Tag Archives: Abraham Estermann

A Most Unusual, Quite Unique Genealogical Find!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about two of my husband’s ancestors, Abraham Estermann and his wife, Veronica Deler. The Estermanns belonged to a Walloon (Anabaptist) church and seemed to move rather often, perhaps because of their religious beliefs.

I thought I had done well tracing the family from Barbelroth, Germany back to the Heidelberg area, where Abraham was said to have been born, and then tracing his father back into a Swiss village.

None of that came close, though, to matching my latest discovery. I can’t claim credit for the discovery, though, because I only learned about it from a reader Robert Heim, who is a distant Whitmer cousin of my husband’s. The Estermann line eventually comes down to the Whitmers, who were also from Barbelroth.

It definitely ranks as one of the most unusual items I’ve ever come across on either side of the family!

Source: Google Books

Now, I’m the first to admit that my Latin isn’t great. But I can make out part of the title of this dissertation:

Medical-Surgical Dissertation
We Look at the Fractured Cranium
in a Man for 40 Years

Even more amazing is the fact that this dissertation dates from 19 December 1718!!!

Robert advised me that this is a 42 page academic work about Abraham Estermann – yes, my husband’s exact Abraham Estermann – who survived for 40 years with a fractured skull!

I haven’t been able to find a translation tool that produces anything but gibberish, so I haven’t even been able to read the historical introduction.

A second surprise was found at the end of the dissertation – I know what Abraham Estermann looked like! The image is only slightly gory:

Abraham Estermann’s Fractured Skull

I have a newfound respect for Abraham Estermann. I was already fond of the family, as it provides a documented Swiss ancestral line, but Abraham Estermann is another story totally.

Imagine not only fracturing your skull and living to tell about it, but surviving with it for over 40 years! I can’t even imagine how many ways that impacted every single day of his life.

I am on the hunt to find some Latin translation help and will share more of the story once I am able to read it. 🙂 Thank you, Robert Heim, for this extremely unique bit of family history.



Lessons Learned: Ancestral Origins of Abraham Estermann

Yesterday, I shared the rather short family sketch of Abraham Estermann and Anna Catharina (MNU) and possibly Lind, who was the widow of Conrad Wacker, when she and Abraham married on 15 November 1682 at the Walloon Reformed Church in Mannheim, Germany.

There are a scattering of German vital records online, but not a lot. However, I was able to locate several marriages and one death record, along with a few baptismal records, before accessing the microfilms in Salt Lake City.

First, Abraham Estermann married Anna Catharina, a widow, at the Wallonisch-Reformierte Church, which was in Mannheim, on 15 November 1682. In 1689, that particular congregation moved to Magdeburg.

The original church book pages aren’t available digitally online, so I will begin by sharing what the “no image available” screens have on Abraham’s origins.

  1. His 1682 marriage record includes the information that Abraham was the son of Wendel Estermann.
  2. Veronica Estermann, daughter of Wendel, married Wilhelm Bones, 14 January 1688, also in Mannheim, Germany.
  3. There is a marriage for Wendel Estermann, son of Martin Estermann, in Bretten, Germany on 7 April 1656 to Veronica Deler, daughter of Hans Deler. It also says that Wendel was born in Munster, Germany.

Now, the $64,000 question is whether the original records include the fathers’ names and the place of birth for Wendel. I question the birthplace because of (1) location and (2) record source.

Mannheim and Bretten are quite close to each other, with only about 40 miles distance between them.

However, Munster is about 250 miles away. That was a huge distance to travel in the 1600s. It certainly wasn’t impossible, but I would want lots more information about this area to decide whether it was feasible or not.

As for the source, it says Germany marriages, which on FamilySearch sometimes refers to the actual church books, but other times refers to data collected from patron submissions.

When I clicked on the collection, a new window opened:
“Index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah”

This sounds like patron submitted info, which might be 100% accurate, but it’s really important to view the actual church records.

