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This is the FIFTY-FOURTH 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.

(See bottom of this page for Links to all Notes pages.)
This Page Contains Notes 1326 through 1350.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 54

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Nr. 1326:

One of the false pieces of history which has been widely reported in the last hundred years is that Lt. Gov. Spotswood found iron ore soon after his arrival in Virginia.  This has been repeated so many times that it is now believed by many to be true.  It appears to have originated with Willis Kemper as a part of the fictions which he wrote in his histories.  After he wrote this, others started repeating it, without questioning the truth of it.  By now the story is probably in print in hundreds of places, but the number of occurrences is no proof.

What led Kemper astray was the letter of Alexander Spotswood in which he mentions "newly discovered iron".  His newness to Virginia led Spotswood astray.  The iron mines that he mentioned had been known for more than a hundred years, and, in fact, an iron furnace had been built before 1622 on the site.  The iron ore beds belonged to William Byrd, who brought them to the attention of Spotswood.  Later writings of Spotswood show that he recognized his error.  At no point, did he make any claim, or provide any evidence, that he had discovered iron.

The recruitment of the "miners" in the Siegen area had nothing to do with iron in Virginia, or with Alexander Spotswood.

Many people may have wondered why the First Colony (at Fort Germanna) were so far from the iron mines and iron furnace which were eventually developed.  William Byrd tells us that the distance was thirteen miles from Germanna to the mines.  The magnitude of this distance shows how improbable it was that the Germans were settled where they could work the iron mines.  People, with a straight face, will say that the Germans were settled at the iron mines, when they were known to be thirteen miles away.  In actuality, there was no knowledge of iron in the vicinity,when the Germans were settled.  These same people will also ignore that for two years the Germans did nothing to reimburse Spotswood and his partners for any of their expenses.

One man, Brawdus Martin, recognized how improbable this account was.  He tried to resolve the questions which were raised by the large separation of Germanna and the (future) iron mines.  He accepted the fact that the iron mines, or, at least, a knowledge of them, existed before the Germans came.  If this were so, then how is the separation of Germanna and the iron mines to be explained?  His answer was that there were two Germannas.  One of them, the first one, was at the iron mine.  The second Germanna was the one that we know today.

This was hard for the typical reader to accept.  It was not rational.  In general, this view was not accepted.  No one seemed to recognize that the problem was that there were no iron mines when the Germans came.  Therefore, their separation from the mines was not material.  There were other reasons to locate the Germans where we know today that Germanna is located.
(05 Jan 02)



Nr. 1327:

Let's take a look a paragraph from the History page of the Germanna Foundation web site which reads:

"When Baron de Graffenried returned to Europe, Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood requested him [Graffenried] to recruit for him [Spotswood] some German miners.  Graffenried persuaded 14 individuals, with families totaling 42 persons, from the town of Siegen and Muesen, in the principality of Nassau-Siegen, Germany, to come to Virginia.  The First Germanna Colony arrived in Virginia at Tappahannock, in the spring of 1714, and then came up the Rappahannock River, where they settled 20 miles west of Fredericksburg, at a location that would be called Fort Germanna."

In recent notes, we looked at the timing of some events.  We know from Graffenried's own writings that he found the Germans in London when he arrived there.  We also know from his own words that his advice to them was to return to Germany.

The quoted statement is fallacious, because there was no opportunity to recruit the miners.  How was Graffenried able to recruit them when he was still in America or on board ship?  Can fourteen individuals, with families, be persuaded to leave their homes on short notice?  It sometimes took more than half a year to merely send a letter across the Atlantic ocean.  Even if Graffenried had started the recruitment process ahead of his leaving for Europe, how many exchanges of letters could there have been?  Could anyone have been persuaded to leave their homes in Germany by a couple of letters?

Notice that the quoted statement goes against Graffenried's initial advice to the Germans.  He wrote that he recommended they go back to Germany.  Does this sound as Graffenried was acting as a recruiter?

The timing of the events in which Graffenried was involved, and his own words, refute the quoted paragraph.

At the same time, there are written records which show that the recruitment of the Germans commenced much earlier, even before Alexander Spotswood had met Christoph von Graffenried (to use the native German form of his name).  These same records show that the proposed employer of the Germans was not to be Spotswood, but was to be another agency.  And the records also show that their employment was not to be directed at the extraction of iron ore, but at the development of silver mines.
(07 Jan 02)



Nr. 1328:

In the paragraph which was quoted in the last note, reference was made to Tappahannock as the initial landing place in Virginia of the First Colony.  I do not believe there is any good reference for this.  The basis for this is that someone reported that a grandson of Alexander Spotswood said this was the case.  Considering that the first son of Spotswood was born in 1725, and that Spotswood died in 1740, there was no opportunity for a grandson to hear this directly from Spotswood.  The facts were never written down (to the best of my knowledge), and, so, the statement given in the Germanna Foundation web page is to be likened to A told B, who told C, who told D, but B hadn't been born before A's death.  The statement that the Germans landed at Tappahannock ought to be qualified with a disclaimer, or, even better, omitted.

[If you are curious, Tappahannock is on the Rappahannock River, about half way from the Chesapeake Bay to Fredericksburg.  It was not unusual for ships to call at ports other than Jamestown.]

The next paragraph on the Foundation web page, after the one I quoted yesterday, reads:

"Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood wrote to the Board of Trade in London, in May 1714, stating the Germans were invited to Virginia by Baron de Graffenried, who had Her Majesty's, Queen Anne's, letter to the Governor telling him to furnish them land after their arrival."

Graffenried first landed in America in 1710, in Virginia, and he paid a visit to the Lt. Gov.  He had the letter from Queen Anne then.  He told the Lt. Gov. of his plans to establish a colony in Virginia.  Though he had told the Queen that he planned this colony for Swiss citizens, he had already changed his schedule so that the Swiss went to North Carolina, and the Germans from Siegen were intended to replace the Swiss as the colonizers in Virginia.  The Germans were also to be used in mining silver.  At this moment in time, 1710, Johann Justus Albrecht was in Siegen recruiting the miners.

So the recruiting effort was underway before Graffenried had even met Spotswood.  And the "miners" were being recruited to mine silver, not iron.  Their employer was to be George Ritter and Company, not Spotswood.

Willis Kemper had read the "biography" of Graffenried when he wrote his histories.  Graffenried, while not the clearest writer there was, tells of these events.  Yet, Kemper continually reports things as facts, which are contradictory to the original documents in the libraries in Switzerland, and in London.  And, people have accepted what Kemper wrote as factual.  By one path or another, much of the Foundation's history originates with Kemper.
(08 Jan 02)



Nr. 1329:

First, I am going to give some quotes from W. W. Scott's book, "A History of Orange County, Virginia", which was originally published in 1907.  Mr. Scott had impressive credentials as State Law Librarian, Member of the State Historical Society, and State Librarian of Virginia.  He is quoted quite widely.  The first quotation is:

"Rev. Henry Haeger was their [the Germans] pastor.  He was a man of much erudition, lived to a great age, and died in 1737.  These colonists were induced to leave their homes in Germany by the Baron de Graffenried, acting for Governor Spotswood who was then making preparations to develop his iron mines in the vicinity of Germanna, and this business enterprise of the Governor was the sole cause of their coming to America."

