27 February 2012

Charlotte Mary Weiss

Charlotte Mary Weiss was born on June 30, 1776, in England, and baptised at St Marylebone, London, the next day. She is depicted as an infant in an illustration of her parents, Gaspard and Marie Weiss, and the assumption was that she had died young, possibly in England, because of an inscription on the illustration which said she died early.

Today I was looking at the parish records for Mulhouse (LDS microfilm 715494), specifically the death/burial records. The records went all the way to 1798, which was important for me, because apparently 5 people from Charlotte's family, her mother and four siblings, died in that year. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the parish records stopped at the end of March. None of the five Weiss' had died before March that year, which suggests they were all after that. I don't know that the records for the rest of the year are available, annoyingly! Perhaps I'll never know if they all died of the same thing, one after the other.

However, wonderfully, I did come across Charlotte's death record. Surprisingly she died in Mulhouse, after the family had returned there in 1794. She was 19 years old at the time of her death (2nd January 1796), and the cause of her death was given as auf Zehrung, which translates as "of attrition" - presumably this suggests a general weakening of her health, which eventually lead to her death.

The most interesting thing about the death record for Charlotte is the phrase eheliche tochter. I believe this translates as "illegitimate daughter". There is no mother recorded in the death record, though that isn't unusual amongst the death records I have been working on. However, the fact that Mary is Charlotte's middle name suggests Marie was her mother. The death record gives Charlotte's age as 19 years, 6 months and 1 day, which fits with her birth date. The date that Gaspard and Marie married was recorded in English papers at the time - August 1775. I can't see how Charlotte was illegitimate, unless some funny business was going on with her birth date. A mystery.

Mystery Solved
I checked with a native German speaker, and it turns out that Google Translator cannot always be relied upon to give you the correct translation. Eheliche tochter actually means "daughter born in wedlock", whereas uneheliche tochter means "daughter born out of wedlock". Phew - scandal averted.

21 February 2012

The Beringers of Lochmühle, Rauenthal

I ordered in a microfilm of the parish records for the Catholic church of Rauenthal, in the Rhein Valley, Germany, to the local LDS Family History Centre before Christmas. I finally got to the centre yesterday to start searching through it (its on loan from the US for 3 months). Wow - so many new Beringers! Thankfully before I went I did my homework, and took with me some sheets of information on the German script used in those days. Otherwise I would have been completely up the creek! In the German script, the name Beringer looks more like Lenninger. I'm so glad I knew that!

I first looked for my great great grandfather Adam Beringer's birth record, and to find it there was so exciting!

All I knew before was that Adam was born in Rauenthal, his brother John Valentine (JV) was said to have been born in Weisbaden (not far away), and his parents were Valtin and Elisabetha Beringer née Bredel. Valtin was a miller, and Elisabetha had sisters who were born in Georgenborn - a village very close to Rauenthal. I had found no evidence of Adam and JV having any siblings, but I did think it likely that there were some - a Catholic family with only two children in those days would have been the exception rather than the norm I imagine. I had an inkling of who Valtin's parents were - but it was only guessing - I had found a Lorenz and Eva Beringer née Rudolph, and it was possible they were of the right sort of age.

So, Valtin was the son of Lorenz and Maria Eva Beringer née Rudolph. He was born in Mainz on 3 December 1810. Lorenz was a miller also. Valtin had at least two siblings - Dorothea, born in Mainz, 18 Feb 1808, and Maria Josepha, born 22 Dec 1818 in Rauenthal. It is likely that there were more siblings, but I haven't had the chance to search for them in the parish records yet. It would seem that some of the children were born in Mainz, and then the family moved to Rauenthal, where they lived at the Lochmühle (water mill), Lorenz being the miller. I have no idea how Lorenz came to take over the mill, and have not yet managed to work out where the Lochmühle is/was in Rauenthal. Ownership records would be brilliant!

Valtin, possibly the firstborn son, apparently took over the mill from his father. From the records I saw, there does not seem to have been another Beringer family living in the Rauenthal parish. Valtin married Luise Barbara Bredel (known as Barbara) in 1843 (I managed not to record the actual date - good thing I can check it again later!) in Rauenthal. They had two children, Katharina (born 13 Jul 1845, died ?) and Carl (born 18 Jul 1849, died ?), before Barbara died (when and of what I still have to find out). Obviously the Bredel girls were of good stock because Valtin then married one of Barbara's sisters, Elisabetha, on 17 August 1851 in Rauenthal.