Further searching on American Ancestors turned up the same database, as they partner with FamilySearch. The database description found there says:

These records were obtained from the International Genealogical Index.

It’s now extra important to view the Mannheim and Bretten church records to see if parent names are really part of the official record.

Why else do I really want to know this besides for accuracy? Because the few records I’ve found online for early Estermanns are based in Neudorf, Lucerne, Switzerland.

Neudorf isn’t exactly along the way from Mannheim and Bretten to Munster.

The church books for Neudorf, Switzerland ARE digitized and available on FamilySearch and I spent several hours reading them.

There IS a baptismal record for Wendel Estermann on 19 October 1727. His parents are named as Martin and Maria Estermann.

Martin Estermann and Maria Wapf married in Neudorf on 29 October 1621. The Neudorf church was a Catholic church.

It is important to take into account that the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648 tore apart not only Germany but the area around it. Churches that had been Protestant became Catholic overnight.

To add to the political turmoil is that fact that the Estermanns were Anabaptists, or Walloons, as they were called in Europe. Walloons were not welcome in many places and it is very possible that they either felt the need to leave Neudorf or were physically driven out of the town. Their religious beliefs could have been the impetus for frequent moves.

This is the perfect example for the need to understand the social, political and cultural history of a region.

Back to the question about whether the parents’ names are on the Mannheim and Bretten marriage records – if the fathers’ names ARE on the actual record, then I can accept that Wendel was the father of Abraham Estermann and that Martin was the father of Wendel Estermann because I’ve viewed the Neudorf records myself to verify Wendel and Martin.

However, if no father’s name is on Abraham’s marriage record or on Wendel’s marriage record, then the link to Neudorf becomes much more suspect. In that case, I think someone found the baptismal record for Wendel Estermann and his birth year is a good fit for the man who married in Mannheim in 1656 and then added the undocumented fact of parentage to Abraham’s marriage record. We’ll have to see where this goes, but my instincts say that someone may well have added the parents’ names and birthplace to the record with no documentation, as other German church records in this time period don’t usually include parental or birth place data.

There’s one other detail that I haven’t discussed yet – Wendel’s marriage record reporting that he was born in Munster.

If place of birth is NOT on the church record, and this detail came from patron submitted records with no documentation, then, again, the trail to Neudorf becomes much more probable.

When I was in Salt Lake at the Family History Center, looking at the German microfilmed records was high on my “to do” list. What did I find?

With the help of the wonderful gentleman I mentioned in yesterday’s post, who is Swiss born and speaks German, I was able to verify fathers’ names for both Abraham and Wendel:

Abraham Estermann’s Marriage Record

This definitely isn’t the easiest script to read, but I’ve noted where in the record it identifies Abraham as the son of Wendel Estermann. There is nothing in this record that indicates his place of birth.

Next, we have Wendel Estermann’s marriage record:

Marriage Record of Wendel Estermann

This entry is even more difficult to read. Wendel’s father is named as Mar- tin Estermann, with Martin hyphenated between two lines.

What about that pesky mention of Wendel’s birth in Munster?

Munster is also mentioned in the record entry, but there is one word that makes a huge difference, according to my expert help in the Family History Library. The first word, noted in red, does NOT say BORN, it says FROM. The elder who helped me says that all it is indicating about Munster is the Wendel Estermann lived there before he moved to Mannheim.

It is also his opinion that given the fact that the Estermanns were Walloons, the places where they lived after leaving Neudorf – Bretten, Munster, Mannheim and eventually Barbelroth – were in a commonly traveled corridor used by many Swiss, Germans and others to find work and to escape political turmoil.

He further believes that Wendel Estermann in Germany is the same man born in Neudorf because the surname is not a common one and only one Wendel is found in this time period. The Estermann family disappears from the Neudorf records when Estermanns begin appearing in Germany.

All the puzzle pieces are fitting together nicely. I learned one more tantalizing tidbit from this record – because I had someone who could read it – that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else.