The second quotation is acknowledged by Scott to be from Willis Kemper in the "Kemper Genealogy", but is uncritically accepted by Scott.

"They [The members of "Our Colony"] did not leave their homes not knowing where they were going, nor because they were compelled to.  They were engaged to go, and knew where they were going, and what they were to do.  They came from one of the thriftiest and most intelligent provinces of Germany; they were master mechanics, and were an intelligent, progressive set of people."

This last quotation is essentially the fifth paragraph of the History page of the Germanna Foundation web site.  Perhaps the Foundation should acknowledge that they are taking the statements from Scott with only trivial alterations.  Scott reports the data without any critical analysis.

We can see, by a comparison to the writings of Kemper, that he was the source for the information in this paragraph (see page 14 of "Kemper Genealogy").  So, the Foundation and Kemper stand together, though the Foundation does not acknowledge that Kemper, via Scott, is their source..

Let's see if Kemper has any evidence for his statements.  It is doubtful, based on the written statements of Albrecht, Michel, and Graffenried, that the Germans knew where they were going.  The recruiter in Siegen, Albrecht, in the Shareholder's Book that he wrote, mentions one place, South Carolina.  Michel was not sure whether "his mines" were in Virginia, Maryland, or Pennsylvania.  Graffenried wrote to the people in Siegen from North Carolina.  Graffenried did have a letter, from Queen Anne in 1710 when he visited Lt. Gov. Spotswood, which said that the Governor was to provide land for the group.  At this time, though, Graffenried and Spotswood did not know where the mines were, and in which political jurisdiction they would lie.

The Germans seem to be expecting that, if they got to London, Graffenried would take them on to their final destination.  They thought they had only to go to London.  That was their destination.  Beyond that, their destination was uncertain.
(09 Jan 02)



Nr. 1330:

In the discussion at the close of the last note, a number of places in America were mentioned by people involved with the emigration of the Germans from Siegen.  I failed to mention one other place, New York, where Rev. Häger's son was already in residence.  So, the Germans had heard the names of at least six Colonies in America.  It is doubtful that they had a clear picture of where they were headed, except that it was "across the ocean".

Willis Kemper could have advanced our understanding of why the Germans left Siegen, but he did not.  A powerful motive is necessary to induce people to sell their homes, and undertake a trip which would last the best part of a year.  What did induce the Germans to leave?  It was not iron!  It was not Spotswood!  They were to mine silver, but what was their reward to be?  Or, as we say today, "What was the payoff for them?"  This question remains unanswered.

We do know that Albrecht, the recruiter, signed an agreement in 1711 with the Protestant ministers in Siegen.  In this, he agreed to pay a goodly sum from the profits of the mines to the ministers for their help in recruiting people.  Did these ministers exert pressure on people to immigrate?  (Incidentally, the date of this agreement shows that he, Albrecht, had been working for some time by then in recruiting, without success.  Was he, as we do today, paying "headhunters" to find the people?)  Knowing that Albrecht was having difficulty in recruiting, and that he was willing to pay good money to obtain people, was the inducement to the immigrants a promise of good pay?

Kemper claims that Siegen was one of the thriftiest and most intelligent provinces of Germany (if it could be said that a province has thrift and intelligence).  He offers NO evidence for his claim, but, by his statement, casts slurs on other provinces of equally good names.  Sheer politeness would indicate that it would be better to say nothing.

Kemper also claims that the recruits were Master Mechanics, but leaves the term undefined.  By the standards of the early eighteenth century, a "Master" has a defined meaning.  I know that Johann Jacob Richter was a Master "Steel Smith", or "Toolsmith".  But, several of the members were young men, who would not have been able to complete a Master's training at their age.  They may have been in training, but they were not yet "Masters".

Of course, a pastor and a schoolteacher are not usually referred to as Master.  So let me ask the question, "Can anyone name a 'Master' besides Richter?"

The emigrants are often referred to also as miners but as I have asked before, without any response, "Can anyone in the First Colony be identified as a miner?"

We have far more questions than we have answers, but one would hardly know it from the false claims of Willis Kemper.  It would be better to throw out all of his wild statements, and to get down to serious work.
(10 Jan 02)



Nr. 1331:

Willis Kemper gave one list of names for the Germans who came in 1714.  It was soon recognized that it was not correct.  Then his kinsman, Charles E. Kemper, gave another list, which was incomplete.  A better estimate was made by B. C. Holtzclaw, though he omitted one name.  This was Johann Justus Albrecht, the head miner.

Willis Kemper had thought that Albrecht should be omitted because he thought there was no evidence for him in America.  That is not correct.  There are two good pieces of evidence that he came across, but ignored.  One is the note in the Essex County Deed and Will Book, v. 16, of an affidavit signed by Albrecht and Jacob Holtzclaw, in 1720.  [Why this statement is on file has never been made clear, but I suspect that Albrecht and Holtzclaw wanted to establish that the Germans had been working for Spotswood.]  This document stated that eleven laboring men had been put to work under Albrecht, and continued until 1718.  With the thirteen men of B. C. Holtzclaw, Albrecht would make the fourteenth man.  [Who were the eleven men?  One man is missing.]

The other piece of evidence is the “Shareholder’s Book”, which Albrecht had prepared in London.  This was written in German script.  (A translation was made by Elke Hall.)  This is at the Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia.

The Germanna Foundation could update their original list of settlers, to follow B. C. Holtzclaw, with Albrecht’s name added.

The Foundation says that the first land that Spotswood acquired in Virginia was the Germanna tract, which he obtained in his own name in November of 1716.  Spotswood is on record as having bought a one-quarter interest in the silver mine tract in May of 1713.  Some quibbling might occur as to whether this should count since it was a partnership in a land holding.  By the same token, the claim that the Germanna tract was his "first land" should probably have a modifier connected with it in view of the “silver mine”.

In discussing the origins of the Second Germanna Colony, the Foundation says they were from Alsace and the Palatinate regions of Germany.  This desperately needs modification, since none of these Germans were known to have come from Alsace, and only a small number from the Palatinate.  The home villages for a majority of the Second Colony members have been found, and Baden and Württemberg would be the best descriptions.  It is true that some of them came from political jurisdictions that defy an easy classification.  For example, the Blankenbakers, Schlucters, Fleischmanns, and Scheibles came from Neuenbürg, which was on the lands of the Catholic Church.  If you were to tell someone that today, it would not ring any bells with them.  Eventually the area fell into Baden's jurisdiction, and that is the description that we use today.
(11 Jan 02)



Nr. 1332:

Any attempt to list the immigrants who came at the same time is always troublesome.  We were recounting some of the attempts for the First Germanna Colony.  A fairly good picture can be drawn for them now.

