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...

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