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This is the ONE HUNDREDTH AND FIRST page of John BLANKENBAKER's series of Genealogy Notes & Comments, which were originally posted to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Discussion List.  Each page contains 25 Comments.

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This Page Contains Comments 0001 through 0025.

Genealogy Comments
Page 101

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From the Webmaster of this website, Sgt. George/Sarge:  As John stated in his last genuine "Germanna Note", he has stopped writing and posting those "Notes" to our Germanna Colonies Mailing List at Rootsweb; however, he is still sending emails now and then, with "Genealogy Comments", which covers a host of subjects.  So, I have decided to continue to post his wonderful information here, but to start anew with the numbering system.  The numbers will start with 0001, and there will still be 25 Comments per page.  If anyone has any comments on this, feel free to email me.

Nr. 0001:


The following material is based on an article which I wrote for Penn Pal, the Newsletter of the Pennsylvania chaper of the Palatines to America.

We have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.  Each generation that we go back multiplies the number of positions on our ancestry chart by two.  Let's carry this out to the time of Charlemagne who lived almost twelve Centuries ago.  To do this we need to know, approximately, how many generations there are in a century.  Three generations per century would put the intergeneration period at 33 years which is too long.  Four genertions per century would put the intergenerational period at 25 years which is probably too short.  Let's say there are 3 1/2 generations per century.  In twelve centuries, there would be 42 generations (12 times 3 1/2).

We need to multiply together forty-two 2s to get the number of needed positions on our ancestor charts.  When we multiply ten 2s together we get 1024 so the answer to our problem is 1,024 times 1,024 times 1,024 times 1,024 times 4.  Just to make this easier and still stay will within the bounds of our estimation, lets say this is equivalent to 1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000 x 4 which is 4 trillion.  In other words if you were to make an ancestory chart back to the year 800, you would need about four trillion, or 4,000,000,000,000, places on the chart.

Of course, there were not that many people who were living then.  [In fact, there are not that many people alive today, and if we counted every person who had ever lived and died, the number wouldn't total that many!  GWD]  In Europe, there were more than one million people in the year 800 but probably not one hundred million people.  Say there were ten million people in Europe.  In order to fill up your ancestry chart with names, each person living then, ON THE AVERAGE, would have to appear four hundred thousand times (400,000) on your chart.  If you were filling in your chart completely back to the year 800 and if you were writing in names at the rate of one per second, it would take you 125,000 years to fill in your chart.

Of course, some people from then will not appear on your chart.  Maybe they left no descendants.  Maybe others were outside your lines.  Many of the people living then died before they reached the reproductive age.  So to keep the average up, some people will appear on your chart more than 400,000 times.
(25 Apr 07)

Nr. 0002:


*[Vergiss deine Tasche nicht!]

In the last note I was emphasizing the vast number of ancestors that one has.  We saw that your chart of your ancestors would need about four trillion places for names at the time of Charlemagne.  Even if the data were available to you, you could not fill in all the blanks in your lifetime.

Let’s reverse the process and ask the question, “How many descendants does Charlemagne have?”  We will have to make some assumptions to arrive at an approximation.  We will assume that, on the average, each descendant has two in the next generation below.  It doesn’t matter whether they are male or female.  As we did in the previous discussion, we will assume there are three and one-half generations per Century so that again there will be forty-two generations in the twelve Centuries.  These numbers are very fortunate because they lead to the same answer as we had before, namely, there will be four trillion descendants of Charlemagne (this is an excessive number in that some of these descendants are duplicated).  Still, to claim that you are a descendant of Charlemagne hardly puts you in an exclusive club.  A very large fraction of the people who have European ancestry have some of their genes from Charlemagne.  [But proving it is another matter altogether!  GWD]

By now, it may be the case that none of your genes came from Charlemagne even if you are a descendant just because your gene pool originates from so many different people.  One half of your genes came from your father and one half came from your mother.  One quarter came from each of your grandparents.  The further back you go, the more diluted the contribution of any one individual becomes.  We were saying that maybe ten million people were living in Europe in the year 800 so the contribution of any one individual from that time is extremely diluted, perhaps non-existent.

*[Don’t forget your bag!]
(25 Apr 07)

Nr. 0003:


*[Kannst du mir verzeihen?]

Too often, genealogists ignore their mathematics.  We have seen recently how the number of ancestors grows very rapidly as we go back through the centuries.  One of the implications of this is that the source of individual's gene pool is very large.  We should be studying the broad field, not one specific path out of an uncountably large number.  These individual lines count for very little in the large or total picture.  In addition, an individual line extended over many generations, even though it appears to have names in each generation, is probably not correct.

To illustrate this last point, let us take the specific case of a lineage that purports to go back to Charlemagne.  We have seen that there should be about forty-two generations in such a path.  Let us ask what is the probability that each generation is correct.

First, we will note an observation.  With the ease with which a paternity test can be made, some hospitals were proposing to test whether the paternity of each new born was correctly given in the paper work.  The number of failures in confirming the father was so high that the hospitals saw that they had to abandon this effort.  Too many people would be upset.  (The failure rate was in the order of ten percent; e.g., the probability that the stated father was correct was 0.9.)

In the sequence back to Charlemagne, there are many reasons there might be an error.  Confusion of names is one.  False paternity is another.  Recording errors and deliberate mistatements are other reasons.  If we said that the probability that each step is correct is 0.97 (three times out of a hundred there is an error for some reason), then the probability that all of the steps are correct is the product of 0.97 times itself for 42 times.  The answer is 0.28.  In other words, there is only one chance out of four that the claim is true.

We are led to the conclusion from our recents studies that the probability that a "European" person today is a descendant of Charlemagne is very high.  At the same time, the claim for a particular path back to Charlemagne is probably not true.  We would do better to study the generalities and not the specifics.  DNA studies are one way of doing that.  They can give us percentages of earlier groupings which are present in an individual's DNA.  And the DNA permits us to go much farther back in time than any study of specific lines can.