I have tried to do the same for the Second Colony and I have been frustrated, mostly because there are too many candidates.  The Germanna Foundation has a list for the Second Colony, and a few improvements can be made to it.

Matthias Blankenbühler is not included, and he surely belongs along with his brothers, mother, and stepfather.

On the other hand, William Carpenter is listed and he does not belong there.  The Carpenters came a few years later (as verified by a document that gives the exact year).

For the Broyles, John Broyles (Johannes Breyhel/Brehel), the father, is given along with the young son, Jacob, who was about twelve years old.  It is not customary to list young people when they come with their parent(s).  His name should be removed from the list.

Conrad Amberger should be given; his evidence is that he was sued by Spotswood along with other known 1717'ers.

Jacob Crigler should be given also, with the same evidence as for Conrad Amberger.  In fact, Jacob Crigler was the first of the Germans to be sued by Spotswood.

Philip Paulitz was an adult male, who came at this time.

John Thomas, who had married Anna Maria Blankenbühler, probably came at this time, since her brothers, mother, and stepfather are 1717'ers.

It is always difficult to compile lists such as this with certainty.  Anyone who attempts such an endeavor will have coals heaped on his head by someone.  The corrections given above to the Foundation’s list do seem to be valid.

Perhaps the better thing to do is to list people who are candidates, without naming any of them as certain.  One might give the evidence which supports the claim.
(12 Jan 02)



Nr. 1333:

I recently purchased a book which I recommend to anyone who is planning a research trip to Germany.  The authors, two of them, are both experienced at this.  The book's title is "Researching in Germany", and it is written by Roger P. Minert and Shirley J. Riemer.  The book is crammed with information, and the price is very reasonable.

It is published by:
Lorelie Press
P.O. Box 221356
Sacramento, CA 95822-8356.
(Email Address: 
Lorelei@softcom.net.

Some of the pleasures of the book are the sidebars where anecdotes of the authors' own experiences are given.  One author relates that on a trip to the Czech Republic he needed safety pins, for which he went to a department store.  It took him three languages and five employees before he got the safety pins.  But the story is passed along to show what can be done with determination.

This reminded me of another safety pin story.  Hubert Deri, a former co-worker of mine, came to American in the 1930's without the benefit of much preparation.  His family was already in Los Angeles, but he had remained in Germany, hoping to complete his education.  It became obvious that he could not wait much longer so he set out for America without any knowledge of English.  After landing in New York City, he had a hotel room while waiting for his transportation to Los Angeles.

He needed safety pins and he set out from his hotel, with paper and pencil, to draw a map of his route.  After a few blocks he encountered a store where it appeared they might sell safety pins.  Using his German to English pocket dictionary, the best he could come up with was "security needles".  As they say, this did not cut the ice.  With some difficulty, he finally made himself clear and he obtained the safety pins.

Using his map, he left the store to retrace his steps according to the map he had drawn.  After a bit, he realized that things were not going right.  (Somewhat later, he realized that he had entered the store on the east side, and he had left on the south side.)  When he was really lost and wondering what he was going to do, he found aid from a policeman who spoke German.  Thus, he got back to his hotel.

He had another venture in New York.  When he off the boat, he fell to talking to a man who asked a few questions about his plans, and Hubert said he was going to take a bus to Los Angeles.  The man said that was not a good thing to do.  It would be much better to take the train.  After a few questions by Hubert, the man said, "Wait here.  I will go buy your train ticket.  Let me have your money."

As Hubert told me this, I was cringing at what the outcome was going to be.  Well, Hubert waited a little bit and the man returned with the train tickets and the change.  There were still some decent people in the world.
(14 Jan 02)



Nr. 1334:

[Using a mix of “Researching in Germany” and my own personal experience.]  One of the questions most often asked by someone going to Germany is, "How does one obtain money there.  Should I take some Marks (Euro) with me, or Traveler’s Checks, Letters of Credit, or dollars?"

The best, easiest thing to do is to take a debit card, which debits your account immediately upon its use.  Germany is filled with Geldautomaten, or ATM machines, and you can use the card there just as simply as you would here.  Of course, you will get your money today in Euro.  The exchange rate is very good.  No other method will approach the favorable rate that you can get with the card.

Since January 1, most nations on the continent have replace their national currency by a unified currency system in which the basis is the Euro (pronounced “ooy-row”).  If you have German (Deutsch) Marks, you will no longer be able to spend them.  Twelve nations have made the switch.

One Euro costs about 92 cents in US funds.  The Euro is divided into one hundred cent.  The plural of both the Euro and the cent is written without adding an “s” to the word.  In other words, the Euro and cent may be singular or plural.  No price changes have taken place.  The conversion rate of the dollar to the Euro, and the old conversion rate of Marks to Euros, show that costs today are essentially the costs of yesteryear.

The Geldautomaten are fairly numerous in Germany.  In Austria, they were less common, and one can go to the bank and use your plastic to get currency (which would now be Euro there also).  If you use a credit card, you will be charged interest from the date of use, until the bill is paid.  If you are depending on going to a bank to obtain money, you must be careful about their holidays ­ the banks may be closed.

On the whole, it was as easy to use a card in Germany as it is to use the card at home.  One card type that is not readily accepted in the ATM machines is the American Express card.  Many times it was not listed as an acceptable card.

Be sure to carry your plastic in a safe place.  I prefer to make a sizeable withdrawal, and then to tuck my card away in a safe place where I won’t need it for a few days.  Meanwhile, I am spending cash.
(15 Jan 02)



Nr. 1335:

The table of contents for "Researching in Germany" by Minert and Riemer includes the following topics:

  • CHAPTER ONE:
    • Preparing for your visit in the land of your ancestors.
    • Reasons and goals for the trip.
    • Identifying the ancestral home town.
    • Locating the records you need.
    • Gaining access to the records you need.
    • Hiring a local expert to assist you.
    • Deciding when to make your research trip to Germany.
    • Acquiring your passport.
    • Making your travel plans (air travel, car rentals, trains).
    • Lodging.
    • Documents, literature, and equipment needed for conducting family history research in Germany (documents and printed materials to prepare you for your trip, computer preparations).
    • Non-research materials to collect and organize before leaving home (the log, letter of introduction, German handshake packet).
    • Preparing to enter a German-language environment.
    • Gifts to take along.
    • Luggage selection.
    • Packing your suitcase.

