of] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Decr 9th Baptized same day.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 1 October 1755
Rachel D[aughter] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Sepr 26th Baptized 1st instant.

The next group of baptisms took place to a Henry Bolton and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley.

Ship Alley no longer exists in its original form today, but you can still find the location by looking at the layouts of the streets.

London Ship Alley

Here’s a view of the entrance to Ship Alley from Wellclose Square in 1898.

London ship alley from wellclose.jpg

This article includes a photo of the same area today, including this tree.

The next baptisms occurred to the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley, located exactly where this red arrow is located today. Ship Alley was only 300 feet long or so and is long gone.

Bolton Ship Alley

Alleys at that time were small, often rather putrid narrow passageways where houses and people were packed like sardines. Think tenements. Remember that human sewage and horse manure covered the dirt streets and alleys which were sandwiched anyplace possible. Dirt streets turned to mud when it rained. Everything drained into the Thames River and stunk to high heavens. Personal hygiene was virtually non-existent as we know it today. Ship Alley was just a couple blocks from the riverfront.

The baptisms took place in St. George in the East Church.

Bolton St George East church.jpg

St. George in the East was located literally 100 feet away from Ship’s Alley.

St Katherine at the Tower was near Thomas More Square today, where the docks and marina are located.

Bolton St George East map

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 14 July 1755
Henry James of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah – Ship All (3 D[ays] O[ld])

Bolton 1755 birth.png

This child seems to have gone early to his grave:

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 21 Sep 1756
John of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah Ship All. 9 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1756 birth

This baby died less than 6 months later.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Burial date: 4 March 1757

Bolton St George Churchyard.png

Baby John would have been buried here in the churchyard of St. George in the East, probably with no marker, or perhaps a wooden cross.

Henry James Bolten (burial) of Ship Alley

Bolton 1757 birth

Now, back to Shoreditch for the next baptism.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 17 June 1757
Jane D[aughter of] Henry & Sarah Bolton Dunker Court Born 17 June and baptiz’d same day

And another two baptisms at St George in the East.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 23 May 1760
George of Henry Bolton Victualler by Sarah  Ship Al.   12 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1760 birth.jpg

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 8 August 1762
Henry Frederick of Henry Bolton Victualler  Ship Alley  7 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1762 birth

Two Couples, Two Henrys

So, there were clearly two couples. Each Henry and Sarah had a son Henry. Not only that, but the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley had two sons named Henry, one named Henry James who died, and one named Henry Frederick born in 1762 which would have made him 13 in 1775.

The Shoreditch Henry was baptized in 1752, so could not have been 15 in 1775, (he would have been 23) and is unlikely to have been mistaken thus. But the St George in the East Henry was born in 1762, so might have pretended to be 15 (instead of 13), and of course only three years separate his baptism from Conrath’s.

These children are confusing, so let’s put them, all born to a Henry and Sarah Bolton, in a chart. Clearly, given the birth dates these children cannot be born to one couple, and the different locations indicate which children were born to which couple. I wonder if the two couples knew that there was another couple living not far away with the same names. I also wonder if the two Henry Boltons were related.

Child’s Name Baptism Location Date Residence Father Occupation
Henry St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex July 12, 1752 (born the 10th) Dunkirk Court
John St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Dec. 9, 1753, born same day Dunker Court
Rachel St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Oct 1., 1755, born Sept. 25th Dunker Court
Henry James St. George in the East, Middlesex July 14, 1755, born the 11th, apparently died Ship Alley Victualler
John St. George in the East, Middlesex Sept 21, 1756, born the 12th, Buried March 4, 1757 Ship Alley Victualler
Jane St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex June 17, 1757, born same day Dunker Court
George St. George in the East, Middlesex May 23, 1760 Ship Alley Victualler
Henry Frederick St. George in the East, Middlesex Aug. 8, 1762, born August 1 Ship Alley
Conrath Ditrick Collegiate Church of St. Katherine by the Tower Feb. 24, 1765, born Feb. 18

I bolded the St. George in the East baptisms, along with Conrath’s, as they appear to be “our” Henry and Sarah.

This also fits the family legends, father names Henry, mother named Sarah, lived by London Bridge and was engaged in some sort of business.

Deaths and Burials

We then searched for burials for the father(s) Henry Bolton/Bolten/Boulton between 1757 and 1810 in London area, looking for adults, discarding any born after 1738 (which seemed reasonable, as both Henry marriages above were for widowers) and we noted:

St Sepulchre, Holborn, London
Burial date: 6 Oct 1784
Henry Boulton, Chick Mx Workhouse  48 yrs

St Luke, Chelsea, Middlesex
Burial date: 12 Apr 1779
Henry Bolton

St Giles in the Fields, London
Burial date: 20 Jan 1762
Henry Bolton, Barn[–]ge Street

St Mary’s Lewisham, Kent
Burial date: 21 May 1762
Henry Boulton

None of these shows any obvious connection to the Henrys in whom we are interested.

Wills

We now searched for possible wills for our two possible Henrys, the stocking maker of Shoreditch and the victualler of St George in the East, in the Bank of England Wills Extracts, 1717-1845; the Archdeaconry Court of London Wills Index, 1700-1807; the Surrey & South London Wills & Probate Index, 1470-1856 and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury will index 1750-1800.

In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury we noted Henry Boulton ‘late of London but now of the Island of Antigua, merchant’, written on 3 September 1767, and proved in 1769. He mentioned only his wife, ‘Sarah Boulton, now of Kendal, Westmorland’ and his friends Richard Bush and Walter Wilson of London, merchants and John Shepherd of Antigua, merchant. The fact that this Henry had a wife Sarah is interesting, but he was listed here as a merchant, and this does not tie in very well  at all with the two families we have been following, so appears to be a red herring.

There was also a P.C.C. will for Henry Bolton of Lincolnshire, with no obvious links at all to London. In the Consistory Court of London, we found a will for Henry Bolton of Staines, Middlesex, victualler, proved in 1806. This is in fact the same one whose Inland Revenue abstract Pam had found. We wondered if this was the man from St George in the East, who had moved to the opposite end of the county (but still on the Thames), so we examined it. He had a wife Sarah –but only two children Sarah and Henry William, both under 21, and therefore not matching the family from St George in the East at all.

The majority of the East End falls under the Commissary Court of London, and we do not have access to these will at present due to the lockdown: the search could be made later, in the hope (it could only ever be a hope) that a will for this man could be found, and that some mention would be made in it of sons Henry and Conrath/Condery (etc). However, it would likely be quite a costly search, and the chances of success are low: there is , equally, the distinct possibility that, if a will was found for him and his sons Henry and Conrath had gone abroad, he would simply omit them from his will altogether and leave his estate to family in this country.

Unfortunately, wills were entirely unproductive and not helpful. However, if Henry Bolton, the victualler had a will, I’d LOVE to know what was in it.

Victualler

What is a victualler?

A victualler is traditionally a person who supplies food, beverages and other provisions for the crew of a vessel at sea.

Wow, just wow. This might well explain what Henry and Conrad were doing on the docks in the first place. Perhaps they were running errands for their father, taking food to a ship getting ready to depart. It also explains why Henry Bolton lived in a place called Ship Alley.

A victualler can also be a person that is a landlord of a public house or sells food and alcohol – or both. Perhaps a favorite place of sailors, glad to be ashore.

