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This is the THIRTY-FIFTH page of John BLANKENBAKER's series of Short Notes on GERMANNA History, which were originally posted to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Discussion List.  Each page contains 25 Notes.


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This Page Contains Notes 851 through 875.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 35

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Nr. 851:

At the start of each half-century of these notes, it is customary to say a little bit about what the notes are all about.  The title line advertises Germanna Colonies.  Germanna itself is a specific place in Virginia.  The easiest way to locate it is to find where Virginia State Route 3 crosses the Rapidan River.  Look for the road from Fredericksburg to Culpeper, and about halfway between the two towns is the Rapidan River.  Probably you can discern two horseshoe-like loops in the river.  The downstream one encircled Fort Germanna, which later became the first County Seat of Spotsylvania County.

The name, Germanna, came from Lt. Gov. Spotswood, who recognized Queen Anne, and the Germans who were the first inhabitants of the site.  The association of Germanna with the Germans is relatively minor.  The first group of forty-two Germans lived there about four and one-half years, until the end of December of 1718.  Another group of about eighty Germans was nearby, up the Rapidan River, on the "north" side.  They were acquainted with the area as they went to church for about a year at Germanna, and they were in the court at Germanna when the "town" was the county seat.

So, with this minor association of the Germans with Germanna, do we continue to refer to the Germanna Colonies?  Especially, since several hundred Germans, usually closely related, came to the broad area to the west and north of Germanna eventually, and most of these were never at Germanna.

We use the name Germanna as a shorthand notation for a large region, even though the area bounded by Germanna was only a couple of square miles.  It suggests itself, because Germanna is the area where the first Germans were first located, even though they left before five years was up.  As these notes have demonstrated, the Germans throughout the region were related.  By the use of the modern day Counties, some of the first Germans living at Germanna were to go on to live in Fauquier County, Culpeper County, and in Madison County.  To these three counties, it is usually customary to add Rappahannock County, where more of the Germans were living.

The topics discussed in these notes goes beyond these four Counties, because many of the Germans lived in other areas before becoming associated with these Virginia Counties.  Also, the story of the Germanna Colonies is carried back to Germany, and out to new territories.  Thus, the appeal may be broader than the narrowest definition of Germanna would indicate.  As the principal author of these notes, I have favored a liberal interpretation of the field of interest.


Nr. 852:

Charcoal consists of taking animal or vegetable matter, which is rich in carbon, and of removing the volatile components from it, which essentially leaves only the carbon.  Here I will be considering the use of wood as the vegetable matter.  To remove the volatile components, the wood is heated to a moderate temperature which removes the unwanted agents.  The fuel for this heating is the volatile factors themselves.  Only enough oxygen is admitted, or used, to allow these components to burn.  They burn at a temperature which is low enough that the carbon does not burn or combine with the oxygen.  At the end of the process, only the carbon remains, which is now called charcoal.

From the pictures which I have seen, the trees are cut into about four foot lengths, and split until the diameter is about six inches.  These are stacked on end around a central flue, until a dome-like structure, perhaps ten feet high, is formed.  Then the pile of carefully placed wood is covered with dirt, preferably damp, to perhaps a thickness of six inches, maybe less.  At the bottom, a few small holes are made through the dirt to admit a limited amount of air.  At the top center, an exit hole is made for the combustion gases to escape.  A fire is started at locations around the bottom.  This fire is flameless, as the temperature is low, but still the volatile agents are burned off.

The collier, or the person doing the work, has to look for leaks in the outer covering, as they could become points where oxygen is drawn in which could cause a much hotter fire, consuming the carbon in the wood.  I believe the combustion gases tend to be smoky.  This and other telltale signs, such as the outer temperature, tell the collier how the process is going.  Depending on the size of the pile, it may take a few weeks to complete the process.  The danger lies in the pile getting too hot.

When the collier judges the process is done, he seals the vents, to cause the combustion inside to stop.  After this, he has to work fast on the next step.  He tears the pile apart and watches for any sign of flame where the charcoal might be burning.  If it is burning, he has to redistribute the charcoal, and put any burning embers out.  While doing this, he tries to avoid rough handling of the charcoal, which converts it to small pieces and dust.  Large pieces of charcoal are desired.  The charcoal is gathered up and taken to the near vicinity of the furnace, where it is usually stored in a shed.  The furnace master feels more comfortable if he knows he has a backlog of charcoal to keep his fire going.  Also, the shed serves to keep the charcoal dry.  Of the original 100 parts of wood, the charcoal weighs about 25 parts, while taking up about 60 parts by volume.

If someone can improve on this story, please do so.  As you can tell, I have never made an ounce of charcoal.


Nr. 853:

[Though the main theme for a few of these notes is to discuss the conditions around Siegen, a slight detour will be made here while we are on the subject of charcoal.]

William Byrd visited Alexander Spotswood in 1732 with a view toward learning more about the iron industry.  His interest originated with his own lands, which were rich in iron ore.  He learned from Godfrey, the iron master, that the Colonel (i.e., Spotswood) endeavored to do everything with his own people, and as a consequence he was sometimes short of labor.

From this attitude of Spotswood, one might judge that he would have put the Second Colony people to work supporting the furnace.  Since they lived fifteen to twenty miles up the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers from it, the natural employment would have been something that they could have done where they lived.  One thing suggests itself, the making of the charcoal for the furnace which could have been brought down the river in boats.  That this in fact was done is strongly suggested by the attitude of Spotswood to do everything with his own people and by a statement which he made to Byrd.

Byrd writes, "The Colo. advised me by all means to have the coal [charcoal] made on the same side of the River with the Furnace, not only to avoid the Charge of Boating and Baggs, but likewise to avoid breaking of the coals, and making them less fit for use."

If the Second Colony people had made the charcoal in the vicinity of where they lived, it would have been made on the other side of the river.  I believe that Spotswood did try making the charcoal by the labor of these people up the river and on the other side from Fort Germanna.  The "coal" was bagged and brought down by boat.  This would have been about 1721 to 1722 when the Tubal Cain furnace was first brought into operation.  Probably the experiment did not go on for long after, as it was found that the charcoal was damaged by the trip.  This short term experiment was the only effort of the Second Colony people toward the iron furnace and its operation.

Byrd wrote that after the charcoal was made on the same side of the river and closer to the furnace, it was brought to the furnace with special wagons which had folding doors at the bottom.  At the furnace, these doors swung down and allowed the charcoal, about 110 bushels of it per wagon, to fall out of the wagon.

Lots of labor was required to make the charcoal, more than any other aspect of the furnace operation.


Nr. 854:

Siegen was better known for the quality of its iron than for the quantity.  The high quality seems to have gone back to ancient times.  A Welsh poem of the 12th century, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, says that the home of the legendary Wieland the Smith of the times of Arthur was the "city" of Siegen.  I put the word city in quotes because at the time it would have been a village.