  • CHAPTER TWO:
    • Getting Around in the land of your ancestors.
    • Landing at the airport in Germany.
    • You and your money in Germany (need cash? Credit cards, travelers checks, the currency conversion, hints for handling money in Germany).
    • Living between time zones.
    • Rental cars (picking up your car, pointers on driving in Germany, driving on the Autobahn, other driving pointers, parking your rental car, watching for bicycles).
    • Traveling by rail in Germany (the German railroad "alphabet game", train information, train reservations, validating the rail pass, handling luggage, conveniences on board, which is your stop, before leaving the train station).
    • Taking a taxi.
    • Using public transportation.
    • Tourist information (finding a room, gathering local information, checking out the Antiquariat).
    • Sleeping accommodations in Germany (rooms in private homes, the Gasthaus, the Gasthof, and the Pension, vacation apartments, hotels).
    • Restaurants in Germany (water, a problem for Americans).
    • Telling time in Europe.
    • Post office services in Germany (basic services and products, shipping extra items, filling out postal forms).
    • Telecommunications in Germany (public telephones, private telephones, other communication options).
    • Dealing with Emergencies.

[More to follow.  Information about locating the book was in Note Nr. 1333.]
(16 Jan 02)



Nr. 1336:

For information about the book, "Researching in Germany", contact the publisher at Lorelei Press, P.O. Box 221356, Sacramento, CA 95822-8356.  Or send email to Lorelei@softcom.net.

Continuing the table of contents for this book:

  • CHAPTER THREE:
    • Conducting family history research in the land of your ancestors.
    • Research at specific locations in Germany.
    • The parish office, Regional church archives, Other church-owned research venues, Civil record venues, City archives, County archives, State and national archives, Family history societies, Family history centers.
    • Private researchers.
    • Other research venues.
    • The "Heimatmuseum".
    • Research in other German-language regions of Europe, Alsace-Lorraine, France (Elsass-Lothringen), Austria ("Oesterreich"), Bohemia and Moravia, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland ("Schweiz").
    • Research facilities in Europe:
      • Nine examples.
        • Regensburg, Germany:  "Dioezesanarchiv Regensburg".
        • Hannover, Germany:  "Landeskirchenamt, Kirchenbuchamt".
        • Basel, Switzerland:  "Staatarchiv des Kantons Basel-Stadt".
        • St. Poelten, Austria:  "Dioezesanarchiv".
        • Graz, Austria:  "Dioezesanarchiv".
        • Brno, Czech Republic:  "Statni Oblastni Archiv".
        • Trebon, Czech Republic:  "Statni Oblastni Archiv".
        • Maribor, Slovenia:  "Skofija Maribor Archiv".
      • Record-keeping and documentation.

  • CHAPTER 4:
    • Enjoying yourself in the land of your ancestors:
      • Where to go and what to do.
      • Taking pictures in Germany.
      • Shopping in Germany.

  • CHAPTER FIVE:
    • After the trip:
      • Returning home.

  • ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY:
    • Appendices:
      • A.  English-German vocabulary.
      • B.  German-English vocabulary.
      • C.  Vital records vocabulary.
      • D.  Reading German handwritten church records.
      • E.  Letters to Germany in preparation for the trip.

  • INDEX:
    • Useful addresses.
(17 Jan 02)



Nr. 1337:

In line with the topic of researching in Germany, I would make these simple observations.  Please understand that I have done very little researching in Germany.  My comments would also apply to someone who was interested in visiting the old home church for sentimental reasons.

On our trip two years ago, one of the intended high points was to visit the church in Kettenbach, from where my wife's Martin Zerby ancestor had left in 1709.  Prior to departure, I had attempted some letter writing with the pastor, whose name and address I knew from a web page.  This was not entirely satisfactory, and he even suggested that the local authority had questions about Martin Zerby.

Kettenbach was the first village we visited in Germany, so it was a matter of learning as we went.  First, the church was locked.  This will be the usual case with Protestant churches.  Typically, no one will be around the church, but in some cases the parish office will be in, or at, the church.  Outside the church there is a bulletin board, probably mandated by law, which tells which Sundays there are services, and the hours of the services, along with the pastor's office hours.  The typical pastor in Germany has several churches.  Perhaps his largest church has a service every Sunday.  Another of his churches may have two services per month, and perhaps two other churches have only one service per month.  Typically, the pastor holds two services each Sunday in two different locations.

During our visit to the church in Kettenbach, we did learn that there would be a special musical program on the following Saturday evening, and we did learn that there would be a Sunday service, and its time.  We came back Saturday afternoon and we were able to locate the pastor (he actually lived next door and the parish office was in the same building along with the kindergarten).  He remembered us from our correspondence, and he arranged to show us the church book with the baptism of Martin Zerby.  We had no difficulty finding the entry pertaining to him, because we did know the date, though had we not known this we would never have found him.  (The writing was very weak.)

The pastor did unlock the church (it was going to be open for the musical program).  Thus, we could go in and take pictures without disturbing anyone.

In Oberfischbach, the Parish office was in the church, and the church was open.  They welcomed us to come in, look, and take pictures.  They even gave us a book of history of the church.

In Illenschwang, the church was locked.  I did want very much to see the church of Andreas Gaar, so I went to the building next door and, sure enough, one of the doorbells was marked with the title of Pfarrer (Pastor).  The door was answered by the pastor's wife (he was not in town), and her English was good.  She volunteered to unlock the church and let us look around.

Pictures of the Kettenbach, Oberfischbach, and Illenschwang churches are on the Germanna Photo Page maintained by Sgt. George on this web site.  Start with the web page at Germany and Austria Photos and follow through to the German photos.
(18 Jan 02)



Nr. 1338:

[Craig Kilby's recent comments deserve to be made a permanent part of the record, so he will become the guest writer for this note.  His original note was slightly edited.]

My first trip to Germany was in 1985 with my mother to visit my brother and his family, who then lived in Heidelberg.  We knew that, due to the work of a Catholic Priest in the 1920s, one line (Kern) had come from Freudenberg, in Baden.  We drove to this little town and asked a man if he knew any Kerns.  He said, "Yes, the whole town is full of them."  We knew this Kern's wife was a Kettinger, and we asked about that name.  "Oh, only one Kettinger Family, living right there", as he pointed across the street.  It was raining, but we knocked on the door anyway, uninvited.  An old couple lived there with their single daughter.  They invited us in.  They pulled down the old family bible and sure enough there was our couple.  Satisfied with that, we STUPIDLY did not copy anything from the bible at all.  DUMB DUMB DUMB!

[On my next adventure] I knew from church records here in St. Louis that some of my ancestors had come from this general area.  Since the people in the group I was with were all avid genealogists, this was helpful.  Somebody directed me toward the little town of Borgholtzhausen, where one of the families had come from.  Unlike John's case, the church was open, and empty, and I took pictures.  This was a Protestant Church.

But the records of this church were at the Regional Library, in Beilefeld.  I was put in touch with a Notary Public (which is more of a para-legal in Germany that what we consider a Notary to be here), who drove me to the library one day.  He got me started on the church book and I was moving along quite nicely, finding lots of new ancestors.  I took a break and when I returned to the book I became completely lost; however, this is where I learned that the family name stayed with the land, not necessarily the husband.  So, the Pohlmann family suddenly became, in reality, Kemner.  I was relating this experience that evening to one of the host families who had invited me over to tea (they were hosting the parents of one of my best friends).  At the mention of the world POHLMAN, his eyes lit up and he picked up the phone and made a quick phone call.  When he hung up, he said, "Let's go to Dr. Pohlmann's.  He has the full genealogy.  He is the Veterinarian for the German Equestrian Team."  So, off we went on a 30 mile drive, and we were greeted with wine and schnapps at the handsome home of Dr. Pohlmann.  He did have a full genealogy, going back to the 1400's.  It was prepared during the Third Reich, when such things were mandatory and created a sort of genealogy fad in the process.  He was kind enough to run a copy for me, although it was handwritten in old German script.  I had it translated when I got back home.  But it was my family.