Bolton ships alley thames

Remember Pam’s family legend about Henry Bolton’s father having something to do with a shop near London Bridge? Look how close both Tower Bridge (built in 1886, so not existing then) and London Bridge are to Ship’s Alley. The ship wharves then were near where they are today, just along the banks of the Thames, not in the marina at St Katherine which didn’t exist at that time.

1746 London Map

The docks at St. Katherines on the Thames were the location in this 1746 map from which Henry and Conrad set sail.

London Bridge

A few years ago, I took this photo, standing at St. Katherine where the ships would have docked, looking at the Tower Bridge with London Bridge in the distance. This view on the water of the Thames may have been the last that Henry and Conrad ever saw of England as they looked back at London Bridge, and their home, as they sailed down the Thames for the sea.

London Bridge pano

Ok, What About a First Marriage?

Henry of St George in the East remained the favourite candidate. We knew that he was a widower when he married Sarah Corry in 1754, so now we looked for a first marriage for him, and found only one likely marriage that Pam had originally noticed, at the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower, City of London:

17 December 1752
Henry Bolten bach[elor] to Elizabeth Taylor spin[ster]

Bolton 1752 Taylor marriage.png

That is a nice fit, and of course it was at this same church that Conrath Ditrick Bolton was baptised in 1765. The marriage turns out to have been by a rather uninformative licence, issued by the Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower:

Bolton Taylor license

However, the accompanying marriage, dated 17 December 1752, allegation shows that ‘Henry Botten’ (sic) was of ‘St George in the East, Victualler and Bachelor aged Thirty years’ (and she was 26). That was immensely helpful and helps confirm that this is the right person.

Note that spelling at the time was not standardized.

Bolton 1752 marriage return.jpg

This starts to tie the threads together very well. A search for any children to this first marriage revealed, at St George in the East, Middlesex:

1 October 1753 [baptised] Martha of Henry Bolten victuallr by Eliz. Ship All[ey]

Bolton 1753 birth

Eliz: Bolton, Ship All[ey], [buried] 21 June 1754

Bolton Elizabeth death.png

This convincingly shows Henry’s first marriage, the baptism of a daughter, and the burial of his first wife, probably as a result of childbirth. His first marriage was in the same church as the baptism of what we think was his final child, Conrad, in 1765, and this makes it more likely than ever that his son Henry Frederick Bolton, born and baptised in 1762, was your Henry.

It’s unlikely that Elizabeth died in childbirth, given that her baby was only 8 months old at the time. It’s very unlikely that she would have become immediately pregnant and had a child 8 months later, although she could have miscarried early. The most common causes of death during this time in London for adults were consumption, cough, fever which would be typhus and typhoid, measles and smallpox.

The cemetery that was at one time located by St. George in the East Church is now a garden, with the remaining stones relocated to form a barrier wall.

Bolton St George East Cemetery

There are no Bolton stones and only a couple remain from that early. This cemetery clearly held hundreds or thousands of burials over the centuries. The crypt above dates to the 1700s and was there when Henry would have baptized his daughter, then buried his wife and likely his daughter as well.

In 1752 when Henry married, his life looked bright. Ten months later, they welcomed a baby girl. Only another eight months later, Henry would bury his beloved wife. Left with an 8 month old baby, assuming the baby was still alive, what was Henry to do? How could he nurse a child? His life, bathed in grief, no longer looked rosy. We know that burial records are incomplete, but it’s likely that Henry’s daughter died too.

Regardless, Henry married three months and 5 days later to Sarah Corry. Maybe baby Martha hadn’t died after all, at least not when Henry remarried.

Did Henry, the Son, Remain in England?

We wanted now to make sure that this Henry Frederick Bolton could not be found remaining in England. Our searches, taking into account variant spellings, have not revealed any likely fate for him in England. That does not prove anything in itself, but had we found a clear sight of him after 1775, we could have said for sure that the theory was wrong – and that is not the case.

In the course of our research we found a Land Tax record in the name of Hen: Boulton, of St Katharine by the Tower dated 1765, paying 28s rent and with real estate worth £4-13-4.

Bolton 1765 tax.jpg

Henry, the father, also paid land tax there in 1764 and 1766. It is interesting that he does not appear here earlier on (though that may be a limitation of the records, which could be investigated); perhaps he had come by this property by right of his late, first wife (and perhaps on behalf of his daughter Martha) sometime around 1762/4, hence his move here.

As Henry’s last likely location was in St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, we made a search for a burial for him there in the period 1766-1800, but we could not find him. Using indexes covering many of the local burials did not result in a positive find either, so his fate remains unknown.

Baptism for Henry Bolton, the Victualler

We now sought a baptism for Henry the victualler, based on his alleged age of 30 in 1752, which suggested a birth in about 1721/2. One aim here was to see if his mother’s maiden name had been Ditrick or similar.

We found possible baptisms in the London area as follows:

St Botolph without Aldersgate, City of London
17 November 1720
Henry Boulton son of John & Elizh. Boulton

Bolton St Botolph church

The view below, from Postman Park which was the former churchyard where burials would have occurred.

Bolton Botolph postman park former churchyard.jpg

The baptism at St. Botolph without Aldergate is the closest location to where we know Henry who married Sarah Corry lived.

Bolton St Botolph map.png

The second baptism occurred at Wandsworth, Surry, not close.

1725 – 12 September baptized at Wandsworth, Surrey, Henry son of John Bolton

Both these baptisms are, at this stage, from transcripts. The 1720 baptism was likely, as ages at that stage could always be stated inaccurately, and the location was not too far from where our Henry lived.

A search for the parents’ marriage revealed:

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London
John Boulton of St Botolph Aldersgate and Elizabeth Goaring of St Giles, Cripplegate spinster were married by a licence in thy Cathedral Church ye 3rd day of November 1713 [etc]

Bolton 1713 Goaring marriage

This plan for the floor paving at St. Paul’s Cathedral hails from 1709-1710, so they might well have been married on the new floor in 1713. Would the bride have walked up the long aisle, or would the minister have married they quietly in a private ceremony?

Bolton floor plan.jpg

Frankly, I’m stunned that they married in a Cathedral. Why did they select St. Paul’s? Is there a backstory to this? Could just anyone be married in this huge iconic structure?

Bolton St Pauls cathedral

By Ablakok – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58117537

This view of St. Pauls Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day in 1746 shows what the Thames and Cathedral would have looked like not long after John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring were married there.

Bolton St Paul nave looking to choir

The nave, looking towards the choir.

Bolton St Pauls map.png

St. Giles Cripplegate, where Elizabeth Goaring lived, wasn’t far from the Cathedral. I can’t help but wonder how this couple met.

Bolton Cripplegate

The St. Giles without Cripplegate church was outside the city gate called Cripplegate, shown above in 1650.

Bolton St. Giles church.png

St Giles without Cripplegate. “Without” means outside the city gate.

Bolton Cripplegate churchyard.png

The Cripplegate churchyard about 1830 which also included a “poor ground” where both poor and plague victims were buried, often in mass graves. Earlier, lepers begged by the city gate.

We also searched for possible siblings of the 1720 Henry in the period 1713-1733, without success. Just outside the period, though, we noted:

St George in the East, Middlesex
John S John Bolton Vict. by Bolton, Plow Alley was baptized on 10 June 1739 (18 days old)

Bolton 1739 birth

That is unlikely to be the couple who married back in 1713, but as a victualler in St George in the East this John could well have been another son of theirs.

I was unable to find Plow Alley today, but I’d love to know where it was located. It may have been one of those tiny nameless pathways we see on the maps. Given the St George of the East location, it’s undoubtedly near Ship Alley. These men would have assuredly known each other and may have been brothers. John too was a victualler.

