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The REAL Ludwig Mäintzger Uncovered?
by Michael Lacopo

For a long time I was in sincere doubt that the German origins of Ludwig Mäintzger were in Neureut.

  • Firstly, a man who has children not similar in names to our ancestor's children AND who is documented to have died in Germany just can't be our man. Saying there were TWO men with similar vital statistics and one just happened leave for America is a cop-out.
  • The second reason that I brought up in the past is that Mäintzger/Minsker is a distinct German sound that just cannot be confused with Mainzer/Meinzer.

I am happy to report that I have found our Ludwig in Germany, and although on the surface that sounds great, it raises serious questions about our current construction of his children and grandchildren. I was hoping we could share some information so that we could work out this problem together.

I can't take complete credit for "finding" Ludwig. His name is mentioned in Hank Jones's Even More Palatinate Families in connection with his 1749 emigration from Merchingen to America.

I've owned this book since its publication (2002), and honestly I had missed the reference to Ludwig until quite recently. I am quite surprised that nobody has mentioned it, given the prominence of this website and the availabilty of the information at most libraries.

Hank's book references the article "Merchingen and Umgebung im 18. Jahrundert: Ein Familientagebuch," by Roland Seeberg-Elverfeldt, published in Wurttembrtgisch Franken, Band 41 (1957), pages 152 to 180. Translated, this is "Merchingen and Environment in the 18th Century: A Family Diary." I have a copy of the original article, but I need to work on translating it.

It is the diary of Christian Hammer of Merchingen (1705-1775), who lists 49 "souls" who left Merchingen in April or May 1749 including "Ludwig Meinzger, Bildweber, c. ux et 5 lib. - 7 Seelen" or "Ludwig Meinzger, damask weaver, with wife and 5 children - 7 souls." Keep this number in mind for later.

In any event, I am returning from a trip to Salt Lake City and a thorough evalutation of the church records of Merchingen. Here's what we have, noting that dates in used are BAPTISMS, not births. The name is spelled mostly Meintzger, but Maintzger and Maintziger do occur in the church records.

HANS LUDWIG MEINTZGER and his wife ANNA URSULA lived in Merchigen where they are recorded as the parents of Philipp Jacob (1 May 1703), Johann Ludwig (22 May 1706), Dorothea Barbara (7 Jan 1708), Hans Michael (8 Dec 1710) and Catharina Barbara (29 Dec 1712 - 22 Apr 1714).

Although the marriage records are complete back to the early 1600s, there is no record of marriage for the elder Ludwig or his wife. He died in Merchingen on 17 Mar 1759 at the age of 83 years, 6 months and 12 days. His wife, Anna Ursula, died 8 Oct 1746 at the age of 71 years and 2 months. Calculating from this we have Ludwig's birth as 5 Sep 1675 and Ursula's as Aug 1675. There are no records of baptisms for either person in Merchingen, nor is there another Meintzger family other than his.

JOHANN LUDWIG MEINTZGER, christened 22 May 1706, appears in the baptismal records with his wife ANNA CATHARINA, in 1737. There is no record of marriage in Merchingen, nor were there in several other towns in the vicinity that I checked. Ludwig and his wife, Anna Catharina, had the following children:
Dorothea Barbara (29 May 1737)
Maria Ursula (2 Jan 1740)
Johann Georg (19 Sep 1742)
Johann Ludwig (13 Mar 1745 - 30 May 1745) and
Johann Casper (9 Jul 1746).

There are no further records of this man or his children in the church records after 1746. Although christened Johann Ludwig, even in Germany the church records often only refer to him as "Ludwig". Again, this makes sense bearing in mind German naming patterns.

Before delving into Ludwig, let me also report as an aside that his brother Johann Michael MEINTZGER (ch. 8 Dec 1710) did marry in Merchigen on 9 Feb 1745 to Catharina RUFER, and had the following children:
Johann Christoph (22 Nov 1745)
Johann Michael (23 Jan 1748) and
Anna Barbara (11 Sep 1750).

There are no more records in Merchingen for this family, although an addendum to Anna Barbara's record states she died 26 Jan 1832 in nearby Adelsheim.

So now what does this tell us about our Ludwig? We can be positive this is our man, from the names of his children to his 1749 emigration noted by his contemporary in Merchingen to his unique German name.

The dates we use currently for him and his children are used in such a way to conform to his military service in 1776. Although I have my doubts that a 70-year-old man would be called upon to perform active duty, perhaps his dedication to his new homeland was something he took pride in. Look at his son Kasper's involvement in the War of 1812 - also a man approaching 70. This may just be something we accept - the facts are there. What we do not know is if he was actually performing true military service or was just in a militia unit. Although he was definitely too old to be REQUIRED to register for militia duty, he may have volunteered. Accounts from the time describe militia duty as a rag-tag bunch of men with homemade weapons drinking, hollering and carrying on before heading back home to the mundane lives of farming. If that was all Ludwig was required to do, perhaps we should give the old man some more credit.

In the published records of the militia lists of Lancaster County, it is worthy to note that Ludwig is NOT listed, again noting that he was not required to do so due to his age. John and George did serve in the Lancaster County militia and/or swore an Oath of Allegiance.

The next problem arises in the identity of his wife. We have her name as Maria Catharina Esch. The only reference to this is the baptismal record of their daughter Maria Agnes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1751.

Interestingly, I made this trip with my good friend John Humphrey (author of the Pennsylvania Birth series) who is descended from the Klingels who sponsored the baptism of Maria Agnes. In his work with Pennsylvania church records, he was not able to procure an original copy of the records of this church but worked from a transcription from Frederick Weiser.