*[Can you forgive me?]
(27 Apr 07)

Nr. 0004:


Urban TANNER, Part 1:

I believe I have found the earliest Germanna family to leave Germany.  True, they did not get to American immediately.  In fact, they were eleven years in getting to America.  In this time they had many adventures, most of which are known only indistinctly.

I have just read the Catholic Church Records for Westhofen in the Palatinate.  I found one Baptismal Record which reads in essence (the Catholics use a lot of Latin):

"25 August 1708.  Baptized a daughter named Anna Catharina of Vrbano Danner and his wife Anna Maria.  The sponsor was Anna Catharina Raeder.”

So far I have not found any earlier Baptismal Records and some later records suggest that there were previous children to Anna Catharina.  This may mean that the family had only recently moved to Westhofen.

Westhofen does have a Protestant church, so the fact that Anna Catharina was baptized in the Catholic church surely means that at least one of the parents was Catholic.

Remember that “D” and “T” are often confused going from Germany to English speaking countries.  In fact, confusion exists in Germany also.  Remember that the German Lutheran church in the Robinson River Valley of Virginia once referred to “Urban Tanner”, who was paid for going to Williamsburg on church business.  In other church records, the name is spelled as Tanner, Danner, or Dan.  A real clue as the German identity of the man known in Virginia as Robert Tanner is the given name Urban which is very rare.  The name is so unusual that Urban Danner probably changed it to Robert which more people understood, especially in the English-speaking world where he lived for eleven years before he came to Virginia.  During this time, he probably learned some English which may be why the church in Virginia chose him to go to Williamsburg.

When Robert Tanner (Turner in the record) applied for his headrights, he said he came in 1720 with his wife Mary and children Christopher, Christina, Catherine, Mary, and Parva (Barbara).  This is very consistent with the Westhofen evidence.  So far, there is no evidence as to why the Tanner family chose Virginia.
(16 May 2007)

Nr. 0005:

Urban TANNER, Part 2:

The village of Westhofen is northwest of Heidelberg (the majority of the Second Colony came from southeast of Heidelberg).  The nearest larger town is Worms, which is on the Rhine River.  I would not have thought of looking in the Rhurch Registers in Westhofen except that Henry Z Jones made a suggestion that Urban Danner might be found there.  I will say more about Hank’s role in this process later but I would like to say now that his suggestion was all important.

Urban Danner appears in the records in 1709 when he was a passenger on a ship from Rotterdam to London.  He is listed in this so-called third party as:

Urban Danner en vrou 2 kindr 4

This is in the Dutch language.  It could be read that Urban Danner and wife were two people and they had four children.  The date is 10 June 1709.  (One of these four children would be Anna Catharina, who is almost one year old.)  Not that it is very important but the Captain of this ship for the crossing of the Channel was Wilkens.

When the ship docked in London, the English made another list of the third party.  Published records of the English arrivals have many errors but Hank Jones says that he was listed as Urban Tanner, aged 33, with his wife and daughters aged 6, 4, 3, and 1.  His occupation was cooper and brewer (good middle class occupations).  So, as he moved from the Continent to English-speaking lands, the name changed from Danner to Tanner; however, there were several variations on these two names.

There should be three more Baptismal Records, at least, and a marriage record for the Danner family, but they are not in the Westhofen records.  I have yet to make a more exhaustive search, but it is doubtful that I will find more records in Westhofen.

At this point in the story, we need to look at what was happening in 1709.
(17 May 07)

Nr. 0006

Urban TANNER, Part 3:

In 1709, for a variety of reasons, but most probably because of a desire to improve their economic situation, thousands of Germans descended on London thinking that Queen Anne would provide them with transportation to the New World, and would provide them with land there.  I recommend two books on this exodus.  W. A. Knittle wrote “Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigrations”, which is a must book for every student of German emigration.  Excellent information can also be found in Henry Z Jones’ book, “The Palatine Families of New York”.

About 13,000 Germans went to London.  Queen Anne, who was favorably disposed to the Protestants among them, wanted to do something for them but her purse (and the government’s purse) were limited.  Eventually, about a quarter of the people were sent to New York along the Hudson River, where they worked, briefly, on a naval stores project.  Several hundred were sent to North Carolina under the leadership of Christoph von Graffenried.  About a quarter of the people were sent to Ireland.  Many were distributed among villages in England.  Catholics were sent back to Germany but many Catholic Germans became “instant Protestants”.  Apparently Urban Tanner was in this group and he was one of the three thousand or so people who were sent to Ireland.

The Irish venture had three motivations.  It could be a home for the Palatines and the English saw it as a way of injecting Protestants into Ireland.  English landlords who owned land in Ireland saw a cheap labor supply.  Ireland did not prove popular with the Palatines and about two-thirds of them found their way back to England over the course of years.  Then many of them found a way to go to America which had been their original desire.  This appears to be the case with Urban Tanner, though the details of the Irish sojourn and the return to England are skimpy (basically unknown).

Hank Jones made a study of these Irish Palatines which has resulted in the book, “The Palatine Families of Ireland”.  This book has gone through several printings and is now issued in the Second Edition.  Some of the Palatine families have extensive genealogical information, but the Tanner/Danner family has none.  About all that can be said is that Urban Damur (or Damus) was the head of a Palatine family in Ireland on 13 July 1715.  This fact is recorded in the Groves Papers.  How these variations in the spelling of the name came about is unknown, but the records do record many variations in the spelling or perhaps difficulities in the reading/transcription.