My third and last attempt was in 1991, while hosting a Youth Bridge exchange to Berlin.  We had a rather slow day, so I went to the Prussian History Library.  I was treated like an alien from another planet, and got no help at all.  So I left.  Later that evening, the person I was staying with laughed at me.  He said, "You can't just go into a library like that without some credentials, introduction, etc.  Why didn't you tell them were a state representative or something?"  Such an idea is, of course, ludicrous to Americans, unless one is visiting a special collection which is privately held.  He picked up the phone and left them a message.  The next day, there was a message on his machine saying, "Of course he can come back!"  But I didn't have time to do so.  The point being, if you are going to visit an institution, you need to set up the appointment ahead of time.  Having credentials, degrees, titles, or "documents" of some sort will greatly enhance your chances for entry.  I hope everyone has as much good luck as did I, though I really just fell into most of it.  Planning ahead would certainly be a better idea.

Craig Kilby
(19 Jan 02)



Nr. 1339:

The previous note by Craig Kilby is continued by him:

First, the German families I was researching were 19th century immigrants to Missouri -- not Germanna people.  The church record books here (St. Louis) very often contain detailed listings of the town of origin of a church member.  These are most often found in the death and burial records, but also in the christening entries.  There is no better source than this for such detail.  Finding the church a German ancestor belonged to is vital.  A typical entry might read "Buried 10 January 1878, Herr Heinrich Schmidt, baker, aged 78 years, 10 days, third legitimate son of Hans Schmidt of Borgholtzhausen and his second wife Anna Maria Mueller."  Armed with this type of information, it is not too difficult to find your ancestors in Germany.  Concordia Seminary in St. Louis has a good collection of old Lutheran Church record books from across the USA.  By no means complete, but still a formidable collection.  (It is up to each Synod whether to send this to Concordia or not).

The names of towns may have changed.  And in particular, the "country".  We need to keep in mind there was no such thing as "Germany" until 1871.  Prior to that, "Germany" was a patchwork of principalities, kingdoms, duchies, etc.  Prussia, of course, under Frederick the Great in the 1700's, was the largest and most powerful of the German Kingdoms, and it was under Prussian leadership that the modern nation of Germany was forged under Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm I.

I mentioned the trip to Beilefeld Regional Library when I went with a Notary Public to access the church records of the local parish of Borgholzhausen.  His name was Martin Maschmeier and without him I would NOT have been given access to these records.  He had "credentials," you see, to let me in.  He was interested in helping for a variety of reasons.  One was that he had a genuine interest in these families, since he was writing a book on the "Auswanderers" to Missouri himself.  (A man much like Michel and de Graffenried, one Gottfried Duden, wrote many prolific tracts to his fellow Germans in the 1830's, extolling the virtues of Missouri, particularly St. Charles County, where Daniel Boone died.  He was extremely successful in recruiting Germans to move here.  Hence, the Boone-Duden Society in St. Charles County, MO.)  Second, he was a publicity hound.  Unbeknownst to me, he arranged interviews with several local newspapers and radio stations featuring my visiting and doing genealogy.  Of course Martin appeared prominently in all of these publicity stunts.  So the lesson here is to find a good local researcher who has access to the records you want to see.

Craig Kilby
(21 Jan 02)



Nr. 1340:

Minert and Riemer in their book, "Researching in Germany", make some points that support the recent discussion.

Germans and other Europeans make frequent use of the business card, or calling card, which provides one's name, titles, address, and affiliations.  Many family historians have noted the obvious appreciation shown by people who receive these cards.  Many times these cards can serve as an "icebreaker" when the card holder does not speak German.

You might want to design a card with your name which shows your affiliation with a society that is involved in German research.  I might put on it:

John Blankenbaker
Member of The Germanna Foundation
Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society
Palatines to America.

Be sure and include your address, perhaps your telephone number, your email address, and perhaps a web page.  In the address, do not use abbreviations that might not be understood as, for example, PA for Pennsylvania.  Conclude your postal address with USA.

You may want to add the names of families that you are researching.  Don't list all of your names, but just the ones you will be working on in Germany.  If you have a specific ancestor you will be working on, you might want to name that individual, his village, and his dates (if possible, give these in German).  Perhaps you do not speak German, and the other person does not speak English, but if he can read your prime interest he may know someone who can help you.

Five hundred cards can be purchased inexpensively at a printer.  You may be able to make your own.  Riemer and Minert suggest that 50 cards would be more than sufficient.  On my trip, I wish that I had prepared note paper, about a quarter sized sheet, that had much of this information on it.  You could turn the sheet over and use it as notepaper when you had a special message to leave.  You will be surprised to discover in what strange circumstances you will be able to use this.

For some really serious work, Riemer and Minert suggest taking several copies of a letter of introduction in German.  This letter should be written in proper, polite German.  They say that has proven to be one of the smartest moves that a non-German researcher has made.  The reports are abundant that these letters have opened many doors.  Be sure and have copies so that you can leave copies with people who want to keep one.  Get a native German to help in writing this letter so that it will be professional.  Perhaps you might start by writing a letter in English.  Then have it translated.  You should explain why you have made a trip to Germany and that you would appreciate any helpful suggestions.
(22 Jan 02)



Nr. 1341:

Shirley Riemer, one of the authors of "Researching in Germany", is associated with the Sacramento German Genealogy Society.  She describes the German Handshake Packet which the Society offers to its members.  You could do the same thing.

The Packet consists of several items helpful in communicating with the German-speaking officials encountered in libraries, archives, and municipal offices, as well as help in communicating with others who may have information to offer.  The Packet consists of:

  • Letter 1:  Written in German on the Society's official letterhead, embossed with its official seal, and signed by the Society's president, it introduces the traveler by name as a valued member of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society and states that, although the bearer of the letter does not speak German, he or she is researching his or her German ancestry during the trip abroad.  It also states that the Society will appreciate any consideration the reader of the letter shows on behalf of the traveler.  The traveler carries one copy of this letter to each of the archives and libraries visited.

  • Letter 2:  This letter, also written in German, is headed with the traveler's own home address and carries the traveler's signature.  It explains that the bearer of the letter does not speak German, but that the traveler's purpose in making the journey is to conduct research concerning one or more German ancestors.  It states that attachments to this letter provide whatever information from vital records the traveler has learned concerning the immigrant.  The letter asks for the reader's suggestion for further research of the named ancestor and thanks the reader for any help given.  Both letters, this one, and Letter 1 above, are written in formal, polite German by a qualified native speaker of German.  The traveler carries about ten copies of this letter to be used as needed.

