31 January 2023

Samuel Baumgarten’s parents

I have been struggling to learn more about Samuel Christian Friedrich Baumgarten’s parents for quite some time. 

My research suggested that his father was a Cantor in Usingen, and that his name was Johann Nicolaus Friedrich Baumgarten. I had no information at all on his mother - not even her name. I guessed that they were Lutherans rather than Catholics, based on their son Samuel getting married in a Church of England parish when he was in England. It’s not a foolproof assumption, but sometimes you just have to make a guess in order to move your research forward!

Having trawled Google Books (which is often more useful for historical records, turning up information that you won’t necessarily find in a normal Google search) for references to a Cantor called “Baumgarten” in Usingen, I had found a few, most of which I realised actually referred to Johann Nicolaus Friedrich’s son, Johann Friedrich, who was a cantor in Usingen after his father died. One potentially useful search result showed a book only available with snippet view, which referenced a Nicolaus Baumgarten, who apparently was the Cantor (and a stocking maker) in Usingen, was from Sachsen, and died in 1754, and his son Johann Nicolaus Friedrich Baumgarten (Bonnet, 1965). Being a snippet view, I was unable to see the actual section on the son, and I’ve not been able to track down a hardcopy of the book to read it. I assumed that Nicolaus Baumgarten was Samuel’s grandfather, and Johann Nicolaus Friedrich Baumgarten was his father. 

Snippet from “Die Lehrer des Kreises Usingen”
I hoped that if I managed to access the relevant parish records for Usingen I might be able locate Nicolaus Baumgarten’s death/burial record in 1754, and might be able to find out a little more information on him.

FamilySearch did not have any records that matched this particular event, so I searched in their catalogue to see if there were parish records available for Usingen for that time period. I had already accessed the church records for the period of Samuel’s baptism and many of his siblings, though it did mean reading through many many German language records, mostly in a different script to that which is used today. FamilySearch did have the records, but they weren’t available to access online. I sent a record query to them, and it came back with the answer that (for whatever reason) those records had restricted access. I booked an online consultation with a FamilySearch German family history expert to see what could be done about that. He gave me the bad news that my only options would be to either visit the FamilySearch headquarters in Salt Lake City (not a feasible option for me) or engage an expert there to do the research for me. He did also suggest I check out Archion, a paid online search engine for German church records. Being the sort of person who likes to do research, rather than employ someone to do it for me, I decided a month of access to Archion was the best option for me, once I had checked they actually did have the records for the Lutheran church in Usingen. 

I was extremely disappointed that there was no record of a death/burial for any Baumgartens in Usingen in 1754. I began to suspect that the information in Bonnet (1965) about the Baumgartens wasn’t completely accurate. Having bought a month’s worth of Access I decided I had nothing to lose searching through the Usingen church records for any reference to Baumgartens - it wasn’t a common name in the parish, seemingly only for Samuel Baumgarten’s relatives. 

In June 1758 I found a death record that named the parish cantor, Nicolaus Baumgarten, and also referred to “Ana Martha”. It took me quite some time to make sense of the script (it should have been law that all scribes must have possessed exceptionally neat handwriting) but eventually I managed to work out that it was the death/burial record for Nicolaus Baumgarten’s wife Ana Martha. It is possible that her maiden name was Schwein, though the word isn’t written very clearly. It was also recorded that she was from Kirchhain, Hesse-Cassel, and she was 67 years, 2 months and 8 days old when she died, on June 27th. This allowed me to work out her date of birth - 19 April 1691.

Further searching revealed another death/burial record referring to Johann Nicolaus Baumgarten, Cantor, in November 1758. Because, as cantor, he was a reasonably important person with the parish, there was quite a bit of information recorded about him, all written in the same slightly illegible handwriting as his wife’s record. Patient deciphering revealed that Samuel Baumgarten’s father was 74 years, 1 month and 6 days old when he died on 13 November 1758 (allowing me to work out his birthdate - 7 Oct 1684) and had been at Kirchhain, serving as conrector, before the growing family moved to Usingen. He was cantor for the Usingen parish for 35 years, until he died. Much of the rest I haven’t yet been able to decipher. 

