Category Archives: Germany

Road Trip to Germany & Slovakia

“Road trip” is another one of those themes that I needed to ponder for a bit. Nothing really jumped to mind when I thought about car trips that our families have taken. I suppose ancestors migrating from the East Coast could be considered road trips of a sort, but no one in the family knows anything about the migratory trips they made except that they “went there.”

I decided instead to focus on a road trip that I had told Dave a few years ago that I would love to make. The plan hasn’t come to fruition yet, but it is a definite possibility for a future vacation.

I confess that I have been very, very lucky to have been able to visit some of my ancestors’ home towns, both in the U.S. and abroad – through the years. My dream road trip would take a bit more planning – and travel to areas where languages are spoken that neither Dave nor I speak, but the trip is certainly doable.

DreamVacationMap
A Dream of a Road Trip
Map Image: Bing Maps

Why would this be my dream vacation? There are still two ancestral homelands in Europe that I have not visited – the German Palatinate home of Dave’s Whitmers and Stufflebeans and my father’s grandparents’ homes in Slovakia. All of the ancestral villages are quite small and we could fit in stops in some beautiful, historic cities along the way.

Here is my travel plan:

1. Arrive in Munich. Pick up the rental car.

2. Head west to BARBELROTH, Germany, which was the home of Dave’s 5x great grandfather, Johannes Whitmer, who was born in Barbelroth in 1751. He was a small boy when his family left Germany and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. Barbelroth has always been a small village. Today, there are about 600 residents.

3. Leaving Barbelroth, we would head north to LAUBENHEIM and LANGENLONSHEIM, home of the Stufflebeans, known as Stoppelbeins in 1740, when they emigrated to Columbia County, New York. Laubenheim is also a small village with a population of about 800. Langenlonsheim is a town of about 3,700.

4. Leaving Laubenheim, we would head east and stop in Dresden, Germany and Cracow, Poland. Both are said to be beautiful cities, but, as they are not ancestral homes, I won’t do more than mention them here.

5. Next, we will cross into Slovakia, homeland of my paternal ancestors. Both my grandfather, George Kucharik, and my grandmother, Julia Scerbak, were born in the United States after their parents emigrated. The Scerbaks were in Passaic by 1890, but decided to return home about 1898, when my grandmother was about five years old. Her father, Michael, was from the village of UDOL, (known as Ujak back then) and which today has only 400 residents. Her mother, Anna Murcko, was born in HAJTOVKA, about a mile from Udol. Hajtovka’s population today is 75! These villages are a short distance southeast of Cracow as the crow flies and they sit in the foothills of the mountains separating them from Poland.

My grandmother’s youngest brother’s family never came to the United States so I have a number of second cousins still living near Udol. We have exchanged letters and photos through the years, but they don’t speak any English and I don’t speak Slovak. We’ve needed intermediary translators to help with the correspondence.

6. The last ancestral stop would be about forty miles southeast of Udol and Hajtovka. My grandmother had no idea where husband George’s family lived in Slovakia. Unlike the Scerbaks, when the Kuchariks left about 1885, they were never to return to Europe. It took years to unearth the name of their village. While part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, it was called Felso Sebes and was in Saros County, Hungary. Today, it is called VYSNA SEBASTOVA and is a small town of about 1,000, a bit east of Presov, Slovakia.

7. As we would head west back towards Munich, visits would be made to Vienna, Austria and Salzburg, Austria.

The total round trip would cover about 1,650 miles and, ideally, it would be wonderful to spend about two weeks there.

Now, I just need to talk Dave into planning out an actual trip!

The Case of the Missing Bible Collection

OK, how can an entire Bible collection go missing? To make matters worse, the 1736 family Bible of Johannes (John) Whitmer of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky is part of it.

To begin at the beginning, Christus Gardens opened in 1960 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was a huge religious tourist attraction that presented Biblical scenes from the lifetime of Christ and was best know for its carrara marble face of Christ.

It also housed a large collection of Bibles that had been donated to them, mainly from Ohio and Kentucky.

Sometime after October 1971, the children of Philip and Anna Roth of Evansville, Indiana donated the Whitmer family Bible to Christus Gardens  in memory of their parents, who had died in 1948 and 1957, respectively.

