Sunday, November 09, 2008

Halle Revisited

Dear Ms. Keller,

Thanks so much for your reply to my inquiry. The Personnenregister database indicates there were several doctors of theology named Olearius associated with the formation of the Franckesche Stiftungen. Johann Georg Lubach lived to be eighty years old and could have known all of them. I am curious to know which one of them he might have eulogized.

There are several people named Lubach listed in the school's student and faculty database. Godofr(oy) Lubach from Wriezen was born in 1713 when Johann Georg was 41 years old. His father's occupation is listed as unknown.

Daniel Andreas Lubach was born in 1741. Gottfried Lubach was born in 1744. Both were born in Gartz an der Oder and are listed as Waisen and sons of a Cantor, a position apparently held at one time by Johann Georg Lubach, who was about 70 years old when Daniel and Gottfried were born. Place of birth and father's occupation suggest that they could have been brothers. Another Lubach, Gotthilf, is listed in another database, matriculating around 1796. He was probably born about 1780 when Daniel Andreas and Gottfried were not quite forty years old. This suggests to me the possibility of four generations of one family associated with the Orphan School at Halle.

Records indicate that my ancestor, Wilhelm Lubach, was born in 1827, although it's not clear yet where exactly he was born. He and his wife, Marie (Ebert) Lubach registered to emigrate to America in 1856 in a village called Wrechow east of the Oder. They were married on June 6, 1852 by a Reverend Melitz in nearby Zehden. The birthplace of their first son, Carl, appears on the Hamburg shipping manifest to have been a village called Carlshoff, less than five miles east of Wriezen. Both Wrechow and Wriezen are listed as Heimatort for a number of Waiseschule students.

My ancestor and his wife settled in Wisconsin with his wife's parents, two brothers, two sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece and a nephew. Marie's parents and her siblings emigrated in 1855. Wilhelm and Marie followed a year later, delaying their departure until after the birth of my great grandfather. Wilhelm died serving the Union army in 1865 during the American Civil War. Marie remarried two years later in 1867 at a church that was planned but not actually built until 1871. That church is still standing and in use. It was registered as a national landmark in 1987.

Wilhelm Lubach's grandson was ordained as a minister in 1916. He died in 1932 at the age of forty-eight when my father was five years old. Two of my grandfather's sisters, Emma and Louise, were schoolteachers in Wisconsin. A third sister, Elsie, taught school for a number of years in Alaska, long before it achieved statehood, and she later taught in California. It's not clear to me what if any training they ever received as teachers. Teaching seems to have been something innate with them; they simply understood how it was done as part of growing up on a family farm.

Both of my father's sisters married ministers and one of them also taught school for many years. My father holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, a field that for him represented a viable alternative end to an orthodox upbringing. He retired about fifteen years ago after a career that included government sponsored research, two decades pioneering the concept of community mental health, a stint as a college professor and more than a decade in private practice.

I've recently translated three Civil War poems written in German by the officer who organized and commanded the regiment in which my great great grandfather served during the war. Publishing poems-in-translation often requires a short statement regarding the translator's background. I'd like to make sure that I'm really qualified to translate poems about things that happened long before I was born.

Am I correct in assuming, from what I have seen in the online database, that Johann Georg Lubach may have been one of the original orphan school orphans? How much is known at this point about how the school functioned in those early days? Would it have been unusual for several generations of a family to attend the school? On what basis were prospective students selected from the many far flung towns and villages within the purview of the institution's outreach efforts? Was it seen as odd for children in Brandenburg to go away to Saxony Anhalt to attend school? How did this schooling differ from what they might have received otherwise? I guess those are the questions that come to mind for me.

When I first visited Germany seven years ago in November of 2002, I knew nothing of my father's family history beyond the fact that my grandfather had been a minister in Wisconsin who wrote sermons in both German and English and that his father was a farmer who had arrived in Wisconsin from Germany as a small child. I wasn't told until about two years ago that my great grandfather died in an industrial accident at a sawmill and that my grandfather had inherited his father's job at the sawmill when he was fourteen years old. He apparently finished high school after he had enrolled at the seminary. I learned that my great great grandfather died in the Civil War from bits and pieces of data I was able to glean from the internet during the past five years.