So I now have much more info on Samuel Baumgarten’s parents, Johann Nicolaus Baumgarten and Ana Martha Schwein(?). Since I haven’t been able to read Bonnet (1965) I don’t know what his source material was for the information he published about the Baumgartens, but I do think it needs a few corrections. I also think it is possible that the Nicolaus Baumgarten referred to by Bonnet is actually Samuel’s father (based on the close-ish to accurate year of death), and the Johann Nicolaus Friedrich Baumgarten, son of Nicolaus, is actually Samuel’s brother Johann Friedrich - I’ve never seen any historical record with “Nicolaus” in his name though. As for Samuel’s father, I’ve not found any other reference to him being a stocking manufacturer, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t. 

And now I have to do some research in the parish records of Kirchhain!

Bonnet, R. (1965). Die Lehrer des Kreises Usingen. Germany: Degener.

28 October 2022

The Baumgartens of Usingen

It’s been so long since I last did some family history research worth writing up, but with the passage of time, I thought it might be worth a look on FamilySearch to see if they had any new films online worth trawling through. Bingo!

I’ve suspected for a while that Samuel Christian Frederick Baumgarten, my 5x great grandfather, was related to a Baumgarten and his son whom I had found references to working as cantors (church choir leader) in Usingen, Germany. A number of things lead me to believe this, including family members named in wills, and various snippets from historical newspapers etc. 

I strongly suspected that Samuel’s father was one of the cantors in Usingen, but I had yet to find evidence. I found it today!

I believed that Samuel had siblings named Leopold Christian, Juliana Ernestina, John Henry (anglicised, presumably Johann Heinrich), Frederick, Gertrude, Magdalen and Frances. Today I found references to all of them, bar John Henry, in church records from Usingen, including Samuel’s birth record, which I believe has never been identified before. I now have the name of Samuel’s father, Johann Nicolaus Baumgarten, though disappointingly, Johann’s wife, the mother of his children, was not named specifically. 

In the Usingen birth records (1685-1734) I have found the following records for the children of Johann Nicolaus Baumgarten:

  • Samuel Christian Friedrich, born 31 January 1725, son of Johann Nicolaus
  • Christian Leopold, born 10 April 1727, son of Johann Nicolaus, Stadt Cantor (city cantor)
  • Johann Friedrich, born 1 April 1729, son of Johann Niclas
  • Juliana Ernestina, born 22 April 1732, daughter of Cantor zu Usingen (cantor to Usingen)
  • Francisca Dorothea, born 31 March 1734, daughter of Herrn Cantor.
The birth records for 1735 onwards are not currently available online in any form, so I’ll have to see if I can get access to the film of them at some stage. I suspect John Henry was born after 1734.

As well as these births, I found a record of the confirmations of both Anna Gertraud Baumgarten and Anna Magdalena Baumgarten in 1730 in Usingen, suggesting to me that they are the eldest children in the Baumgarten family, the only ones who had reached the age of confirmation (traditionally around the age of 14 in the Lutheran Church) during this period of records. 

I searched for a marriage record for Johann Nicolaus and his wife, but there was none in Usingen between 1685 and 1734. I deduce from this that they were married elsewhere (where?), and arrived in Usingen within a year or two of Samuel’s birth, the first Baumgarten birth recorded in the parish. 

So there we are. I can confirm for the first time ever that Samuel Christian Frederick Baumgarten, bassoonist of London, England, was born in the town of Usingen, in the principality of Nassau-Usingen (today in the state of Hessen in Germany) on 31 January 1725.

30 December 2016

Aachen and Charles Nicholas Weiss

We went away for a few days up north, to Aachen. I didn't know really anything about the place before we visited, but learnt that it is known for its links with Charlemagne, and has a beautiful cathedral. 

Glass mosaics in Aachen Cathedral
We were buying tickets to see the Cathedral Treasury when I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. The name of Aachen was written on some signage in different local languages, the French rendering being Aix-la-Chapelle. And I remembered this from Sainsbury (1824, p503):

Charles Nicholas Weiss had been on tour to Aix-la-Chapelle in 1821! This anecdote is a direct quote from a letter that Weiss sent to Sainsbury, for inclusion in his book. I love the bit "His name was not unknown to the officers" - seems like a humble brag to me!

