30 March 2012

The end of the milling era in the Beringer family

In the information that Norbert Michel sent me about the mills that the various generations of the Beringer family ran in Niederwalluf (the Bugmühle - bug mill) and Rauenthal/Schlangenbad (the Lochmühle - loch mill), there was a list of owners/managers of the Lochmühle and the dates they had possession of it. It suddenly occurred to me last night to see how the dates of Adam and John Valentine (JV) Beringer's emigration to Australia matched with the next owner/manager taking over from their father Valtin.

Adam and JV arrived in Australia in December 1884. Before that they had travelled by unknown route and means from the Rhine Valley, Germany to Plymouth, England, where the Abergeldie, on which they sailed to Australia, left from. I can't imagine it would have taken them much more than a year to get from Rauenthal to Australia - it only took just over a month for the Abergeldie to get to Australia from England, and certainly they were well placed on the Rhine to travel at least part of the journey along the river. Their names have not turned up on any passenger lists exiting Germany but this is not surprising for it would seem that the vast majority of them were destroyed.

The owner/managers of the Lochmühle who took over from Valtin Beringer were Georg and Karoline Koch, and they assumed responsibility for the mill in 1871. However, Valtin, the previous owner or manager (I don't know which and the list doesn't specify) died in 1867. His second wife Elisabetha died before that, in 1864. Who looked after the mill until the Koch's took over?

In 1867 when their father Valtin died, Adam and JV were only 11 and 8 years old respectively, and were the only boys in the family alive at the time of their father's death. It is not hard to see why they didn't take over the mill - even if they could have worked in it they were too young to run it. The only other child in the family possibly alive at the time was their half sister Katharina - I have not been able to find a death record for her in the Rauenthal parish records. She was confirmed, aged 17, in Rauenthal in 1862, so she was definitely still alive five years before her father died. I imagine she may have married in another parish, which is why I have not been able to trace her. However, if she was still alive and unmarried in 1867 when her father died, it is possible that she may have run the mill, until the family was able to find another owner or manager in 1871.

And thus it was that the mill passed to the Kochs, and Adam and JV didn't become millers, and therefore were free from family obligation to emigrate to Australia. Adam was listed as a locksmith in his immigration records, and JV was a carpenter. I wonder who they learnt the skills from?

19 March 2012

The Lochmühle of Rauenthal

With a huge amount of help from Norbert Michel of Rheingau Genealogie I now know where the Lochmühle (translates as loch mill or hole mill) of Rauenthal is. A whole generation (and more) of Beringer children were born in the Lochmühle, and so I hoped to find out its location so that one day I might be able to visit, or at least stand outside and ponder that I was standing where my Beringers ancestors had once stood.

In correspondence with Norbert I asked him if he knew where the Lochmühle of Rauenthal was, and whether it still existed. He dug up a book, which contained information about the Lochmühle and its succession of owners. It listed Lorenz and Valentin Behringer (sic) as owners and also noted that Lorenz ran it with Valentin Rudolph. Interestingly, Lorenz's wife's maiden name was Rudolph, though her father was Adam Rudolph. I had wondered why the Beringers had been milling in Niederwalluf but then changed to Rauenthal/Schlangenbad. It appears that it could have been a family connection - perhaps Valentin Rudolph was Lorenz's brother-in-law.

The book also had photos/pictures of the mill, one of it in days gone by, the other in its present state. It turns out that I had already come across a photo of the present day mill, but just didn't know it was the right one. You can see a photo of it here, and an illustration of it in 1900 here. Probably one of the things which threw me off was that it is actually closer to Schlangenbad than Rauenthal, though it is found between the two villages. However, I don't doubt that it is the correct mill because Lorenz Beringer's death record actually lists the location of his death as "auf der Lochmühle bei Schlangenbad" - roughly translated as "at the loch mill near Schlangenbad", whilst Valtin Beringer's children were all born at the Lochmühle in Rauenthal. Knowing that Lorenz and Valtin both owned or were tenants of the same mill clinches it.