John Whitmer’s family Bible was very large, over 1000 pages,  weighed 13 lbs and was quite ornate. The Bible was something of a showpiece at Christus Gardens because it was always housed in a glass display case for viewing.  It was in very good condition when I viewed it in the 1990’s. I have looked high and low for a photograph of it, but have found nothing. My husband thinks that no photos were allowed and that may be true. Our visit there was part of a three week vacation back east and I was already well addicted to genealogy. We have many other photos from that trip and there is no way I would have left without multiple photos of the Bible, if photography was allowed.

LAST MINUTE UPDATE: One Bible photo found:

Linda & Michael with Whitmer Bible
Christus Gardens Visit, circa summer 1997
with the Johannes Whitmer family Bible

Here is the problem that led to this mystery.  Christus Gardens closed in 2008. Its inventory was purchased by Trinity Broadcast Network, based in Santa Ana, California, packed up, hauled off and no one seems to know where the Bible collection is today.

Here is every bit of information I have about the Bible. First, there was a letter of inquiry back in 1991:

Next, the translation done in 1949:

ChristusGardensLetter_Page_3
Story of the Bible Ownership & Translation

Lastly, the closest thing I have to a photograph of the Bible, which is a photocopy of the inscription inside the Bible:

ChristusGardensLetter_Page_4
Johannes Whitmer’s Bible Inscription

A phone call to the Trinity Broadcast Network in California led to a directive to send them an email, which I did. To date, I have only received an automated response that the email had been received.

I am just sick over the idea that a Bible almost 300 years old may be gone.

There is a lesson to be learned here. If you have an item that you are thinking of donating somewhere, particularly if it is something valuable, think long and hard about to whom the donation will be made. Christus Gardens took good care of the Bible, but when they went out of business, they lost control of their holdings. I am hoping against hope that a religious broadcasting network like TBN has safely housed these Bibles.

Will this case be solved? Only time will tell.

German Origins of John Whitmer, Part 3

NOTE: The intent of what I am calling my family tree experiment is to encourage all genealogists to treat on line information as possible hints, clues or answers to empty branches on their family trees. I have been researching for 35 years and I still remember hearing stories about mistakes in books published in the 1800s(!) and how family historians were continuing to perpetuate myths that had been debunked years before. That was long before the internet was around. Errors abound in family histories found on line because the same thing is happening that happened in the 19th and 20th centuries. The difference is that the internet provides instantaneous contact with mistakes. My hope is that many of John Whitmer’s on line family trees will be updated so that future researchers have the benefit of accessing cited documents that they can read for themselves.

Here is Part 3 of the research completed on the German origins of John Whitmer of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Parts 1 and 2 were posted yesterday and the day before.

The will of John Whitmer was written on 2 Aug 1828 and witnessed by Jacob and Evy Whitmer. He left all to his wife, Catherine, and signed his name “Johannes Wittmer.”69 He died 10 Dec 1828. Catherine died a decade later, on 4 Sept 1838; both are buried at Grundy Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, KY.70

Children of John and Catherine Whitmer:

