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Ötisheim, Germany


It was in Ötisheim (refer to the map for more information) in 1703 that Johannes Breÿhel married Ursula Ruop, daughter of a local gravedigger. Johannes had moved to Ötisheim some time prior from Dußlingen, the ancestral home of the family located about 40 miles away. Johannes was a weaver. He and Ursula began raising their family here, but they left for the New World in the summer of 1717.

The Trauma of War

Perhaps the most significant fact about Ötisheim from the Broyles/Briles family perspective is that the town was sacked on September 27 and 28, 1692. This is why the church records do not go back any earlier. The reason for the sacking was an attempt by France's "Sun King", Louis XIV, to claim the inheritance of his sister-in-law Lieselotte from the Palatinate. In so doing, he launched a war of succession that in a few years time left southwestern Germany lying in rubble. One of the war's decisive battles was fought near Ötisheim at which the Duke-Administrator Karl von Württemberg was taken captive by the French. Ötisheim was burned down leaving only the church, town hall, and monastery administration building still standing. In 1744, looking back on that time, pastor Christian Gottfried Nicolai wrote "the inhabitants were all dispersed, everything plundered and the village sat in complete ruin." Only nine inhabitants lived in the ruins in 1697. It is for this reason that the Waldensers (religious followers of Peter Waldo) were granted the right to move straight into this depopulated neighborhood. They established a community in nearby Schönenberg, site of a museum today.

Thus Ötisheim was a vacuum, and it attracted the persecuted Waldenser sect and others. Johannes seems to have been part of the migration into the area. The town was rebuilt during the early 1700's with a strong fortification that had a moat, embankments and thick walls, the remains of which can be seen today.

St. Michael's Church

Picture of ChurchInterior of Church

These photographs comes from a pamphlet on the Evangelical Lutheran churches in the Ötisheim area. St. Michael's predates 1500, and has undergone a series of expansions and restorations over the years. Old frescoes adorn the area around the altar.

The church records from Ötisheim do not actually name the church, but it is almost certain they are from St. Michael's. We can assume it is here that the christenings of the children took place.



Early History

Evidence exists for a settlement of some kind during Frankish times, and later during Roman times. The earliest written record of the town is from the year 756 when it is referred to as Autinesheim, from an old clan name "Autines". Like other towns, it was 'owned' by a variety of local nobles, each of whom had a share, but by the year 1150 it had been brought into the possession of the monastery in nearby Maulbronn. In 1504 the town, which had been Palatine, came under Württemberg dominion. During the 1500's Ötisheim was a model administrative center for numerous Maulbronn properties in the area. Even after the Reformation came to Maulbronn, the economic and administrative structure hardly changed and the town remained a component of the Maulbronn monastery office.

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