Wendel Estermann married Veronica Deler, daughter of Hans Deler, which I have seen noted in other places. However, there is a word that I don’t think others have been able to read, or they never looked at the original record after an early researcher viewed it. It is also hyphenated, which likely added to the difficulty. I never, ever would have been able to figure this out on my own.

The Deler family was from Fahrwangen! A quick check with Google maps made me very, very happy!

Fahrwangen is only about ten miles from Neudorf, Switzerland. The Estermanns and Deler family are most likely part of a FAN club that migrated together when they left Switzerland. I now have a new bread crumb trail to follow that might lead to new twigs on a branch of the family tree.

There are several lessons to be learned from my experience. First and foremost is to do your own research to verify information. Yes, sometimes that takes expert help, which I was most fortunate to have at the Family History Library.

Second, read a record in its entirety. Not only do the marriage records name Abraham’s and Wendel’s fathers, but they also mention that both were pipemakers and, as we have seen, BORN and FROM have two very different meanings.

There is still more to be done in the German records when I return to Salt Lake, but Swiss church records have been digitized and I am hoping to be able to share information on the Deler family from Fahrwangen in a future post.


Abraham Estermann & Anna Catherina (MNU), Barbelroth, Germany, 1600s

The Estermann family is one about whom I’ve written hardly a single word. Abraham Estermann and Anna Catharina (MNU), maybe Lind, are my husband’s 8X great grandparents.

I have to add the caveat that, while I’ve seen online information that Anna Catharina’s maiden name is Lind, I haven’t been able to verify it. I was extremely lucky when I visited the Family History Library – and this really was luck, as opposed to persistence – because a gentleman who helped me was born in Switzerland, spoke German and was an expert at reading the old script. 🙂 I can’t thank him enough.

I located the image of Abraham Estermann’s marriage to Anna Catharina. Here is a close up look at it:

I wonder if someone misread this entry, as it says Anna Catharina, widow Hans Conrad Wacker (Wacher?). The green arrow is pointing to Hans, but an inexperienced reader might have thought that said “Lind.” That might be the source for Anna Catharina’s possible maiden name, which means it is wrong!

I didn’t have time to search back for the record of Anna Catharina’s first marriage – these records are still on microfilm – to verify her maiden name. Lind, therefore, isn’t out of the question, I just wasn’t able to prove it right away. It’s on the list for the next visit!

Not a lot is known about Abraham and Anna Catharina because most of the German church records haven’t yet been indexed and few people seem to have gone hunting for them.

The Estermann surname isn’t terribly common, either, and few records are found online for them. Another question is whether Hestermann might be a variation of the same name. So far, in my searching, “my” family has always appeared as Esterman or Estermann.

Abraham and Anna Catharina married on 15 November 1682 in Mannheim, Baden, Germany. She was the widow of Conrad Wacker. Their first child, Anna Christina, was baptized in Mannheim on 3 August 1684, as was their second daughter, Maria Catharina, on 1 September 1688.

Sometime between 1688 and the summer of 1700, the family moved from Mannheim to the town of Barbelroth, Germany, just under 40 miles to the southwest.

Abraham’s and Anna Catharina’s third and last known child, Anna Ottilia, was baptized in Barbelroth on 14 August 1700.

Where were Abraham and Anna Catharina born? So far, their home towns remain a mystery. It is estimated that Abraham was born c1657, if he married around age 25, and Anna Catharina was born c1661, if she was 21 when married.

Anna Christina Estermann married Benedict Wittmer on 28 January 1706 in Barbelroth. She and Benedict lived their lives in Barbelroth and she died there on 7 July 1746.

There is also a marriage record for Anna Catharina Estermann, daughter of Abraham, marrying Hans Adam Gold, also on 28 January 1706 in Barbelroth. That opens the question whether the baptismal record of Maria Catharina was wrong and should read Anna Catharina, or if the marriage record is wrong and should read Maria Catharina. That is, unless Maria Catharina died young and Anna Catharina’s baptismal record hasn’t yet been found.

