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!