During our short holiday in Aachen I managed to get some time to go to the Stadtbibliothek (city library) and spent an hour and a half skimming through the Aachener Zeitung (a newspaper of the day) for 1821, looking for anything about a concert Weiss might have performed there. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to do a very thorough job, but amongst the news from around Europe and advertisements for horses or houses for sale and the like, I didn't find anything. But at least I tried. 

Sainsbury, J.S. (1824). A Dictionary of Musicians. Sainsbury and Co, London.

02 November 2016

Who was A.S. Weiss?

Four years ago, whilst trawling through old newspaper advertisements, researching Willoughby Gaspard Weiss, I found an advertisement that referenced some waltzes by an A.S. Weiss. There is no one in my family tree who has those initials, so I was stumped. I filed the information away in a corner of my brain, ready for another day when I might uncover who A.S. Weiss was.

This advertisement was placed by Willoughby Gaspard Weiss in The Liverpool Mercury on 14 February 1843. It gives details of new music that he has available at his music saloon in Liverpool England, including "a set of beautiful waltzes, by A.S. Weiss of Mulhausen".

Yesterday I was researching Willoughby's youngest sister, Rosine Angélique Weiss, who was born and lived in Mulhouse. Apparently Rosine usually went by her middle name - she certainly seemed to prefer Angélique to Rosine - both her daughters had Angélique in their name - one as a first name, the other as a middle name, and she gave the name Rosine to neither. She married Jean Georges Schmaltzer in 1826, and it appears that at least in business, after his marriage, he often used the surname Schmaltzer-Weiss. This is not the first time I have seen a husband's surname tacked onto the surname Weiss - it appears to be a surname you would have wanted to be associated with in Mulhouse.

Putting this all together, it is possible that Rosine might have used the name of A. S. Weiss - Angélique Schmaltzer-Weiss... being born into the Weiss family there is every chance she also inherited the musical talents of her father and other Weiss relatives. Did she compose music? Surely a brother (Willoughby) might sell waltzes that you had written, capitalising on the surname Weiss (rather than Schmaltzer-Weiss), especially a brother who liked you enough to name one of his own daughters after you...

I have no concrete evidence that A.S. Weiss was actually Rosine, but there is a chance, and currently this is my best guess as to who A.S. Weiss was.

18 August 2016

Who was Jane Wise?

For the past week or so I have been down a figurative rabbit hole, trying to prove that Henry Wise (1653-1738), royal gardener to Queen Anne, was the father of Jane Wise (?-1740), who married Bartholomew Peisley (1683-1727) stone mason of Oxford. I haven't managed to do it, and have thus concluded that without concrete evidence to prove it, Jane's father was not Henry Wise.

Why did I leap to that conclusion in the first place? Circumstantial evidence - he's the right-ish sort of age to possibly be her father, he worked at Blenheim Palace, as did Bartholomew (and also his father Bartholomew as well), plus Jane and Bartholomew had a daughter named Patience - the same name as Henry's wife.

I researched the names of Henry and Patience Wise's children, and found details of eight of a possible twelve children. None called Jane, and perhaps tellingly, none who named any of their children Jane, after a possible aunt. I read wills of family members, including distant relations, and none clearly referred to a Jane as a daughter of Henry and Patience. Both Henry and Patience's wills named all their living children, and grandchildren, none of which included Jane or any of her children. I delved into all the parish records I could, all the historical records regarding the family that I could find, particularly focusing on records of the day, but there was nothing.

And yet, there is still the possibility Jane Wise is related to the family of Henry Wise, though I have concluded it is more likely that she is a niece of Henry's. To explain why I think this, I will set out all the information I know about Jane.

It is not known when or where Jane Wise was born. She married Bartholomew Peisley in 1717, on a date soon after 2 October, when their marriage license was issued in the Diocese of Canterbury. The location of the marriage is unknown, however the marriage is not recorded in the parish records for St Michael's at the North Gate, Oxford (LDS British film 416724), where some of their children were baptised and some were buried. In the table of information for their known children below, dates in italics are inferred dates, and note too that spelling in the parish records is variable.

