A few weeks ago, in Favorite Discovery, I wrote about the 1850s church records from Kreuzeber (now Kreuzebra), Germany. I showed you the stack of pages fished out of the canvas tote bag stowed in the corner of the living room. The records weren’t exactly forgotten, because the bag silently nagged at me every time my eyes swept that corner of the room. But they had been ignored. That project had been on the back burner for at least a decade.
In 2018, for Mother’s Day, I wrote about finding a child in those records who died very young, and mused about her mother’s possible feelings. I didn’t remember exactly who the mother and daughter were, and didn’t have time try and locate them in the stack, so they remained anonymous. I always intended to identify them at some point, but it obviously hadn’t happened. Finding myself mostly home-bound (albeit, healthy!), and the weather alternating between too cold and too wet for yard work, now seemed like a good time to dust off the pages and start tackling this project.
First a little background on the town. Its name has changed slightly since the 1850s, as have its jurisdictions. Kreuzebra is located in the Eichsfeld district, in the German state of Thuringia. Its population at the end of 2017 was 716, somewhat less than in the past. In January 2019, it joined several other villages in merging into the town of Dingelstädt.¹ Back in the mid-19th century, Kreuzeber was in the province (or state) of Sachsen, in Prussia. Same place, different places to look for records.
To get started, I created a brand new file, and began with the first page: Births and Baptisms 1851. For the time being, I’m ignoring the paper Family Group Sheets I’d previously created by hand. I will go through them at the end, to make sure I didn’t miss something this time that I had noticed last time, but trying to make sense of them now would be confusing and time consuming.
It was a slow start. Trying to craft the citation for the microfilm took way longer than expected. I wanted to get it right the first time, so I didn’t have to go back and correct a whole bunch of citations. It’s easier (for me, at least) to create it once, then for the next record to make a duplicate, change the person-specific information, and use that for that person’s citations. And repeat. A lot.
It also took a bit of time to get into the handwriting. German script is not the easiest, so there’s a learning curve for reading it. It’s like retraining your brain to recognize the many letter formation options. At least the register pages were pre-printed forms, so each of the three formats was consistent. I worked my way through births, marriages, and deaths, and I developed a routine.
Then I found her: Anna Maria Haase, 11 months, 20 days old when she died on 6 January 1853 from Nervenfieber (nervous fever/typhus).² Only her father was listed: Ackermann Johannes Haase. Any guess how many Johannes Haase I have in the file? Eight. The adult ones were either an Ackermann or a Kämmerer. And this is only beginning my 4th year of records!
Anna’s age was specific enough, though, that I could calculate her birthdate from her death date. That pointed me back to her 17 January 1852 birth record, confirming Johann Haase and Magdalena Kühn as her parents.³ They later go on to have another daughter, Katharina, born 29 May 1854. With twelve more years to process, additional children could pop up for them.
Anna was by no means the only child on that page of deaths; three more children ranged from 1 month to 4 years, 9 months. The adults were 48, 49, 56, and 82 years old. Other death record pages had similar age distributions. On the pages with people dying in their 20s or 30s, it was generally women. Not a huge surprise, given the possible complications from childbirth.
It would be easy to forget about the children dying young. Clearly they weren’t anyone’s ancestors! I could be very practical and rationalize that I keep track of them to help me sort out the survivors. There are a lot of repeated names in the records. Remember the eight “Johannes”? The situation is equally bad for Maria, Katharina, Franz, etc. If I’m trying to figure out which Wilhelm died or got married, it’s helpful to know which ones are already out of the running. For instance, nine entries below Anna’s birth entry was one for Anna Maria Elisabeth Haase, born 26 May, to unmarried Theresia Haase. Knowing that Johann’s and Magdalena’s Anna died young might help me down the road, dealing with this other girl.
And, of course, unrecognized DNA matches trace back to those collateral relatives of my ancestors. I need my ancestors’ siblings and cousins properly placed in my tree to figure out how my matches connect. Guess work doesn’t really work.
The bottom line, though, is that those young kids simply deserve to be remembered. Period. Their short little lives mattered, and had an impact—regardless of how small—on the people around them. That impact rippled down to all of us who followed, whether we realize it or not.
So, how does Anna actually fit into my tree? I don’t know. Kreuzeber was (is) a small community. Odds are, all the Haase residents were related in some way. Who was this particular Johann, Anna’s father? He was not my 2nd great grandfather, [Charles] John Haase, who married Elisabeth Nachwey, with their daughter, Elisabeth, arriving later in 1853. Most likely Anna’s father was my 2nd great grandfather’s cousin, since they seem to be around the same age. Johann and Magdalena’s marriage record (which would list their parents’ names) was not in the register pages I viewed, so is in the previous record book. That will have to wait for a trip to the nearby Family History Center for their online access to the images.
I was curious about how the tree was shaping up, so I created a quick “Extended Family Chart” containing everyone. There are 176 people in 53 distinct family groupings, many of them consisting of just a mother, father, and one child. Some of those will flesh out with additional children as I continue to process pages, but to make any real headway, I will need the earlier marriage records, giving me the parents names. Then I will be able to link some of these people together as sibings with the same parents. Until then, I will keep slogging through the pages I have at home, making the connections I can.
Regardless, the nearly forgotten project and people are back in view.
¹Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/) “Kreuzebra,” rev. 12 February 2019, 10:49 (UTC).
²Katholische Kirche Kreuzeber (Kr. Heiligenstadt) (Kreuzeber, Sachsen, Preussen, Germany), “Kirchenbuchduplikat [church book duplicate], 1815-1874”, Deaths, 1853, entry 1, Anna Maria HAASE, 6 January; filmed as Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1851-1866 (Kefferhausen) Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1851-1866 (Kreuzeber); FHL microfilm; 1,193,951, Item 1.
³Katholische Kirche Kreuzeber (Kr. Heiligenstadt) (Kreuzeber, Sachsen, Preussen, Germany), “Kirchenbuchduplikat [church book duplicate], 1815-1874”, Births, 1852, entry 4, Anna Maria HAASE, 17 January; filmed as Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1851-1866 (Kefferhausen) Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1851-1866 (Kreuzeber); FHL microfilm; 1,193,951, Item 1.