I think my great great grandfather was a blood relative of the Lubach family that attended and/or taught school at Halle in the 18th century, but I don't yet have conclusive proof for that assertion. The period from 1800 to 1830 was an era marked by playing host to Napoleon and his followers. The established order of things in that region underwent significant turmoil as a result. When the dust finally settled my ancestors were on a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York.

Earlier this year I visited the churchyard cemetery near Milwaukee where my great great grandmother is buried along with her second husband and her parents. Construction of the church was completed the year that her father died. My guess is that a few of the people who worship in that church today may know more than they are telling about who he was and that one of the secrets he took with him to his grave was the relation of his oldest daughter's first husband to a long and distinguished line of educators who devoted some small portion of their lives to an august institution, still standing and very much in use at the University of Halle.

Best Regards,

Craig Lubach,

----- Original Message -----
From: C.Keller
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 5:45 PM
Subject: WG: Lubach

Sehr geehrter Herr Lubach,

leider sind über Johann Georg Lubach keine weiteren Informationen in unserem Archiv zu finden. In unserem Bestand ist lediglich eine Handschrift von ihm vorhanden, in der er sich zu einer Predigt von einem Doktor Olearius äußert.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Carmela Keller


Franckesche Stiftungen

Studienzentrum August Hermann Francke

- Archiv -

Franckeplatz 1 / Haus 22-24

06110 Halle
Tel.: 0345 21 27 426


Sunday, November 02, 2008


It came to my attention a month or so ago that my webpage has been cited as a reference in a recent online revision of an older scholarly article in print called The Story of Union Forces In South Texas During the Civil War. The article was revised by Norman Rozeff of the Cameron County Historical Commission in Texas for their website. My URL for my webpage is listed in the references at the end of the article as the online location of a document cited by Rozeff as 'Fredrich Buker. Memoirs of a Union Soldier.'

I'm not ordinarily the nitpicky sort. The fact is that the rules and conventions for citing online work are still pretty much up for grabs. Writings that are only available online can't really claim to have actually been published in anything but a virtual sense. Vast amounts of 'published' materials consist of information assembled or compiled by individuals and donated to local historical or genealogical societies. Many such documents are one of only a handful of copies made for the benefit of the dozen or so people in the world who might one day want access to that particular information. Sometimes the material is invaluable to the people to whom it pertains, but the chances of its finding a wider audience are so infinitesimal that there is no percentage in investing in publishing costs that won't ever be recouped.

The internet makes it much easier to 'publish' such material. All that's required is one hard copy, access to a scanner, a computer and a server address where the document's URL can be accessed online by remote computers. Anyone with a blog could put the entire content of most local historical societies' libraries online at very little expense beyond the time it takes to scan in the pages. What that means is that scholars, particularly historians, now have to contend with an exponential growth in the availability of primary historical sources.

The item Norman Rozeff referenced to my web address is actually only a 'dead link', one that a reader can find if they take the trouble to read through my entire webpage, a page that was written more than five years ago when the link was still current. Rozeff is actually referencing my summary of a translated memoir of a German-immigrant Union soldier who was in South Texas at the end of the Civil War.

A current link to Buker's translated memoir can be found in the sidebar of this blog under the heading Friedrich Buker. At some point during the past five years, probably less than a year ago, the State of Wisconsin took enough interest in Buker's diary to host the document on their own server and spare Buker's descendants the cost of paying a server to host the document.

I'm not convinced, based upon Rozeff's excellent and highly detailed and documented article, that he's ever actually seen Buker's translated memoir, a primary historical source. My summary of Buker's memoir is a secondary source and it should have been cited as a secondary source under the title of my webpage, Pinnacled Dim In The Intense Inane, which can also be found on my left margin sidebar.

As a memoirist Buker rambles a bit and he tends to assume that readers of his rendering are already well acquainted with the newspaper accounts of his regiment's activities. That may have been true in his time. The State of Wisconsin, for the benefit of 21st century readers, recently began hosting the online edition of an unpublished book by Mark Knipping, A History of the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment During the War of the Rebellion. Summarizing Buker's memoir would have been far easier for me and required much less close reading if Mr. Knipping's book had been published online five years ago.