i. Jacob, born 15 January 1779; bapt. 23 Mar 1779, Frederick, MD (Sponsors: Jacob and Anna Barbara Holtz)71; died 23 June 1854, Muhlenberg County, KY73; married Catherine Short, 1 Sept 1800, Botetourt County, VA. She was the daughter of David Short.72 This couple had 8 children.
ii. John, born 8 June 1781; bapt. 5 Aug 1781 (Sponsors: Johannes Kauffman and wife)74; died 26 Feb 1852, Muhlenberg County, KY73; married Catherine Sheets, daughter of John, 22 Apr 1809, Botetourt County, VA. They had 7 children.
iii. Catherine, born 10 Sept 1783; bapt. 26 Oct 1783 (Sponsors: David and Eva Schultz)75; died 21 Feb 1862, Muhlenberg County, KY76; married Martin Miller, 7 Jan 1808, Botetourt County, VA. They had 9 children.
iv. Valentine, born 26 Oct 1786; bapt. 25 Dec 1786 (Sponsors: Valentine and Chatarina Keyser)77, Rockingham County, VA; died 15 Sept 1855, Muhlenberg County, KY; married Sarah Scott, daughter of Nathan, 12 Apr 1812, Muhlenberg County, KY.78 They had 8 children.
v. Maria Elisabeth, born 4 Sept 1788, bapt. 4 Oct 1788, Rockingham County, VA [Sponsor at Friedens Church: Maria Chate (Kate?) Trobachin (Trobaugh].77; died young. She is not named on the list of children in the family Bible.
vi. Maria Eva, born 12 Dec 179080, probably Rockingham County, VA, although the baptism is not found at Friedens Church; died 25 Aug 1864, Muhlenberg County, KY76; married Jacob Phillips, 1 Apr 1808, Botetourt County, VA.72. They had 5 children.
vii. Elizabeth, born 15 Nov 1794, VA; married Anthony Donohoo, 31 May 1820, Muhlenberg Co., KY. Elizabeth died after 1850 and Anthony after 1860 when he lived next door in McLean County. They had at least 7 children. The Donohoo family was from Sumner County, TN.
viii. Michael, born 24 Sept 1796, MD; Michael reported in 1850 that he was born in MD85, but it is more likely that he was born in Virginia; died 24 Jan 185576, Muhlenberg County, KY; reportedly married Julia Stewart, no marriage record has been found. However, his wife in 1850 was Elizabeth. They had at least 7 children.
ix. Margaret, born c1800, VA; married John Dossett, 13 June 1816, Muhlenberg County, KY. 81 Little else is known about the family, but Dossett family information seems to indicate they perhaps removed to Knox County, TN, Gibson Co., IN in 1834 and then to Greene Co., IL where John reportedly died on 23 June 1843. Margaret has not been found in 1850. There is a John Dosett in IN in 1840 who is of the right age to be this man with a wife and seven children. More work needs to be done on this family. The Dossetts may have known the Donohoo family in TN. There is a Margaret Dossett in Greene Co., IL in 1850 as head of household, born in 1800. A pension record for John Dossett in the War of 1812 indicates that he married Margaret “Whitmore” in 1815 Muhlenburg County, KY and that he died in Greene County, IL on 23 June 1843. The same pension file indicates that Margaret died about 1892. She is last found in the 1880 census when she was living with her daughter’s (Mary A. Lockhart) family in Greene County.
The maiden name of Catherine Whitmer is still unknown. However, it would be very surprising if her name was not the same as someone found with the Whitmers in the records of Frederick County. Some of the people with whom the Whitmers had church contacts are proved relatives of John. It would be unusual if some of the others were not relatives of Catherine.