    • Attachments:  A set of attachments to Letter 2 consists of the major data thus far known about the ancestor being researched.  Written entirely in German, this information sheet gives the name, birth date, birth place, residence, year of emigration, and place of residence in the United States (in so far as the information is known) for the emigrant and for the emigrant's father and mother (as applicable).  Attachments for more than one emigrant (each including the emigrant's parents) may be prepared at additional cost.

  • English translations of all three of the above documents named above are included in the Packet.

Anyone can purchase this material from the Sacrament German Genealogy Society, see the next note.
(23 Jan 02)



Nr. 1342:

The German Handshake Packet mentioned in the last note is available to members of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society:

Sacramento German Genealogy Society
P.O. Box 660061
Sacramento, CA 95866-0061.

The charge to Society members is $5.00 (for one immigrant ancestor).  Applicants for the Packet who are not members of the Society must join the Society.  Last year this was $20.00 for that year's dues.  The reason one must join is that a person is introduced as a member of the Society.  With membership, there are four issues of the Journal, "Der Blumenbaum".

One thing that I can vouch for, which Craig Kilby confirmed, is that you need to be prepared for the surprise turn of events.  Some of the things that you had planned on will not pan out.  There will be more than enough surprises to compensate you.  Some of the ideas that have been mentioned in the past few notes will be a help to handle these unexpected events.

To give an example, in Gresten, Austria, after being kindly treated by Florian Berger, who showed us the ancestral farms and introduced us to the current owners, he said that he would try to get the mayor to have breakfast with us the next morning.  He did, and a two-hour talk fest followed over breakfast.  This was made possible by the interpretation of the high school teacher.  (Florian had to work.)  That evening there was a three-hour dinner with the mayor and Florian (including schnapps).  When chances like this come your way, you will want to take advantage of them.  The mayor more than compensated us with his stories and gifts of a book and a plate.

On our last evening near Trupbach we attempted to meet with Lars Bohn of that village.  Earlier we had tried to contact him through email to a friend of his.  We had not any answer.  So we drove over to Trupbach to call at his house, but there was no answer.  Our plans were made that, after breakfast the next morning, we would leave the area, so we could make an appointment that Saturday evening.  The next morning while planning our departure, we had a phone call to the breakfast table.  (That surprised the hostess of the inn besides us.)  Lars had just found the note that we had left at his door.  (He had been home the evening before but the doorbell was not working.)  He invited us to come by Trupbach, which we were delighted to do.  We were justified, for we got the royal tour.

Moral:  Have a little flexibility in your plans, and a little spare time to take advantage of these opportunities.

Along the way there will be some pleasant surprises that have nothing to do with genealogy or history.  Some of these will stay with you as long as you have a memory.
(24 Jan 02)



Nr. 1343:

"For Pete's Sake, Get Me to the Church on Time!"  Earlier comments have made the point that one needs an appointment ahead of time to visit a church office.  Many churches do not maintain an 8 to 5 schedule every day.  With limited facilities, there may even be someone else coming.  If you can, check the location and parking possibilities the evening before.

The parish office is the headquarters of the pastor, who may have more than one church.  The parish office may have a secretary (assuming there is one), and all kinds of church records.  Most churches have a kindergarten.  The parish office may include rooms for youth or senior groups, the church school, and/or welfare services.

Very likely, the first and only person you may encounter is the secretary.  Introduce yourself and present any letters which confirm your appointment.  Probably the success of the trip hinges on this person more than anyone.  Use your best manners and be patient.  The secretary has other things to do.

Your initial correspondence has probably established whether the records are maintained in the local office.  In many cases, the local church is encouraged to send their records to a central archive, where they are available on microfiche.  In some cases, the only location where the sole copy of the records exists is in the church office.  They may never have sent them out, and may never have allowed them to be photographed.

Be prepared to specify the exact book that you wish to see.  Sometimes you will be allowed only one book at a time.  Sometimes the storage cabinet will be unlocked and you are permitted full access to all.  Your work space will probably be ad hoc.  It could be a kindergarten table or Sunday school room, a council room, even the pastor's office, if he is out, or a small table in the hallway.  Accept whatever is offered with gratitude and do not complain.  Remember that Germans do not generally heat unused space nor do they maintain temperatures as high as you are used to.  If it is unusually cold, you might ask about the possibilities for heat.

ASK if you may plug in the power adaptor for your computer.  Finding an outlet may require some assistance or even furniture rearrangement.  But do not move the furniture yourself.  Ask permission, and probably you will get some assistance.

Quite early in the process, you should establish the office hours and whether there will be an official lunch break, which you may have to honor.  Do not expect the pastor or the secretary to help you in your research.  Few of them are able to read the old German script.  Still, the simple isolated question about once per hour is reasonable.  "Is there a town named Dingsdorf in this parish?"  or  "Is Dickkopf a local name?"

If desperate, you might ask if there is a local expert, perhaps a town historian.  If there is one, the secretary may even be so kind as to call him for you.
(25 Jan 02)



Nr. 1344:

The discussion continues using material from "Researching in Germany", by Minert and Riemer.  In the previous discussion you were at the parish office but not finished with the day's research.  When you do finish, offer your most sincere thanks for being allowed to do research there, whether you were successful or not.  You may have been treated royally or miserably, but give the best thanks you can muster.

Ask what fees are expected.  There may be an established scale, which might amount to five to ten dollars per day.  If nothing is required, offer to make a donation to the parish.  It would not be unusual to give $25 for a shorter visit up to $50 for an all-day visit.  If the secretary works overtime to meet your needs, offer her, not the parish, ten to fifteen dollars per hour.  The preferred mode of payment is Euro.  If you have been royally treated, and stayed the full day, try to have a companion slip out before you leave and buy flowers.

Even though the office may have a photocopier, do not expect to be able to use it.  First, there are many objections to photocopying books (it destroys them).  So be prepared to type or hand write the information you desire.

In general: Be on your best behavior at all times.  Smoke outside.  Do not disturb the staff with your conversation.  Do not eat or drink in the office.  Lift and carry books as though they were newborn babies.  Turn the pages slowly and with care.  Do not "read" with a pencil or pen.  Do not remove loose papers from books.  Leave things as you found them.  Remember others may be coming after you, and the parish office is under no compulsion to serve these oddball customers.

You should have established, before you visit the church, whether the church has records for public viewing.  If the records do exist, but are not at the church, then they are probably at the regional church archives.  Here they are probably on microfiche.  In some cases, the books are in the church and the microfiche is at the archives.

At the archives, procedures are more formal than at the church.  If you are planning to visit an archive, set up an appointment ahead of time.  Facilities are often very limited and the demand is heavier.  Without the appointment and documents supporting who you are, you may be denied admission.  (See the earlier comments by Craig Kilby.)