Nonetheless, I am deeply grateful and feel highly complimented that Mr. Rozeff took the trouble to acknowledge my work, however obliquely, for the online revision of his print article.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I received the following e-mail message about two weeks ago:

Sep 22
Thank you for all the info you have given me on my family. I have been searching for any clues to my family ties for years without finding anything. I just knew that my grandfather had a half brother other names. I now know that Ludwig Backhaus was his father. I have gone to New Fane and found the grave. My grandfather was Charles Henry Backhaus born January 10, 1859 in the town of Scott. He died in Campbellsport Wisconsin January 8, 1951. I found more on too. But your website has been a joy for me. I pieced a lot of things together to make my family tree.

Ruthie Stoffel

I sent a reply to this message and haven't heard back from Ruthie yet. But I'm hoping that I will. Her grandfather appears to have been my great grandfather's step-brother. Both of them had a half-brother named Henry. It was basically impossible to explain Henry's relationship to my great grandfather without also explaining his relationship to Ruthie's grandfather, Charles. I keep finding individual pieces of documentary evidence and posting them on my blog, but it really doesn't mean much until someone else comes along who can see that those pieces do add up to something and do make sense.

I believe Charles also had a younger brother, Edward, born in 1863. I think it's likely that their mother, Henrietta Backhaus, died giving birth to Edward and he was raised by my great great grandmother, Marie, who married her next door neighbor, Ludwig Backhaus, after her first husband, my great great grandfather, Wilhelm Lubach, died in July of 1865 while serving the Union Army in the Civil War. She declared for a widow's pension and benefits for her minor dependents, Carl, William, Louise and Edward, but wasn't processed until 1867 after she had married Ludwig Backhaus and the children had become his legal wards. Henry was born in 1868, a year after Marie married Ludwig.

My great grandfather, William Lubach, is listed in the 1870 census for Scott Township in Sheboygan County as William Backhaus. The age listed for him is 74, but he was actually only 14. His older brother, Carl, isn't listed in that census, but their sister, Louise, is listed as a Backhaus, age 12, born in Wisconsin, along with their half-brother, Henry, age 2, and their step-brothers, Edward, age 8, and Carl, age 11. Edward appears in the 1910 census listed as Edward Lubach, age 48. I believe he married a neighbor listed on the same page of the 1870 census, Catherine Anne Luhn.

The whereabouts of Edward Lubach are important to me because that's the name by which my grandfather was known. It was his middle name. Edward was a popular name in Wisconsin in 1863. It was the first name of Lieutenant Governor Edward Salomon, a Prussian army officer who became Acting Governor of Wisconsin when Governor Harvey drowned in the Tennessee River in 1862 while reviewing the Wisconsin troops who had survived the Battle of Shiloh.

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had a twelve year old son named William who died of pneumonia in 1862. William was the second of three Lincoln sons to die in childhood. The first was Edward, who died at age 4 in 1850, the year that William was born. Mary Todd Lincoln wrote a poem called Little Eddie about the loss of that son, which was no doubt revived to lament the loss of William shortly after the family moved into the White House. My father's middle name is Edward and so is mine.

Sometimes I'm just amazed at what a precise instrument the internet can be for finding those proverbial haystack needles. Theories based on hunches are all well and good, but they only become tangible when someone you've never met or even heard of provides that indispensable independent verification.

Thanks so much, Ruthie. I couldn't have done it without you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Over The Rainbow

Merriman Sisters

If you click on the link my cousins, the Merriman sisters, should take you up where bluebirds fly in five part harmony. The last time I saw them in person was more than forty years ago and they were shorter then, but I'm pretty sure they're singing the same arrangement they learned from their father, Jack, a high school music teacher, who died of a heart attack before he was forty years old.

They have a younger brother, Steve, who hosts the Merriman's Playhouse in South Bend, Indiana. Steve plays drums, his wife plays stand-up bass and they apparently perform once a month, showcasing featured jazz performers who make a short detour from Chicago or Detroit to jam with them.

