Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Johann Adam Essinger (1796-1840) and Anna Marie Simmermacher (1799-1890), my fourth great-grandparents

Climbing My Family Tree: Modern Map of German States
Modern Map of German States
Hesse is in blue & we are from the far south portion of Hesse
Map is n the public domain
Click to make bigger

One of the complications I have discovered in trying to research my German ancestors is the traditional naming system called “rufnahmen”. By this custom, all children in the same family of the same sex shared the same first name, a favorite saint’s name given a baptism. They then went by secular middle name or rufnahmen which they were called by the rest of their life. About half of all German men were named after St. John for their Saint’s name; it was usually spelled Johann or Johan.  If a man’s “called by” name, or rufnahmen, was really John, it was spelled Johannes and no middle name was given. Similarly, most German women were named after St. Anna or St. Maria, such that the first name of all the women in any given family would be Anna or Maria. Once you figure out a given families’ chosen Saint it does help a bit in determining if a person in a specific record may belong to your family when you have a common last name, because they don’t seem to switch up Saints names mid-family.

Johann Adam Essinger was born the second son of Johann Heinrich Essinger (1766-1830) and Anna Elisabetha Kaffeberger on March 2, 1796, in Reichenbach Hesse-Darmstadt. His parents, Johann Heinrich Essinger and Anna Elisabetha Kaffeberger, were married on September 15, 1791, in Reichenbach, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt. Their children (or, at least the ones I’ve found) were: Johann Nicolaus Essinger (1792-1865, m. Anna Barbara Seeger); Johann Adam Essinger (1796-1840, m. Anna Marie Simmermacher); Johan Peter Essinger (1799-1866, m. Maria Margaretha Kindinger); and Johannes Essinger (1804-1866, m. Anna Elisabetha Kaffeberger).

The family was likely farmers as were most of the people in that area of the Odenwald, and most of the men would have served in the military at some point especially in the early 1800s in the Napoleonic wars. After the wars, the economy was bad and inflation was high, making it difficult for farmers to obtain more land to support growing families.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Hessen, Germany arrow points to Reichenbach (now Lautertal) area
Map of Hessen, Germany arrow points to Reichenbach (now Lautertal) area,
 where my 4th great-grandparents lived.
Map from: http://ontheworldmap.com/germany/state/hesse/hesse-physical-map.html
Click to Make Bigger

I don’t know anything about Adam Essinger’s younger life. On May 9, 1830, he married Anna Catherina Simmermacher in a protestant church in Reichenbach, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt. He was 34 and she was 30.  The Germanic states in the 19th century imposed restrictions on marriage in an effort to control overpopulation in a poor economy, including requiring high minimum ages at marriage, and proof of having sufficient wealth or property, or a secure income, to be able to support children.  (These laws led to an increase in the number illegitimately born children, and an increase in emigration.)

According to Adam and Catharina’s marriage record, her father was Johann Wilhelm Simmermacher and her mother was Anna Elisabetha Boewer (but on Catharina’s birth record her mother is named Anna Elisabetha Loeber). Just a month after the wedding, Adam’s father’s died, on June 20, 1830. And, a month after that, on 20 July 1830, Adam and Anna’s first son, Johannes Essinger, was born. He was baptized in a protestant church in Reichenbach, Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt – likely the same one his parents were married in.

 SHIP IN THE STORMY SEA, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1887
in the public domain
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In the area in which the Essingers lived, a group of some 150 friends and neighbors decided to move to America in 1931 for the possibility of a better future. I told the dramatic story of their travels and shipwreck HERE. Based on a partial remaining passenger list for the James Beacham (Famous Dove), Adam Essinger and his older brother Nicholas and their families were part of that group who emigrated to America.  However, it is also possible that Adam and his brother arrived in the U.S. at a later date, as there is a book which abstracts customs passenger lists of arrival for the Port of Baltimore from 1820 through 1834 that shows “Essinger, Ad. & Nic,” farmers from Germany arrived in the port on 30 Sep 1832; the ship’s name is not given.   I think that his two younger brothers’ families stayed behind in Hesse-Darmstadt. I don’t know whether his mother stayed behind or came with them to America; nor do I know what happened to Catherina’s parents.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Pennsylvania with Washington County highlighted
Map of Pennsylvania with Washington County highlighted
in the public domain
Click to make bigger

Adam and Catharina did not immediately move to Ohio. Their second child daughter, my 3rd great-grandmother, Hannah Essinger was born in Washington County PA on 25 December 1834. Washington County PA is just southwest of the county in which Pittsburgh PA is. Later that year, the family moved to Hancock County, Ohio.