There could not have been many large furnaces around Siegen, because of the limitation provided by the availability of charcoal.  In all of the histories that I have read, it is implied that there were many furnaces and hammers.  Then, of necessity, the furnaces must have been small.  With limitations on the number of days that a furnace could run, and with the ownership in the furnaces split by the inheritances, no family could point to iron as a major part of their income.  Of necessity, they had to adopt other occupations to provide the backbone of their income.  Farming would have been a major activity.

In 1709, when so many Germans left their homes, the citizens around Siegen would have been subject to the same forces as the people in other regions.  Iron did not provide a cushion; rather it was a small supplement which helped some people.  And, again in 1713, there was no major change in the economic forces.  Prospects in unknown America could have looked as bright as they did in Siegen.

B. C. Holtzclaw, in his writings, said that Nassau-Siegen was a prosperous country in the 1700's, with the iron industry as its backbone.  If it had been a prosperous country, there would not have been so many people leaving in 1709.  At a later time, I hope to explore conditions there in more depth.

Let's start looking at the political history of the region.  There were Counts of Nassau centuries earlier, who, in 1266, divided the region they controlled between two brothers, Wolfram and Otto.  Otto received the lands north and west of the Lahn River, and this included the region which eventually became known as Nassau-Siegen.  Siegen was in the center of Otto's possessions.

Through advantageous marriage, the Ottonian Nassau gained control of large possessions, both in Germany and in the Netherlands.  The Reformation was to have an enormous impact on the land.  The religious leader who had a major influence was Huldreich Zwingli in Switzerland, who broke with the Roman Church in 1522.  Other men who were strongly influenced by Zwingli were John Calvin and John Knox, who collectively contributed to Reformed thought.  In the Palatinate, Frederick III established Heidelberg University as a center of religious thought that was especially friendly toward the Reformed group.  The work spread to the Netherlands and came to the attention of the Nassau family.  The Swiss-Rhineland religious-thought came to predominate in the areas controlled the Nassau family.


Nr. 855:

The County of Nassau became Protestant during the reign of William the Rich, who was soon poor trying to protect his decision.  William's wife, Walburga, died in 1529, and his good friend Philipp of Hanau died about the same time, leaving a widow, Juliane.  William and Juliane married and her devotion to Lutheranism converted William the Rich to that faith.  This turned out to be one of the key events in Nassau history.  She became the mother of some of the great leaders of the Nassau line.

William the Rich introduced Lutheranism slowly; the churches at Dillenburg and at Siegen were among the first to have Protestant ministers.  The first son of William the Rich and Juliane was also named William.  The next son was John.  Juliane was very active in educating her sons.  In 1544, when the son William was 11, William the Rich's brother died without heirs.  At stake were the Nassau family holdings in the Netherlands and the Orange principality.  William the Rich was the heir to these properties but Charles V (of the Holy Roman Empire and also known as Charles I of Spain) wanted control of the Netherlands.  Not only was greed involved, but Charles could see that William the Rich would install Protestant leaders.  Charles' proposal was that the younger William, now 11, would inherit the lands, but William would have to live in the Court of Charles, under Catholic influence.  In this "hardball" game between military unequals, William and Juliane agreed.

As the young William grew up, he became a scholar, soldier, father, and the emissary of the Emperor.  But the Emperor had plans that William did not know about, but which he learned through friends, plans to forcibly exterminate Protestant thought and leaders in the Netherlands.  After consulting friends, he became very withdrawn and was soon known as William the Silent.  He brooded on where his loyalty lay, to the Emperor, to his own children, or to the people of the Netherlands.  He soon became the chief leader of the forces struggling for independence among the Dutch.  His younger brother, John (to be called the Elder), inherited his father's domains in the County of Nassau.  The son's reign was wise.  John advocated better schools, better pay for teachers, and financial assistance for poorer students.

When the struggle for Dutch independence became very active about 1566, John the Elder levied taxes on his own citizens to aid the Dutch.  He organized an army to help, which assembled about twelve miles northeast of Freudenberg.  Juliane outlived her husband and saw both William (of Orange) and John (County of Nassau) become leaders of the Protestant movement.  Though Juliane had originally been Lutheran, both sons became Reformed.  The Reformed religion became the favored religion of Nassau County in 1581.  William of Orange had announced his conversion from Catholicism in 1573.


Nr. 856:

William of Orange and John the Elder were brothers, sons of William the Rich, and his wife Juliane.  Both sons embraced the Reformed religion.  William was assassinated in 1584, but the cause of Dutch independence was won, and with it the Reformed Church gained full recognition in the Netherlands.  John established, also in the year 1584, a university at Herborn and immediately recruited an outstanding faculty.  John's dedication to schools led him to establish Latin schools in several towns, including Freudenberg.  His motto was, "In every village a public school, in every city a Latin school, in every land a university."  He included schools for girls also.

When John the Elder died, Nassau County was divided into five small counties to be ruled by his five sons.  The new counties were Nassau-Dillenburg, Nassau-Hadamar, Nassau-Beilstein, Nassau-Dietz, and Nassau-Siegen.  This was in 1606, so we can date the beginning of Nassau-Siegen from that year.  At this time Siegen became the seat of a ruling court.  John the Middle, who had inherited Nassau-Siegen, was a zealous Reformed Church member.

However, the oldest of his three sons, John the Younger, fell in love with a Roman Catholic princess.  He converted to Catholicism, not entirely because of love.  He had to wait six years to get his father's approval in 1618 for the marriage, which coincidentally was the start of the Thirty Years' War.  John the Middle, sensing the intentions of John the Younger, made a will in which he further divided Nassau-Siegen into three small districts, leaving John the Younger only one third of the original Nassau-Siegen, the eastern part.  He also extracted a promise from John the Younger that he would not force Catholicism on the inhabitants.  The northern third of Nassau-Siegen went to John Maurice, and the western part (including Freudenberg) went to William.  The city of Siegen belonged to the three young counts together.

During the early years of the war, the Catholics were victorious and, when John the Younger came into his inheritance in 1623, he broke his promise to his father, seized the whole of Nassau-Siegen, brought in the Jesuits, whom he put into the churches.  In 1626, he deprived all of the Protestant ministers and school teachers of their positions.  In 1632, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden entered the war on the side of the Protestants and the war turned favorably for them.  The Swedes occupied Siegen, and the churches were restored to the Protestants.  Gustavus Adolphus was killed in 1635 and the fortunes of the war turned in favor of the Catholics.  John the Younger seized all of Nassau-Siegen again and restored the Catholics to the churches and schools.

[Who says that history has to be dull? Some of your ancestors were probably involved.]


Nr. 857:

John the Younger, returned to power in 1635 throughout the Nassau-Siegen region, reinstalled his former repressive measures.  He did not live long enough to see any permanent fruits of his efforts, for he died in 1638.  His son, Johann Franz Desideratus, inherited his father's possessions.  The next to die was John the Younger's brother, William, who died without heirs, in 1642.  William had ruled the western zone of Nassau-Siegen, which included the villages so well known to the Germanna people.