Baptism for Sarah Corry

We repeated the same exercise for Sarah Corry, the likely mother of our pair, Henry and Conrath, to see if she had a Ditrick mother. In the period 1736-1700 in London, the best we could find was:

St Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex
Sarah Curry, dr of Thomas (Curry) & Monika in Buckle Street, poor was baptized on 16 July 1729

Bolton 1729 Curry baptism.jpg

The date and location fit well with what we know of Sarah, so this could be the correct baptism.

St. Mary Whitechapel no longer exists.

Bolton Whitechapel

The remnant footprint of the church can be seen today in Altab Ali Park.

Today, you can see the footprint of the church in what was the churchyard from a satellite view.

Bolton Mary Whitechapel aerial

Some burials were at the church, but an additional burial ground is now beneath the playground of the Davenant Schools.

In 1633, behind the burial yards, “filthie cottages” and alley extended for almost half a mile beyond Whitechapel Church into “the common field.” Fields like this were often used for plague and other mass burials. It’s worth noting that Sarah’s family is labeled as poor, so I wonder if her family lived in one of those “filthie cottages.”

Bolton Whitechapel map.png

Whitechapel is located just north of the area where Henry Bolton is found.

Bolton Buckle Street map

Buckle Street, about 200 feet long, still exists today.

A Clandestine Marriage!

A search for the marriage of Thomas and Monika Curry, Sarah’s parents revealed that ‘Thomas Corry per[ri]wigmaker & Monika Demazares of ye parish of Stepney’ were married on 6 February 1724 by Mr. Evans, one of the ministers at the time performing clandestine marriages in London.

Bolton Corry Demazares 1724 marriage.png

A clandestine marriage? Wow!

According to wiki:

“Clandestine” marriages were those that had an element of secrecy to them: perhaps they took place away from a home parish, and without either banns or marriage licence.

It is often asserted, mistakenly, that under English law of this period a marriage could be recognized as valid if each spouse had simply expressed (to each other) an unconditional consent to their marriage. While, with few local exceptions, earlier Christian marriages across Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties, in 1563 the Council of Trent, twenty-fourth session, required that a valid marriage must be performed by a priest before two witnesses. By the 18th century, the earlier form of consent-based marriages (“common-law marriages” in modern terms) were the exception. Nearly all marriages in England, including the “irregular” and “clandestine” ones, were performed by ordained clergy.

The Marriage Duty Act 1695 put an end to irregular marriages at parochial churches by penalizing clergymen who married couples without banns or licence. By a legal quirk, however, clergymen operating in the Fleet could not effectively be proceeded against, and the clandestine marriage business there carried on. In the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison. The majority of Fleet marriages were for honest purposes, when couples simply wanted to get married quickly or at low cost.

Was this marriage clandestine because one party was a Huguenot or a class difference, the parents didn’t consent, or the bride was underage? Was something else in play, and if so, what? Or maybe they just wanted to get married without any muss or fuss, quickly and cheaply.

Apparently this clandestine marriage made it into the official records, as opposed to many that did not. Mr. Evans records appear to have been from Fleet Prison or nearby.

It’s interesting to note that one of John Evans marriages was for a “boy about 18 years of age and the bride about 65.” I did not find Thomas Corry and Monika Demarazes in the Fleet records themselves, so Mr. Evans either married them elsewhere or their records are not in this set.

Bolton Fleet prison

It appears that Thomas and Monika may have married at or near the Fleet Prison. Not exactly your typical wedding destination. Maybe this was equivalent to an elopement of that timeframe.

Bolton Fleet building.jpg

Reportedly, many of the Fleet marriages were performed in the houses or shops nearby.

Periwigs

So Thomas Corry was a periwigmaker. What were periwigs and what did they look like?

Bolton periwigs

This print is titled “Five Orders of Periwigs” dated 1761.

Wig is the shortened form of periwig, which Wikipedia described thus:

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the use of wigs fell into disuse in the West for a thousand years until they were revived in the 16th century as a means of compensating for hair loss or improving one’s personal appearance. They also served a practical purpose: the unhygienic conditions of the time meant that hair attracted head lice, a problem that could be much reduced if natural hair were shaved and replaced with a more easily de-loused artificial hairpiece. Fur hoods were also used in a similar preventive fashion.

Perukes or periwigs for men were introduced into the English-speaking world with other French styles when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, following a lengthy exile in France. These wigs were shoulder-length or longer, imitating the long hair that had become fashionable among men since the 1620s. Their use soon became popular in the English court. The London diarist Samuel Pepys recorded the day in 1665 that a barber had shaved his head and that he tried on his new periwig for the first time, but in a year of plague he was uneasy about wearing it:

3rd September 1665: Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but darst not wear it because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it. And it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire for fear of the infection? That it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague.

Wigs were not without other drawbacks, as Pepys noted on March 27, 1663:

I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his old fault) and did send him to make it clean.

With wigs virtually obligatory garb for men with social rank, wigmakers gained considerable prestige. A wigmakers’ guild was established in France in 1665, a development soon copied elsewhere in Europe. Their job was a skilled one as 17th century wigs were extraordinarily elaborate, covering the back and shoulders and flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy and often uncomfortable to wear. Such wigs were expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses and goats was often used as a cheaper alternative

Wigsmade by Thomas Corry in the 1700s would have worn by the aristocratic, probably not the wigmakers themselves.

Bolton periwigs portrait.jpg

It’s interesting that Stepney, where both bride and groom appear to have lived, wasn’t really part of London at this time. They would have had to make their way to town, several miles.

Bolton Stepney 1792

You can see the farming village of Stepney, surrounded by fields. Whitechapel borders Stepney Green and the road at the end of town is noted in this 1792 map.

Bolton fleet map.png

In Stepney, St. Dunstan’s church was built in the year 952 and is known as the “Mother Church of the East End.” This is likely the church where Thomas’s family attended. I wonder if Monika’s family lived here or elsewhere. I’d wager that they lived in the Huguenot area, not in Stepney.

Bolton Stepney church

The nursery rhyme memorializes St. Dunstan’s church in the veribage:

“When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney,” those bells cast in neighboring Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Bolton Stepney churchyard.png

The Stepney churchyard where church parishioners are buried.

Historically, St Dunstans was long associated with the sea, registering British maritime births, marriages and deaths. They were also responsible for mitigating the poverty of the people in the area. Almshouses built in 1695 provided housing for retired sailors. This area was reached in ships sailing up the Thames before they reached London proper.

Bolton Stepney map 2

Of course, today, Stepney is simply a portion of London.

According to Anthony:

That is a likely fit, and this couple were very likely your ancestors. Further research may later prove it. But for now, it was a pity that Monika’s surname had not been Ditrick, as this would have helped to tie things together nicely.

But Ditirnick Had to Come from Someplace?

Finally in this round, we made a search for that curious combination of names, ‘Conrath Ditirnick’, and were most interested to find a burial as follows:

Whitechapel, Middlesex

Conrad Detrick was buried on 12 June 1766, aged 60.

We found a will for this man in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, of the same year date named Conrad Dieterick, in the PCC.

He was of St Mary Whitechapel and did not state an occupation. He mentioned his wife Mary and daughter Ann Kopilt. The will was written on 5 May 1764, before witnesses Solomon de Meza and Isaac de Meza, and was proved on 17 June 1766.