Date of birth Date of death Name of child Parish record entry
~1717-1718 1718 Bartholomew Burial: 1718, July 3, Bartholomew Peizly, jnr. in ye church
~1717-1719 Apr 1719 Thomas Burial: 1719, April 8, Thomas, son of Bartholomew Peizley, in ye church
1721 unknown Patience Baptism: 1721, June 3, Petience d. of Mr Bartholomew Peisley a stone cutter and Jean his wife
1722 1781 Bartholomew Baptism: 1722, June 10, Bartholomew s. of Mr Bartholomew Piesley, stone cutter and Jane his wife
1724 unknown Richard Baptism: 1724, April 27, Richard son of Bartholomew Peisley, stone cutter and Jean his wife
~1727 1727 Sarah Burial: 1727, November 4, Sarah, dau. of Bartholomew Peisley, infant, in ye church

Jane's husband Bartholomew Peisley died aged only 44, on 29 August 1727. The Oxford diarist Thomas Hearne wrote in August 1727 "Yesterday died of a feavor, or rather (as I hear), of the Gout in the Stomack, after 4 or 5 days illness, Mr Peisley, a noted wealthy mason, that lived in New-Inn Hall Lane in Oxford, leaving a wife (a very pretty woman) and three Children, and his wife is big again. ... This Mr Peisly was looked upon as a very courteous well behaved man." Obviously Jane was pregnant with Sarah at the time her husband Bartholomew died, and Sarah then died in November as well.

When Jane remarried in 1731 in Oxford, to George Huddesford, Hearne wrote "On Thursday last, Mr Hudsford, President of Trinity Coll., was married in that College chappel to the widow Peisly (who has three children living by her former Husband, a Mason) a very pretty woman, of Oxford." Jane and George Huddesford had a son William, born in 1732.

Jane died in Oxford in 1740, and was buried on 2 March 1740, possibly at St Mary Magdalen's churchyard, Oxford.

So why do I think she was related to the Henry Wise family?

Henry Wise's will (dated 1739) mentions a niece Jane Hunsford. I can't work out who that might be, apart from Jane Huddesford, complete with spelling difference.

Jane's brother, Reverend Bernard Paisley (1689-1738), in his will, mentions his nephews Richard and Bartholomew Peisley (Jane's sons), and leaves an amount of money to each of them, and if they are still minors at the time of his death, in trust for them to Mathew Wise Esq and the Reverend Mr George Huddesford. George Huddesford is their stepfather, and Mathew Wise Esq happens to be the son and heir of Henry Wise. So that really does suggest that Jane is related in some way to the Henry Wise family, if Mathew is partially in charge of the inheritances of Jane's sons.

And then there is the naming of Patience Peisley, perhaps after her maternal great aunt.

I shall keep searching for links between Jane Wise/Peisley/Huddesford and the Henry Wise family, but I think I may have exhausted all current evidence available on the internet. Further research I'd like to do at some stage is to visit graveyards in Oxford, and also to thoroughly scour Oxford parish records for information relating to the Peisleys and Wises.

03 August 2016

The burial place of Thomas Ball

Thomas Ball, my 4x great grandfather, died on 12 January 1873, at his residence - Francis Cottage, Highgate, England. I have been unable to find a record for his burial, but I have always suspected that he might have been buried in Highgate Cemetery, mainly because of the close proximity of his home to the cemetery. 

The Highgate Cemetery website requests a payment of £40 to look up a burial for someone. Considering I was looking for Thomas, and also hoping that his wife Sarah might also be buried there, I wasn't about to spend £80 on just a hunch. 

There was one other option though: the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre at the Holborn Library holds burial and grave registers for Highgate Cemetery. And you can visit a library for free! Perfect. 

The indexes to the burial registers are ordered by year, and are partially in alphabetical order - only to the first letter of the surname. And I found Thomas relatively easily, because I knew the year he died. 

The entry in the index said that Thomas' burial number was 42405, his grave number was 4383, and that his place of death (abode) was Pond Square, Highgate, St Pancras. 

The following is the entry in the burial register: 

The entry in the grave register contained a lot of information, including all the other people buried in the same grave. Unfortunately, that didn't include Thomas' wife Sarah. Seven people in all - mostly Thomas' grandchildren, with the following comment written at the bottom "This grave is quite full." I'll say.

The final thing I was able to find out was the actual location of the grave in the cemetery. 

