30 March 2014

The Baumgartens in France

The other day I discovered that the Archives Départementales du Haut Rhin has birth, death and marriage records from 1798-1892 available for viewing online, arranged by town. They are civil records, not parish records, and contain quite a lot of information, often the dates of birth of people getting married, their parents' names and occupations, names of witnesses, if and how they are related, etc. Fantastic! Although considering they are written in French perhaps I should say "Fantastique!"

I've been looking through them and have managed to increase my Weiss family tree quite a bit, but the most interesting part has been finding all the Baumgartens.

Early on in my research on the Baumgartens in Mulhouse I was warned that "Baumgartner" was the name of a longstanding bourgeois family in Mulhouse, and perhaps that's who my Baumgartens were. From my research I have found that all my family in Mulhouse were actually Baumgarten, a totally distinct family from the Baumgartners, although they were sometimes misnamed as Baumgartners.

I already knew that Marie Baumgarten had moved to Mulhouse from London (where she was born) with her Mulhousien husband Gaspard Weiss. Her sister Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten had also moved there at some stage, and married a local Paul Blech, as had their brother William (often known by the French form, Guillaume, in the French records), who had married into one of the big bourgeois families by marrying Anne Catherine Schlumberger.

Trawling through the birth, death and marriage records for Mulhouse, I found three instances of a witness to three separate marriages, one Frédéric Baumgarten. There was even a record of his son Jean marrying. Interesting. Definitely Baumgarten, not Baumgartner. He was a dessinateur - a designer. I take that to mean he was associated with the rag trade - which was huge in Mulhouse - and designed prints for fabric. There was a Frederick in the English Baumgarten family, a brother of Marie, Lucinda and William's. He was born in about 1762, and baptised at St Andrew's Holborn, Middlesex, England on 20 May 1762. According to the listed age of the Frederic Baumgarten in the Mulhouse civil records, his age matches up with a birthdate in 1762. I think it is therefore reasonable to assume that the Frederic Baumgarten in the Mulhouse records is the brother of Marie, Lucinda and William.

Something I realised as I went through years of records was that some people were unable to write and just made their mark on the page. None of the families I am related to were in this category. Clearly, being from the bourgeoisie, they all could read and write. I'm not trying to claim any superiority here, just making the comment that there clearly were class differences, and my Mulhousien ancestry was quite obviously not from the lower classes.

I did discover one other intriguing thing whilst looking into Frederic Baumgarten and the Baumgartens in Mulhouse in general. I was Googling "Baumgarten" and "Mulhouse" in Google Books, and in one of the references to Lucinda Baumgarten and her husband Paul Blech (Maisons, villages et villas d'Alsace du Sud: études d'architecture et d'histoire by Louis Abel, published 1994 by the Société savante d'Alsace), it noted "Ce Paul Blech à son tour, épousa, en 1787, Lucinde Baumgarten, la fille de Frédéric." Why did it note that she was the daughter of Frederick (his full name was Samuel Christian Frederick Baumgarten)? Was he known in Alsace? Did he spend some time there? I haven't found anything else that refers to him in Mulhouse, but I wonder...

11 March 2014

Gaspard Weiss was married twice!

It had been right there under my nose (in his autobiography, though in my defence it is in German and French), but it was only the other day that I realised that my 4x great grandfather (Jean) Gaspard Weiss remarried after the death of his first wife (my 4x great grandmother) Marie Baumgarten.

On 25 November 1800, two years after the death of his first wife Marie, Gaspard Weiss married Judith Risler, daughter of Jean Risler and Marguerite Lauttenbourg, in Mulhouse. She was aged 59, he was 61. Unsurprisingly at their age, Gaspard and Judith produced no children. They were together until Gaspard's death in 1815. It's nice to think he had someone to share his life with again after the death of Marie.

Edited on 22 March 2014 to add:
I found a copy of the marriage certificate today in the Archives Départementales Du Haut-Rhin, and although it is handwritten, in French, I've worked out that his brother-in-law Paul Blech (married to his late wife Marie's sister Lucinda Worrall Baumgarten) was one of the witnesses. It would be interesting to know if other Baumgartens had attended the wedding, apart from Lucinda. Of course, I'll never know that!

The other interesting thing I noted was that Gaspard signed the marriage certificate using German script, using the German variation of his name - Caspar Weiß. I have only ever seen him sign his name as Gaspar(d) Weiss before, quite legibly in normal English-style lettering. I wonder if after Mulhouse reunited with France in 1798 whether he became "more German" and emphasised his German heritage. Below is a comparison of his signatures, the first from his marriage to Marie Baumgarten ("Gaspar Weiss", aged 36), the second on the death certificate of Marie ("Gaspard Weiss", aged 59), and the third at his marriage to Judith Risler ("Caspar Weiß", aged 61). If I didn't know it was definitely him I would dismiss the third signature as by a totally different person!

04 March 2014

A bit more information on the Beringers' mill in Rauenthal

A distant relative got in touch with me the other day, who is descended from another branch of the Beringer family. She is descended from Katharina Beringer, who is my 3x great aunt. Katharina's half-brother Adam Beringer is my 2x great grandfather, the one who emigrated to Australia in 1884, with his wife Caroline and brother John Valentine (also half-brother of Katharina).

Previously the only information I had for Katharina was that she was born in Rauenthal on 13 July 1845, and had her confirmation in Rauenthal on 23 July 1862 when she was 17 years old. Now, having contact with her descendant, I know that Katharina was married to Philipp Kneip on 13 April 1868 in Rauenthal. I also now know that what I suspected was true: Katharina (and her husband Philipp) managed the Lochmühle (a water mill) in Rauenthal after the death of Valtin Beringer, Katharina's father, in August 1867. In 1871 the Lochmühle was then passed on to Georg and Karoline Koch, as noted in this post.

Katharina and Philipp Kneip had seven children, the first two, Mathilde and Josef were born in Rauenthal (11 November 1868 and 19 March 1870 respectively), the next two, Robert and Adam, born in Schierstein (5 October 1871 and 4 Dec 1873 respectively). After that the family moved north, with quite a bit of time spent in Dillenburg apparently.

It is interesting to note that although Katharina and Philipp were married in April 1868, they were "together" before that as Mathilde was born in November of the same year. If Mathilde was carried to term, conception would have been in about February of that year. She was made legitimate by the marriage of her parents before her birth.

So the question remains: Why did the extended Beringer family give up the mill? The Kneips didn't stay long in Schierstein - Philipp's brother was apparently already running the Grorother Mühle there, but perhaps they stayed with him while they worked out their next move...

Many thanks to my relative for her assistance with the Kneip family information.