Why do we blog about our genealogy research and our ancestors? For me, it began with wanting to tell their stories, one post at a time. As I’m coming to the end of my fourth year blogging, I’m amazed at the number of distant cousins who have found my blog.
As genealogy bloggers, we can’t just sit back and wait for our posts to bait a new cousin. We also need to actively search for and contact cousins who may help us with our research.
In my post, Surprising Discovery Made While Researching the Schramen-Schmitt Family I wrote about the Ferschweiler Family Book having information about the emigration of the SCHRAMEN a.k.a. SCHROMEN family to America. Werner Lichter, the compiler of Familienbuch der Gemeinden Eisenach und Gilzem 1550-1900 as well as works on emigration, was cited as the source for the name of the ship they traveled on and the year they went.
I contacted Aaron, a SCHROMEN descendant who has his family tree on Ancestry. Although the information in the FB Ferschweiler seemed to be a match, we needed more information to prove Aaron and I descend from the same ancestor. Best bet would be to go to the original source.
Werner Lichter had recently commented in a Luxembourg genealogy group so I knew he was on Facebook. I sent him a message asking for help and a friend request just in case he didn’t notice the message.
Werner accepted my friend request about the same time I took my latest 100 km bike ride. We chatted about riding, the weather, that his great-grandfather lived in Echternach for a while, and that he has a PÖPPELREITER connection. Yes, to the family I wrote about yesterday.
I’d gotten in touch with Werner to help Aaron trace his immigrant back to Germany. By reaching out to both of them I ended up with not one but two new cousins. Aaron is my 4C1R through Michael SCHRAMEN and Elisabetha SCHMITT. Werner and I are 5th cousins as we descend from Johann PÖPPELREITER and Margaret BOMMES.
When was the last time you reached to a cousin or a cousin reached out to you?
Whenever we rode by the fisher sculpture I had to think of cousin bait and how I could work it into a post. Special thanks to my husband for doing the photoshoot with me.
Michael SCHRAMEN and Elisabetha SCHMITT were my 4th great-grandparents. They lived in Ferschweiler, a small village in the Eifel in Germany.
Elisabetha SCHMITT’s Parents and Siblings
Elisabetha’s mother Maria LORANG (1756-1818) was born in November 1756 in Berdorf, Duchy of Luxembourg. Her father, Sebastian SCHMITT (1764-1825) was born on 7 December 1764 in Hoffmanns Backhaus in Schankweiler in the Eifel (present-day Germany).
Sebastian was with his family in 1766 in Schankweiler (above). His father was a shepherd or berger. Four persons made up the family: father, mother, brother Hubert, and Sebastian. Maria was found on the 1766 census in Berdorf with her family (below). The LORANG family was with a THILL couple and a young DEFRANG man. The men’s occupation was listed as plower or labourent.
Elisabetha’s parents, Sebastian and Maria were married on 27 December 1784 in Echternach. By this time Sebastian’s family had moved from Schankweiler and taken up residence in Ferschweiler where he would also set up his household with Maria. They were the parents of three known children: two daughters named Elisabetha born in 1786 and 1790 and a son Nikolaus born about 1791 and died at age 19 on 9 March 1810. [Note: the burial records from 1786-1790 need to be checked for a possible death of the first daughter named Elisabetha.]
Their second daughter Elisabetha was my 4th great-grandmother. The FB Ferschweiler (Familienbuch or family book) lists her birthday as 4 March 1790 in Ferschweiler and mentions her baptism on 9 April 1790. This is unusual for the time period when children were baptized the same day or at latest the next day. I wonder if the date of birth was recorded or transcribed incorrectly in the source used by the author/compiler of the family book. Her baptismal record clearly states she was born “on the ninth day of the fourth hour of the morning” and baptized the same day.
Michael SCHRAMEN’s Parents and Siblings
Michael’s father Matthias SCHRAMEN (1742-1809) was born and baptized on 10 March 1742 in Ferschweiler. His mother Anna Barbara LEIBRICH also known as BURG (1744-1810) was born and baptized on 21 May 1744 in Menningen.
Mathias’ parents were using his mother’s maiden name SCHMIDT in 1766 when the first census was enumerated. Mathias was working as a weaver or tisserand at the time. Anna Barbara was living with her mother in the household of her brother-in-law Guillaume MOSSAL. They were enumerated as BURG instead of LEIBRICH.
Barbara, as she was more commonly known, was found in the FB Edingen. However, the proper connections were not made by the author/compiler of this family book. In fact, there was a glaring error in the book. A second marriage in 1771 for her mother born in 1704 to a 21 years old man already in my database. The marriage was unlikely due to his age and known births of children between 1773-1796 for this man and his wife born in 1750.
Further research to clear up the error led to an amazing discovery.
My husband and I are 8th cousins!
Barbara’s maternal grandparents (my 7th great-grandparents) were Mathias and Katharina FEILEN (FEYLEN). They are also my husband’s 7th great-grandparents. This is the first and only time I have found common ancestors for my husband and myself.
Barbara LEIBRICH and Matthias SCHRAMEN married on 11 January 1770 in Ferschweiler. They were the parents of seven children all born in Ferschweiler: Katharina bp. 22 January 1771; Johann bp. 5 December 1773; Magdalena bp. 18 November 1776; Margaretha bp. 31 March 1780; Jakob bp. 11 July 1783; Michael bp. 5 October 1786; and Nikolaus bp. 4 October 1789.
Matthias saw the marriage of his three oldest children and the death of his youngest before he passed away on 12 May 1809. His widow Barbara followed a little over a year later on 26 September 1810.