The grave register noted that the grave was in section 53 of the Old Ground. This is in the West Cemetery, which you can only access by appointment, and if you give them two weeks notice they can go and find the grave, clear access to it, and then take you to it. Perhaps one day I'll be able to organise that. 

The problem with Thomas' wife Sarah not being there (it would have been really convenient if she was) is that I can't actually find her death date. She must have died between the 1861 Census and the 1871 Census, but that's as much as I've been able to narrow it down. And if she's not buried with her husband, who IS she buried with? Her parents? Her daughter? I'll have to keep looking.

29 July 2016

The Monument to the Joynes family in St Marys Churchyard Hendon

"...my Will is that I may be buryed in London Church Yard in the said County of Middlesex at the East End of the Chancell Building in a Grave of eight ffoot in depth to lye next to the Coffin of my late dear and beloved Wife Mary Joynes who was buried there in the beginning of September 1746 and that a Monument of Portland Stone may be set up there according to a draught prepared by me..."
So willed my 5x great grandfather Henry Joynes (abt 1684-1754) before his death. I had the opportunity recently to visit St Mary's Churchyard Hendon, where this monument now stands. I guessed it was a reasonable sized monument and it has Grade II listed conservation status, and therefore I was hopeful that I would be able to find it. And I did!

St Marys Churchyard Hendon
I spent some time transcribing the inscription on the monument, which actually commemorates five members of the extended Joynes family. I'm glad I managed to do this, because the inscription for Henry Joynes was extremely weathered and very difficult to see - I had to use my fingers to gently trace the shape of the letters to work out what they were. And the weathering will only get worse. It had also sunk on an angle, but at least didn't look likely to topple over any time soon.

The southern-facing side of the monument was dedicated to Henry Joynes himself:
Near this place lyes the Body of
He was Comptroller and Conductor
of the Building of Blenheim House
in Oxfordshire from 1705 to 1715.
He was Surveyor of
Kensington Palace and Gardens
from 1715 to the last of his Days.
He was Many Years Surveyor of
the Sewers in Westminster.
He departed this Life the 2nd Day
of July 1754, Aged 70 Years.
The side facing east had the most inscribed on it. In the top section was an inscription for Henry's daughter Frances:
this Life the 3rd Day of May
1749, Aged 28 Years
In the lower section of the east-facing side was an inscription in honour of Henry's wife Mary, and below that, her sister Elizabeth (noted as Henry's sister, but technically his sister-in-law):
Westward of this monument
lyes the Body of MARY
the Wife of HENRY JOYNES Esqr
who Departed this Life
the 29th Day of August 1746,
Aged 60 Years,
leaving three Sons,
and two Daughters FRANCES & MARY.
Also the Body
of ELIZABETH PEISLEY, his sister,
who Departed this Life
the 30th Day of September 1746,
Aged 63 Years.
On the northern side of the monument, in the top section, was an inscription for Henry's son Thomas:
this Life the 14th Day of Dec
1750, Aged 28 years.
This news article from the London Evening Post (Dec 13-15, 1750) explains the sorry circumstances of Thomas' death:
"On Thursday Night last, between Ten and Eleven o'Clock, Mr. Thomas Joynes, Son of Henry Joynes, of Kensington, Esq; and Brother to Mr Joynes, of the Middle-Temple, going along the Strand, some Villains stopp'd him, and took from him his Hat and Wig, then knock'd him down, and robb'd him of what Money he had in his Pocket. He got home to his Lodgings, went to bed, and the next Morning, the Family not hearing him stir at the usual Hour, went into his Room, and found him dead in his Bed."
These are not the only family members buried in the churchyard at Hendon, but disappointingly, I was unable to locate the others, being Samuel Joynes, son of Henry and Mary - "Mr Joynes, of the Middle-Temple" noted above, and also Mary Baumgarten née Joynes, daughter of Henry and Mary Joynes, and her husband Samuel Christian Frederick Baumgarten. There are many gravestones which are too weathered to read, and perhaps some of these commemorated these other ancestors. 

20 July 2016

The Battle of Fromelles

This is the gravestone of Amy Selina Weiss née Blanch, and Walter Herbert Weiss, her husband, in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney. The gravestone also commemorates three of their sons - Frederick Albert Weiss and Erle Victor Weiss, who both were killed in action in World War 1, plus Harry Blanch Weiss, a POW in World War 2, who died while working on the Thai Burma Railway.