There are a lot of maybes about the bride. I tend to think since Maria Catharina would have only been 19 years old when she married that there wasn’t another younger sibling named Anna Catharina. However, as to a mistake in the records, I think Abraham’s daughter was Anna Catharina, as she and Hans Adams were mentioned by those names in the church books throughout the years.

With gaps in children’s births from 1688 to 1700, it appears that Abraham and Anna Catharina might have buried quite a few young children.

Children of Abraham and Anna Catharina:

  1. Anna Christina, baptized 3 August 1684, Mannheim, Baden, Germany; died 7 July 1746, Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany; married Benedict Wittmer, 28 January 1706, Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany
  2. Maria Catharina, baptized 1 September 1688, Mannheim, Baden, Germany
  3. ?Anna Catharina (Is she the same as Maria above and she married the same day as the Wittmers); married Hans Adams Gold, 28 January 1706, Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany
  4. Anna Ottilia, baptized 14 August 1700, Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany; no further record

Benedict Wittmer and Anna Christina Estermann were the parents of seven children, all baptized and buried in Barbelroth, Germany, unless noted:

  1. Anna Susanna, baptized 4 November 1706; died 3 May 1747; unmarried.
  2. Benedict, baptized 12 April 1708; no further record
  3. Johannes, baptized 28 December 1710; died after 22 May 1764, probably Frederick County, Maryland; married Maria Elisabetha Holtz, 2 February 1740, Barbelroth, Germany.
  4. Anna Maria, baptized 26 November 1713; died 18 January 1735/36; unmarried.
  5. Anna Christina, baptized 15 December 1715; no further record
  6. Johan Friederich, baptized 1 February 1719/20; married Susanna Catharina Schreyer, 19 April 1746.
  7. Anna Margaretha, baptized 23 April 1724; died 23 August 1734; unmarried.

Hans Adam Gold and his wife Anna Catharina were the parents of seven children:

  1. Anna Catharina, baptized 7 August 1707
  2. Male, baptized 7 August 1707
  3. Benedict, baptized 15 May 1715; died young
  4. Margaretha Elisabetha, baptized 17 June 1716
  5. Anna Appollonia, baptized 20 May 1720
  6. Anna Maria, baptized 8 December 1723
  7. Benedict, baptized 18 May 1727

Interestingly, there is one other Estermann family living in Barbelroth, that of Daniel Estermann (aka Hans Daniel and Johann Daniel) and his wife, Margaretha Ganderin, who married there on 17 May 1701.

If this is a first marriage for Daniel, then he was likely born c1675. If Abraham Estermann only married once, then he isn’t the father of Daniel. However, he might have married more than once or been a bit older than typical when he did marry because his wife was a widow when Abraham married. Because the name isn’t common and Barbelroth is a small place, they are almost certainly related. If not father and son, Daniel could be Abraham’s (much) younger brother or they could be cousins.

Daniel Estermann and his wife Margaretha were the parents of six children:

  1. Anna Catharina, baptized 25 July 1702
  2. Anna Christina, baptized 20 February 1705
  3. Maria Elisabetha, baptized 1 May 1707
  4. Margretha, baptized 2 November 1710
  5. Anna Barbara, baptized 5 March 1713
  6. Johannes, baptized 4 November 1714

There are also a couple of loose ends. First is Anna Catharina, born 1702 and died 18 August 1733 in Barbelroth, daughter of JACOB and Margaretha Estermann. Is this another clerical error and her father should be Hans Daniel or Daniel? Daniel and Margaretha’s daughter was born in 1702.

Second, Maria Barbara Estermann married Johan George Schiehler on 23 February 1734. She was the daughter of Johann Daniel Estermann. Is this yet another mistake, as Daniel’s daughter is named Anna Barbara?

If these are, indeed, mistakes, then the parish minister or clerk was a bit sloppy with their entries.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at possible origins for Abraham Estermann.