The war turned favorably for the Protestants in 1645 and the surviving Protestant brother, John Maurice, and his Catholic nephew, John Francis Desideratus, agreed to abide by the will of Maurice's father.  John Maurice received both of the Protestant districts.  The nephew had eastern Nassau-Siegen, up to the city of Siegen, where both men had their capitals.  However, many of the Protestants who were close to the eastern side of Siegen remained Protestant, even though the Catholic nephew tried to install Catholicism throughout his realm.

This state of affairs continued for a hundred years.  The Hofmans of Eisern lived in the Catholic region, but they remained staunchly Protestant.  I have told of the diary of William Hofman who came to America (Pennsylvania) shortly after 1740.  He recorded the conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics in Eisern.  From his writings, it is possible to conclude that one of his reasons for emigrating might have been the religious conflicts between the Catholic overlords and the German Reformed members.  This William was a younger brother of the 1714 John Hofman.

Both John Maurice, Protestant, reigning over two-thirds of Nassau-Siegen, and John Francis, over the remaining third of Nassau-Siegen, were soldiers in the latter part of the Thirty Year's War.  In due course, both became "Princes" of the Holy Roman Empire.  Nassau-Siegen was thus divided into two parts, both of which had their capital in the town of Siegen.

Siegen itself was a very old town built on the confluence of three waterways, of which the Sieg River was the major one.  It was surrounded by a wall with three gates.  One was called the "Cologne" gate, no doubt because it opened onto the road to Cologne.  One gate was called the Tanner's gate, probably because the factories of the tanners lay outside the town.  In 1741, the city was still within this wall and the population was about three or four thousand.  Though part of the city wall still stands, the city has expanded beyond the wall and become a much larger city complete with a University and Museum.

By World War II, the city was a significant industrial city and it became a target for the bombs of the Allied Forces.  Many buildings were destroyed so that the present city is quite modern.


Nr. 858:

How is a town or village located geographically in Germany?  The answer is not easy.  We have been talking about Nassau-Siegen, but, if you went down to the LDS center and asked to see their films for Nassau-Siegen, you would not get far.  On the other hand, people on the list here have identified Siegen as being in Prussia.  Isn’t that over to the east?

As the history in the Siegen area has been recapped for a period here, it seemed that the boundaries shifted, almost every time the rulers changed, and sometimes more often.  As their fortunes waxed and waned, the political boundaries changed.  How is the name of any given locality to be filed or located in an index?

The Latter Day Saints, with their active microfilming work, had to find an answer for this problem.  They chose to use the political boundaries of 1872 (I believe it was that year), when Germany was united under one government.  On this date, the land around Siegen, including the town itself, was in Prussia.  So the churches in and around Siegen are filed under Prussia.  Today, Siegen is in Westphalia.

As another example, my Blankenbaker ancestors were born in Neuenbürg, which Zacharias Blankenbaker described, in his naturalization in Virginia, as being in or on lands belonging to the Bishops of Speyer.  The Bishops were the civil head of the government, as well as being the religious head.  In the early 1800’s, the Bishops ceded this land to Baden.  As a consequence, the village records are filed, by the LDS library, under Baden, because in 1872 the village was in Baden.  And most of us identify the village as being in Baden.  Today, the village is in Baden-Württemberg because those two states have since been merged into one government (or Stadt).

In reading about the history of Baden, I find that it has varied in size, from a thousand square miles, to about ten thousand square miles.  Again, it shows how flexible the boundaries were and how the political jurisdictions changed.  Trying to follow all of these changes is discouraging to an America.  It seems as if nothing is pinned down or exact.  So we have to take a flexible attitude and flow with the current.

Maybe others can add to, or correct, what I have written in this note.  I think that I have caught the flavor, but maybe some of the details need improving.  Incidentally, as I have been writing the last dozen or so of the notes, I have been consulting The Christian Ohrndorf Family in Germany, by Julia Drake.  I also consulted my Encyclopaedia Britannica (it’s older than I am).


Nr. 859:

Re-reading the book "The Christian Ohrndorf Family in Germany", by Julia Drake, I saw some items of interest to add here.  Miss Drake was assisted by others in Germany who were familiar with the geography and the history of the region.  Christian Orndorf (also Ohrndorf) lived near Freudenberg, a very picturesque village of half-timbered homes.  The buildings are not as old as one might suspect as fire has destroyed much of the village on more than one occasion.

The construction of the homes was with bricks to a height of about one meter [three feet].  On this low wall, timbers of oak were set.  The trees had to be felled in the light of a waning moon because it was thought the wood would have less sap and be more durable.  After the timbers were placed, loam mixed with straw [shades of adobe] was used to fill the space between the timbers.  After the loam had dried, the timbers were painted black or brown and the surface of the loam were painted with soured milk and lime [whitewash].  This created a strong contrast between the dark timbers and the white intervals which makes a striking setting.

The landscape of Freudenberg is dominated by the Reformed Church, which stands on a rise that had been occupied by a "castle" earlier.  The castle had been built in the 1300's as a fortress against the neighboring Dominion of Wildenburg.  The ruler of Wildenburg had built a fortified Krottorf Castle a few kilometers to the west of Freudenberg.  This latter moated castle still stands today and is a popular destination for tourists.  Perhaps the most important point is that these castles show how small many of the Dominions were.  Many were not much more than estate farms.

Freudenberg was mentioned in the year 1255, but it was not until 1456 that it became a town.  Fire destroyed most of the town in 1540, including part of the castle.  In 1666, this scenario was repeated and the castle was never rebuilt.  Instead, a (Reformed) church was built there, utilizing a castle tower as the tower of the church building.

Throughout the region, practically every man was actively engaged in three occupations:  Farming and Forestry were foremost, and a third one might be mining, smelting, casting, tanning of leather, boiling of glue, or the making of felt.  Iron was not a major occupation, because the smelting periods were limited to about two months out of the year.  The iron smelters and hammer smiths were prohibited from leaving the country under the penalty of law.  This was an attempt to limit the spread of their knowledge, even though these trades were much practiced in every country.  All children of a deceased farmer received a part of his farm by law.  Therefore, the holdings had become very small.  In this situation, it was difficult to prosper, though it is granted that a comfortable living, by the standards of the day, might be made.

[Some of the material, especially the last paragraph, has its origin in the book by Dr. Lothar Irle, "Das Siegerland" published in 1967.]


Nr. 860:

Baptismal records are important to a genealogist.  The significance of these records varies by church denomination and the information to be found in the records may have a different meaning, especially when comparisons among churches are made.  John T. Humphrey, who is an active speaker at conferences, has written a fascinating book called "Understanding and Using Baptismal Records", from which these and some following comments are made.  John has also compiled books of baptismal records, especially in Pennsylvania.  I will look at the views of the different churches and at the implications for us.