The Groves Papers are more formally entitled, “Collections on the Palatines compiled by Tenison Groves”, which are to be found in the Genealogical Office at Dublin Castle as Manuscript 540.  They are also in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast, as Manuscript T808/15284.
(17 May 07)

Nr. 0007:

Urban TANNER, Part 4:

Perhaps I had not made myself clear but I am writing about the man known as Robert Tanner in Virginia.  He came to Virginia in 1720.  There he was once called Urban Tanner.  I have found, using a clue Hank Jones gave me, an Urban Danner in Westhofen, Germany, (in the Palatinate) who had a wife and daughter with the correct given names of Urban Tanner's/Robert Tanner's family in Virginia.  This family, after going to England in 1709, was sent to Ireland where they remained for several years before they moved to Virginia.  The girls in the family appear to have been born in Germany, but the son Christopher was born in either England or Ireland.  As a consequence, I believe he would have been an English citizen.  In Germany, the name appears to have been Danner but after leaving Germany the name is usually rendered as Tanner.  Giving the name as Gerber in Virginia would be a mistake as the original name was not Tanner.  (German Gerber=English Tanner, but this person's surname wasn't Gerber in Germany, it was Danner, which became Tanner in Virginia.)

I will still be looking for additional records in Germany as only one has been found so far.  In Westhofen, where the one record (the baptism of Anna Catharina Danner) was found, it appears there are no other records of the Danner family.  The Catholic Church in Westhofen, where this record occurs, has baptisms from 1690 to 1714 which are not indexed, i.e., only the original records are available.  The following records are indexed in a neatly typed document:

Births (Baptisms) from 1714 to 1779;
Marriages from 1702 to 1722, and 1726 to 1779;
Deaths from 1702 to 1779.

None of these indexed records show a Tanner or Danner.

Why the Baptisms from 1690 to 1702 were not indexed is not known.  I want to obtain printed copies of these earlier baptismal records for additional study but it appears there is no Danner in these.  (Being Catholic records, many Latin words are used.)

I have already looked at the baptisms in the Protestant church in Westhofen.  I wrote to the Heimatverein in Westhofen.  The LDS place-name catalog suggested there was a book of the homes and people of Westhofen and I wrote to the author in Germany.  Both of these sources responded, saying that the name Tanner was not known in Westhofen.  I will write to the author again and see if he has suggestions of other nearby churches where I might look.  It may be the case that this one record will be all that I will find; however, Tanner researchers could use this as a starting point and search in nearby church records.

I have no doubts but that we have found the last village in which Urban Danner (i.e., Robert Tanner) lived in Germany.  Whether we will find any earlier records is not known now.
(18 May 07)

Nr. 0008:

Urban TANNER, Part 5:

After E. W. Wallace so kindly gave us some reference material that might show the Tanners in Ireland, let me add that one must be lenient with regards to spelling.  Hank Jones noted the poor spelling of the German names by the Irish.  He suggested that Damur or Damus might be two of the spellings to be found there.

When the switch from Urban to Robert was made is unknown.  When Andrew Kerker was keeping the books for the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River Valley in 1733 he made an entry which read:  “By paid Urban Tanner for travelling to Wmsburgh about Church business.”  The amount was 12 shillings.  I would think that this indicated an above average level of education on Tanner’s part.  So far as I know, this is the only time that the name Urban is used in Virginia.

I did get to the LDS FHC again and was able to copy out about 30 pages of early baptisms.  Having more time at home to study the baptismal records of Anna Catharina, I discovered a phrase which concluded the record which I had overlooked.  These words said that the baptism did not occur in the church at Westhofen but in a chapel which the pastor at Westhofen also served.  I have written to Germany seeking a clarification.  For the present, I would continue to identify Urban Danner with Westhofen as his last place of residence in Germany.

One thing that this Danner/Tanner series of records tells us that the process of emigrating was sometimes more complicated than we had originally thought.  We knew already that some of the people who left in 1717 did not make it to Virginia that year, but took a few years.  Now we have a documented case where the trip took eleven years.

There is one record which shows that many people left the Nassau region in 1709.  The sixth party from Rotterdam to London in 1709 is headed by Johan Fredrik Heger (remember these names are written by the Dutch).  Buried in the list is Peeter Heidee and wife and child.  Surrounding this name are many names from the Nassau region.  [In the spelling of Heidee, the Dutch used an umlauted “y” (Ÿ) in place of the “i” that I used.]

For many years, I have been insisting that the Germanna historians have been overlooking the significance of the 1709 emigration from Germany.  And the historians have been giving the wrong reasons for the emigration.
(20 May 07)

Nr. 0009:

Urban TANNER, Part 6:

Some people are confused by the variety of names that Urban Danner appears with.  Eventually it became Robert Tanner.  Along the way, several variations appear in the church records and even more in the civil records.  I will discuss the church records here.

In 1775, the new pastor (Franck) entered the name as Dan in the Communion Lists.  We can attribute this to his lack of familiarity with the family.  He had only come to the community two months previously.  Thereafter, it appears in the Communion Lists as Tanner until about 1782.  Than it appears as Tana and Tanna, with most of these entries being made by Johann Michael Schmidt, who was not well educated.

In 1787, Rev. Streit wrote it as Danner.  He was a visiting pastor who took the place of Schmidt.  Except for three times when it appeared as Tanna after this, it appears as Tanner.

In the Communion Lists it never appears as "Gerber", which is ordinarily the German word for "Tanner".  (What we're trying to say is "Danner" became "Tanner" in America, but he was never a "Gerber" in Germany.)

In the Baptismal Register, which was rewritten about 1774 by Catechist Heinrich Moeller, who was expected to become the pastor, the family of Friederich Gerber shows the use of the Gerber name.  Most likely, Moeller is the one who assumed that if the name in Virginia was Tanner it must have been Gerber in Germany.  He never understood that one change had already been made in the name from Danner to Tanner.  This alone accounts for seven of the eleven appearances of “Gerber” in the baptismal register.  Four other times the name appears as Gerber.  The largest number of spellings, about forty, have the spelling of Tanner, Tana, or Tanna.