I am focusing here on Frederick Albert Weiss because he died in the Battle of Fromelles, which took place 100 years ago. Fromelles is a small village in France which, in 1916, was behind German lines. On the evening of July 19 1916 Australian and British forces attacked the German forces at Fromelles. By 8am the next morning the Allied forces withdrew, after the loss or wounding of some 5500 Australian and 1500 British soldiers. 

Private Frederick Albert Weiss, service number 3578A, was born at Anna Bay, NSW, in 1892, the second child and eldest son of Amy and Walter Weiss. Like his father, Fred was a school teacher - at the time of his enlistment he was an associate teacher at West Wyalong Public School, where his father was the headmaster.

He joined up at age 22 and he embarked for The Front in September 1915. After spending some time in northern Africa, Fred arrived in Marseilles on 28 June 1916. He was killed less than a month later on July 19th. An eyewitness from his battalion, Percy Dickson, stated that Fred was shot in the stomach, and then was probably blown up by the enemy's heavy shelling. They were unable to retrieve his body at the time due to the shelling. He was officially listed as missing in action on July 28, and this was updated to killed in action on September 2, 1917. His body was never recovered. DNA testing is being carried out on remains found in mass graves at Fromelles, and DNA from two Weiss family members has been submitted.

I am pleased that yesterday a close relative of mine was able to visit VC Corner at Fromelles, where Fred is officially commemorated, on the 100th anniversary of his death to pay her respects.

15 July 2016

Hints and Tips: Latin word resources for family history research

I've had photos of German Roman Catholic parish registers for ages that I've been meaning to go through and translate, and I'm finally getting around to it. Many old Roman Catholic registers are written in Latin, as are these.

My Latin knowledge extends mainly to those words used to describe plants (I'm a botanist), but not so much to those words which might be used in a parish register. However, I've found three very useful resources, which used in conjunction, I have been able to make sense of much of the entries I've been looking at so far.

The first one is the Latin Genealogical Word List from FamilySearch. It gives a great general overview of words that might come up in your family history research. 

The second one is a list of Latin place names. Without that I would never have guessed that Moguntiae actually meant Mainz, Germany.

The last one is Parish Register Latin: An Introduction, by C. Russell Jensen, available on Internet Archive. This one is a lot more comprehensive than the first resource listed here, and you could possibly teach yourself how to read the Latin reasonably well with it, if you had the time or inclination. For me though, the most useful part was the Latin-English Word List, starting on page 385. Often I can work out some of the letters in a handwritten word, and being able to look at words which might be used in the same context and/or start with the same letters can often help me decipher the likely word. 

Hopefully these resources might help you to make better sense of your Latin parish register entries as well!

14 July 2016

The Beringer mill

We were visiting friends up north, and on the way back we took a detour to visit where the Beringer family came from, in the Eltville area near Wiesbaden.

We found the old mill that used to be in the family on a street named "An der Lochmühle", on the way into the resort town of Schlangenbad. It has been rebuilt since my ancestors lived and worked there, though the general layout of the buildings on the land is very similar to what it once was. However it was good to see where it was, and imagine my ancestors there, and to walk past the creek that young Beringer children might have played in in summers of years gone by.

This plaque was on the side of the building behind the mill wheel. It reads:
Als Mahlmühle erbaut 1698
Neu errichtet 1937 durch
Hein A. Moeller"
which translates as "Lochmühle. Built as a grist mill 1698. Newly built in 1937 by Hein A. Moeller."

As well as seeing the mill, I checked out some of the local cemeteries, to see if there were any remaining headstones of long gone relatives. I wasn't expecting much, because in Germany graves can be recycled every 30 years or so, but I was rather hoping they might have kept old headstones. I checked three local cemeteries - Rauenthal, Martinstal and Schlangenbad, but sadly nothing there appeared relevant. Rauenthal had only new headstones, Martinstal had a couple of older ones amongst all the new, and Schlangenbad was a very quiet cemetery, way off up the hill from the town, with a number of headstones remaining from the time of my Beringers, but still there was no luck. 

I could have done much more exploring in the area, but we still had a good number of hours' drive before we would be home, and the kids were getting restless so I had to leave it at that. Maybe another time...