At the archive, report to the archivist or the secretary.  Show your correspondence, especially the letters establishing your appointment.  You will probably be requested to register and perhaps even to show your passport to establish your identity.  Then you will probably have to pay your daily fee (approximately five Euro per day).  As is done here in America, you may be asked to check everything in a locker that you do not use for your research.
(26 Jan 02)



Nr. 1345:

[With Meinert and Riemer in the regional church archive office.]  A typical regional church archive office often has about six work stations that are centered about microfiche readers.  Perhaps you might want to check the availability of reference works such as maps, dictionaries, gazetteers, etc., which might not be in sight.  Some archives have a collection of histories of local parishes, towns, or families.  Perhaps there will be indices.

Depending on the rules in each archive, you may have unrestricted access to all of the books or microfiche, or you may have to fill out a request form for a specific item which you will have to return before another one can be issued.  Occasionally records can be issued only at specific times during the day.

Do not expect any help from the staff in your research.  Usually you can get an answer to a specific simple question such as, “Are the records for Langenbrücken parish kept here?”  Sometimes photocopiers are available, but the prices and type of service vary widely.  Occasionally you must surrender a book, perhaps for hours, while the staff does the photocopying.

Before leaving, make sure all material has been returned.  Retrieve your belongings and thank the archivist personally for his/her assistance whether or not you got any from him/her.

If you think the cemetery might be a good place to conduct research, forget it.  Everything there will be very modern history; however, it is very enjoyable to visit a “Friedhof”, where it is a pleasant place to relax.  There are two ways of gaining some insight into who is still living in a town, besides the telephone book, and that is the Friedhof and the War Memorials.

There are civil offices also and they are often helpful for getting questions answered.  One must be aware that many small villages no longer have a city hall or administrative building.  In the interest of efficiency, many smaller villages have been combined administratively with other smaller villages, or with larger communities.  Still, the mayor visits every town on a regular basis and his hours will be posted in a public place.  (The combination of smaller villages also applies to postal service.)

The civil registry for a particular village may no longer be in that village but might be located in some nearby village.  In Germany, these offices may have several names but we can call them civil registry offices.  In general, you should have an appointment to visit one.  After finding the building, tell the person at the door what you wish and you will be given further instructions.  The civil registry does not usually have general reference works.  Typically, the civil-record volumes have indexes, perhaps an annual one at the end of each year, and perhaps a longer one in a separate volume.
(28 Jan 02)



Nr. 1346:

Another type of repository for information is the city archive.  Typically, if a city has an archive, there is no employee responsible for it on a full time basis.  Many times, it is a volunteer.  Hours are very erratic, and advance arrangements should be made.  If the archive does exist, one of the advantages is that the worker in the office usually has time to talk, and may even be anxious to talk to someone who is interested in his/her information.  There is no standard set of holdings, but Riemer and Minert say that the city archives sometimes have "rare and wonderful documents".

The next government unit up from the city is the county (Kreis, Landkreis, or Stadtkreis).  These usually do not hold vital records, but often have historical documents, including tax records and land transactions.  There may be maps, or photographs, or a historical/cultural library.  Hours are not always regular, and appointments may be hard to obtain, because the hours the office is open are irregular.  Often these, and the city archives, are less formal than the church regional archives, or the civil registries, but be prepared to observe local standards.

The next larger political unit is the State (Stadt), of which there are sixteen in Germany.  There is also a national archive with a main office in Koblenz, with branches in other cities.  Generally, you should not expect to find vital records or church records here.  You may find histories of towns, of families, or of personal histories, photographs, maps, census records, tax rolls, property transactions, and rare documents of diverse significance.  These archives tend to be run in a very formal manner.

Be sure and ask about the availability of indices.  Some of the larger archives are well indexed.

In all of the locations, from small to large, you may wish to ask about the availability of help to assist you.  You would be "hiring" the person to work for you and to assist you.  In nearly every formal office, the people there will be aware of who might be available.  Such people are often retired and have some free time, so scheduling them is not critical.  Such a person can tell you when to visit the parish office, tour the church, or visit the ancestral family home.  Sometimes they will drive you around, but usually they prefer that you drive while they talk.  Many of these people will not accept payment for their services, and may suggest instead that you make a donation to the local parish.

It is suggested that you be prepared for unusual experiences, such as an invitation to lunch with the pastor, or dinner with the mayor.  Perhaps the local newspaper will want to run a story about the people from America who are visiting their ancestral home.  (My wife and I can vouch for the great time we had in Gresten, Austria, with an assortment of locals, including the mayor.  Going to the Germanna photo page and then to Gresten, you can see the dinner party that we had.  We hosted this as appreciation for what they had done for us.  The mayor, in turn, gave us a book and a commemorative plate.)
(29 Jan 02)



Nr. 1347:

The name Dicken has intrigued me as it has others.  I welcome more information, but in the records that I have at hand I have the following references.

From the baptismal records at the Hebron Lutheran Church in present day Madison County, VA, I have one record.  Benjamin Dikons and his wife Rosina brought Rhoda for baptism on 22 Jun 1777 (Rev. Franck was the pastor).  The sponsors were Adam Fischer, Elis. Fischer, and Eva Jager.  On the very reasonable assumption that these sponsors were related to Rosina, let's look at them.

Adam Fischer married Elizabeth Gaar.  This suggests that we should look some at the Gaar family.  There we find that Rosina/Rosanna was a Garr who married Benjamin Dicken.  Rosanna was the daughter of (John) Adam Gaar and Elizabeth Kaefer.  So the choice of Adam Fischer and Elisabeth Fischer was the choice, by Rosina, of her brother-in-law and her sister.  These were very natural choices.  The choice of Eva Jager is for an unknown reason.  She seems to be the daughter of Michael Yager and Elizabeth Manspiel.

There is only one appearance of Benjamin or Rosina as a couple at communion services at the church.  In the communion lists, Rosina appears alone on one occasion, Christmas Day in 1776.  She was the last name.  Since she was in the single women's group, her husband was probably not with her.

In the Culpeper Classes (1781), in class 69 we have Benjamin, Ephraim, John, and Richard.  In class 72 we have Lt. William Dicken.  The appearance of one of the Dicken men as an officer does not suggest the family was German.  (However, note that Christopher Zimmerman was a Lt. in the militia, and Mark Finks (Jr.) was a Capt. in the militia.)  Class 69 seems to have involved men living "north" of Crigersville, such as Shotwells and Yowells.

In the tax lists for Culpeper County in 1787, there are four Dicken men, Benjamin, Joseph, Richard, and William.  Ephraim is not listed.  Relatively near neighbors of Richard were Blankenbakers, Berrys, Clores, Criglers, Finks, Humes, Rouses, Willheits, Yagers, and Yowells.  This area is in the north of modern Madison County where there was a mixture of English and German families.