A search for his marriage, in case his wife was, say, a Bolton, revealed a marriage bond marriage bond from the Bishop of London for ‘Conrad Diderick of the Parish of Saint Matthew Bethnall Green … Sugar Baker, and [name not filled in] dated 11 April 1755. Further down it gives Conrad Diderick as a bachelor and names his soon-to-be spouse as Mary Copdeild, widow.

The associated marriage allegation, dated 11 April 1755, says that Conrad was ’30 years & upwards’  – and considerably upwards, in this case, but that is not unusual.

There is a likely remarriage for Conrad’s widow Mary Dieterick, widow, to John Asteroth at St Katherine by the Tower, City of London on 28 February 1767. That places the family convincingly in the very parish in which your ‘Conrath’ was baptised in 1765.

We have not found a baptism for Conrad Detrick, but there is a burial:

St John’s, Wapping, Middlesex
[died of] fever, Conrade Diederick, rode macher, Neighingale L[ane], buried 25 June 1738

That is likely the burial of the father of the 1706-1766 Conrad.

These results suggest strongly that, despite the garbled spellings, ‘Conrath Ditrick’ Bolton, who was baptised at St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, was named after Conrad Ditrick (or similar), an East End sugar baker who died the year after he was baptised, and his widow then remarried in St Katherine by the Tower in 1767. Conrad’s will was witnessed by Jews, but he seems to have been German or Dutch (and Christian) so he was presumably part of the east End immigrant community of the time, just like the witnesses, and probably just like Monika Demazares, who we think was probably Conrad Ditrick Bolton’s maternal grandmother. There may have been a blood connection and further research might reveal this – or the families may simply have been very friendly.

This very interesting article about Ship Alley includes a map of the numerous “sugar houses” in this area in the 1800s, including one just a few feet away, on the square at the end of Ship Alley.

Of course, Conrade Diederick, road maker, might be related to either Henry Bolton or Sarah Curry/Corry. Perhaps the next round of research will shed light on this question.

Pam Makes a Final Discovery

After Pam received Anthony’s research report, she went to work herself and found the baptism of Monique Demazure, a Protestant French Huguenot in London, in 1705, the daughter of Guillam, a barber, and his wife, Marie who were both Huguenots.

Bolton Demazure.pngBolton Monique Demazure 1705

Barbers at that time performed different tasks than barbers today.

Bolton barber.png

Barbers in the 1600s and 1700s didn’t just cut hair and shave people, but also performed bloodlettings, popular and believed beneficial in that era, cuppings, tooth extractions and amputations. If that just made you cringe, me too.

At that time, physicians didn’t perform much surgery. If it had to do with cutting and blades, you went to the barber. Barbers marched with soldiers into war.

Bolton bloodletting.jpg

I have to tell you, this bloodletting equipment makes me feel, well, creepy, for lack of a better word, and a big queezy. Apparently I’m not the only one.

Bolton patient

By Heikenwaelder – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77861556

This patient looks none too happy. Im amazed that they didn’t die of blood poisoning, or maybe they did.

Come to think of it, it’s also amazing that the barber didn’t contract whatever was ailing his patients.

Huguenots

It’s likely that Guillam and Monique were either Huguenot immigrants to London or children of immigrants.

In 1550, in England, King Edward VI signed a charter granting freedom of worship to Protestant foreigners from France, Wallonia and the Netherlands. French Huguenots began to worship at the St. Anthony of Threadneedle Street church after 1560. The primary Huguenot rebellions accompanied by the French massacres of the Huguenots began in earnest in 1562 and lasted until 1598.

Beginning in 1681, 40,000 to 50,000 Huguenot refugees settled in England, although 8,000-10,000 had arrived prior to 1681.

Bolton Threadneedle.png

The church on Threadneedle Street conducted services according to the reformed Calvinist churches on the European continent.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

Collections were taken and funds created to assist the poor refugees who arrived with little or nothing. Fortunately, most Huguenots were skilled with a craft or trade that afforded them a living after getting settled in.

Bolton Huguenot church Threadneedle

The French Protestant church has been twice destroyed, once in the great fire of 1666 and again in the 1893. Today, the pastors still speak French in this church.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

It appears that the earliest Huguenot church was actually located in what is now 8 and 9 Soho Gardens.

St. Anne’s Court in Soho in the early 1900s, just a couple blocks away from the original location of the Huguenot church.

London 6 front - Copy

Unbeknownst to me, I visited Carnaby Street in the Soho area of London, now just called Soho, in 1970 – just a few blocks away from where my Huguenot ancestors lived for at least two generations. They would have walked the streets I walked, but I had no idea at the time.

Born in the “Hospital”

I found an additional record of Monique Demazure, registered as a male, clearly an error, baptized on March 25, 1704. This would have been the old style years. This baptism took place in the Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields, Middlesex, England, religion; Walloon and French Protestant.

Bolton Monique baptism

Spitalfield Life tells us that a hospital then didn’t mean what a hospital means today.

“Hospital: The church owned premises near Grey Eagle and Black Eagle Streets, Spitalfields, commonly known as “l’Hopital”, in fact the site of “les maisons des poures hommes et fammes” (FCL, MS 51, 4 June 1665) which were essentially homes for old people. The land on which stood the “Hospital” buildings was used for the site of a second church in 1687, “1’Eglise de l’Hopital”. One of the quartiers was also known as “l’Hopital”. Consequently the word in this context may mean one of three things, the homes, the quartier, or (from 1687) the church; the context normally makes it plain which is meant.”

The best-known church was “L’Eglise Protestant” in Threadneedle St in the City of London, it dealt with the first wave of refugees by building an annexe, “L’Eglise de l’Hôpital,” in Brick Lane on the corner of Fournier St. This opened in 1743, sixty years after a temporary wooden shack was first built there (1683,)

A “hospital” in that timeframe was more of a refuge for travelers or refugees, such as the order of the Knights Hospitaller.

Therefore, based on this information, it appears that Monique was born in a wooden shack on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street, probably home to several poor refugee families.

Here’s a wonderful article about the Huguenots of Spitalfields in which we learn that many were weavers, textile or silk workers.

Today, the Brick Lane Mosque occupies the brick building build in 1743 that replaced the wooden shack where Monique was born.

Bolton Brick Lane mosque.jpg

By Bobulous – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84470828

After being a Protestant Chapel, this building became a Jewish Synagogue, then a Mosque in the 1970s. Waves of immigrants.

Given that Monique was baptized in 1705, her mother could have been born anytime between 1660 and 1685, probably in France. If not, then this family would have been first-generation immigrants. Perhaps death or other records can be found that will provide a connection back to a location in France, and to their parents who may have immigrated with them – assuming they survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572 and the next 100 years in exile. Nope, records are probably very unlikely.

Bolton Huguenot

Once the massacres began in France, preservation and eventually, escape was the only thing on the minds of the Huguenots. I shudder to think about the scars on the people who survived to remember.

After 100+ years of persecution, the Huguenots were probably just relieved to be out, and alive. Most had likely lost beloved family members across many generations. Those scars assuredly ran deep and influenced their descendants for generations to come.

I’m sorry that none of their stories descend to us today. Perhaps they were too horrible to recount.

Where Are We?

Anthony tells us that at the end of this round of research, the evidence is as presented, but reminds us that there is little certainty. Likely connections are revealed, but not proof. Hopefully proof will be forthcoming in the next report in a few months, but I’d settle for a preponderance of evidence where more than 50% of the evidence points towards a specific conclusion, and nothing eliminates the possibility.