18 March 2012

W.W. Macindoe in Dorrigo

My great great uncle Walter Walker Macindoe was born in Govan, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 1 November 1866. He emigrated to Australia in 1884 with his family, on account of him having a weak constitution - it was thought the fresh Australian air might be better for him. Considering he died aged about 90, in 1955, it certainly seems to have done him no harm!

W.W. Macindoe married Matilda Francis in 1889, and they, with their four children moved to Dorrigo, NSW, in 1911. You can read some of what he wrote about moving to Dorrigo here. He had selected a plot of land, and he and his eldest son worked extremely hard to tame the land and make something of it. His descendants still live in the area.

I was interested to find the plot of land on a parish map, and so set about looking. According to the electoral lists of 1930 and 1936 his address was North Dorrigo. Looking at parish maps for land north of the village of Dorrigo I had no luck finding the name W.W. Macindoe, so I tried looking in the historical newspapers of Trove to see if there was anything on him and his selection of land. A search of "Macindoe Dorrigo" produced a result in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner for 7 July 1914 in an article on Crown Lands: "... also for road; also within W.W. Macindoe's portion 23, parish Meldrum Downs."

So this narrowed down the parish, and gave me the portion number for the land. I put "Meldrum" into the Parish Map Preservation Project website, clicked on "Meldrum Downs" and chose the first map available from after 1911. Right up the top, in the righthand corner I found Walter Macindoe's land. It was purchased as a Conditional Purchase in August 1908 and was 300 acres, 1 rood, excluding the road running through it. It was north of the village of Deer Vale, so I looked up Deer Vale in Google Maps, and found it west of Dorrigo. North of Deer Vale I found a road named "McIndoes Road" leading up to the land he owned - no need to guess who that was named after!

16 March 2012

Where did Dorothea Beringer Schmitt go?

Dorothea Schmitt née Beringer was my great great great great aunt. Her brother Valtin Beringer was my great great great grandfather.

Dorothea was an interesting woman. She was born in 1808 in Mainz to Lorenz and Eva Beringer née Rudolph, and was possibly the eldest child in the family (at least, that's what the evidence suggests at this stage). From a Catholic family, surprisingly (to me) she had three daughters out of wedlock to the same guy - Caspar Schmitt, a shoemaker from Schlangenbad, then married him, and had at least one more child.

In the parish birth records for the three girls it is recorded that Caspar maintained he was the father of the children, though the only parent listed formally was their mother Dorothea. The first daughter, Franziska, was born in 1829, when Dorothea was 21, and her father had been dead for 10 years. I don't know much about social life in a Catholic town (I believe it was illegal to be anything else at the time) in south western Germany but I can't imagine children born out of wedlock would have gone down very well. I can't imagine her mother would have been very pleased - surely there would have been quite a social stigma attached to it. Maybe she managed to get away with it three times because her father wasn't around to lay down the law. Dorothea was 31 by the time she finally got around to marrying Caspar, the father of her children, which I would think was quite old in those days. I think there's more to this story than the parish records show, unfortunately, I doubt there's anyone left who could tell it!

The last child I can find for Dorothea and Caspar was Adam Schmitt (it was he whom my great great grandfather Adam Beringer was named after), born in 1842. There's one more record I can find regarding Dorothea - in 1853 she was involved in a dispute over an inheritance - from Rheingau Genealogie: "Die Vermögensauseinandersetzung über die Erbteile der Dorothea Beringer Ehefrau des Caspar Schmitt zu Schlangenbad und der Eva Rudolph Ehefrau des Jacob Graf zu Rüdesheim und des Nachlasses des Karl Baier zu Niederwalluf". It seems to suggest that her mother may have remarried, and, given the wording of Eva's death record, which says she was widowed by the death of her first husband Lorenz Beringer, this may have been the case. She did die in Schlangenbad though, where Dorothea lived, rather than in Rüdesheim where her alleged second husband came from. Whatever the case, Dorothea's mother died in 1849, so the dispute may have been over an inheritance from her mother's estate.