The base position for comparisons is the Catholic Church, which had evolved a procedure and a meaning over many centuries.  By the time of the Reformation these views had matured, and they changed very little as a result of the Reformation.  This Church believed that all who died without baptism, even infants, were denied admission into heaven.  This view is held so firmly that a priest is permitted to baptize an unborn infant.  Thus the appearance of a name in a baptismal record cannot be taken as proof that the baby was even born.  More typically, in times past, the infant is born and is baptized on the day of birth, or on the day following.  To the Church, the day of birth is not important, but the day of baptism is more important to record.  Thus we have often to substitute the baptismal date for the missing birth date but the difference is usually small.

Baptism in the Catholic Church is open to all and parental membership in the church is not even required.  If an infant is in danger of its life, parent consent is not even required.  For a healthy baby, the consent of one parent is required.  In eighteenth century America, the appearance of a name in the Catholic baptismal records (as the subject of the baptism) cannot be taken as proof that the parents were Catholics.  Sometimes the priests noted that the parents were Protestants or other non-Catholics, but there was no requirement that they do so.

The presence of sponsors at baptisms was ratified in 1563 by the Council of Trent, but the Council reduced the number from three to one or, at the most, two sponsors.  At the same time, it was noted the presence of a sponsor was not essential to the administration of the rite.

The information that was to be recorded included the name of the person being baptized, the officiating minister, the parents, the sponsors, and the place and day on which the baptism was performed.  The name of the officiating person and the place were often omitted in the specific record and relegated to a statement recorded at the start of a minister's service in the church.

The life of the baby was often in danger and, with no priest available, an emergency baptism could be performed by laymen, say a parent or a midwife.  Such baptisms, recognized as valid, usually did not find their way into the baptismal records.


Nr. 861:

If an infant is in danger of dying before it can be brought before the (Catholic) priest for baptism, it may be baptized by a lay person; however, the Church was nervous about whether the procedure had been correctly done.  At the same time, a person was not to be baptized twice.  To overcome this quandary they adopted a "corrective", or "rites only", ceremony.  An infant who had been baptized by a lay person, and who lived, could be brought before the priest, who would perform a supplemental ceremony, perhaps with sponsors, just in case the lay baptism was not perfect.  It was not considered another baptism, but a curative of the original one.  In the register, the priest was apt to note the baptism as "ceremonies supplied".  During the ceremony, the priest was apt to include the phrase, "...if thou are not already baptized."  Generally the Catholic Church recognized baptisms by other Churches but would sometimes provide a corrective baptism, just in case.

Illegitimate births were not uncommon.  The priest could record the name of the mother, if the condition were publicly known with certainty, or if she voluntarily requested in writing, before witnesses, that her name be recorded.  A similar procedure applied for fathers, but otherwise the child was to be recorded as the child of an unknown father, or unknown parents.  It may fairly be concluded that, if the baptismal record does not record the father's name, the birth was illegitimate.  As an example, John Humphrey cites a baptism in Philadelphia, which occurred four years after the birth.  Sponsors were given, but not any parents (who were just identified as unknown).  Rather than assuming that the child was a foundling, or that the priest was absent minded, it should be concluded that the parents were not married at the time of the birth.  The active guideline used was, "...in the case of an illegitimate birth, the mother and father are to be recorded only if their identity was known with certainty.  Otherwise, they are to be recorded as unknown."

When the child was older, he was expected to undergo the rites of confirmation.  This was regarded as the completion of baptism and the child or young person was expected to assume responsibility for his own spiritual welfare.  Confirmation was not always a sacrament of the Catholic Church but was fixed as a doctrine in the sixteenth century.  Children aged seven to twelve were eligible to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In theory, the rite had to be administered by a bishop, but there were no bishops in America before 1790.  In practice, people in America before that time were not confirmed and there would be no confirmation records.

The Catholics were prone to record baptisms in Latin, not in the native tongue.  Thus, looking at the Catholic church registers in Germany requires some knowledge of Latin, not German.


Nr. 862:

I looked for any suggestion that the sponsors at the baptism of a Catholic infant should have any special relationship to the infant.  I found none, either because there were no restrictions, or because my search was incomplete.  There are, I believe, some restrictions on the future relationship of the sponsor and the infant.  For example, I believe it is forbidden for sponsors to marry the child that they sponsor.

The Catholic position was called the base position.  The first Church of substance to leave the Catholic fold was the Lutheran Church, and their views are called once removed.  (Actually there were early Moravians and I apologize to them for slighting them.)  Another Church in the group of first removed is the Church of England, or the Anglican Church, which was present in Colonial America, and is now present under the name of Protestant Episcopal Church.  The first removed include these Churches, not because of the time of their formation, but because of the similarity of their views.  The Methodist Church, as an outgrowth of their descendancy from the Church of England, could be placed here also.

Martin Luther placed a different interpretation on baptism, but we will simply note that this simplified the ceremony.  He did retain the role of sponsors, and he felt it was the responsibility of the parents to select sponsors who were decent, moral, earnest, and sober.  The Catholics had a concept of spiritual kinship between the sponsor and the child, and they prohibited mixing spiritual and natural kinship.  (I have answered the question of the first paragraph.)  Luther rejected this restriction.  For Lutherans, the prohibition restricting family members from sponsoring infants was lifted.  This permitted relatives to be sponsors, and the Lutherans made very extensive use of this change.  In fact, at the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River, in the eighteenth century, the sponsors were nearly always relatives, or their spouses, a fact of great importance to us as genealogists.

Martin Luther retained emergency baptisms, but he eliminated conditional or corrective baptisms.  Thus, in the Lutheran Church, there should be no records of a "ceremony only" or a "corrective baptism", and, therefore, the emergency baptism may not be recorded.  Luther retained the view that baptism was the ticket to heaven, and it also conveyed the right to partake of the Lord's Supper.  To Luther, confirmation was not a sacrament, but it was retained as an instructional device, and it was this instruction that was the important thing.  (At the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River, one did not partake of the Communion until after confirmation.)

Though there were variations, the information recorded at a baptism could include the infant's name, its birthday, the baptismal date, the parents, perhaps where they lived, and the names of the sponsors, of which three or four were usual.


Nr. 863:

The Lutherans, especially in America, did not have a prescribed format for recording baptisms, but generally followed the pattern of giving the parents' names, the child’s name, birth and baptism dates, and the names of the sponsors.  Exceptions were numerous, some for good reason.  Our biggest loss is that many of the records have disappeared.

We know that the Rev. Klug, the Rev. Schwarbach, and the Rev. Frank visited some of the churches in the Shenandoah Valley.  (All of these ministers were from the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River Valley.)  I believe it is the case that none of the baptisms, which they must have performed in the Valley, are known today.  If a record was made, it was probably made and kept locally, and certainly not in the pastor’s home Church.  On the other hand, some pastors kept one book of baptisms (and marriages), which was their personal book.  The most famous of the pastors to do this was the Rev. John Casper Stöver, Jr., the son of the Robinson River minister.

Occasionally, the pastors added information that went beyond the standard format as for example in this comment, '...new comers from Edelmanischen Seckendorf'.  This was done by Rev. Brunholtz, who did a similar thing for more than twenty other parents.  His premature death is still mourned by genealogists.