References

1. Carolyn Earle Billingsley, The Family History of Eula Mae Miller Fisher, (Alexander, AR: Saline Research), 1987.
2. Dallis and Ann Whitmer, The Whitmer Family Genealogy, (n.p. 1976.).
3. George Holt, County Clerk, Botetourt County marriage record, unpublished, Fincastle, VA.
4. Dauphin County, PA Will Book A, 1:314.
5. Linda Husky, Christus Gardens, PO Box 587, River Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
6. Ann Sherwin, c/o German Genealogical Society of America, PO Box 291818, Los Angeles, CA 90029.
7. Thomas W. Westerfield, Editor, Kentucky Genealogy and Biography, Owensboro, KY: General Reference, 1969, Reprinted from Kentucky: A History of the State, by Battle, Perrin, Kniffin, 3:81.
8. C.E. Schildknecht, Editor, Monocacy and Catoctin, Some Settlers of Western Maryland and Adjacent Pennsylvania and Their Descendants 1725-1988, 2:106.
9. Evangelical Reformed Church of Barbelroth, Germany Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, LDS Film 193777, unpaged book.
10. Frederick Sheely Weiser, Translator and Editor, Records of Marriages and Burials in the Monocacy Church in Frederick County, Maryland and in the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in the City of Frederick, Maryland 1743-1811, Special Publication No. 38, (Arlington, VA: The National Genealogical Society), p. 35.
11. William J. Hinke and E.W. Reinecke, Translators, Records of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Frrederick, Maryland 1746-1800 (Silver Spring, MD: Family Line Publications), 1986, p. 7.
12. Ibid., p. 19.
13. Frederick County, MD Administration Accounts, Liber GM no. 2, 1800-1805, p. 483.
14. Margaret Elizabeth Myers, Georg(e) Zimmerman and Descendants of Frederick County, Maryland 1714-1987, (New Market, MD: American Forms and Stationery, Inc.), 1988.
15. Hinke, p. 10.
16. Frederick, MD Land Deed Book J., p. 470.
17. Hinke, pp. 86, 92 and 95.
18. Ibid., pp. 101-102.
19. Ibid., p. 74.
20. Frederick County, MD Minute Book, “Unpublished Revolutionary War Records of Maryland: A List of Persons Who Have Taken the Following Oath Before the Different Magistrates, 1778.” (now at MD State Archives).
21. Frederick County, MD Will Book A 1, p. 344,
22. Frederick County, MD Land Deeds, Liber 2, Folio 15.
23. Ibid., Liber 2, Folio 537.
24. Ibid., Liber 3, Folio 437.
25. Frederick County, MD Will Book, Liber GM-2, p. 186.
26. Hinke, p. 36.
27. Weiser, p. 22.
28. Ibid., p. 25.
29. Hinke, p. 47.
30. Wesier, p. 35.
31. Hinke, p. 92.
32. Frederick County Will Book, Liber GM-1, p. 137.
33. Hinke., p. 36.
34. Ibid., p. 40.
35. Ibid., p. 51.
36. Ibid., pp. 54, 113.
37. Ibid., p. 58.
38. Ibid., p. 62.
39. Ibid., p. 67.
40. Ibid., p. 72
41. Frederick County, MD Adminnistration Accounts, Liber GM no. 2, 1800-1805, p. 483.
42. Frederick County, MD Land Deed Book 15, pp. 13, 483.
43. Hinke, p. 52.
44. Ibid., p. 56.
45. Ibid., p. 61.
46. Ibid., p. 69.
47. Ibid., p. 76.
48. Ibid., p. 82.
49. Ibid., p. 116.
50. John Wayland, A History of Rockingham County, Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA: C.J. Carrier, 1980) p. 270.
51. Netti Schreiner-Yantis and Florence Speakman Love, 1787 Census of Virginia (Springfield, VA: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987) p. 661.
52. Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, PO Box 716, Dayton, VA 22821, miscellaneous manuscript files.
53. Louise C. Levinson and Constance A. Levinson, Rockingham County, Virginia Minute Book, 1778-1792, Part III 1789-1792 (n.d., n. p.) pp. 114-115.
54. Botetourt County, VA 1800 Tax list, book in LDS Family History Library collection, Salt Lake City, UT.
55. Botetourt County, Virginia Land Deed, 7:746.
56. Ibid., 9:505.
57. Ibid., 9:629.
58. Ibid., 9:114.
59. Muhlenberg County, KY Land Deed, 3:32.
60. Muhlenbuerg County, KY Tax Rolls 1799-1809, 1811-1813, and 1815-1829, LDS Film #8176, unpaged.
61. Muhlenberg County, KY Land Deed, 3:276.
62. Ibid., 4:131.
63. Muhlenberg County, KY 1810 census, p. 393.
64. Dallis Whitmer, p. 31.
65. Sumner County, TN 1810 census, AIS Index.
66. Sumner County, TN Land Deed, 10:473.
67. Muhlenberg County, KE 1850 census, p. 201.
68. Muhlenberg County, KY 1810 census, p. 139.
69. Muhlenberg County, KY Will Book 2, p. 490.
70. Grundy Cemetery gravestones, Muhlenberg County, KY.
71. Hinke, p. 41.
72. George Holt, County Clerk, Botetourt County, VA marriage records.
73. Whitmer Cemetery gravestone, Muhlenberg County, KY.
74. Hinke, p. 45.
75. Ibid., p. 50.
76. Old Shiloh Cemetery gravestones, Muhlenberg County, KY.
77. Harrison-Rockingham Historical Society, Friedens Church records, miscellaneous manuscript collection.
78. County Clerk, Muhlenberg County, KY marriage records.
79. Scott Cemetery graveston, Muhlenberg County, KY.
80. Dallis Whitmer, p. 29.
81. Ibid., p. 31.
82. Muhlenberg County, KY 1850 census, p. 234.
83. Dallis Whitmer, p. 32.
84. G.M. Brumbaugh, Maryland Records, Colonial, Revolutionary, County, Church, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co.,) 1985, 1:272.
85. Muhlenberg County, KY 1850 census., p. 201.

Results of my experiment to see how many family trees are updated to reflect this information will be reported the first week of February and the first week of March.

How many trees do you think will have been corrected?