I normally don’t combine multiple ancestors into one article, but since this information is heavily suggestive but not confirmed, I have combined all of this research, for now. Anthony and Pam’s work flows together cohesively, which I felt was the best way to provide information for the following probable ancestors, in summary:

  • Henry Frederick Bolton, ancestor #45, the child born August 1, 1762 to Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry, kidnapped in 1775 and sold into indentured servitude in Maryland. It must have been devastating for the brothers, Henry and Conrad, to be separated from their parents at such a young age. I wonder if their parents ever knew what happened to them, if they were able to at least write a letter to let them know. Henry was just 13 and Conrad 10.
  • Conderith Dieterich Bolton, Henry’s brother, born February 18, 1765, kidnapped in 1775.
  • Henry Bolton, the father, a victualler, ancestor #294 – born November 17, 1729 to John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring, died sometime after 1765/1766. Married Sarah Corry September 26, 1754 as his second wife. Had 6 children, 5 with Sarah and a daughter with his first wife, Elizabeth Taylor. These records confirm the truth of several family legends and dispell others.
  • Sarah Corry, the mother, ancestor #295 – born July 19, 1729, daughter of Thomas Curry and Monika Demazores, died after 1765. Had 5 children; 2 were kidnapped, 2 died, 1 may have still been living at age 15 when Henry and Conrad were kidnapped. Otherwise, Sarah was left with no children. Regardless, she would have been heartbroken when Henry and Conrad failed to return home.
  • John Bolton, ancestor #296, and Elizabeth Goaring, ancestor #297, parents of Henry Bolton, married on November 3, 1713. Deaths, parents and additional children unknown.
  • Thomas Curry, ancestor #298, born before 1705, father to Sarah Corry. Married on February 6, 1724 to Monique Demazares, parents and death unknown.
  • Monique Demazares, ancestor #299, mother to Sarah Curry, born March 25, 1704/1705 to Guillam and Marie Demazares. Monique/Monika married in 1724 to Thomas Curry and died unknown.
  • Guillam Demazares, ancestor #300, Huguenot born before 1685, probably in France, married Marie, ancestor #310, whose surname is unknown, sometime before 1704/1705. They were the parents of Minique Demazares. Marie could have been anyplace from about 20 to 45 when Monique was born, so Marie’s birth year could range from 1660 to 1685.

The lives of these ancestors have provided us with a fascinating glimpse into historic, immigrant London at the end of the Medieval period and the beginning of the Renaissance. For out ancestors, little about court life affected them. Their lives were center around food, survival and clearly, churches.

My Visit

Not knowing that Henry Bolton, his family and ancestors had lived in London’s east end, in particular so close to St. Katherine by the Tower, I visited this area in 2016 because by other ancestors, also impoverished refugees, several German Protestant 1709ers, lived in the equivalent of a squalid tent-city at St. Katherine’s.

Henry Bolton the child wouldn’t have yet been alive then, but his father, John Bolton lived just a few blocks away in St Botolph Aldergate and would have been quite aware of these pathetic new arrivals lodged down by the waterfront. You can read about that visit, and see pictures, here.

I realized I was walking in my ancestors footsteps, meaning the 1709ers who eventually set sail for the colonies. What I didn’t know was that the dust of my ancestors for generations was strewn throughout this land, and those ancestors had trod exactly where I stood. Perhaps their spirits were welcoming me back that day. I wish I had known then what I know now. So close, but so far away.

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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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Maria Catharina Kirsch (born 1707-1711, died after 1772), Drama and Displacement – 52 Ancestors #292

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.

Kirsch atlas Fussgoenheim

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.

Koob Kirsch 1730 marriage

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:

Kirsch 1 TimothyKirsch 1 Timothy 2

Based on that sermon, it’s amazing that they had children at all, but thankfully, they did.

Children

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.

Koob, Susanna Elisabetha

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.

Kirsch Emanual Koob

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild18, Archion.de

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.

Kirsch Maria Catharina Koob

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild24 Archion.de

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.

Kirsch Koob pedigree

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.

Kirsch Johann Theobald Koob

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.

Kirsch daughter Koob

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.

Kirsch, Johann Dieter Koob

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild32, Archion.de

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.

Silence

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!

Expelled!!!

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.

The Map

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim under village

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.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim over village

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.

Homeless

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.

Kirsch Koob field

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.

Koob, Johann Matheus.png

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.

Munchhof

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.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

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.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim farm

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.

Kirsch Fussgoenheim post card

Hallberg castle, built about 1740, as seen across the fields in top two photos. Lutheran Church bottom left and store on corner, bottom right.

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.

Koob Munchhof 1965

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.

Koob Munchhof before 1942 bombing.jpg

Drawing courtesy the Koob family and Ralph Shuey.

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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Johann Theobald Koob (born circa 1705 – died after 1766), Münchmeister – 52 Ancestors #291

Johann Theobald Koob was born about 1705, probably in Fussgoenheim, Germany, to Johann Dietrich Koob and Anna Catharina, surname unknown.

The first record of Johann Theobald Koob is when he served as godfather for the Renner family in Fussgoenheim.

Baptism:

21 November 1728

Child: Anna Maria

Parents: Johann Jacob Renner and Helena, his lawfully wed wife

Godparents: Johann Theobald Kob, unmarried from Fussgonheim and Anna Maria Sachs(in).

This wasn’t the only interaction with the Renner family, and mark my words, they were related somehow.

Married in Fussgoenheim

In February of 1730, Johann Theobald Koob married Maria Catharina Kirsch.

Koob Kirsch 1730 marriage

Pfalz: Zentralarchiv der Evang. Kirche > Speyer > Fußgönheim > Taufen, Trauungen, Bestattungen, Sonstiges 1726-1798, Bild 74, www.archion.de

Marriage: 21 Feb 1730

Joh. Theobald Coob from here with Maria Catharina Kirch(in) were married.

Koob is spelled variously as Koob, Coob and Kob in the early church records.

Johann Theobald’s parents both attended his wedding in the quaint Lutheran church on the cobblestone street, probably sitting alongside his siblings. We know his parents were still living, because we find his father’s burial record in those same church records in November 1734 and his mother’s just a few months later, in April of 1735.

That must have been a very tough year.

Children Bless the Couple

Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Catharina Kirsch welcomed their first-born child, a daughter, Susanna Elisabetha, on June 17, 1731. How joyful they must have been when baptizing their beautiful baby girl. Three of the four grandparents celebrated with them that June Sunday, exactly 289 years ago today, as I write this article. This is an incredibly important day for me, because Susanna Elisabetha is my 4th great-grandmother.

Happy 289th birthday Susanna Elisabetha!!! Part of you is still here!

Koob, Susanna Elisabetha

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild14(1), Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: 17 June 1731

Parents: Joh. Theobald KOOB and his wife, Maria Catharina, a daughter was baptized and named:

Susanna Elisabeth

Godparents: Johann Andreas Kirsch & Anna Elisabeth, widow of the late mayor  Koob.

We can glean so much information from the godparents. These people weren’t selected randomly, and it wasn’t just an honorary position. On the contrary, it was well-thought-out.

The godparents were expected to raise this child, attending to their education, both traditional and secular, in the event that something happened to the parents. An equivalent today would be selecting your children’s adoptive parents and designating them at the birth of your children. Godparents promised to perform these duties before the village, in front of both families, the reverend, the congregation, and more importantly, before God.

If you think about it, it’s a wonderful tradition that assures that every child in a family is cared for if the parents die without placing the entire burden of several children on one family member. In a small village, the children would only live a few houses apart and could still see each other and interact regularly.

