Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jacob Bodenheim, oh my!

Jacob Bodenheim (born about 1805 in Prussia)  is my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was married two times (possibly three).  Here is what I have so far and you should immediately see my problem.

Jacob and Agnes Küchen married about 1833, all children born in Ollheim
Anna Sibilla born 11 Jan 1834
Agnes born 04 Feb 1835
Anna born 09 Sep 1836
Heinrich born 09 Aug 1839
Anna Maria born 23 Sep 1840
Jacob born 30 Aug 1842
Wilhelm born 20 Jul 1844
Valentin born 08 Jun 1848

Jacob and Anna Maria Krümmel married 03 Dec 1851 in Ollheim, all children born in Ollheim
Theodor born abt 1852
Magdalena born abt 1854
Anna born abt 1856
Mathias Joseph born 31 Aug 1858

The above two I am pretty sure are the same Jacob.  Notice the multiple Annas.  All of these names and birth dates from from church birth registers and are all definitely different children.  One possibility is that several of these children died so they reused the names.  Death registers would be helpful in this case (still looking for those).  Right now I am working off of indexes.  The actual records have been ordered and I am hoping that they will yield more info.  You can see that I don’t have exact birth dates for several of the children.  The indexes don’t have the full information.

Now it gets even more convoluted.  I have a copy of my 2nd great-grandfather’s civil birth record (not one of the church records).  He is Valentin Bodenheim, the youngest of Agnes’ children.  This civil birth registration states that his father Jacob was 43 years old at the time of Valentin’s birth putting his date of birth at about 1805.   That means that Jacob was already 28 when he married Agnes.  Could there be another marriage? 

In neighboring Friesheim there is

Jacob Bodenheim and Anna Magdalena Brenner married about 1825, all children born in Friesheim
Anna Sophia born 02 Jan 1826
Anna Catharina born 03 Feb 1828
Gerhard born about 1830
Gertrud born about 1830 (twins?)
Peter born about 1832
Johann born about 1833

Then the children stop.  They stop just in time for Jacob to marry Agnes.

This is the current dilemma I am working on.  I am going to need a ton of records to sort this one out but lucky for me some of the records I need are on microfilm at the Family History Library.  I have a total of six children name Anna.  Ouch.  In a perfect world I would be able to get birth, marriage and death records on everyone listed but I am sure that isn’t going to happen, however, the more records that I can find the better my family will come together.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele,

    I have German ancestry, too, in Westfalen. They're Catholics and I've looked at many church records. I found that nearly all of the daughters were named either Anna or Maria as first name and then had different second names. I believe they were called by their second names anyway. It was the same with the sons: either Johann or Josef or such. My grandfather was Johan Anton. He is the immigrant and went by John or Anton in the US.

  2. I wonder if they would have done they had they know how much trouble it was going to cause later :)

  3. 2 points (which you may already know):
    1) often the middle name was more important than the first name for German names. When you get the original records, watch for underlines which will indicate what given name will be used as 'Rufname'. Like Anna _Sophia_, Anna _Catharina_ etc. Re-using the same firstname for almost every child was not unusual, even if all were living.
    2) Depending on region and the man's class or occupation, later first marriages (after age 25) might not be unusual.

  4. This is on my list of possibilities but until I have the full record I won't know if this is the case. What worries me is that the index doesn't have middle names on some of the Annas. Does that mean there wasn't a middle name or that the indexer didn't record it? I hope to get the records in about 2 more weeks.

    Another odd thing about Germans. Some Germans didn't have middle names at all. In my mother's family for example, only one of the children has a middle name, the rest do not. Why they decided to give one child a middle name I will never know because my grandparents were killed in WWII. I have the family's Stammbaum and the civil birth records.

  5. Yup, got a line just like this in Weselberg. Three wives, many children with each, and names repeated. Most of the repeated names I have verified were children who died and the names were recycled. I worked on this one family for weeks and finally took a break from them. One thing to note; German records are wonderful to work with (aside from the language barrier). If they exist, you will be able to put most pieces together. I found additional info published by a local genealogical society in Germany. They were very helpful. I purchased some of their material and also connected with some to get additional information.

  6. My mom's ancestry is 100% Germanic. I have some that had three names, such as Maria Anna Franziska Wagner, that went by the third name. Or in another family, my ancestor was Johann Georg Martin Epp & had an older brother (who hadn't died by the time mine was born) whose name was Johann Georg Epp. I've found in my mom's Catholic ancestor's records that they usually gave the full name.

    On my dad's side I have a German line who were Lutherans & lived in Pommerania. They all had 3 names and they were all a mouthful such as Johanne Caroline Wilhelmine, Albert Eduard Anton, Auguste Albertine Wilhelmine . . . I've found in their records, they don't always give the full names. For baptisms they did but not for the parents' names in the baptism.

    And like someone else said, sometimes they just didn't have middle names. My great-grandfather was just Michael Janson and his father was Johannes, no middle names. And oddly enough he had one child out of 10 that was not given a middle name. My great-aunt didn't even know why she didn't have one. She was the youngest & said they ran out of names. ;)

  7. Another thing to remember is that in most if not all the German states, a man had to either own property or have a minimum amount of money in order to get married. This also delayed marriage.