Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Apolonia Heil

We do not know Apolonia Heil's birth date but according to the christening records she was baptized on 8 March 1820 at Roemisch-Katholische in Bossweiler, Pfalz, Bavaria. She was born to Henrici Heil and Christinae Neuhaueser. Many children died before they were a few days old therefore the majority of children were baptized within a few days of their birth. Often parents would have two names picked out before the birth. By the end of the 1600's most children were given three baptismal names in the Eastern part of Germany. Usually the second and / or third name was the name that the child was called by his family and village. Apolonia might have been named after a grandparent, godparent or parent. It was not unusual to use the same name as a previously deceased child.

Children were born at home with the help of a midwife and the women in the village. The women would sit with the mother while she was in labor distracting her with gossip and jokes. As it got closer for the mother to deliver the midwife would set up the birthing chair and help prepare the mother for birth by lubricating her with chicken fat and messaging her stomach. When the baby was born the midwife would take care of the baby while a neighbor would clean the new mother and help her into bed. Then the new father would be called into the room to meet his new child. Forty days after the birth of the child the mother would attend church for the first time and this was called churching

Bossweiler is situated in the Rhineland district on the southern slope of the Mountain Barley. Bossweiler was inhabited since the Roman era. During the 30 Year war the village disappeared but they preserve some of the houses and ancient shrine, Saint Oswald (as seen in the photo to your left). After 1672 Bossweiler joined with Quirnheim to form a mini-state. Quirim Merz was the bishop since 1651 and received both towns as a reward for converting Count Eberhard Ludwig von Leiningen-Westerburg from 1624 thru 1688. The French occupied the territory until the treaty of Luneville was signed in 1801. In 1816 after the fall of Napoleon the Kingdom of Bavaria was formed and lasted for 130 years until theformation of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1946.

Apolonia Heil married Antonous Koffler on 28 May 1840 in Kleinbuntenbach bei Zweibrucken. A village close to were Apolonia was born. They had six children all were born in America. Antonious and Apolonia immigrated to America prior to the birth of their first child, Henry, my great, great, great grandfather in 1842. Antonous and Henry are listed as jewelers in the 1860 United States Census.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Wedding

I am researching marriage in early Modern Germany. I found a wonderful book entitle,
"Our Daily Bread: German Village Life 1500 - 1850" by Teva J. Scheer. The book gives genealogists a peek into life and culture during this period. This is a great resource because when trying to imagine what my great, great, great, great grandparents wedding was like this helped me fill in the picture.

Joannes and Anna would have probably had an arranged marriage. There is no evidence that I have found that either spouse were married previously or had children from a previous relationship. The marriage would have been arranged by the parents of the couple unless the parents were not alive then it would have been arranged by a family member. Joannes family member would have spoken to Anna's family and they in turn would have inquired of Anna if she was interested in meeting with Joannes. The same would have happened to Joannes and if it was mutual they would have met to determine if they were compatible. If they were respected by one another and if they had the same goals. At first Anna might have be hesitant because she lived a long time as a spinster and was shy when it came to me. But Joannes' family was well know among her family and she had known Joannes for many years. The couple decides to marry and what we know as       or inheritance is set for each of the couple. Joannes would bring to the marriage some land or tools, etc. Anna would receive part of her inheritance if her parents were still alive. This might include kitchen tools and utensils, linens, etc. During the week before the wedding Joannes' female family members would clean the house for the celebration.

The week before the marriage the bands would be read at church and if anyone of the congregation knew of a reason why they should not marry it would be brought to the attention of the minister. Then a day before the wedding the couple would go to the Rathouse a government civil service building were the couple would exchange small gifts as token of their commitment. Often the intended wife would display her skills with sewing by making shirts for her intended husband. The intended husband might purchase earrings or some other piece of jewelry for his future wife.

On the wedding day Joannes would walk to Anna's home and then the couple would walk to the church with members of the family and wedding guest following them. After the church service they would return to Joannes home for the celebration which would last into the wee hours of the morning. Some time during the celebration couple would sneek off to their room and members of the wedding party will serenade them with the banging of pots and pans.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Though I am unsure that Joannes and Anna Koffler lived in the city of Koblenz or whether they traveled to the city for the marriage, I feel it is important to know the history of this great city. This is a beautiful city approximately 2000 year-old. The city is located on two rivers the Rhine and Moselle and it is surrounded by a range of mountains, as shown below.
The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which is high above the Rhine River. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (German: Festung Ehrenbreitstein) is a fortress on the mountain of the same name on the east bank of the Rhine opposite the town of Koblenz in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It was built as the backbone of the regional fortification system, Festung Koblenz, by Prussia between 1817 and 1832 and guarded the middle Rhine region, an area that had been invaded by French troops repeatedly before. The fortress was never attacked.