Based on Fussgoenheim history, Anna Elisabetha, the widow godmother, is probably the widow of Johann Nicolaus Koob, the former mayor. She’s clearly related to the family, but exactly how is unknown. We do know that Johann Nicolaus Koob has a son, Johann Dietrich Koob, the same name as Johann Theobald’s father, but he married Maria Kinigunda Sahler in 1728. Therefore, if Anna Elisabeth is Johann Nicolaus Koob’s widow, she is not Johann Theobald’s grandmother.

The widow Anna Elisabeth may be his aunt or great-aunt or related another way, or both. Her name may also have been Susanna Elisabetha. In a future record, the child Susanna Elisabetha baptized that day is called Anna Elisabetha – probably after her godmother.

Two years later, Johann Theobald Koob’s first son, Emanuel Koob, joined the family.

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild18, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: 26 May 1733

Parents: Joh. Theobald Koob and his wife, Maria Katharina, a son was baptized and named: Emanuel

Godparents: Joh. Michael Kirsch and his wife, Anna Margaretha.

In 1763, Emanual stood as godfather when his older sister’s son, also named Emanual, was baptized.

By 1771, Emanual was godfather for his younger brother Johann Theobald Koob and his wife, Catharina Barbara when they baptized a son named Emanual. In this record, Emanual is noted as being from Münchhof near Danstatt, which proves to be an important clue.

In 1736, daughter, Maria Catharina, named for her grandmother, joined the family.

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild24, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: 20 April 1736

Parents: Johann Theobald Kob & wife Maria Cath.

A daughter was baptized and named: Maria Catharina

Godparent: the grandmother, Maria Kirsch(in), widow

Born: 16 April 1736

Baptized: 20 April 1736

Entry No. 29

In 1738, a son with the same name as his father was born. Interestingly enough, the godparents were from Frankenthal, about 7 and a half miles away, and the child is not named after the godparents, which is typical.

Koob Fussgoenheim Frankenthal

It looks like perhaps their son, Johann Theobald is too young to actually be a godparent, so they stood with him? Perhaps Johann Theobald Koob was the younger Johann Theobald Welker’s godfather. This would suggest some type of family relationship.

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild27, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: Entry No. 66

Parents: Johann Theobald Kob, the juror and his wife, Maria Catharina a son named: Johann Theob(ald) was baptized

Godparents: the honorable Georg Henrich Welcker, butcher and innkeeper in Frankthal and his wife, Maria Ernstina with son Johann Theobald, formerly confirmed at S. ……..?

Born: 24 August 1738 at 8 a.m.

Baptized: 29 August 1738

In this record, Johann Theobald was referred to as a juror. I asked my two friends, Tom and Christoph, what being a juror meant at that time in Fussgoenheim. Their answer was that while neither are experts on that specific topic, their understanding is that jurors would be respected men within the community who would perhaps adjudicate non-criminal disputes and disagreements.

Two years later, things didn’t go well in 1740.

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild30, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: Entry 108

Parents: Johann Theobald Kob, juror and wife, Maria Catharina, a daughter on the 14th of October 1740 was born and because of weakness so she was baptized immediately in the home.  Godparents were the mother’s side, the grandmother Maria. But the child is deceased in a few hours.

Sadly, this baby wasn’t named, or if she was, the reverend didn’t record her name. It seems so sad to think of a tiny, nameless, anonymous grave.

The next child, Johann Dieter, arrived almost exactly a year later. Of course, Johann Dietrich Koob is Johann Theobald’s father’s name.

Taufen__Trauungen__Bestattungen__Sonstiges_1726-1798_Bild32, Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records, Archion.de

Baptism: Entry 111

Parents: Theobald Kob and his wife, Maria Catharina, a son Johann Dieter

Godparents: Johann Dieter Kob, customs collector in Weiss……?and wife Maria Kunigunda

Born 30 Sept 1741          Baptized:8 October 1741

Weissenheim am Sand is a village about 7 miles directly north of Fussgoenheim and Weissenheim am Berg is about the same distance west of Weissenheim am Sand.

This too proves to be a hint that will help tie things together, later.

In 1767, Johann Dieter Koob, unmarried, stood as godfather for his brother, Johann Theobald Koob’s child, named Johann Diederich, of course. This confirms that Dieter and Diederich are synonymous. Dieter is likely a nickname.

Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Catharina Kirsch’s last child, Johannes, arrived just before Christmas in 1750, but not before a massive upheaval that’s not revealed in the church records.

It was by tracking this family through and after that upheaval that I found another child, born in 1746 elsewhere…and baptized in exile.

Let’s just say it was an incredibly long time between 1741 and 1750.

Upheaval

There are several years missing in the births of children, with a noticeable gap between 1741 and 1750. That’s because Johann Theobald’s life was turned upside-down in 1743.

Politics in Germany was ever-present and seemingly, always dangerous. In 1729, Jakob Tilman von Hallberg, a member of the House of Hallberg who had acquired half of Fussgoenheim in 1728, followed shortly thereafter by the second half, undertook a village survey in which the roads were redrawn and the area redivided. The result was that the villagers lost two-thirds of their hereditary land, with Hallberg personally absorbing the rest that was left “abandoned” by the resurvey.

Johann Theobald Koob was one of several jurors or village elders, noted as judges in a German to English translation, who refused to sign the survey book. As punishment, Hallberg had them expelled from Fussgoenheim after first being jailed for two weeks. The Kirsch family went to Ellerstadt as serfs.

It’s unclear where Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Katharina Kirsch went, at least for several years.

We do find a baptism for another son in Weissenheim am Sand.

Baptism: Johann Matheus, parents Johann Theobald Koob and Maria Catharina. Koob on January 16, 1746. Godparents Johann Matheus Sahler and Maria Cath.

However, based on a baptism for Johann Theobald Koob’s son in 1750, it would appear that Johann Theobald Koob was in Münchhof by that time where he had some sort of hereditary ownership.

It’s likely that Johann Theobald Koob had children in 1742, 1744 and 1748 as well, but we simply don’t have those records.

The 1750 baptism record reveals such important information.

Baptism: No. 188

Born 5 December 1750

Baptized 8th of same (month) in Münchhof +

Child: Johannes

Parents: Johann Theobald Kob, hereditary owner in Münchhof and his wife.

Godparents: Johannes Lammert, innkeeper in the Lamb’s Inn in Mutterstadt and wife, Maria Margaretha Weisin.

Koob Johannes 1750

This record, from archion.de is part of the Dannstadt churchbook, not Fussgoenheim.

It’s interesting that in 1750 Johann Thoebald Koob is living in Münchhof.

Oh, what a tangled web is genealogy.

Mutterstadt

The Lammert/Lemmert family in Mutterstadt is known to me.

Koob Mutterstadt Fussgoenheim Dannstadt

Three generations later, Johann Theobald Koob’s great-grandson, Philip Jacob Kirsch would be born in Fussgoenheim in 1806. He would marry Katharina Barbara Lemmert in 1829 in Mutterstadt. This couple, my ancestors, would immigrate to Ripley County, Indiana about 20 years later, the founding members of the Kirsch line there.

Koob Jacob Kirsch pedigree

By the time Philip Jacob Kirsch married Katharina Barbara Lemmert, these families had apparently known each other for generations.

But what about Münchhof?

Münchhof

Johann Theobald Koob may have been spitefully evicted from Fussgoenheim in 1743, but he was apparently not poor. He didn’t entirely disappear. We do find him in Weissenheim am Sand in 1746 and mentioned again as being from there in 1748 when he resurfaces in Münchhof.

