Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday’s Tip, My Name Is Johann, Yes It Is, Well, Maybe It Is, And Maybe It Isn't

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

This post came about because of a comment that Dorene, who writes, Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, left on my post, Sadly, Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Roll With It OR Review, Review, Review.

Dorene wrote, in part, "Like his name was Johann Friedrich, but they really called him Fred!"

Immediately my thoughts went to one of Man's families from Germany.  Thanks to the help (and, I do mean H-E-L-P) from friends, I have been able to document about 100 years worth of family from one set of church records from the Protestant Reformed Church (Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche in German) of Miseau and Obermiseau, Bayern, Germany (represented by 3 rolls of microfilm available from the Family History Library).

What struck me was the propensity of members of that church to name their male heirs with some form of John - Johann - Johannes, etc.  That was the "first" name on so many baptisms from that church it is stunning!  Johannes Ruthig, Johannes Philip Rudig, Johannes Philipp Ruediger and Johan Henrich Ruediger are just the names from one direct ancestor line.  We also have Johann Jacob Molter, Johannes Nichol Hirsch, Johan Jacob Creutzen and others.

Look at this 5 generation pedigree chart, starting with Man's 2nd great grandfather, 10 men on this chart have "first" names of some form of Johann.  In the last generation, we actually have 3 men with the "first" names of Hans.  We also have 9 ladies with the "first" name of Maria:

(Clicking on the image will give a larger view,
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As another example, let's take a closer look at Johannes Nickel Hirsch and his wife, Maria Catharina Wagner and their children:

Amazing, isn't it?? 5 male children, all baptized with "first" names of Johan(n), and 4 female children, all baptized with "first" names of Maria.  Yes, there are duplicate names on here, two for Johan Theobald and two for Maria Magdalena.  Both boys and both girls have different birth dates.  I have not recorded death dates, I honestly do not remember if we did not find death dates, or if I just got pulled away from the input process and neglected to get back to it.

I have images of most of these baptisms, a HUGE pile of photocopies.  I have not scanned any of them, because the copies I have are, well, kinda crummy.  At that time the copier we used was troublesome. I was thrilled to be able to get any copy, but, they lack quality I want.  If I ever get to SL (you know the genie mecca), I have on my to do list to get digital copies, gonna be a LOT of copies!  LOL 

Anyway, back to the Johanns, errr, the point.  Many of these male children were baptised with a "first" name of John (or form of), with an occasional Hans tossed in for good measure.  For the girls we have Anna, Margaretha (or form of) and a lot of Marias.  Now, do you really think that all these little boy babies grew up and used the name John (or form of)??  Nahhhh, they didn't.  (My black sense of humor kicks in and in my imagination I can see an entire village of men answering to "John - -- -" all at the same time.  Oh, dear!)

My third example is, Johan Jacob Molter, who went by Jacob.  In the baptisms of his children, he is named simply Jacob Molter, not Johann Jacob Molter.

For the post today, I dug around in the office, finally unearthed the files, and scanned a few to share with you. 

Above:  This is a baptism for Johann Adam Molter, father, Jacob Molter, mother, Maria Elisabetha. This child is the older sibling of Christian Molter from the pedigree chart above.  The year 1754, I wrote in, as well as the printed names of the parents.  These were working copies, I was learning, or trying to learn, to read this old German handwriting, and I needed to be able to use these images as cheat sheets.

Next is the christening record for Christian Molter, 1758, father Jacob, mother Maria Elisabetha.  Christian is Man's direct ancestor, his 4th great-grandfather.  Interesting to note, he is not named Johann Christian, proving, once again, that every rule or local custom is made to be twisted and broken just a little. 

Note that Jacob Molter, the father of these two boys, was baptised  in 1724 as Johan Jacob.  But, went by Jacob.  (Note:  I believe I also have an image of Jacob's marriage to Maria Elisabetha Jung buried in that pile of photocopies.)

Above: Johan Jacob Molter, born 28 Oct 1724 at Niedermiesau, Bayern, Germany, baptized in the same place on 5 Nov 1724.  Parents:  Johan Nicol Molter and Magdalena.

At the church of Miseau/Obermiseau we see that John, and the variances thereof, is a baptismal name.  It is not the name the child would be called all of his life.

Now, the disclaimer:  This Johann naming phenomenon may not extend into your Lutheran records.  But, it is something to remember when you find a Johnan Frederick in your ancestry.  Keep an open mind, he may have referred to himself as Frederick, Fred or even Fritz. 

In my opinion Darlene, your Johann Friedrich is/was and always shall be, Fred, and Johann is a baptismal name.  Just my opinion!

I mean, the ancestors don't want to make it easy on us now do they?? Might be a Johann, maybe, and maybe not.

* My memory is not what it was, but, it seems to me that we actually found a baptism for a Johann Johann in these 3 rolls of microfilm.  I guess that baby really went by John/Johann.



Dorene from Ohio said...

What a fascinating post! So many variations of John/Johann,etc. in your Man's German ancestry!

Karen said...

When I worked on the German Church records for Mark's Krugman line it seemed they were all baptized with Johann something something something Krugmann - and then when they came here to the states they went by almost anything BUT one of those four names included on the baptismal records. Go figure! Another of the great joys of genealogy!

Nice post!

TennLady said...

And of course Hans is also short for Johannes.

I wonder if John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt went by Jingle?

Nolichucky Roots said...

I've been told that in German naming traditions people often go by middle names and have certainly seen that in the lines I've researched. That doesn't explain the three William Meredith Smith's in my husband's family who went by Joe, Jim and Ace... Of course they were only part German.

Barbara said...

Carol, you keep pumping out good blogs. I'm impressed with this one. As long as the kids keep their middle names, I guess it isn't too hard to follow their lines.
I'd love to know how you did your Pedigree chart, was it a screen shot that you pasted somewhere...where?

Carol said...

Screen shots Barbara. From RootsMagic.

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

Fun post and great comments. Thanks Carol for sharing!