After 1853 Dorothea and Caspar apparently disappear. I cannot find a record of their deaths in Schlangenbad, where they lived, nor in Rauenthal, which was the closest Catholic parish. So where did they go? I wonder if they emigrated. There's no record of them emigrating to Australia (though no Beringers had emigrated there by this stage), but it was cheaper to go to America at the time anyway. There are Beringers in America, but as for "Schmitt" - there are plenty there but you'd never know if the spelling was correct, there's so many variations. Certainly, if Dorothea had come into some money from an inheritance then that would have made emigration a lot easier. I don't know if they'll ever turn up, but I'll keep looking.

Interestingly, two of Dorothea's daughters had a child each out of wedlock. The apple apparently didn't fall far from the tree.

12 March 2012

The Beringers of Niederwalluf

I was looking at death records for the Beringers in the parish of Rauenthal, in the Rhine region of Germany (LDS microfilm 1272117) the other day. Another eureka moment. For some reason, even though I have gone through death records before, it had not occurred to me that parents would be listed, and therefore I could potentially get back a further generation. But there it all was. And not only parents but the fathers' occupations, and where they lived.

My recent research on the Beringers led to the confirmation that Lorenz Beringer and his wife Maria Eva (generally known as Eva) née Rudolph were the grandparents of my great great grandfather Valtin Beringer. Lorenz Beringer was born in Niederwalluf on 19 June 1769. Lorenz was a miller at the Lochmühle (watermill) in Rauenthal. Lorenz and Eva had some children in Mainz (I don't know why they were in Mainz) and then lived in Rauenthal. Lorenz died in Rauenthal on 14 November 1819, aged 50. The death record shows his parents were Caspar Joseph Beringer and Maria Josepha (unknown maiden name, or maybe Josepha is the maiden name...) of Niederwalluf. I think it does say what Caspar's occupation was, but I can't make out the handwriting.

Eva Beringer died in Schlangenbad on 20 April 1849. She was born on 20 March 1778 in Schierstein to Adam Rudolph and Susanna (unknown maiden name) of Schierstein. Adam was a book binder. There is something written in the Notes column of Maria Eva's death record, but I cannot yet make out what it says, apart from something about her daughter Dorothea Schmitt. I'm going to have to go back and look at that record again to see if I can decipher what it says.

I was quite interested in the Niederwalluf connection with the Beringers. Norbert Michel has done a lot of work on Niederwalluf as shown on his excellent website Rheingau Genealogie (in German). He refers to members of the Beringer family a number of times, and I had always thought there was a good chance that I was related to those Beringers. I now know that at least some of them were my relatives. The Beringers in Niederwalluf were also millers, just like the Beringers from Rauenthal. I have ordered the parish records of Niederwalluf now, so that I can work out the relationships amongst the Beringers Herr Michel mentions.

I've drawn a map below of some of the important places in the Rhine region, to give you an understanding of where everything is and how close it all is. Please note that Wiesbaden and Mainz are large places, and the dots on the maps for them signify the middle point of them, though they themselves occupy a larger area (for instance Schierstein is now part of Wiesbaden). Georgenborn, though not mentioned in this post, is where the Bredels came from - Valtin Beringer's wives, Barbara and Elisabethe Bredel (sisters) were from Georgenborn.

03 March 2012

George Beranger makes the news

My relative Bryony Cosgrove could be my great great uncle George Beranger's publicity agent. It's only about 100 years too late for his film career, but that's not her fault! After all the publicity the new silent movie The Artist has generated recently, Bryony has written a piece about one of Australia's forgotten silent movie actors (Great Great Uncle George) which was published today in The Age newspaper (and also online at the Sydney Morning Herald).