According to the journal, Pennsylvania Folklife” (1966), Volume 16, page 41, available here, we discover that in 1748, Daniel Jouis, as lessee, sells one quarter of the property, Münchhof, to Theobald Koob of Weisenheim am Sand.

Koob Munchhof article

While this article by Dr. Krebs is focused on the Jouis family, it handily answers several questions about Theobald Koob.

We now know where he went in 1743 after he was evicted from Fussgoenheim. He had family in Weissenheim am Sand, as evidenced from the 1741 baptism of his child, so he went there.

Koob Weissenheim am Sand atlas

Five years later, when it may have seemed improbable that he would ever be allowed to return to Fussgoenheim, he purchased a quarter lessee ownership of Münchhof and moved to this large farm, owned by the University of Heidelberg, with his family.

Koob Weissenheim am Sand map

Word that this quarter of the Münchhof estate was available for purchase, as a lessee, must have traveled by word of mouth. Johann Theobald Koob’s relative was the tax collector in Weissenheim am Sand, so he would probably have been aware of these types of opportunities. We also find early Koob families in Schauernheim and Dannstadt, just north of Münchhof.

Münchhof wasn’t exactly next door to Weissenheim am Sand, but it was fairly close to Fussgoenheim and family members seem to have been scattered throughout this part of the Palatinate – fertile lowlands east of the Rhine.

Koob Munchhof atlas

Münchhof is close to Fussgoenheim, about three and a half miles away. It would have been easy for them to see their family members in Fussgoenheim while remaining a persistent thorn in the side of Hallberg.

Koob Munchhof close

A gazetteer documenting all German locations from 1871-1918 shows Munchhof.

We can use this map to find the location of Munchhof today, matching up landmarks and roads that have retained their original shape.

Koob Munchhof atlas to google

Based on the google map legend the area below looks to be about 4 or 5 acres, roughly.

Koob Munchhof 5 acres

One quarter square mile is 1320X1320 feet and holds 160 acres, so the original Munchhof would have encompassed roughly this land, the house marked by Dells Tierwelt.

Koob Munchhof today aerial

Dr. Krebs who wrote that 1966 article even went so far as to drive out to Münchhof and take these photos for his article. I’m thrilled!

Koob Munchhof 1965

The amazing thing about these estates is that they changed very little over time and Münchhof probably looked almost exactly like it did in 1748 – 212 years earlier – minus the cars and modern farm equipment of course. There is documentation of some destruction in 1807, but whatever damage incurred was clearly repaired.

Münchhof still exists today as a location that breeds dogs.

Koob Munchhof aerial close

Fortunately, the current owners cared enough to document the history of Munchoff, here.

I used the Deepl translator to translate, below.

Our Münchhof

In 1987 we bought the “Münchhof”, which has been part of the Dannstadt community since 1797.

Koob Munchhof 1985

I’m so very grateful that they included this photo from 1985 which shows a different perspective than the 1965 photo.

The following transcript was taken from “Heimatblätter für Ludwigshafen am Rhein und Umgebung, Jg.7, 1918, No. 4

The Münchhof at Dannstadt.

The Münchhof is located about 5 minutes away from the parish village Dannstadt at the Speyerer Straße. Already the name indicates that we are dealing with a monastery estate. In the Middle Ages, half of Dannstadt was spiritual property.

In 804 the Münchhof comprised 128 acres of land, which belonged to the Kindergut.

Note that 128 acres of land was about the entire size of the village of Fussgoenheim in 1743.

The farm, which was founded at an unknown time, probably came into existence in 987 through a donation by Count Otto of Rhine-Franconia to the Benedictine and later Dominican monastery Lambrecht in the Haardtwald, which he had founded at that time. In the beginning “one” farmer – later there were several – owned the Münchhof from Lambrecht Monastery as part of his inheritance; he held the title ” Münchmeister.”

I absolutely cannot help but chuckle. This means that Johann Theobald Koob was a Munchmeister, or at least one quarter Munchmeister. Of course, in German, meister means master, so the farmer who was leasing this property was indeed the master of the hof, or farm.

In 1331, Ludwig the Bavarian pledged the Speyergau bailiwick to the sons of his brother Rudolf, the Palatine Counts Rudolf 2nd and Ruprecht 1st, for 1000 pounds heller.

When the influence of the Reformation became noticeable, Elector Friedrich 2 obtained permission from the Pope to confiscate and abolish the Lambrecht Monastery and 11 others and to transfer their income to the Heidelberg College in 1551. Thus the Münchhof fell to the University of Heidelberg.

In 1563, a settlement was reached between the university and Elector Friedrich 3, who granted St. Lambrecht and the Münchhof free of encumbrances. A large part of the other monasteries that had been confiscated were ceded by the university to the Elector, but in this way she had cleverly evaded the sovereign’s easements on the estates. The Münchhof had now become a free court. From this time on it was under the administration of the Heidelberg university conductor and the electoral administration there. However, this special position was a source of incessant friction between the courtiers and the aforementioned village court.

The Peace of Luneville in 1801 made the left bank of the Rhine French. Napoleon used the opportunity to smash the property. In 1807 the Münchhof in Mainz was auctioned off as a so-called national property.

Understanding the size of Münchhof helps put this purchase into perspective. Even if Johann Theobald Koob only purchased access to one quarter of the 128 acres, assuming it was still the same size, that means he farmed 32 acres and lived on the property, which was probably functionally the same as a small village. Compare and contrast this to the small farms in Fussgoenheim that were originally about 15 acres each, but reduced to an average of 4.67 after Hallberg’s resurvey.

Based on records from Fussgoenheim, we know that Johann Theobald Koob was still a citizen in Fussgoenheim in 1766. It’s possible that he was living at Münchhof, but I’d think those records would have mentioned that.

I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to Münchhof.

It appears that Johann Theobald’s oldest son, Emanual, inherited his father’s lease rights to Münchhof. In 1771, when he stands as godparent for his sibling’s child, he is noted as being from Munchoff. The torch has apparently passed. This record may be the closest thing we have to a death record for Johann Theobald.

It’s possible that Johann Theobald Koob actually died at Münchhof, not in Fussgoenheim. We don’t know if he loved being at Münchhof, or if it was simply a safehaven when he needed one – retaining it later as an investment. Did he stay there, or was he relieved to move back to Fussgoenheim in 1753.

Münchhof apparently became a hereditary legacy in the Koob family, because an agricultural journal published in 1876, 128 years after Johann Theobald Koob purchased that quarter, mentions a “Jakob Koob, economist on the Münchhof”:

Using 30 years per generation, that’s between 4 and 5 generations later. Johann Theobald Koob was likely the great-great or three times great-grandfather of that Jakob Koob of 1876. I wonder if he had any idea what had happened to his ancestor, Johann Theobald Koob, in 1743, why and how Münchhof came to be in the Koob family.

Contacting a local historian reveals that members of the Koob family still live on part of it’s land, not associated with the dog breeding business.

Return to Fussgoenheim

In 1753, von Hallberg was forced to allow the evicted Fussgoenheim families to return to their hereditary properties in the village. Based on this 1743 map, we know exactly which properties Johann Theobald Koob owned.

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim under village

Given that this maps showed land owned hereditarily in the north half of the village, we can see that Johann Theobald Koob owned two properties, probably inherited from his father.