In Virginia, the Anglican church and the Lutheran church held each other in high regard.  The major difference between them was that one held services in German and the other in English.  In case there was not an Anglican pastor available in the Robinson River, or vice versa, one would serve for the other.  Rev. Klug served the Anglicans so much that the Virginia assembly voted him a monetary gift in recognition of his services to the Anglicans.  Rev. Henry Muhlenberg described the Anglicans as his 'nearest and best friends'.  This should not a great surprise as the two churches held similar views.

On baptism, both churches subscribed to the view, "The necessity of Holy Baptism to salvation is so urgent, and the blessing conferred by it so great, infants should be brought to the font as early as possible." The Anglicans favored public baptism, but would tolerate private baptisms.  Most baptisms were performed in conjunction with a church service.  Anyone who had previously been baptized could not be baptized again.  Sponsors made vows on behalf of the infant.  The Anglicans usually had three sponsors, as did the Catholics, two males and one female for boys, and the reverse for girls.  The Anglicans would not allow parents to be sponsors for their own children until 1865.  The Lutherans abandoned this prohibition in the eighteenth century.


Nr. 864:

It is interesting that both the Catholics and Anglicans in the eighteenth century had no bishops in America.  Without a bishop, one could not be confirmed.  Without confirmation, one was not a member of the church.  Nor could unconfirmed people receive communion.  This all came about because there were no bishops in these churches in America.  This put people in a strange position.  The Rev. Muhlenberg wrote that he had buried Thomas How, a neighbor, in 1753.  Mr. How had been born in England and considered himself a member of the St. James Episcopal Church.  Yet Muhlenberg wrote, "...How never received Holy Communion yet he always considered himself a member of the English Church."  Probably, he had not been confirmed before he left England.

As this example also shows, church records were not always in the Church one would associate with an individual.

The baptismal information to be recorded by Parish priests in Anglican Church registers was prescribed by law.  Passed by Parliament in 1603, the law stated that each Parish priest and chapel was to have a parchment book, wherein the day and the year of every christening were to be written.  The infant's name and his parent's names were to be recorded also.  Often the birth date was added, but the sponsor's names were omitted.  Many of the Anglican records suffered badly during the American Revolution.  In Pennsylvania, nine of the ten Anglican ministers left America for England, Canada, or Bermuda.  (The one who did not leave became the Chaplain of the Continental Congress, and ten years later he became the first American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church.)

Many of the members of the Anglican Church were under severe stress during the Revolution.  Some left for England or Canada.  Probably some of the Anglican records went with them.  Without ministers, and with the members under suspicion, many of the Anglican churches were simply dormant during the Revolution.  Many of the record books started with the reorganization as an American Church in 1784.

The Moravian Church predates Luther, and it originated in Central Europe.  It had perhaps 200,000 members by the time of Luther, but, by the end of the 1600's, it was reduced to fifteen Parishes.  It was renewed in the mid-eighteenth century and incorporated some of the original ideas, plus the ideas of Count Zinzendorf.  They regarded baptism as essential, but not a complete salvation.  Count Zinzendorf rejected the idea that unbaptized children were doomed.  Still, they baptized infants soon after birth.  Sometimes the Brothers and Sisters were awakened at night to attend the baptism of infants born at night, but this policy was abandoned.  Still, they waited at most a few days until the next church service.  Five sponsors (witnesses) were common.  They did a lot of work with Native Americans (adults), and a special form of baptism was used for them.  The Moravians discouraged private baptisms, which the Catholics and Lutherans allowed them.  Confirmation was required to participate in the Communion service.


Nr. 865:

The Moravians would, on occasion, baptize the children of non-Moravians.  But, they often drew the line at baptizing children when they had doubts about whether the child would be nurtured in the Church.  They sometimes politely refused to baptize children.  [I believe it was here in these notes that the actions of the Moravian missionaries in Virginia were recounted.  They told of refusing to baptize children, even whole families, because they saw no opportunity for the church to raise the children in the faith.]

Records of Moravian baptisms were numbered consecutively [the Moravians were VERY orderly people].  Other information was typical ­ name of the child, names of parents, birth and baptismal dates, and the sponsors.  It was not unusual to find the place of the baptism and the name of the minister who performed the service recorded also.  For a period, the sex of the sponsors was the same as the child, but this requirement was later dropped.  For the genealogist, note should be taken that the maiden names of the mother and female sponsors were often recorded.  The terms Brother and Sister, often found in the records, are a spiritual, not a blood relationship.

The Methodist Church was an offshoot of the Church of England, and was founded by three Anglican ministers, the two Wesleys, and Whitefield.  They pursued an aggressive ministry throughout England and the Colonies, and won many converts.  The name of the movement came from John Wesley, who said a Methodist was "one who lives according to the method laid down in the Bible".  The men did not break with the Church of England until the American Revolution.  After the war, they sent deacons and elders to America.  Before long, the Methodist Church was officially set apart from the Church of England.

Baptism was to be administered to infants.  By this act a person became a preparatory member, and the Church was to educate the child further.  At first, there was no mention of emergency baptism, or conditional baptism, or sponsors.  In 1784, as the group of elders and deacons left England for America, they carried no recommendations for confirmation.  Because the natural audience for the Methodists was from the members of the Anglican Church, these views posed some problems for the Methodists.  Many of the members went to the Episcopal Church for confirmation.  By the standards of the day, the baptismal records in the Methodist Church have a minimum of information, being the name of the infant, the names of the parents, and the dates of birth and baptism.

Next we will look at the Reformed position.  This group of Churches originated early, and the delay in discussing them until now does not imply that they were Johnnies-come-lately.


Nr. 866:

At the time that Martin Luther was forming the church that became the Lutheran Church, other men were discussing what they thought the church should be.  These included Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox (Swiss, French, and Scottish, respectively, but in spite of the geographical diversity they worked together in Switzerland).  Their work led to the German Reformed Church, the Swiss Reformed Church, the Dutch Reformed Church, and the Presbyterian Church.  Calvin and Zwingli, the original two, were more systematic in their thinking than Luther.  The denominations they formed did without bishops and were organized around pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons.

To Calvin, baptism was a tentative entrance into the church, but infants who died before baptism were not necessarily condemned.  Whereas Luther had emphasized faith as a necessary part, even in the infant, Calvin emphasized it was the faith of the parents.  Because it was the faith of the parents that was important, sponsors at the baptism were unnecessary.  Baptisms should be public, not private.  Some congregations maintained that financial support of the Church was a necessary element for baptism and communion.  After proper preparation and examination, children were encouraged to make a public confession of faith when they reached the age of accountability.  This was the substitute for the rite of confirmation.

Only a minority of the Presbyterian Churches in Pennsylvania have extant baptismal records.  The evidence suggests this is not the result of losing the books, but that they were never kept.  In 1766, the synod of a group of Presbyterian churches decided that churches should keep registers of births, baptisms, marriages, and burials.  This suggests that it was not the custom of the churches to keep such records, prior to 1766.  Most of the extant records start shortly after this date, but the consistency is poor.  Record keeping did not have a strong appeal.  When records were kept, they were simple.  Sometimes they showed as little as the name of the infant, the date of baptism, and the name of the father.  Usually, the name of the mother was also included.  Sometimes the date of birth was included.