These cousins are the brood of my mother's younger sister, Mary Lou. They are all descended from Alexander and Lydia Ann Price who were the focus of my 1902 Price Family Reunion and subsequent posts. My cousin Kim in California is still quite intent on organizing a 21st century family reunion.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hamburg Manifest

I joined a newsserver called the Germany Passengers List about a year ago. The members of the list often go to great lengths to assist people looking for information about ancestors or relatives who emigrated by ship from what is now called Germany to other parts of the world.

A month or so ago the list ran a message from someone with a relative who made the crossing from Hamburg to New York on the Ann Washburn in the summer of 1856. The listowner, Ursula Adamson, replied to that message, indicating she has access to microfilm records of the Hamburg passenger manifest for that voyage. I sent a message to the list indicating that my ancestors were also aboard that ship. A week or so later I got an e-mail from the listowner with a record attached, a microfilm copy of the page on that manifest where my ancestors are listed.

If you click your mouse once on the manifest image above you can see the image in its actual size. And if you scroll to the bottom you can see that my great grandfather, Wilhelm, age 0, is listed on the 10th line from the bottom, directly below his brother Carl, age 2, his mother Marie, age 26, and his father Wilhelm, age 29.

After the Name column and before the Age (Alter) column there are three other columns, Geburts oder Wohnort (Birth or Home Village), Landes (Country), and Gewerbe (Occupation). In 1856 Landes referred to whichever of the many hundreds of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities that were eventually unified as Germany. An attempt had been made in 1848 to unite all of the many small kingdoms under the banner of a German state, but that effort failed. Greater Germany as a nation-state wasn't realized until 1871.

No birth or home village is listed for Wilhelm and Marie, but there is a locality listed for Carl. The handwriting isn't easy to decipher and it is in German, but it looks to me like what is written could be the name Carlsheim. I haven't been able to locate any villages by that name online, but I have found a literary reference.

Benedikte Naubert was a popular author in Leipzig at the beginning of the 19th century. She wrote more than fifty books, some of them fairy tales later adapted by the Brothers Grimm. Her works included a number of historical romances, some of which were translated into English by Matthew (Monk) Lewis shortly after their publication in German. One of those romance novels was entitled Feudal Tyrants: The Counts of Carlsheim and Sargans. The story was set near Zurich in Switzerland, probably so it wouldn't be confused with any actual places in what eventually became Germany.

I don't know if the emigration officials in Hamburg had a policy about passengers listing fictitious places for their points of origin. I suspect it was permissable if it came from a book they hadn't read. Marie listed what looks like Greufsen for her country. I've located a small town in Thuringia by that name, although now it seems to be spelled Greussen. Until fairly recently Thuringia was part of the former East Germany. The town is about 30 miles north of Erfurt and fifty miles west of Leipzig. Frederick von Hardenburg's poem Novalis seems to be associated in some way with this locality.

I haven't had much luck deciphering what Wilhelm and Marie listed for their occupations. I'm willing to entertain educated guesses.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kettle Moraine

I don't know how many state parks come furnished with a house of worship that's an authentic national landmark, but I do know that the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin has one for which I feel a certain affinity. Ordinarily my tendency is to worship nature out of doors and some of the best places for doing so can be found in state or national parks. The church in the picture, St. John's New Fane Lutheran, was built in 1872. The surrounding countryside wasn't made a state park until 1936.

A few weeks ago I just happened to be in the neighborhood, so I made a point of stopping in for a brief photo op. My wife and I were in Milwaukee in April to visit my mother-in-law who celebrated her 87th birthday on Mother's Day. She loves to drive her Dodge Caravan, so not much persuasion was required for a quick run up the freeway to Kewaskum and a little beyond. Last year I wrote a post indicating that I'd located a cemetery transcription online that placed several of my ancestors in the New Fane churchyard cemetery.