This property still existed in the 1940s, and the Kirsch and Koob families still lived adjacent.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler homes

The Kirsch property is noted with the X, and the Koob with the O. This photo was sent by descendants living in these houses during WWII to relatives in Indiana.

Fussgoenheim street

The properties are marked in this photo as well, which I’d wager is a victory celebration of some sort on the main street of Fussgoenheim, almost 200 years after Johann Theobald Koob had his own sweet victory of return.

Today, you can see this part of Fussgoenheim on Google maps, which correlates to the 1743 map and the 1940s photos.

Koob property today

The upper Koob property is shown, below in a photo taken by my friend, Noel, when she took a detour on her vacation to find my ancestors. I’m incredibly grateful!

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse

I believe, based on the 1743 map and today’s intersection of Hauptstrausse and Ruchheimer streets, that the property on the aerial above, designated by the upper red arrow, to the left of the yellow house, with the brown large door and solar panels is one of Johann Theobald Koob’s properties. It’s probably the same house that still stands.

Whose House Was It?

The Kirsch/Koob photo from the 1940s is of the property designated with the lower arrow, which I wrote about, here.

Marliese’s letters were somewhat confusing. She wrote them as a teen, almost 90 years after these families had immigrated. Her letters are clear about which property was the Kirsch property, because she grew up in that house.

Her references to the house with the O marked over it were believed to have referred to this as the Koehler home at that time. There was confusion within her family, plus the challenges of German to English translation, and the Kirsch, Koehler and Koob families were eventually heavily intermarried. Marliese used a lot of pronouns such as “they” and it was often unclear as to who, exactly, “they” was referring to.

This is going to be hard to follow, so here’s a diagram.

Koob Kirsch Koehler pedigree

click to enlarge

On this chart, people in red are my ancestors. You can see Johann Theobald Koob at right, with a black box around his name. The people in green are the couple who Marliese believed lived in the house next door before they immigrated – except for one daughter. Marliese and I share the same founding Kirsch, Koob and Koehler ancestors.

Knowing what I know today, after significant research, I am confident that this home was never the Koehler home, and was always the Koob home, in part, because the first record I find of the Koehler family is in Seckenheim, and never in Fussgoenheim. Johann Peter Theobald Koehler lived (1696) and died (1767) in Seckenheim during the same time period that Johann Theobald Koob was living in Fussgoenheim and at Munchhof.

My Koehler line intermarried with the Koob line in Ellerstadt. Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler was born in 1772 in Ellerstadt, married Andreas Kirsch there and moved to Fussgoenheim as his wife. Her father was probably born in Seckenheim, as his parents were born and died there.

If indeed, the Koehler family did eventually own the Koob property, it was after Johann Martin Koehler, Margaretha Elisabetha’s brother, born in 1796 in Ellerstadt married Anna Margaretha Kirsch, the daughter of Andreas Kirsch, in 1821 in Fussgoenheim.

This couple, who are not my ancestors, are shown in the green block. Martin Koehler, according to Marliese, was reported to have had a beautiful singing voice and played in the village orchestra, as well as sang in the choir.

His three surviving sons immigrated to Indiana, and his one surviving daughter married Karl Ritthaler and remained in Fussgoenheim. There are virtually no Koehler church records in Fussgoenheim, including no burial record for Johann Martin Koehler himself. As you can see, he did not marry a Koob directly, but a granddaughter of Susanna Elisabetha Koob, so it’s highly unlikely that he wound up with the Koob property next door to the Kirsch home.

Regardless of the ownership of the Koob property in the later 1800s and into the 1900s, it was clearly owned by Johann Theobald Koob in the 1700s. The Koob and Kirsch families intermarried for generations. They were all related to each other several ways.

Despite the confusion about the identification of the Koob property in the 1940s photos, Marliese’s ancestor, Anna Elisabetha Koehler, born in 1781 in Ellerstadt, married Johann Mathias Koob in 1801 and moved to Fussgoenheim. This is shown at right, in the chart, above. Their daughter married Johannes Kirsch, so even in Marliese’s own family line, no Koehler actually lived next door, but the Koob family clearly did. The Koehlers entered the picture as spouses.

I wonder how long this property actually remained in the Koob family, and what happened to it.

Johann Theobald Koob’s Property Today

Unfortunately, as you can see in this satellite closeup, the Koob home is gone today. replaced by the garden area in front of the building with the checkerboard roof. The original Kirsch property includes the while house at left, the driveway area and the small white building adjacent to the beginning of wall.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler

Many original structures do remain, so I have to wonder what happened to Johann Theobald Koob’s home.

Here’s a current street view, with the Kirsch home at left.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch on Hauptstrasse

The wall stands where the Koob home once stood at 11 Hauptstrausse. The double brown gates, below, appear to provide access to where the Koob’s neighbor’s home once stood, and was not the Koob property, at least, not that we know of.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler

A building, which may or may not be original, stands behind the wall (and the tree) at 11 Hauptstrasse.

Fussgoenheim Koob 11

The addresses are marked on the fence. The original Kirsch home, to the left, is 9 Hauptstrausse.

Fussgoenheim Koehler building

Today, a small garden replaces the original Koob home at 11 Hauptstrausse. in the photo above, we are looking directly at Theobald Koob’s property. Below, over the fence at the building shown above.

Fussgoenheim Koob garden 2

This Koob property is noted as 11 Haupstrausse on Google maps, as is the small portion of the building still standing to the left of the wall and to the right of the large brown door. It’s hard to align with original properties, especially since German homes are built sharing walls.

However, in the 1940s photos, the Koob home looks to be clearly separate from the Kirsch property, which included his small addition to the right of the brown door.

Fussgoenheim Koob wall 3

11 Haupstrasse, where the garden is today, was clearly the Koob property, which includes the building behind, to the left of the van in the photo below. The property to the right looks to have been 13 Hauptstrasse and appears to be used as a driveway currently.

Fussgoenheim Koob garden 3

The portion below looks to be the property designated as 13. In 1743, that was not privately owned, because it was not mapped.  I wonder if this was some of the property that Hallberg attempted to confiscate, and if so, who the rightful owners were.

Fussgoenheim Koob garden 4

The contemporary photos are all courtesy of my friend, Noel.

When Did Johann Theobald Koob Die?

We don’t know exactly when Johann Theobald Koob passed away, but we do know that on February 11, 1766, when his namesake son, Johann Theobald Koob married Catharina Barbara Wessa(in), daughter of Johann Jacob Wessa, citizen and member of the court in Schauernheim, the groom was named as the son of Johann Theobald Koob, citizen in Fussgoenheim. Had he been deceased at this time, the records would have stated that.

This tells us that Johann Theobald Koob lived through being evicted from his property in Fussgoenheim in 1743, and returned in or after 1753, living long enough to see at least three of his children marry. He welcomed at least two grandchildren, and most likely more.

Johann Theobald probably passed away sometime between 1766 and the 1771 record where his son Emanuel is noted as being from Münchhof, but the records are incomplete and we simply don’t know. The Fussgoenheim records end in 1778. He may have still been alive at that time and died between then and 1798 when the French records began during the French occupation of the Pfalz. If so, he lived long enough to see his homeland invaded and may have been displaced, yet again. If so, there was always Munchhof, a safehaven for the old Munchmeister.

DNA

Unfortunately, it appears that no Koob male has yet taken a Y DNA test. From this test, we could determine where the Koob line came from initally, before Fussgoenheim.

If you are a Koob male descending from this line through all males, please contact me. I have a Y DNA testing scholarship waiting just for you!

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