In Pennsylvania, the name Reformed Church usually meant the German Reformed Church, but it typically included both Germans and Swiss.  The Reformed Churches of these nations were very much alike.  The same men contributed to the theology of both Churches.  The most important document in Reformed doctrine is the Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, at the request of the Elector Frederick III in the Palatinate.  He was the first German prince to adopt the Reformed faith.  Whereas the Presbyterian Church was inclined to predestination, the Reformed churches took no stand on this issue.  (Predestination in its extreme form took the view that salvation was determined before Adam and Eve were created.)


Nr. 867:

Representatives of the Reformed Church met in Pennsylvania in 1747 to organize a governing body for the nineteen congregations that then existed in the colony.  Only four ministers were in the group.  The other congregations were represented by lay people.  The fact there was only four ministers shows the support that the German churches received from Germany.  The body adopted the name Coetus and, at early meetings of the body, adopted some rules concerning baptism.  One question was whether a minister could dispense communion or baptize infants, where the people were under the care of another minister in the Coetus.  It was decided that a minister could not do these things unless the other minister was aware of the case.  A certificate had to be supplied which the people could take back to their regular minister.  Later, in 1755, the Coetus decided that baptism could not be administered to a stranger unless in the case of necessity.

Zwingli, the early Reformed leader, shared Calvin's view that all children in infancy are saved, even if unbaptized.  Therefore, there was no emergency or conditional baptism in their rites.  When a schoolmaster baptized a child, the Coetus declared it was an invalid baptism.  Witnesses were present at the Reformed baptisms, and this was based on the "well-established custom".  The word "witness" was chosen by the Reformed people because these people were exactly that and nothing more.  They could testify as to the baptism occurring, but they were not responsible for the child; the parents were the responsible parties; however, the witnesses had to be people who led pure and blameless lives.

There is a difference between a witness and a sponsor at Reformed baptisms as explained; however, many translators of the German registers in Pennsylvania supplied their own understanding of this role and called the witnesses "sponsors." Because of the enhanced role of the parents for the children, Reformed baptisms were usually limited to children of church members.

Reformed youth received education on the beliefs of the church and professed their faith publicly.  But, there is no anointing with oil or conferring of the Holy Spirit.  After the profession of faith, the youth become communicant members.

A typical recording at a baptism is the name of the infant, the names of both parents, the dates of birth and baptism, and the names of the witnesses.  Individual ministers varied though, tending to embellish the record.  One minister in Philadelphia recorded the place of origin for seventy-three sets of parents.

John Hoffman recorded the baptisms of his children in his family Bible.  It is not clear who actually did the baptism or where it was done.  He does not tell us that.  At the birth of Nicholas he tells us, "In the year 1731, February 4th, my son Nicholas was born; baptized July 10th; his witnesses were Nicklaus Jaeger and Baltz Blankenbuechler, and the mother of my wife."  [He never told us who the mother of his wife was, but we now know.  She was Mrs. George Utz.]


Nr. 868:

By 1588, the Dutch Reformed Church had become the established church of the Netherlands, and it was held in high esteem.  As the established, or legally empowered, church, the records to be kept by it were probably mandated by law.  Whatever the reason, the baptismal records in this church were very uniform and consistent.  In comparison to other denominations, it is very striking.

The biggest problem in working with the early Dutch records is with their naming practices, which differ from what we know.  A child took his father's first name as his second, or surname.  The adoption of fixed surnames in Pennsylvania and New York, by the early Dutch families, took place gradually.  Within the original system, women retained their birth surnames instead of adopting their husband's.  Thus, a baptismal record might read, "Arie, child of Lambart Brinck and Rachel van Garden, was baptized 25 April 1744; witnesses were Daniel Broadhead and Hester Luykese, his wife."  This system of naming is called "patronymics", and anyone searching the Dutch Reform records must be on the alert for this possibility.

The Dutch were early in America, first at New York, but, later in Pennsylvania, there were several Dutch Reformed congregations.  These latter churches were the result of movements in the colony, not of new immigration from Holland.  Whenever it was deemed desirable for a Dutch Reformed Church to combine, or to seek temporary support in the form of interim ministers, they turned to the Presbyterian church, the closest to them in theology and practice.  Rev. Jonathon DuBois, minister of a Dutch Reformed Church in Pennsylvania, also served as the minister of a Presbyterian Church.

The Dutch Reformed Church was the first denomination from the Reformed tradition established in the American Colonies.  Their first pastor came in 1628 to organize the church and to administer the sacraments.  But, as noted, they were closer to the Presbyterians than to the German Reformed Church.  All three found their origins in the work of Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox.

The churches that have been discussed so far have not been radically different from each other.  In the order that we have been discussing them, there was a shift in the attitude toward baptism.  The older churches tended to regard baptism as absolutely necessary for an infant to be admitted to heaven.  The later churches allowed that unbaptized infants could be admitted to heaven.  There was a shift from sponsors, who were responsible for the spiritual health of the child, to witnesses, who merely testified that the child was baptized.

Next, I will take up groups that made radical breaks with tradition.


Nr. 869:

In the turmoil that followed Martin Luther, many people were asking questions about what the church should be and how one should join it.  One question was when one should join the church.  Should the first step be an infant baptism, or should the baptism be deferred until the person being baptized could make the decision?  Also, there was no agreement on the form to be followed in the baptismal ritual.

Several men in Switzerland agreed that one should make the decision when the person was old enough to understand the question, and responsible enough to make the decision.  These men (and women) decided to baptize themselves as adults having already been baptized as infants in the Catholic Church.  Their enemies, as derision, called them "anabaptists" meaning "re-baptizers", but the name became a point of pride with the Anabaptists.

They had many enemies, especially in the combination of the State and the Reformed Church, which had replaced the Catholic Church.  The "State" was upset because one became a citizen by being baptized in the Church.  The Church was upset because their thought was being challenged, and they were worried that souls were being lost.  The favored method of eliminating them was to simply "eliminate" them.  In Switzerland, and in Holland, where there were many adherents, several thousand people were martyred for their belief.

Under circumstances such as this, people are not inclined to keep a lot of records which the authorities might confiscate and use against them.  Thus, the Anabaptists have a minimum of baptismal records or Church records.  What they did maintain were the stories of the martyrs, often written by the martyrs themselves in prose or song.

Another point emphasized by the Anabaptists was pacifism, a tenet that did not endear them to the civil authorities.  This only increased the resolve of the State to eliminate these "uncooperative" citizens.  It can hardly be a surprise that a third tenet of the Anabaptists was the separation of the Church and State.