An additional note that I received today from Hank Jones says that the area around Westhofen was the source of many of the people who left Germany in 1709.  This conclusion would have required the study of many church books in the area.  That no other records have been found so far is discouraging for the hope of finding more records on Urban Danner.  Still, I have ordered microfilms for two more churches in the area.
(21 May 07)

Nr. 0010:

Searching in German Records:

In the Ortssippenbuch for Oberoewisheim and Neuenbuerg, there are about 150 mentions of American which would have been entered when people left for America.  The listing is not complete as the Blankenbakers, Thomases, Scheibles, Fleshmans, and Schlucter are not mentioned as leaving for America.  One of destinations is Jefferson, America.  Very likely this might have been Jeffersontown in Kentucky where many Germanna citizens went.  This particular Ortssippenbuch is loaded with Germanna names but many are of a later time.

With so many Germanna names in the Ortssippenbuch above and with several mentions of the nearby villages of Gochsheim, I thought that I would look into the records there.  The Church Books are exceptional.  They date from 1555, probably shortly after the church became Protestant (Lutheran).  There is a section with a Family Register listing the parents and the children.  You should be so lucky as to have ancestors in Gochsheim.  Unfortunately, I did not see Germanna names.

Another nearby village that I looked at was Muenzesheim.  I ordered two rolls of microfilm and unfortunately one roll was out of focus rendering it impossible to use.  The other roll was of above average quality but again I did not find Germanna names except Duerrmann and Lepp/Lapp.

Microfilms for two Catholic churches near Westhofen have been ordered but they have not come in.  I would not be too optimistic about finding Danners here.  When Hank Jones’ German researcher was working in this area, she found many 1709 people but there is no mention in Hank Jones’ work of other Danners.
(30 May 07)

Nr. 0011:

Urban TANNER, Part 7:

It is always good to have a resource who knows more than you do.  In the case of Urban Tanner, it appears that I have two resource people. I have mentioned Julius Gruenwald here before.  He lives in Westhofen where the Catholic Church Record shows the baptism of Anna Catharina Danner, the daughter of Urban Danner and his wife Anna Maria.  The Baptismal Report noted that the baptism occurred, not in Westhofen, but in Bloedesheim.  I could not find Bloedesheim on the map and so I contacted Julius Gruenwald again.

He writes that I could not find Bloedesheim because it does not exist anymore.  Thirty years ago the residents changed the name because of the connotation of “bloed” (blood).  They and the map makers now call it “Hochborn”.  It is located less than three miles from Westhofen in a northwesterly direction.  It and the village of Monzernheim (about two miles from Westhofen) are daughter chapels or churches of Westhofen.  The same pastor served all of these communities and kept the records at Westhofen.

It would be fair to say that Anna Catharina Danner/Tanner was born at Hochborn with the baptism recorded in the (Catholic) Church in Westhofen.

As to whether the name was Danner or Tanner, Mr. Gruenwald says that to this day the letter “T” is “unspeakable” for the residents of the Palatinate.  In common language or dialect the people there still say Danner for Tanner.

In Buhlow’s dictionary of German names, the name Danner of High German origin is equivalent to Thanner as well as Oberdanner or Oberthanner.  The name originated as a locality or location name.  In Middle High German, “tan” is forest.  There are many Tanners in Bavaria, Wuerttemberg, and Switzerland.

Mr. Gruenwald suggests that Urban Tanner was one of the people who moved about in the Germanic regions in the last half of the Seventeenth Century.  The region had been burdened with three wars, the last in 1688 to 1697.  People had left the villages, some never returned.  The Elector Johann Wilhelm set about to repopulate the region and invited (18 September 1698) newcomers to settle in his country with the right not to pay taxes or contributions for six years.

Mr. Gruenwald believes Urban Danner followed this invitation and came to Bloedesheim.  Perhaps the village had a chance for a cooper and brewer to start anew.
(05 Jun 2007)

Nr. 0012:

Urban TANNER, Part 8:

Julius Gruenwald pointed out that I had missed four important words in the Baptismal Record (I had sent him a copy).  Two of them were in Latin but I can’t blame the Latin for missing them as I do have Ernest Thode’s dictionary.  Still the exact words escape me except that I can see they mean married couple, I think.  Possibly, they refer to only one of the partners but in either case the really important words are “ab Argersheim”.  The net result is that one or both of the parents were from Argersheim.

Mr. Gruenwald made a search for Argersheim in atlases old and new with negative results.  He did find a place called Ergersheim.  I was able to locate that place in my map book.  The place is very small (perhaps it is nothing more than an estate farm) but the more interesting point is the location.  It is about thirteen miles from the town (Neustadt), which has the most Blankenbuehlers of any town in Germany.  It is eight miles from Dottenheim, where some of the early Blankenbuehlers who emigrated from Austria lived.  It is about twenty-five miles from Dietenhofen, where it is said that eight hundred people emigrated from Gresten in Austria (the home village of the Plankenbuehlers in Austria).  In other words, this region in Germany was a hotbed of emigrants from Austria, especially in the middle of the Seventeenth Century.

My second resource person, Elke Hall, sent me some information that suggests that the Tanners may have been emigrants from Austria.  She noted that the name Urban is unusual in Germany but occurs several times in Austria.  In the group of “exiles” from Austria, there was a Christian Thanner, who left in 1688, and Hans Thanner, who left in 1691.  She found a mention of Thomas Tanners in Austria from Robans who was listed as “newly converted”, i.e., he said they had converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism, but many did this as a way of stalling for time.  (Lutherans were not welcome in Austria and were forced to leave.)