There were no Esch families in Merchingen. There were several Etzel families. Eschin and Etzel can look similar in German script. It would be nice if the original record could be checked. In any event, it is pure conjecture at this point, and if Ludwig married away from his hometown, then she may very well have been an Esch from somewhere else.

Also, should we concern ourselves with the consistent use of Anna Catharina in Germany, and the one known record in America stating Maria Catharina? It has been my experience that often times the "first" or Christian name is often garbled, as usually the second name or call name was what she was known by. Regardless, it is a point to ponder. Perhaps there were two wives, as I will discuss later, but with this record being generated so closely after the immigration to America, it is likely the same woman.

Now let's turn to the children. Disappointingly, I did not find my ancestor John Minsker in the children born in Germany. It is unlikely that he was born after arrival in Pennsylvania in 1749, as he is having his own children by the 1760s. His placement first in his father's will, and his presumed age from his own family, likely makes him Ludwig's first child.

The birth of children in Merchingen follows a very regular pattern, and leaves open only space before 1737 or in the gap between 1746 and the emigration of 1749 for John to be born. Since the late 1740s is unlikely, it is my feeling that Ludwig and Anna Catharina were married elsewhere and had their first child, Johannes (John), around 1735 before returning to Merchingen. Look at the notation of Christian Hammer about Ludwig's emigration from Merchingen - his wife and FIVE children. Since one child died in 1745 as an infant, that leaves the baptismal records of only FOUR children presumed living in 1749. This supports the supposition that John was part of the family that left Germany.

As for the legend that Kasper was born on the ship, we can see that is not true. He WAS the apparent youngest of the family to be on the boat, and perhaps Anna Catharina DID give birth to an infant at that time, as it would appear that she would be "due" to have a child near the time of emigration if she followed a normal pattern of birthings after Kasper's 1746 birth. This may be the basis of the family lore, but there is obviously nothing to support it, and it may just be romanticizing the life of an already enigmatic personality.

The dates now known to be the births of George and Kasper seem to fit their lives more nicely, as I was always suspicious of having them marrying in their late teens. As was usual for the time, most German men (and that includes Pennsylvania German men) married in their mid to late 20s.

Now what about Ludwig's daughters? Admittedly, this is where I need to plead ignorance, as I have done no research on the Albrecht (Albright) or Hoschaar (Housare) families. Who are their wives? What do we know about them?

From published records of the Hoschaar family and Annette Burgert's work in Eighteenth Century Emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America (1992), Peter Hoschaar came to America in 1749 aboard the Phoenix with his father, probably his mother, and his sibling. He was born 17 Mar 1729 in Altweiler and died 15 Dec 1801 in Brecknock Twp, Berks County, PA, having lived for a time in Lancaster County, PA. His wife is noted in various records as Barbara, and she made her will in 1824. This then appears to be Dorothea Barbara (29 May 1737), the eldest daughter of Ludwig Meintzger, and NOT Maria Agnes as mentioned on the webpage.

Little is known about Henry Albright (Heinrich Albrecht), as the name is a fairly common one and not easy to sort out in published Pennsylvania records. No records from the late 18th century can be easily located at this time in a quick search of my personal library or on the Internet that would provide a name for his wife. BUT, let's go back to the diary of Christian Hammer of Merchingen.

Among the 49 souls that left Merchingen in 1749 was Heinrich Albrecht, a single man, who also arrived on the Christian with the Meintzger family. If this man was the same person that became Ludwig's son-in-law, he would be likely born in the late 1720s and more likely to marry Maria Ursula (born 1740) than Maria Agnes (born 1752).

If you have more information on the Albright connection, I'd love to hear it! Your mention of a daughter Catharine Albrecht I assume is just a guess based on the proximity of a Catharine Albrecht in the 1790 census? You can get rid of her - there is no evidence that a daughter Catharine existed. If the emigrant Heinrich has a son Heinrich, then he may be the husband of Maria Agnes. The fact remains that Ludwig did NOT mention two daughters that could account for Ursula AND Agnes. One of them likely died before he did.

And lastly, we have to make some sort of consideration for Ludwig's younger children, Maria and Ludwig. If they were born in the 1760s as has been reported, they likely had a different mother than the older children.

From Ludwig's will, we do know that Ludwig Jr. was not yet of age. If Anna Catharina were giving birth to children as early as 1735, we can surmise a birth of c1710. It would seem unlikely that she would be bearing children beyond the 1750s.

Your website says Ludwig's wife died c1785. Where did that come from? Where do the birthdates of his children come from where there is no birth/baptismal record? Are they supposition or are they calculated from an age at death? The suspicious gap between the birth of Maria Agnes in 1750 and that of the younger children in the 1760s surely smells of a second wife.

And what about Anna Maria marrying William Hoschaar? He was the son of her half-sister. Odd, yes, but I've seen it happen before in other families in colonial Pennsylvania (even in my direct line!).

Clearly, we have some work to do. Overall, this is a WONDERFUL new finding, and as is usual in this wonderful hobby/obsession, one answer usually leads to further questions. At least we are on the right track!

I will be working to translate the entire article regarding Merchingen to see if it gives me any clues to where to look next. Even the death date for my John raises questions, as I do not know where the source for this date lies. Unfortunately, these were poor families always on the verge of the frontier, and they rarely left records. Has anyone done any in-depth tax record research on Ludwig or the others that remained in Pennsylvania? These records can be helpful in isolating birthdates or movements. I will have to see if I can make a trip to Harrisburg sometime in the near future, as this was an excellent avenue for piecing together the Blessings (Jemima Minsker's husband's family).

Obviously this is an important discovery, and changes much about our German origins. Michael is anxious to hear from other family members concerning this important news. Please let him know your impressions and conclusions: ...and keep me in the loop, too: