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Deciphering Old German Writing

26 September 2012 1 comment

One thing that I learned to do that always amazes people is to read these old church records written in German, but in a handwriting that no modern-day German speaker I’ve met can decipher–all while never taking any lessons in German or understanding a word of it.  Let me provide the world with the links that helped me figure out what the heck these records were saying.

First off, the Kurrent script examples at AustrianFamilyHistory.org are absolutely incredible.  Start there.  Of course, once you look at more than one town’s church book, you’ll see the vast difference in handwriting between peoples, but one great thing the author does is separate the samples by time periods.  For me, the most incredibly helpful page continues to be the Kurrent Alphabet Samples.  I’ll usually have this open in a window while I’ll be looking at records.  It shows multiple variations of how a single letter could be written (depending on the penmanship, where the letter was in the word, etc).  It’s invaluable.

Second, as if deciphering what the words were wasn’t hard enough, you then had to figure out what they meant!  In the case of the occupations, this could really be tough.  For this, I used a few different resources.  The first was Google translate.  Sadly, that rarely worked.  There were a few pages that I had to sort through to try to find the professions listed, or similar/root words listed (because the spelling back then wasn’t the greatest): European Roots Genealogy’s List of Old German Professions, Old German Professions and Trade Names, and finally, if it wasn’t listed on any of those, FamilySearch’s German Word List.

But, if anyone wants to take a stab at this one from last year, I’d love you forever!

Jacob Quirin, der Junge__, Britzon Quirin, alhier burger, und ___ kirchencensor alhier, ehel. sohn; __
jungfer, Anna Catharina, c__: be___ Schaffer, gr____ ____ alhier ____ ehel. tochter

Translation:
Jacob Quirin, the young__, Britz Quirin, citizen of here, and ____ church censor of here, legitimate son; (married?)
young girl, Anna Catharina, ___: ___ Schaffer, ___ of here, legitimate daughter.

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Quirins of Bettwiller and Wolfskirchen

24 March 2011 1 comment

I am sure this is not a complete list, and my transcription is not great.  However, this might be helpful to people (and it surely helps me sort out what I have found).  The shorthand citations refer to the city the records are under in the Bas-Rhin Archives, and the page refers to the page on the viewer–not any pagination on the leaves.

Waldhambach Records

Quirin Quirin is listed as the father in two marriage records: Hans Anton Quirin and Hans Philipp Quirin.

Hans Anton Quirin married Johanetta Wagner, daughter of Michael Wagner, on 20 Jan 1684 in Bettwiller (Waldhambach BMS p 124).  They had the following children:

  1. Anna Barbara Quirin, baptized 1684 (Waldhambach BMS p 5).  Baptism was witnessed by Otthilia, Georg Hans Philippi of Volksberg’s wife
  2. Anna Catharina Quirin, baptized 1688 (Waldhambach BMS p 12)
  3. [can’t read] Quirin, baptized 1690 (Waldhambach BMS p 20)
  4. Hans Nickol Quirin, baptized 1693 (Waldhambach BMS p 28)

Hans Philipp Quirin married Anna Margaretha Ensminger on 14 Feb 1693 in Bettwiller (Waldhambach BMS p 128).  I did not see any baptismal records.

Also listed is the confirmation of Jerg Quirin, son of Bricey Quirin, in Waldhambach (Waldhambach BMS p 114).  This is presumably Hans Georg Quirin, son of Bricius Quirin who is listed as having been baptized 8 Sep 1678 in Wolfskirchen in Brendan Wehrung’s portion of Ensmingers of Pennsylvania (pg 31).

Wolfskirchen Records

I have much more difficulty reading the Wolfskirchen records, so this has more gaps and things I couldn’t decipher.