One of the pastors who had to leave Austria was Daniel Danner/Tanner who came to Regensburg in Bavaria in 1624.  David Tanner held the last church service with communion on 13 October 1624.  Elke named several other Tanners.

This certainly opens up some new areas for research, not all of which are easy to pursue.  Many church records in Bavaria are to be found only in the archives.  Protestant records in Austria are hard to come by and reliance must be made on civil records, some of which are privately held.

A word of warning.  There is an Ergersheim in Elsass-Lothringen which has both French and German records in the church and in civil offices.  Some people who lived for a while in Germany (before emigrating to America) came from Switzerland by way of Alsace-Lorain, especially Anabaptists.
(05 Jun 2007)

Nr. 0013:

Urban TANNER, Part 9:

In seeking Urban Tanner in Bavaria where Ergersheim is situated, I had to find where the church records for Ergersheim are kept.  An email to the pastor of the church in Ergersheim was not answered.  An email to the "Gesellschaft fuer Familienforschung in Nuernberg" [Society for Family Research] in Nuermberg got a response in which they asked for my postal address.  I have just received an answer from them that settles one question but leaves the larger questions unanswered.

The Gesellschaft does have a copy of the church records [Lutheran] for Ergersheim which run from 1619 to 1969.  The existence and location of the original book are not known to me.  There may be other locations with a copy of the records.  Apparently the Society looked through the records and they found only one Tanner/Dhanner on page 473.  This record says that the child Johannes of Conrad Tanner died 2 August 1626 at the age of 12 years from pestilence.  Since the Thirty Years’ War started in 1618, he may have been the victim of the ravages of this war.  This area, Mittelfranken, was very hard hit by the war.

That Urban Tanner was not found is a disappointment, but remember that his child we found in Westhofen was baptized in a Catholic church.  It may be that Urban Tanner was more Catholic than we have realized and that he avoided the Lutheran church in Ergersheim.

The Society sent me more information about Tanners which I will report later.  One thing that they sent me was the name of a man here in the States who is registered with them as having an interest in the Tanner family.  I have written to him.

To show my thanks and to encourage the people at the Society, I am sending a [gratis] copy of the Beyond Germanna CD in which I will highlight Tanner information and Blankenbaker information.  The reason for the latter is that the Blankenbakers were “exiles” from Austria and one of the main reasons for the existence of the Society is the study of these Austrian exiles.  In the past, one of the workers in the Society has been my ninth cousin, Richard Plankenbuehler, and I believe that it might be helpful to emphasize my connections to the Society.

It costs the Society money to mail a letter, slightly more than two dollars, so in my thank you note I will enclose five Euros.  I deliberately brought Euros home from my last visit to Germany and they have been very useful.  I bought one book from Germany with some of these excess Euros.  The best use of them is to reimburse correspondents for their postal costs.

Nr. 0014:

Urban TANNER, Part 10:

The "Gesellschaft fuer Familienforschung" sent me information from the work of Pastor Kuhr who did so much in locating the Austrians who left for Germany.  He was the one who photographed the private records in Castle Stiebar in Gresten, Austria, which included so much vital information on the Blankenbaker family.

Pfarrer Kuhr had comments on about six Tanners, though some of these have impossible times for Urban Tanner.  Let me quote his comments about one individual in which I have interspersed English translations.  What I am quoting is the German text:

“[in] Pfarrei [church] Wernsbach b. [near] AN. [Ansbach] +1680 [died in 1680] Michel Thanner, ein kathol. webersgesell [a Catholic weaver’s journeyman] aus [from] Oberoesterreich [Upper Austria, i.e., southern Austria].”

There are three Wernsbachs in Bavaria.  One of them is less than four miles from Ansbach.  It is about 17 miles from Ergersheim.  This record is of special interest for its closeness to Ergersheim, for the statement that the individual is a Catholic, and for the connection to Austria.  Michel Thanner could be a relative of Urban Tanner.

Perhaps the search for Urban should be made in Catholic churches.  Ergersheim has only a Lutheran church.  Pastor Kuhr gave a reference to a book whose title seems to be, in translation, “Austrian and Salzburger Emigrants in the Ansbach and Gunzenhauser Regions.”  The author seems to be Hermann Clauss.  For those who can read the details (I can’t) the call letters or identity of the book seem to be 64.Jber.d.Vist.Ver.f.Mfr., 1927, page 65.

Wernsbach led me to do a search in the LDS Catalog of place names and they have information pertaining to the Wernsbach above as a part of a much larger collection.  The collection is alphabetical sets of family group sheets compiled from the parish records and other sources in and around the district of Ansbach, Mittelfranken, Bavaria.  Ninety-seven localities are covered for the period of about 1550 to 1920.  One of the 97 parishes is Wernsbach.  There are 764 rolls of microfilm in the collection!

The best approach is to select a family name.  For example, one roll has families from Johann Georg BLANK to Johann Fried. BLEICHER.  Several rolls might be necessary to cover all of the spellings of Tanner but it seems as though this could be a profitable approach.
(22 Jul 07)

Nr. 0015:

Urban TANNER, Part 11:

The search for Urban Tanner has taken an entirely different direction thanks to information from Barry Schinnerer whose name was given to me by the "Gesellschaft fuer Familienforschung".  Barry lives in New York, but more importantly, he has informed me that he descends from several Urban Tanners though not our Urban Tanner.

Geographically, he informs me that the location of Argersheim in the Tanner Baptismal Record was probably, not Ergersheim, but Argersheim as it was given, though it now called Oggersheim.  Oggersheim is now a part of Ludwigshafen and is not far (an easy day’s walk) from Westhofen.  There are Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic records for Oggersheim.  Unfortunately, they start only in the last decade of the sixteen hundreds (reflecting the French invasions).