Michael and Elisabetha marry and have a family
Michael SCHRAMEN married Elisabetha SCHMITT on 27 November 1811 in Ferschweiler. Michael whose parents were both deceased may have had siblings present while Elisabetha’s parents would have been consenting to the marriage. During the first thirteen years of their union, they became the parents of five children.
Ch 1: Catherine (1812-1869) born on 23 October 1812 and baptized the following day.
Ch 2: Johann (1817-1894) born and baptized on 14 January 1817.
Ch 3: Catharina (1820-1842) born 21 February 1820 and baptized the next day.
Ch 4: Margaret (1821-1822) born and baptized on 7 November 1821. She died nearly a year later on 22 October 1822.
Ch 5: Nicolaus (1824-1875) born and baptized on 31 October 1824.
Elisabetha’s mother Maria LORANG died on 11 February 1818 a little over a year after the birth of the second SCHRAMEN child. The maternal grandfather, Sebastian SCHMITT died after the birth of the last child, on 12 January 1825. Both of these deaths took place in Ferschweiler.
Elisabetha’s husband Michael SCHRAMEN died on 20 September 1833 at the age of 46 years. He left a widow and four children aged between 8 and 20.
Soon after Michael’s death, his oldest child turned 21 and planned to marry. Catherine SCHRAMEN married Nicolas WILDINGER (1798-1874) on 18 January 1834 in Ferschweiler in a civil ceremony and then on 21 January 1834 in a religious ceremony. They were my 3rd great-grandparents.
Michael’s widow Elisabetha may have had her three unmarried children in her household for nearly a decade. Her second daughter Catharina married on 18 January 1842, after turning 21 years, to Johann MARX. Her marriage took place on her sister Catherine’s 8th wedding anniversary. Both girl’s names were found to be Catharina on the German Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 index,  and I am using Catherine for the oldest to keep them apart. Catharina gave birth to a son Theodor on 8 November 1842; she died less than two weeks later on 24 November 1842.
During the next decade, Elisabetha’s two sons Johann and Nicolaus may have still lived at home and cared for their mother. Times were hard for most families in the area and many were emigrating to Luxembourg and America. Elisabeth’s youngest son Nicolaus was 27 years old and unmarried when he went to America in 1852 likely leaving her in the care of his older brother Johann.
Johann, the only unmarried child of Michael and Elisabetha still in Germany, was 35 years old when he finally married. His brother Nicolaus’ departure may have been a deciding factor in his decision to marry. His bride Katharina ADAM was 29 years old when she married Johann on 15 November 1852 in Ernzen. The religious ceremony took place in St. Lucia Catholic church in Ferschweiler two days earlier. Like his older sister Catherine, Johann named his first daughter Elisabetha after his mother.
Further research into census records, etc. needs to be performed to learn where the mother of this family lived. Elisabetha had two married children in the same town, two children were deceased, and her youngest was in America. Did she live with her son Johann following his marriage? Did he remain in the family home? Or did she go to live with daughter Catherine and son-in-law Nicolas WILDINGER? Elisabeth died at the age of 79 years on 20 May 1869 in Ferschweiler and was buried two days later.
Elisabetha’s daughter Catherine died nearly six months later on 2 November 1869 at the age of 57 years and was buried two days later in Ferschweiler.
The last living child of Michael SCHRAMEN and Elisabetha SCHMITT was their oldest son Johann. He died on 20 January 1894 in Ferschweiler at the age of 77 years.
What became of the son who went to America?
Did Elisabetha, Catherine, and Johann know anything of the youngest son/sibling Nicolaus who went to America? Did they exchange letters? What became of him?
The compiler of the FB Ferschweiler cites Werner Lichter’s work on emigration for at least 5 persons from Ferschweiler who went to America on the ship Clotilde in 1852 including Nicolaus SCHRAMEN. The Clotilde left from Antwerp, Belgium around late May 1852 arriving at the port of New York on 3 June 1852. Nicolaus SCHRAMEN is said to have been on this ship. He likely traveled in steerage, similar to a cargo hold where many passengers were accommodated but with poor conditions. Steerage was the most common class of travel for immigrants.
While doing research on Nicolaus in US records I found there were two men of the same name and close in age. I contacted Aaron D., a great-great-grandson of Nicholas SCHROMEN of Dubuque County, Iowa. While trying to learn the parentage of his immigrant ancestor he had also looked into the other Nicholas SCHROMEN of Dupage County, Illinois, but did not know if there was a family relationship. Aaron had no proof of where in Germany his ancestor came from but had searched for the surname and found a concentration in the Ernzen/Ferschweiler area. He had not connected his Nicholas SCHRAMEN to my Michael SCHRAMEN and Elisabetha SCHMITT. I checked the FB Ferschweiler again and found Michael’s older brother Johann also had a son named Nicolaus born in 1819 and married to Katharina EWEN. His year of birth and the first name of his wife were a match for the man from, Illinois. Apparently, he did not remain in Ferschweiler as no children are listed nor is another family book referenced. It is a possibility the two men living in America were first cousins.
I believe Michael and Elisabetha’s Nicolaus was Nicholas SCHROMEN from Dubuque County, Iowa. He married Elizabeth GROSSBUSCH (1827-1896) on 28 February 1854 in Dubuque. The marriage record found by Aaron does not mention parents. Nicholas died on 13 January 1875 in Dubuque County, Iowa. The photo on FindAGrave for Nicholas’ grave marker is hard to decipher. What I can read is his date of birth was 1 Nov. The date found in the FB Ferschweiler was 31 October 1824. Aaron’s mother and my brother would be 3C2R – can this relationship be proven with their DNA?