Anabaptist thought and history were to have an impact on the fact that there was a Germanna.  In Switzerland, opposition to the Anabaptists continued up to 1700, when the Swiss were trying to "solve" the problem by expelling the Anabaptists.  For this reason, Franz Michel went to America to explore the possibilities of establishing colonies of them there.  As a side light to his explorations he thought he had found silver mines which tempted another Swiss, Christoph von Graffenried.  The two men, in the framework of the George Ritter and Company, recruited several miners and their families in the Siegen area for the work of mining this silver.  Had there not been Anabaptists, there never would have been a Germanna.


Nr. 870:

The term "Anabaptist" covers several denominations, but some of the major ones are the Mennonite, the Amish, the River Brethren, and the Dunkards.  Many other groups have incorporated some of the traditions and beliefs, even if the line of descent was not direct.  Because of the persecution, which was severe in the early days in Switzerland and in Holland, and which continued in Switzerland for at least two hundred years, the Anabaptists had a disincentive for maintaining any written records.  They were the happiest when the Church and State were separated.  So it is not profitable to look for early records from within the Anabaptist churches.  More success seems to have been achieved with census, tax, and property records.  In America, these churches seem to have felt freer toward keeping records.

Though the Dutch authorities bore down hard on the Anabaptists early in the Reformation, they soon relented and the Anabaptists became honored members of the community.  When Graffenried, with Michel, was attempting to bring a colony of Swiss, which included some Anabaptists, through Holland to send on to America, the Dutch demanded to interview all of the Swiss people to see if they did, in fact, want to go to America.  These Anabaptists were political prisoners and the Dutch would have no part in allowing political prisoners to pass through their territory.  Most of the Anabaptists were released, though a few did go on to North Carolina.

In England, early in the 1600's, some men wanted to reform the established (Anglican) Church.  One man, John Smythe, decided the easiest thing to do was to break with the Church of England.  The clearest way of doing this was to switch to adult baptism instead of infant baptism.  Several other similar groups sprang up also.  They generally shared a belief in the separation of Church and State, freedom of religion, and in a congregational form of government.  Out of these movements, came the churches we know as the Baptists.  They had no set policy on baptismal records, and were more inclined to keep membership rolls, where baptism may have been the route of entry into the congregation, but was not the only way.

All of the churches that practiced adult baptism generally did not practice confirmation.  Confirmation had arisen as a counterfoil to infant baptism, to involve the young adult in the visible act of joining the church (and of being educated).  In the Anabaptist churches, joining the church (baptism) was done as a youth or young adult.  There was no need for a separate rite.

I dwell on the Anabaptists a little more than the general topic of baptismal records would seem to justify.  I wanted to emphasize, because it is little known, how the Anabaptists did interact some with the Germanna colonists, who seem to be Lutheran and Reformed.


Nr. 871:

George Fox, of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), rejected the sacrament of baptism as practiced by other churches.  He believed that the true baptism was not external but internal.  The external washing with water was without consequence, a holdover from Jewish practices.  That external baptism was without merit, seems to be the implication of Luke 23:43.  This records the saying of Jesus to the thief who was crucified beside him, "I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

They rejected the sacraments, ordination, churches, and ministers.  The organization structure of the Friends was also much different from other churches.  They organized around a series of "Meetings", all of which kept records.  The Weekly Meeting was the lowest level, and applications to join the Friends were received at this level.  Intentions to marry were also received at this level.  Records were maintained of every activity.

Different Weekly Meetings joined together for a Monthly Meeting.  The Meetings from a still larger area joined in a Quarterly Meeting.  The summit was the Yearly Meeting.  All of these meetings entailed worship and records.  In 1656, they adopted the rule that all births and deaths would be recorded.  Three years later, marriages were added to the list of things to be recorded.

Per George Fox's instructions, the (Weekly) meeting was to record births, marriages, and deaths.  This information was to be taken to the Monthly Meeting and recorded there.  These Monthly Meeting records were to be taken to the Quarterly Meeting where they were to be recorded.  This duplication was on purpose as insurance in case one set of records was destroyed.  In practice, in Pennsylvania, only Monthly Meeting records are to be found.

When reading the records, please be advised that the Friends do not use the names of the days and the names of the months.  If God called the days of the week, the First Day, the Second Day, and so on, then that was good enough for man.  The names of the months, being largely pagan in origin, were dropped in favor of numerals.

Children of Friends were birthright members of the Society.  There were procedures to be followed though.  After the child was named, the record was made out and it was to include the names of witnesses to the birth.  The implication is that the records would be in chronological order but it appears that more often family sheets were made out and that the witnesses were omitted.  Friends who immigrated to America where encouraged to fill out family sheets including the children who were born before immigration.  Therefore the records cannot be taken as proof that the child was born here.


Nr. 872:

Vital records maintained for the Religious Society of Friends were often recorded several times.  To find a record for the same individual in two different meetings was not unusual.  In part, this arose because each meeting with which an individual was associated liked to have the complete story.  An immigrant arriving from England with children might have a complete record of the family in an American meeting.  An individual might have his birth recorded in his parent's family and in his own family.  Also, as an individual moved from one meeting to another here in the colonies, he was apt to have records in both meetings.

Other reasons for the duplication include the "setting off" of a meeting from another meeting.  One meeting spawns a meeting at another location and some of the members transfer to the new meeting.  Each of the meetings wants its own record.  Typically, the new records were made, not by copying from the original records, but from the recollection of the member.  The members were not always as cooperative or as accurate as might be desired.  Sometimes the second set of data may include information not recorded in the original set of data.  A family might have more children at the second location and the records at the first location may not have this.  This is deceptive because the first location records look complete and purport to be family sheets.

As an example of added information in the second record, one report tells that Thomas Martin was born in Ireland on 21 10th month 1714, and his wife Sarah, born in the 2nd month 1715, was the daughter of Cadwalader and Eleanor Jones.  This information was missing from the first record.

While two records for the same event may provide additional information, the converse is true.  The two records may provide conflicting information.  This is not a phenomenon that is unique to the Friends; it happens in all record keeping.  This merely emphasizes that all records should be viewed with a healthy skepticism.  Confirmation is always desirable.

Quakers might leave the Society of Friends because they were "disowned" by the meeting, or because they elected to join a more traditional church.  Sarah Taylor was disowned by her meeting on 4 5th month 1763 for keeping company with men in a loose and disorderly manner at unreasonable hours of the night and for playing cards.  Children of questionable birth are not found in Friends' records.  Should the parents be known, they are apt to be disowned.  The phrase that might be used in these cases is "gave way to temptation". In the cases of natural birth, the records for the child can perhaps be found in other churches.

The comments of the past several notes have largely been taken from John Humphrey's book, "Understanding and Using Baptismal Records". I will continue with more comments from John on evaluating the evidence.


Nr. 873:

Eighteenth century Pennsylvania had more religious denominations than any other place in the whole of Christendom, and the range of beliefs, especially concerning baptism, was extensive.  The Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Moravians argued that baptism was necessary for salvation.  For this reason, parents were urged to have their children baptized as soon as possible.  The Anabaptists and the Baptists insisted that infant baptism was meaningless.  In between these two groups there were churches of the Reformed faith, who viewed baptism positively, but allowed (in some of the churches) that infants could be saved without baptism.  The Society of the Friends was at the extreme, as George Fox insisted that baptism was unnecessary for either infants or adults.