Barry sent me a short monograph on the descendants of Urban Tanner.  To condense the information, Urban Tanner (#1) was born 1540 in Siblingen Schaffhausen (in Switzerland).  A son of the previous was Urban Tanner (#2) who by his second wife was the father of another Urban Tanner.  Urban Tanner (#3) was born in Oberhallou, a nearby village, in 1630.  A nephew of this Urban was another Urban Tanner.  Urban Tanner (#4) was born about April 1662 in Oberhallou.  This man would seem to be a little old to have been our Urban Tanner.  I cite this line of Urban Tanners though to show the name is familiar.  I certainly will concentrate on the records of Oggersheim for my next direction.

Schaffhausen is in the northern-most neck of Switzerland.  Oberhallou is only a few miles from Germany.  Apparently the churches in this area are Lutheran.  I can’t find that the LDS has filmed this church but apparently the records are available, since Barry has family group sheets from the area.

Possibly our Urban Tanner moved from Switzerland to Germany where he married a Catholic lady, which accounts for the baptism in the Catholic church.  I shall search all faiths in the Oggersheim.  A few centuries before this the name used to be Danner but it has been Tanner since the 1500's.

I will continue to explore some in Bavaria but I have less hope now than I did earlier.  (I did order the film of family group sheets which should cover the name Kaefer (Käfer) since that Germanna family said they were from Ansbach.)
(26 Jul 07)

Nr. 0016:

Urban TANNER, Part 12:

My search for the origins of Urban Tanner has led me to four Urban Tanners so far and I have no doubt that the Robert Tanner, i.e., Urban Tanner of the Germanna colonies, is related to these four Urban Tanners.  I have our Urban Tanner in the Catholic Church Books of Westhofen where a daughter was born in 1709.  Except for this one occasion, he does not appear in the Church Books.  In fact, the record there said he was from Argersheim.  There is no Argersheim in Germany.  It was suggested that Ergersheim in Bavaria might be the intended place.  Through other contacts in Germany, I learned the name of a man here in the U.S. who was interested in Tanners.  He is the one who supplied me with the four Urban Tanners from Switzerland.  He also was able to tell me that Argersheim was a very old name for a village that is now called Oggersheim.  Oggersheim is now a part of Ludwigshafen and is about ten miles from Westhofen.  There were Catholic, Reformed, and Lutheran Churches in Oggersheim.  I ordered five microfilms for the churches in Oggersheim and have looked at them.  I can’t find any Tanners in these churches.

The baptism and marriage records for the Reformed church from 1698 to 1798 (film 0488257) is a poor quality film and not very useful.  The Catholic records include the villages of Oggersheim, Friesenheim, Ruckheim, Rudernheim, Hembshoff, Eighein, and Oppau.  I went through this film (0488258) twice and I could not find any Tanners in the baptismal or marriage registers.

Another film (0258010) was a collection of “cards” which contained information on baptisms, marriages, and deaths for the Catholic and Reformed Churches of Oggersheim and Friesenheim.  Only surnames starting R, S, or T were on this film but there were no Tanners.

Another film (0440519) for Ludwigshafen and Oggersheim was stated to be baptisms, marriages, deaths, and confirmations from 1699 to 1806.  There was one page of baptisms for 1699 then there was a skip until 1720.

The fifth film (0488252) was for the Lutheran Churches of Frankenthal, Oppau, and Oggersheim.  This film was reasonably readable so I went through it carefully.  I found no Tanners.  My only source of pleasure was to read one baptism which seemed to have some familiar names in it.  On reading it more carefully, I read, “Leonard Christele (of) Lambsheim and his wife Anna Maria Christele brought a son for baptism 18 August 1709.  The child’s name is Johann Theobald.  The sponsors were Theobold Banner of Lambsheim and his wife Margaretha.” This, of course, is the baptism of the originator of the Crisler family in the Germanna colonies.  His mother’s maiden name is reported to be Bender and this left me wondering if Banner was a mistake for Bender.  At other points there is the name Bennar.

It is not clear to me where I should go from here.  I have no doubts that Robert Tanner is really Urban Tanner and that he originated in Switzerland.  I need proof and more history.
(8 Sep 2007)

Nr. 0017:

Urban TANNER, Part 13:

In my Urban Tanner #12, I expressed my belief that Urban Tanner (aka Robert Tanner in Virginia) came from Switzerland.  Certainly Switzerland, in particular Canton Schaffhausen, has several Urban Tanners, though they are not quite correct with respect to the age of our Urban Tanner.  I gave some information here on those Urban Tanners.  I wrote to Switzerland and my letter was answered by Dr. Roland E. Hofer, Staatsarchivar of the Canton of Schaffhausen.

He reports that the family name “Tanner” is fairly common in the German speaking part of Switzerland.  The best way of tracking individuals is through the church records if they exist.  In the Canton of Schaffhausen, there are four villages where the family name “Tanner” can be found prior to 1800:  Bargen, Beringen, Oberhallau, and Siblingen.  The church records of Bargen date back only to 1727.  The church records of Beringen, Oberhallau, and Siblingen do not mention a child of the name of Urban Tanner born between 1673 and 1680.  This time period is important because Urban Tanner, when he arrived in England in 1709, said he was 33 years old, so he was born about 1676.  The village of the Urban Tanners that I aware of was Oberhallau.  Dr. Hofer suggests that I might want to ask at other State (Canton) Archives.

Of course, this is all a disappointment to me.  There are two main avenues of research that are open right now.  First, I might search in other Cantons, as Schaffhausen was not the only Canton to send emigrants to Germany.

a Second, I might return to the earlier thought that Ergersheim in Bavaria might be the parish that I ought to be searching.  I abandoned that line when the response from Bavaria was minimal.  Also, I was influenced by the suggestion that Argersheim was the old name for Oggersheim though that did not seem to be born out by my research in Oggersheim.  Ergersheim suggests that Urban Tanner’s family might have been emigrants from Austria since so many people from Austria emigrated to Bavaria, especially to Mittelfranken.  Certainly the name Urban Tanner is known in Austria in the Seventeenth Century.  The name is found in the LDS family history search center.