What I have found seems to line up nicely with Brendan Wehrung’s information about the children of Britz Kurin/Quirin and Elisabetha Schmidt. I did not find mention of either of them, but Wehrun has their children listed as:

  1. Nicolaus QUIRIN, c. 03 Feb 1643, Wolfskirchen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
  2. Hans Thebalt QUIRIN, c. 24 Aug 1645, Wolfskirchen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
  3. Jacob QUIRIN, c. 15 Oct 1648, Wolfskirchen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
  4. Bricius QUIRIN, c. 15 Oct 1648, Wolfskirchen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France
  5. Hans Heinrich QUIRIN, c. 24 Nov 1656, Wolfskirchen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France

I did not find anything on Hans Thebalt, but I believe I found information regarding the others which seem to line up with Wehrung.

Britz Quirin and his wife Synnel had:

  • Catharina Quirin, baptized 3 Sep 1676 (Wolfskirchen p 12, #33)
  • Hans Jacob Quirin baptised 8 Sep 1678 (Wolfskirchen pp13-14, #42)

In addition, Britz witnessed the baptism of an Anna Catharina in 1679 (Wolfskirchen p 14, #46).  Synnel witnessed the baptism of another Anna Catharina on 10 Oct 1677 (Wolfskirchen p 13 #37).

Margaretha, wife of Niclaus Quirin, witnessed the baptism of Catharina Quirin (daughter of Britz and Synnel).

Hans Heinrich Quirin witnessed the baptism of a Hans Niclaus in 1676 (Wolfskirchen p 12 #30).

Jacob Quirin and his wife Anna Catharina had:

  • Hans Jacob Quirin, baptized 19 Dec 1677 and died 3 May 1747 (Wolfskirchen p 13 #39)

Jacob witnessed with baptism of Hans Jacob Quirin (son of Britz and Synnel).  He also witnessed the baptism of Matthias Heinrich in 1672 (Wolfskirchen p 8, #8), Nicolaus on 16 Dec 1677 (Wolfskirchen p 13, #38), and Hans Nickolaus in 1679 (Wolfskirchen p 14, #45).

Bas-Rhin Civil Records (Etat Civil)

23 March 2011 2 comments

I’ve been working on going through the records of Waldhambach through the online Bas-Rhin Etat Civil, and it has been TREMENDOUS.  I’ve sorted out a lot of the Ensminger and Philippi lines and marriages, which had been really bothering me–there’s a good deal of intermarriage, but I wasn’t sure where.  I’ve filled in a lot of blanks.

I’ve also had a crash course in understanding Kurrent German handwriting.  Waldhambach records are  fairly easy to understand, even without any real knowledge of German or Latin.  I’m having a bit more trouble where the records are not in table form–Wolfskirchen and La Petite-Pierre (Lützelstein) come to mind!

One thing that I did figure out is that I probably will not be able to sort out the Quirin family.  There are two Quirin families that have intermarried with my Ensmingers and Philippis: children of Britz Quirin (aka Bricius Quirin) of Wolfskirchen and children of Quirin Quirin (aka Quirinus Quirin) of Bettwiller.  Quirin seems to be a somewhat popular surname in other parts of Alsace and in Lorraine, and the records I have found do not go back far enough to make a good connection.  I’ll be posting what I have found hopefully later this evening or tomorrow.

I’ve also been looking for hints towards Maria Christina Cleiss, wife of Johannes Philippi who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1750. I thought I had found her, as I found the baptism of Maria Christina Clauss, daughter of Hans Nickol Clauss and Anna Maria Windstein, on 14 Aug 1693 in Waldhambach, but then I also found her burial at age 11.  I’ll be posting what I did find out for that family, though.

On a side note, although I definitely appreciate and am eternally grateful for these records to be put online and freely accessible, there is no way that this could have come cheap, and no way the maintenance is cheap.  Whether we get them for free on the internet or not, things still have costs, and I have to wonder how many people are getting use of them and where those people are from.  I’m certainly not paying French or Bas-Rhin taxes, but yet I’m using it heavily.  I just have to wonder how sustainable this will be.  I would definitely pay a subscription fee.

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