Early fortifications at the site can be dated back to about 1000 BC. At about AD 1000 Ehrenbert erected a castle. Its initial name "Burg Ehrenbertstein" became Burg Ehrenbreitstein. The Archbishops of Trier expanded it with a supporting castle Burg Helferstein and guarded the Holy Tunic in it from 1657 to 1794. Successive Archbishops used the castle's strategic importance to barter between contending powers; thus in 1672 at the outset of war between France and Germany the Archbishop refused requests both from the envoys of Louis XIV and from Brandenburg's Ambassador, Christoph Caspar von Blumenthal, to permit the passage of troops across the Rhine. However, in 1794, French revolutionary troops conquered Koblenz; in the following years they besieged Ehrenbreitstein three times without success. But a one-year siege, starting in 1798, brought starvation to the defenders of Ehrenbreitstein who finally handed over the fortress to French troops in 1799. By the treaty of Lunéville, the French were forced to withdraw from the right bank of the Rhine. Hence, they dismantled Ehrenbreitstein in 1801 to prevent the enemy from taking hold of a fully functional fortress just a few meters away from French territory on the left bank of the Rhine.
According to the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Rhineland became a Prussian province. The fortification of the Koblenz area became a Prussian military priority, because of its proximity to France and the fact that Koblenz was a bottleneck for all means of transportation (ships, railways, land transportation because of bridges). Hence, the Prussians built a system of fortification around Koblenz, the so-called Fortress Koblenz, from 1817 until 1834. Yet, the name Fortress Koblenz should not be interpreted as if the whole city of Koblenz was a fortress. It should be rather viewed as a buzz word, referring to the ring of fortification around Koblenz, of which the Festung Ehrenbreitstein was a part. Fortress Koblenz was said to have been the largest military fortress in Europe except for Gibraltar. However, it is a common misconception, that the "Festung Ehrenbreitstein" alone was the largest fortress in Europe. Ehrenbreitstein could be defended by up to 1200 soldiers. Unchallenged, it remained in service until 1890.

In 1897, a Monument to Emperor Wilhelm I was erected right below the Festung, but on the west side of the Rhine, known as the Deutsches Eck (German Corner). Both fortress and monument were considered as symbols for the "Guard at the Rhine", as in the song "Die Wacht am Rhein".
During World War I the fortress was used as military headquarters. After World War I, the American General Henry Tureman Allen, convinced of its historical value as a premier 19th-century fortress, prevented its intended destruction. It was occupied by the US Army as their headquarters during the occupation of the Rhineland, and after January 1923 it was occupied by the French Army. During World War II, it served as a place of safekeeping for archives and cultural objects but also harbored three flak guns.
After World War II, it was used first by the French Army before it was handed over to the State of Rhineland-Palatinate. It now has multiple uses including a youth hostel, restaurant, museum and archive. In 2011, Festung Ehrenbreitstein will be part of the National Garden Show in Koblenz and is thus currently under renovation.

The town name came from the Romans in 9 B.C. who named the castle they constructed "Castellum apud conflentes" or "Castle at the confluence of the rivers". Over the years the town was captured by the Franks, Germans, French and Prussians.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Joannes Koffler Married Anna Gertrudis Hermes

Joannes Koffler married Anna Gertrudis Hermes on February 18, 1783. They were my great, great, great, great grandparents.The name Koffler comes from South German (also Köf(f)ler): topographic name for someone living by a rounded hilltop. Anna Gertrudis Hermes was born on August 31, 1749. At the age of 33 she married Joannes.

They were married at Saint Castor Catholic Church in Koblenz Stadt, Rheinland which at that time was part of Prussia.The Basilica of St. Castor, Castor also called, is a Catholic church in the old town of Koblenz. The Basilica, the first building in the first half of the 9th Century was completed, is the oldest surviving church building in the city and stands behind the Deutsches Eck headland between the Rhine and the Moselle. The church was written in German history, is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture on the Middle Rhine and preserved because of their extensive existing buildings as well as the largely traditional features of great historical importance. It shapes the other two Romanesque churches, the Church of Our Lady and the Church of Florin, the silhouette of the old town. In the forecourt of the basilica is the so-called Kastorbrunnen, a curious witness of the Napoleonic Wars. Pope John Paul II elevated at 30 July 1991, the Basilica of St. Castor minor. She wears the patronal feast of St. Castor of cards.

Since 2002, the Basilica of St. Castor is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley, in addition, it is a cultural property protected under the Hague Convention.
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, and its monument (Emperor William I on horseback) are situated. As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the town celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 1992. Koblenz lies in the Rhineland, 92 kilometers (57 mi) southeast of Cologne by rail.