This is where I stand now (October 2007) with a perplexed look on my face.
(16 Oct 2007)

Nr. 0018:

Origins of the KÄFERS:

Apollonia Käfer married John Nicholas Blankenbühler in Germany.  She was said to be of Zaberfeld, though the marriage took place in Neuenbürg.  It appears that she had been living in Neuenbürg for a while before the marriage because she was a sponsor at a baptism in Neuenbürg before she was married.  Apollonia was born in the district of Ansbach in the Mittelfranken district of Bavaria.  It had bothered me that John Nicholas Blankenbühler had married a girl whose home was said to be 12 miles (air mileage) from Neuenbürg.  Then to find that Apollonia was living in Neuenbürg before her marriage was surprising.

When we visited Gresten, Austria, in 2000 and 2002, we saw that one of the businesses was named Käfer.  We also saw that one of the farms, about a half-mile from the Blankenbühler farm, was the Scheiblau farm.  It was also a surprise to see the name of an electrician was Scheible.

For some time I have believed, without proof, that the Blankenbakers, the Scheibles, and the Käfers in Virginia were related families.  This migration was induced by the decision of the ruler of Austria that everyone had to be Catholic or else leave.

In the investigations of the Tanner family, I found there was a collection of microfilm rolls (the Brenner collection), of about 850 reels, which have a summary of the ninety or so parishes in the Ansbach district.  I ordered the one which would have Käfer.  Of course, I was looking for a Käfer record from the 1600's and I did find one.

There is a summary of Conrad Käfer, farmer, who married Margaret and had two children (Margaret and Magdalena) baptized (Oberreichenbach is mentioned).  The most interesting feature of these records is that the Parish Dietenhofen is named.  They say in Gresten that 800 people left there in the 1650's and most of them went to Dietenhofen in Bavaria.  In the area surrounding Dietenhofen, there are many emigrants from Austria.  [The tie between Gresten and Dietenhofen is so strong that bus loads of people make the trip today.]

It might pay to search the parishes around Dietenhofen for Käfers.  IF this were to be the origins of our Apollonia and her brother Michael, there would be another generation of Wolfgang Käfer between the Conrad above and Michael and Apollonia.  THIS IS ALL UNPROVEN.

Right now, to me, it tends to confirm that the Blankenbakers, Scheibles, and Käfers were related and that they all originated in Austria.  It might be profitable to search in this area.
(17 Oct 2007)

Nr. 0019:

Urban TANNER, #14

In my last Urban Tanner comment, I expressed by frustration and suggested that maybe I should return to Ergersheim in Bavaria.  Searching on the Internet, I have found another Ergersheim, this one in Alsace just south of Strasbourg.  After the Thirty Year’s War, many Swiss citizens left to go to lands north of Switzerland including Alsace.  It would not be unreasonable that a Urban Tanner from Switzerland would emigrate to Ergersheim in Alsace and then go on to Germany.

I cannot find any records for Ergersheim in the LDS lists.  If anyone has experience and knowledge about searching in the Church Records there, please let me know.  I am aware that the civil records for Alsace often have some information.

This Short Note is for the record so that we are all aware there is a second Ergersheim.  And possibly some useful suggestions can be made.  I would not have gotten this far without lots of help.
(18 Oct 2007)

Nr. 0020:

Urban TANNER, #15

I believe that I recounted my search for Ergersheim which I hoped would lead to Urban Tanner (Robert Tanner in Virginia).  At first, I was finding only one place with that name and it was in Bavaria.  The reason that I did not find more was that I had added “Germany” to the LDS place search.  Omitting this, one finds there are at least two.  The second one is in Alsace.  Way back in October I ordered two films and I had to wait about ten weeks for them to come in.  When they did, I found that I had not given the correct number.  So I lost ten weeks.  I reordered with the correct numbers and one film has come in.  Briefly, it is film 0765370, "Registres paroissiaux", for the locality Ergersheim.  It contains “Baptemes 1706-1793”.  I was interested in the years 1706 to 1709 since Urban Tanner was in the church books at Westhofen in the spring of 1709.  Unfortunately, there was no Tanner in the period 9 JAN 1706 (the first entry) to 10 JUL 1709.

This is a Catholic church and some of the words are in Latin but I could read enough to see the child’s name and the parents' names.  The names were distinctly German; for example:  Bernard, Schnider/Scheider, Herrmann, Groff, Kauffman, Stumpf, Rauel, Rostel, Grimm, Erhart, Moll (Wilhelm Abraham), and Meyer.  The writing was clear (as these things go) in a combination of Roman and German script.  Names are often Latinized.  One of the unusual characteristics is that the witnesses (sponsors) signed at the bottom of the information.

The film that has not come in is 0765371 which has Baptemes, "Mariages, Sepultures, 1706 to 1792", also for Ergersheim.  I am not too encouraged about this as I would not expect to find any baptisms in the 1706 to 1792 period since they seemed to be on the film that I have looked at.  Nor would I expect to find a marriage or death for Urban Tanner in this time period.

There are some other films which might have information.  Besides the church records, there are civil records that have been microfilmed.

Since Tanner is a popular in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, and we already have had evidence of several Tanners there (though the ages were not correct), and since a popular migration path from Switzerland was to Alsace and then on to America, I am still of the belief that I am barking up the correct tree.  Still, it is best not to forget that there is an Ergersheim in Bavaria and this suggests that Austria might have been the point of origin.