The History of Hancock County, published in 1886, says, “Adam Essinger, Martin Funk and Napoleon B. Martz all came to the township in 1834. Mr. Essinger and his wife, Catherine, emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1832, then removed to Hancock County, with the families of his brother, Nicholas, Adam Gossman and Peter Pifer in the fall of 1834, locating on Section 14, where he soon afterward died. His widow and three children are residents of the township.”  A later entry on his brother Nicholas indicates the brothers’ families spent at least two years in Pennsylvania before moving to Ohio, as two of his brother’s children were born during their stay in Pennsylvania.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Ohio, Hancock County highlighted
Map of Ohio, Hancock County highlighted
In the public domain
Click to make bigger

At the time they moved there, it was not Madison Township as the township was first formed in 1840. It was still thick forest which had to be cleared before it could be farmed. The tall timber was made into a log cabin to house the family, chinked together with mud mortar to stave off the winter winds, it was heated by a fireplace at one end that was both heat source and kitchen stove. Furniture was also made from the cleared timber. After the trees were taken down, the land was further cleared by fire, to become fields for planting. The whole family would have participated in this work of clearing the land, and then farming it, with Catharina also maintaining the home: cooking over the fire, looking after the children, cleaning, drawing water from the well, making clothing, gardening for the kitchen.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Hancock County Townships,
Map of Hancock County Townships,
Madison Townsip is in the bottom row
 (Attribution By US Census, Ruhrfisch [GFDL (httpwww.gnu.orgcopyleftfdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http//:creativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Click to make bigger

On February 18, 1840 Adam and Catherine’s last child, Nicholas Essinger was born in Hancock County Ohio. Unfortunately, he likely never really knew his father as Adam died less than eight months later on November 3, 1840, and, by some accounts, was the first person buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran church cemetery.

After Adam’s death, I lost Catherine for thirty years. In that time, her eldest son John married Catherine Goetzinger (1835-1923) on November 6, 1855, her daughter Hannah married my 3rd great grandfather Johann Phillip Schneider (1831-1909), and her youngest son Nicholas married Maria Katherina Wertenouger (1847-1933) on August 21, 1866.

I found her in the 1870 Census living with her son John (age 40) and his family (wife Catherine, age 25; daughter Catherine, age 12; daughter Mary, age 11; daughter Hannah, age 8; daughter Barbra, age 6; son Henry, age 4, and daughter Margaret, age 1). He is a farmer in Madison Township, Hancock County, Ohio; his farm is worth $2600 and he has personal property worth $1025 (not the highest in the neighborhood, but in today’s dollars the real property is worth $46,794 and the personal property is worth $18,447).  In 1880, she is still living with her son John and his family, on their farm, and they have three more kid:, Nicholas, age 8; Emma, age 4; and Charles, age 1 (this census doesn’t ask for property values this time).

Catherine died on January 23, 1890, before the next census was taken. She was laid to rest beside her husband in St. Paul’s cemetery in Jenera, Ohio.


German Genealogical Research, A Few Introductory Comments, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kriegbaum/hist01.html;  18th Century German Naming Customs, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~familycentre/klein/germanname.html ; Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore 1820-1834, from Customs Passenger Lists, General Editor Michael H Tepper, Transcribed by Elizabeth P Bentley (Genealogical Publishing Co. 1982), found at Ancestrycom; https://www.genealoger.com/german/ger_emigration_records.htm ; Demographic Behavior in the Past: A Study of Fourteen German Village Populations in the 18th and 19th centuries, by John E, Knodel (Cambridge University Press 1988); History of Hancock County. Ohio. Containing a History of the County, its Townships, Towns, Villages, Schools, Churches, Industries, Etc.; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men; Biographies; History of the Northwest Territory: History of Ohio; Statistical and Miscellaneous Matter, Etc., Etc. Illustrated.  (Warner, Bees & Co., Chicago, 1886.); History of Hancock County, Ohio , Geographical and Statistical, by Jacob Spathe (B F Wade Printing Co, Toledo OH, 1903); Find-a-grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8782010; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8782002; http://www.in2013dollars.com/1870-dollars-in-2017?amount=2600