Offhand, the evidence that the Dicken family was German does not look good.  However, the Dicken men may have a German mother, perhaps a Manspiel.  This would tie in nicely with the baptism above.
(31 Jan 02)



Nr. 1348:

Recently we have discussed research in Germany.  There is one alternative to going and trying to do it yourself.  Hire someone to do it for you.  Two people, from America, who make a regular habit of researching for others, besides for themselves, are Roger Minert and Shirley Riemer, who were the authors of the book, "Researching in Germany", which I was using in the discussion here.  In giving their comments, they were basing them on experience.  Another resource is a local person, or, more exactly, a professional researcher in Germany.

A few decades ago, the family of Theodore Walker hired researchers in Germany to investigate the Gar/Gahr/Gaar/Garr family.  In the Germanna community, this family is represented by Andreas Gaar and his wife Eva Seidelmann, who came with five children in 1732.  To show the extent or scope of what could be accomplished, fifty Gaar/Seidelmann ancestors were identified (counting Andreas and Eva themselves).  I am not aware that any other Germanna family has so many of their German ancestors identified.  (If anyone knows a family with more identified ancestors in Germany, I hope they will speak up.)

There is very little hope of finding more because the church books have just about been exhausted.  The return on a search of the civil records would probably not be worth it.  And certainly it would better be done by a German professional.

To give an example of how difficult it may be to find information, the piece of information which ties Matthias Planckenbuehler (the first of the name in western Germany) back to Austria was found in a private Schloss (castle) in Gresten, Austria.  The particular piece of information was not found in a deliberate search but as the result of a dedicated man from Germany who photographed the information in the lord's record books.  From the photographs, he typed an abstract of the data.  Thus, when an inquiry was made he was able to search his pages of typed sheets for relevant facts.  The original books remain the private property of the family and they are not about to allow people to use their house as a library.

It is probably the case that no researcher in Germany knows all of the sources of information, because so much is in private hands.  But a professional is apt to make more progress than a private American citizen.

This is no reason to postpone your visit to Germany.  Don't expect to make much progress on your research, but do expect to have a good time.  On our trip two years ago, we wanted to find Unterbiegelhof (a farm).  It appears, rather imprecisely, on a map.  The process of finding it, which required some local help, was a good part of the fun.  A bigger part of the fun was in finding it and in being graciously entertained by the owner.  A similar situation occurred with another farm, Wagenbach, where we sipped champagne with the owner.  We learned nothing new, but we had the pleasure of walking on the ground where George Utz lived and worked, and where Mary Sabina Volck played.
(01 Feb 02)



Nr. 1349:

The January issue of Beyond Germanna, mailed a month ago, was devoted to the Gaar family, both in Europe, and in America.  The ancestors of Andreas Gaar show a migration pattern across Bavaria, the most southeastern state of Germany.  At the time of emigration, the Gaar family, of which Andreas was a part, was living in Illenschwang, a small village on the very western part of Bavaria.  It would take a detailed map to find it.  The next larger town is Dinkelsbuehl, a few miles to the west.

An earlier ancestor of Andreas lived in Regensburg, a town to the east of Illenschwang.  When Hans Gahr was married there, he said he was from Kolnpach.  As you might guess, there is no place in Germany with this name.  Therefore one is forced to use his imagination and see what can be found.  A close relative of Kolnpach is Kolmbach.  The substitution of "-bach" for "-pach" is natural as the southern Germans and Austrians of that time liked the "p" as opposed to the "b".

Searching for Kolmbach in the general area of Regensberg does not yield anything in most indices either.  To even find a mention of it, it was necessary to consult Mueller's Big Book of German Place Names (using an English translation of the German name).  A general location was described there with an uncertainty of a few miles.  Later, McCrea Research's "Digital German Gazetteer" was consulted and one of the two locations it cited did agree with Mueller.  The digital gazetteer also identified this Kolmbach as a farm.  This would be consistent with Hans Gahr's statement that he was a farmer.

The general location of Kolmbach is only a few miles, perhaps fifteen, from the Austrian border.  Members of the Gaar family in Bavaria today say that the family originated in Austria.  The evidence that I have seen so far is very consistent with this statement, but proof is lacking.  If we assume for the moment that it is true, the pattern would seem to be that the family emigrated from Austria to the Kolmbach vicinity, then one branch went on to Regensberg, and then on to the vicinity of Illenschwang, where they were living when some of them made the leap, to the west, across the big pond.

This general migration pattern seems to hold for several of our Germanna families.  They had a history of migration before they came to America.  Klaus Wust has made this point in a Germanna Foundation seminar talk.  We are aware of several families that went from Bavaria to western Germany, and then on to America.  For some of these families, we are finding that they had an even earlier migration.

I will look more at the Gaar history in the next note.
(02 Feb 02)



Nr. 1350:

The earliest identified ancestor in our Gar/Gaar/Garr family is Hans Gahr of "Kolnpach", which I am identifying as the farm Kolmbach in southeastern Bavaria.  Hans was born about 1545, and he married, 23 Jan 1570, Elisabeth Schaidtl at Regensburg.  So, the westward migration started with Hans.  There may have been an earlier migration, perhaps from Austria to Germany.  This is the tradition in at least one German Gaar family, but we have no proof yet.  Elisabeth was said to be from "Drisper", which has yet to be identified.

Hans died only seven years after he married.  There were two children, Thomas and Warbara, who seem to be totally orphaned when Hans died.  Their guardian gave the deed for the house to the tutors of the children.  This home had been purchased by the mother.

Thomas Gahr/Gar married twice in Regensburg.  He was referred to as a citizen, locksmith, and laborer.  His son, Andreas, of the second marriage, was also born at Regensburg.  In later life Andreas was a master weaver.  He moved to a village close to Illenschwang.

Andreas' son Johannes entered this world in a very weak condition.  The midwife was so concerned for him that she baptized him immediately.  He survived and lived to 80 years less six months, which was a very old age for that time.  He died 22 May 1739 between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, peacefully and happily in his old age, and was buried two days later.  "He was a man sincerely faithful to the Lord and to the neighbor, whose memory will be blessed, since nothing else than good and laudable can be said of him."  This Johannes is the father of Andreas Gaar, the immigrant to America in 1732.  Johannes was a linen weaver and a member of the committee of twelve at Frankenhofen.

From Hans, the first known, to Andreas is five generations in Bavaria.

It seems clear there were other Gahrs besides Hans.  The name, spelled as Gahr, occurs 564 times in the telephone book.  The biggest concentration of these occurs around the farm Kolmbach in southeast Bavaria.  There are 157 Gaars in the telephone book, and again the largest number is not far from Kolmbach.  Eighty Gars are present also, divided between southeast Bavaria and North Rhineland-Westphalia.  Even the Garr name is present 32 times.  In all cases, the largest density is in the southeast of Bavaria.

There seems to be little doubt about the place in which the family originated in Germany.  It is a mystery now as to their earlier history.  When going back almost five hundred years, the records are very scarce, and hard to use.
(04 Feb 02)


(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 FIFTY-FOURTH set of Notes, Nr. 1326 through Nr. 1350.)


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!

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(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 1326 through 1350.

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