This is, by no means, a brick wall.  Sooner or later, we will scale it.
(29 Jan 2008)

(To see John & Eleanor Blankenbaker's May, 2000, and May, 2002, Germany and Austria photos, click here.)

(To see maps of villages in Germany and Austria from which our Germanna ancestors immigrated, click here.)

(This page contains the ONE HUNDREDTH AND FIRST set of Comments, Nr. 0001 through Nr. 0025.)

(John stopped publishing his "Germanna Notes" and "Germanna Comments" in January 2008.)

John and George would like very much to hear from readers of these Germanna History pages.  We welcome your criticisms, compliments, corrections, or other comments.  When you click on "click here" below, both of us will receive your message.  We would like to hear what you have to say about the content of the Notes, and about spelling, punctuation, format, etc.  Just click here to send us your message.  Thank You!

There is a Mailing List (also known as a Discussion List or Discussion Group), called GERMANNA_COLONIES, at RootsWeb.  This List is open to all subscribers for the broadcast of their messages.  John urges more of you to make it a research tool for answering your questions, or for summarizing your findings, on any subject concerning the Germanna Colonies of Virginia.  On this List, you may make inquiries of specific Germanna SURNAMES.  At present, there are about 700 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.  If you are interested in subscribing to this List,

(GERMANNA History Notes/Comments, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John BLANKENBAKER.)

(GERMANNA History Web Pages, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 George W. DURMAN.)
This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, with the permission of John BLANKENBAKER.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further.

Index Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES and Genealogy Comments
INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES
Pg.001-Notes 0001-0025
Pg.002-Notes 0026-0050
Pg.003-Notes 0051-0075
Pg.004-Notes 0076-0100
Pg.005-Notes 0101-0125
Pg.006-Notes 0126-0150
Pg.007-Notes 0151-0175
Pg.008-Notes 0176-0200
Pg.009-Notes 0201-0225
Pg.010-Notes 0226-0250
Pg.011-Notes 0251-0275
Pg.012-Notes 0276-0300
Pg.013-Notes 0301-0325
Pg.014-Notes 0326-0350
Pg.015-Notes 0351-0375
Pg.016-Notes 0376-0400
Pg.017-Notes 0401-0425
Pg.018-Notes 0426-0450
Pg.019-Notes 0451-0475
Pg.020-Notes 0476-0500
Pg.021-Notes 0501-0525
Pg.022-Notes 0526-0550
Pg.023-Notes 0551-0575
Pg.024-Notes 0575-0600
Pg.025-Notes 0601-0625
Pg.026-Notes 0626-0650
Pg.027-Notes 0651-0675
Pg.028-Notes 0676-0700
Pg.029-Notes 0701-0725
Pg.030-Notes 0726-0750
Pg.031-Notes 0751-0775
Pg.032-Notes 0776-0800
Pg.033-Notes 0801-0825
Pg.034-Notes 0826-0850
Pg.035-Notes 0851-0875
Pg.036-Notes 0876-0900
Pg.037-Notes 0901-0925
Pg.038-Notes 0926-0950
Pg.039-Notes 0951-0975
Pg.040-Notes 0976-1000
Pg.041-Notes 1001-1025
Pg.042-Notes 1026-1050
Pg.043-Notes 1051-1075
Pg.044-Notes 1076-1100
Pg.045-Notes 1101-1125
Pg.046-Notes 1126-1150
Pg.047-Notes 1151-1175
Pg.048-Notes 1176-1200
Pg.049-Notes 1201-1225
Pg.050-Notes 1226-1250
Pg.051-Notes 1251-1275
Pg.052-Notes 1276-1300
Pg.053-Notes 1301-1325
Pg.054-Notes 1326-1350
Pg.055-Notes 1351-1375
Pg.056-Notes 1376-1400
Pg.057-Notes 1401-1425
Pg.058-Notes 1426-1450
Pg.059-Notes 1451-1475
Pg.060-Notes 1476-1500
Pg.061-Notes 1501-1525
Pg.062-Notes 1526-1550
Pg.063-Notes 1551-1575
Pg.064-Notes 1576-1600
Pg.065-Notes 1601-1625
Pg.066-Notes 1626-1650
Pg.067-Notes 1651-1675
Pg.068-Notes 1676-1700
Pg.069-Notes 1701-1725
Pg.070-Notes 1726-1750
Pg.071-Notes 1751-1775
Pg.072-Notes 1776-1800
Pg.073-Notes 1801-1825
Pg.074-Notes 1826-1850
Pg.075-Notes 1851-1875
Pg.076-Notes 1876-1900
Pg.077-Notes 1901-1925
Pg.078-Notes 1926-1950
Pg.079-Notes 1951-1975
Pg.080-Notes 1976-2000
Pg.081-Notes 2001-2025
Pg.082-Notes 2026-2050
Pg.083-Notes 2051-2075
Pg.084-Notes 2076-2100
Pg.085-Notes 2101-2125
Pg.086-Notes 2126-2150
Pg.087-Notes 2150-2175
Pg.088-Notes 2176-2200
Pg.089-Notes 2201-2225
Pg.090-Notes 2226-2250
Pg.091-Notes 2251-2275
Pg.092-Notes 2276-2300
Pg.093-Notes 2301-2325
Pg.094-Notes 2326-2350
Pg.095-Notes 2351-2375
Pg.096-Notes 2376-2400
Pg.097-Notes 2401-2425
Pg.098-Notes 2426-2450
Pg.099-Notes 2451-2475
Pg.100-Notes 2476-2500
Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025

INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GENEALOGY COMMENTS

(As of 12 April 2007, John published the last of his "Germanna Notes"; however, he is going to periodically post to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List in the form of "Genealogy Comments" on various subjects, not necessarily dealing with Germanna.  I'm starting the numbering system anew, starting with Comment Nr. 0001.)

Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025
This Page Contains Comments 0001 through 0025.

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