Valtin and Elisabetha had seven children, Franziska Charlotte (born 8 Sep 1852, died 1 Oct 1852), Joseph (born 22 Oct 1853, died before 1855), Joseph (born 11 Mar 1855, died same year), Adam (born 6 Mar 1856, died 26 Jul 1935), John Valentine (baptised as Johannes Valtin, born 18 Nov 1858, died 15 May 1931), Joseph (born 11 Mar 1861, died 28 Jul 1861), and Elisabetha (born 10 Apr 1863, died ?).

All of Valtin's children were born in Rauenthal, at the Lochmühle. The record which said that JV was born in Weisbaden was obviously an approximation for Australians who would never have heard of a little village called Rauenthal. I haven't yet managed to work out what happened to Valtin and Barbara's two children, Katharina and Carl. It is possible that Carl might have taken over the mill from his father, unless the mill was sold to someone else, or the industrial revolution killed it off. This would have freed Adam and JV up to move to Australia because they weren't obliged to work in the family business. I look with sadness at the three Joseph Beringers who all died very young, and wonder why they chose the names Adam and Johannes Valtin in the middle of the Josephs.

I hope to see whether any of Valtin's children married in Rauenthal when I next go to look at the parish records, and also to have a look in the burial records. That should hopefully answer a few more questions I have.

And now I have to see if I can locate a watermill in Rauenthal. Plus I've now got a visit to the cemetery in Rauenthal added to my bucket list!

18 February 2012

Charles Nicholas Weiss in the British Library

In researching the biography of Charles Nicholas Weiss, I am putting together a list of all his known compositions.

I have found though, that the British Museum has 15 of his works in their collection, but they are listed under the name of Carl N Weiss. Perhaps in his compositions he gave his name as Carl, however, in every reference to him in the newspapers of the time, he was known as Charles N Weiss or CN Weiss. I even have a copy of a letter he sent to the music dictionary compiler John Sainsbury, in which he refers to himself as Charles N Weiss, and it even lists some of the works held by the British Library. I have not yet found him referred to as Carl in any historical documents of the time.

I wonder if I can convince the British Library to change it? Probably not - I'm an upstart (a blogger, no less) from the colonies.

16 February 2012

The Turnbulls

A new Turnbull relative, Fay, contacted me recently. She's descended from William Turnbull's (father of George Valentine Turnbull) sister, Margaret.

I have researched William Turnbull, but there's not really a lot to find, it would seem.

William (1819-1896) and Elizabeth Turnbull née Martin (1822-1881) emigrated from England to Australia on the Persia in 1863. Both originally from Scotland, they married in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1839. Three children were born in Rutherglen (Robert, Agnes and Andrew Martin) before the family left Scotland and moved to Liverpool, Lancashire, England where six more children were born (William, Elizabeth, Orson, Janet Stevens, John and George Valentine). It is thought that children Robert and Andrew died in Scotland, and it is likely that Agnes died in Liverpool.

On the 9 February 1863 the family left Plymouth for Sydney, emigrating as assisted immigrants, arriving on May 10 1863. Youngest daughter Marian Persia was born on the voyage. The family settled in Balmain. William worked as a labourer, in Scotland, England and Australia. William and Elizabeth were both buried in Balmain Cemetery.

William was the son of Robert and Janet Turnbull née Stevens. They had at least four children: Robert (1824-1876), Margaret (1825-1898), William, and Agnes (1830-?). Robert, Margaret and William and their families all emigrated to Australia. Robert was the first to emigrate, and sponsored William and Margaret to come out.

Margaret was married to Hugh McFadyen and they had seven children. According to Fay, Hugh was a waterman, rowing people to and from boats in Sydney Harbour, and Margaret was a midwife. Fay related to me a family story: Margaret was called to deliver a baby on Fort Denison (a little island fort in the middle of Sydney Harbour, see picture below), so she rowed, with her youngest daughter Mary, all the way from where they lived in Pyrmont to Fort Denison. After the baby was safely delivered she rowed back, leaving 14 year old Mary to stay and help the mother and baby.

Fay and I did some digging and eventually came up with the following: Minnie Jane W Stobo was born on December 26, 1879, at Fort Denison, Port Jackson, to Thomas and Harriet Susan Stobo. Harriet was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Wren, Thomas Wren being the lightkeeper on Fort Denison. Who knows what time of day Minnie was born, but hopefully Margaret had eaten a good sized Christmas Day dinner in order to stock up on energy for the next day's events!