Anyone coming to Pennsylvania from England or Germany was coming from an environment where things were done in a well-ordered, structured way.  Because the institutions were not prepared for the number of people in America, the situation changed.  Everything became looser and more fluid.  The rigid framework was no longer in place.  In Pennsylvania, the majority of the meeting houses were in the hands of the Quakers, Mennonites, and Baptists.  The only institutions practicing infant baptism were the Presbyterian, the Swedish Lutheran, and the Anglican churches.  In the German counties, these churches were scarce.  The population, at first, was not very dense.  Finding a church within a traveling distance was not easy.  So, several children had to wait for several years before they were baptized.

In 1753, sixteen ordained and eight unordained Lutheran ministers served an area now covered by twelve modern counties.  Thus, two Lutheran ministers served an area now taken up by one county.  But these ministers were not evenly distributed.  The heaviest concentrations were around the cities of Philadelphia and Lancaster, and the rural areas were isolated.  Many of the Germans were indentured to Quakers and Presbyterians, who were concentrated in area where Germans did not live.  Families had to go to extraordinary lengths to have a child baptized, thus, many were not baptized.

Many children were baptized outside their parent's faith for a lack of a minister in the faith.  As a result, records are not always where one might expect to find them.  Some churches would not baptize from outside the faith.  Roughly, the willingness went in the following order, from least willing to most willing:

  1. Catholic;
  2. Moravian;
  3. Lutheran, Anglican, Protestant Episcopal, Methodist;
  4. Reformed and Presbyterian;
  5. Anabaptist, Baptist, Amish, Dunkard;
  6. Quaker (did not recognize baptism).

In the Philadelphia area, many Anglican records of baptism record German names; however, it is not easy to recognize the names, because the name is usually given as an English name.  For example, House was written for Haus.  The reverse was also true, as many infants of English parents were baptized by Lutheran ministers.


Nr. 874:

In spite of the official position of each church toward who might be baptized, the churches in America were freer in their practices.  Lutherans were baptizing people from other faiths and races not normally found in Lutheran Churches.  One "Protestant" mother brought her son, by an Anabaptist father, to the Swedish Lutheran Church in Philadelphia in a "private" baptism.  During the occupation of Philadelphia by the British forces, the Anglican church was under stress.  During this time, the Lutherans baptized many English children.  The Catholic church in Philadelphia baptized many children of "Protestant" parents.  Most of the major churches baptized African-American slaves and free people, as well as Indians.

The Presbyterian and Reformed churches were not as open in their policies.  A search of five thousand baptisms in the Presbyterian churches showed only thirty Germanic names, or mentions of African-American origins.  These thirty were not evenly distributed; a few churches accounted for the thirty.  Of the seven African-America baptisms, it appears they were for children of members.  Even the baptisms of the German children were probably for members (the mother might have been English or Scottish).  While the Presbyterians were very restrictive, the Reformed were between the almost closed door of the Presbyterians, and the open door of the Lutherans, Catholics, and Anglicans.  The Reformed were most open to the Lutherans, which might have arisen for several causes.  One of the parents may have been Reformed.  Or, the Reformed may have been sharing a building and a minister with the Lutherans.  Overall, the Reformed registers are short of non-Germanic names and other ethic backgrounds.

An older practice in Europe, which was not so common in America, was to have a person of a better social status as a sponsor.  A serf might ask his Lord or the Lord's wife to be a sponsor.  They might serve, or they might ask a friend to act for them.

In the Presbyterian church, at least one of the parents had to be a member.  Many records show a baptism of an adult was followed in a few months by the baptism of a child of the parents.

One of the lessons we learn is that the baptismal records for the children of a family may be found in different church registers.  This makes the search in the baptismal registers a tedious process.  Just finding the churches in a given area would be a difficult task.  For several years, John Humphrey has been engaged in collecting all of the baptism records that he could find for all churches.  He has published these as a series of books, generally one per county.  Thus, the search for baptismal records for any given individual is shortened considerably.  Unfortunately, the task has not proceeded beyond Pennsylvania.


Nr. 875:

There are some interesting questions that arise in connection with baptisms.  To demonstrate the freer atmosphere that prevailed in America, consider this note that the pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church in Philadelphia added to a baptism that he had performed: "The father being a Presbyterian held the child in his own hands taking the vow all upon himself, but no objection was made to the form and ceremony of The Church of England."

There were questions of payment to the pastor who performed a baptism.  In the earliest part of the eighteenth century, when the supply of ministers in the rural regions was very scarce, it was customary to pay the minister a fee for performing the baptism.  Several itinerant men depended heavily on these fees.  When Rev. Muhlenberg arrived in America, he declared there would be no charge for baptizing children.  To him, payment sounded as if the sacraments of the church were being sold, which did not appeal to him.  He declared there were other ways to support the pastor.

The Coetus1 of the Reformed Church established fees for marriages and preaching sermons, but there was to be no charge for baptisms.  In spite of the high principles, the ministers usually accepted money for performing baptisms.  Muhlenberg entered these amounts in his book as "for salary."

Another way of skirting around the prohibition on fees for baptisms was to say that the baptism was free but it would cost to have the baptism recorded.  The going rate was seven shillings and six pence, or about three days wages.

Muhlenberg would take no money from poor parents.  Frederick Weiser has noted that the pastors took fees for recording the baptism, but not for the rite itself; however, most pastors would record the baptism even if a fee was not paid.  It is possible that some baptisms went unrecorded because the parents could not afford a recording fee.

In many cases, the baptism took place away from the church and this raises the question whether the baptismal register plus the pen and ink were carried around to the point of need.  Or did the minister remember the information until he was back at the church?  And did he remember to record it, and was his memory up to the task?  A preferred method was to have the parents appear at the pastor's home ahead of time and supply the information.

With so few ministers and so many babies, it was sometimes hectic.  Rev. Muhlenberg recorded that on a visit to New Jersey he gave communion and baptized ". . . twenty-two infants . . . and the twenty-two children were crying so loudly that the noise was wretched.  After I had baptized them all and dismissed them, the mothers hurried with them out into the open air."

Under conditions such as this, the error rate in recording the baptisms must have been high.

1The Coetus was a national church body of the Dutch Reformed Church, composed of a minister and elder from each church.  Its function was to consider ecclesiastical matters, which lay beyond the sphere of individual churches, and which formerly had been dealt with by the Classis of Amsterdam.  For consideration of local questions, the Coetus was divided into local bodies, called "circles".  (In Latin, "Coetus" literally means "group", or "a coming together", or "a joining".)

 


(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 THIRTY-FIFTH set of Notes, Nr. 851 through Nr. 875.)


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 1200 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.

If you are interested in subscribing to this List, click here.  You don't need to type anything, just click on "Send".  You will shortly receive a Welcome Message explaining the List.


(GERMANNA History Notes, 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 Notes 851 through 875.


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