The church is apparently a national landmark due to the mode of its construction. It's what's known as a "gothic fieldstone" church. Many hundreds of them were built in the 19th century, but only a handful are still standing and in use. The soil of the Kettle Moraine is notoriously rocky because it marked the leading edge of a huge glacier that began retreating at the end of the latest ice age. German immigrant farmers like my ancestors, who settled in Wisconsin in 1856, had to first remove the stones from their fields in order to cultivate them.

My understanding is that the stained glass windows, four on each side and one at the back, were added at a much later date, probably well into the 20th century. My mother-in-law kept the engine revved while my wife and I did a quick survey of the cemetery. We found quite a few markers written in German, some that must have been from before the end of the 19th century, but none of them had legible inscriptions, so we weren't able to locate the graves of my great great grandmother, who died in 1893, or my great great great grandfather, who died in 1872.

But we did find the grave marker for someone I think was my great great grandmother's youngest brother. August Ebert died in 1924 at the age of 78. His wife, Mary, passed on at the ripe old age of 39. August had a brother two years older, William, who was just old enough to enlist in the Union army in 1864. William served only a few months before he was wounded at the Battle of Atlanta. He collected a Civil War disability pension for 50 years and died in 1916. William's pension records furnished the clue that led me to New Fane. He married his wife, Fredericke, at St. John's New Fane in 1866, six years before enough field stones had been collected to actually build the church. His older sister, Maria, married her second husband there in 1867. Her first husband, my great great grandfather, Wilhelm Lubach, died at Jefferson Barracks Hospital in St. Louis in July, 1865, while serving in the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.

I've scanned in part of a map of the Kettle Moraine State Forest for any readers interested in making the trek to New Fane. The town itself has only one street but many of the houses along it are fairly new. I suspect that the State Park imposes a few zoning restrictions on development, so the town probably won't get much bigger than it is right now. The Bridle Path runs a block west of the only street in town. One block to the east is where hikers pass through along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The town of Kewaskum can be seen in the lower left corner of the map about three miles southwest of New Fane. It has a number of excellent cafes and handy stores for loading up knapsacks for the thirty mile hike from one end of the forest to the other. I'm fairly sure that the land my ancestors homesteaded for most of the second half of the 19th century is situated a little more than a mile northeast of New Fane, near the junction of Brazelton Drive and Forest View Road. One click of the mouse on any of the pictures will enlarge the view.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Price Pictures

My third cousin, Kim in California, who I've only met online through my blog, has sent me more photos of our Price relatives from South Bend, Indiana. If you click on the photo you can see them in much greater detail. Kim said she thinks these four pictures were taken in 1927, roughly twenty-five years after the 1902 Price Family Reunion photo that appeared last year in a previous post.

The really great thing about the 1902 Reunion photo is that that picture has numbers on each of the individuals and names to go with the numbers on a separate page so it's fairly easy to identify almost all of the nearly fifty individuals in the photo. These four photos aren't numbered or coded, so to identify people you have to imagine how much different they would have looked twenty-five years later. Many of the adults in these photos were small children in 1902.

Kim asked me if I recognized any of the children in these photos. I can't really claim that I do, but I did point out to her that my mother was born in 1926 and her older brother was born in 1925. If you look carefully at the upper right photo, you'll see that it includes a woman standing in the middle row with a baby girl in her arms who looks to be perhaps a year old or a little less. Standing directly in front of that woman is a small boy who looks to be about two years old. I don't think Kim would have sent me this picture if she weren't fairly certain that the woman holding the baby was my grandmother, Carlie (Ruth) Steele. That would make the baby my mother, Carolyn, and her two year old brother my Uncle John.

The woman at the far left of the upper left photo was my great grandmother, Laura (Price) Steele, pictured with her six older sisters and three older brothers. The man at the far left of the lower left photo was my great grandfather, Ira Steele. I suspect that the man standing in the front row in that picture with a two year old boy in a sailor suit in front of him was my grandfather, Cleon Virgil Steele.

The three of them, Great Grandpa Ira, Grandpa Cleon and Uncle John, are sitting together in the front row in the photo on the lower right. Cleon is the one wearing the hat. I think Cleon is also the man on the far right in the upper right photo. Kim tells me that her mother and grandmother are also in these photos and that her mother was born the same year as my Uncle John.