Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

In Search of the Schulte Line, Part 2: The Mystery of Meyer-Schulte

1843 birth and baptism record of Joseph Schulte
(click to enlarge)

After Cheryl and I located the German hometown of our common ancestor, Joseph Meyer Schulte (see Part 1 of this series), I ordered the Beckum microfilms from Salt Lake City and created a file in Family Tree Maker from the records I found. This database, Schulte and Others in Beckum, Westfalen, Germany, is available online at Rootsweb (and needs to be updated when I've finished entering the rest of the records I photographed from the Beckum films--someone ought to remind me to do that in, say, October. I should be recovered from this year's 'moving' experience by then).

Our great great grandfather's birth and christening were recorded in the Catholic churchbooks of Beckum. We had already known Joseph's birth date, which appeared on his death certificate. With that information, we had found the birth record indexed in the IGI, which also gave us Joseph's parents' names, so we were prepared for most of what we found in the churchbook entry. We were very interested, though, in the way Joseph's father was listed:

Joh. Herm. Schulte
Weber vulgo Meier-Schulte

This entry shows that Joseph's father, Johann Hermann Schulte was a weaver [Weber] who was commonly known as [vulgo] Meier-Schulte. In the records of Joseph's siblings, their father's name was listed with or without the vulgo notation as Johann Hermann Meier Schulte, Meyer Schulte, or Meÿer Schulte (which I misread as Meijer Schulte because, handwritten, it looks the same).

Neither Cheryl nor I had run across anything like this in our previous German research. We pitched ideas back and forth, one after another, trying to guess how this anomaly might have come about.

Marriage record of Johann Hermann Schulte and Maria Gertrud Hagedorn
(click to enlarge)

The plot thickened when we got a look at the 11 August 1840 marriage record of our Joseph's parents.

Zimmermann Herm. Schulte
geb Meyer in Herzfeld

In the groom's column, Johann Hermann Schulte again had the vulgo Meyer Schulte notation. And in the column identifying the father of the groom, the carpenter [Zimmermann] Hermann Schulte was said to have been born [geb., i.e. geboren] Meyer in Herzfeld.

Now we're getting somewhere, I thought, and hastened to order the Herzfeld microfilm.

On this map of Kreis Beckum, the arrow points to Herzfeld.
Beckum Stadt and Wadersloh are highlighted. You might as well
notice Hamm also, west of the arrow. It won't hurt you to
know where it is when we get to Part 3 of this series.
(click to enlarge)

The bride, Maria Gertrud Hagedorn, was identified as the illegitimate daughter of Elisabeth Hagedorn of Wadersloh (spelled Watersloh in this record), so I ordered the Wadersloh microfilm too, which, as it turned out, provided some key information.

December 1820 birth (13th) and christening (14th) record
of Maria Gertrud Hagedorn - Wadersloh, Germany
(click to enlarge)

When you look at the enlarged view of this record, you will see that light notations have been added to several of the entries in this churchbook, including the one for Maria Gertrud Hagedorn, Joseph Meyer Schulte's mother.

[?] Beckum
11 8 1840 mit
[J Herm?] Schulte get. Herzfeld, 14.12.1788

To the best of my interpretive abilities, this light notation indicates that Maria Gertrud was married in Beckum on 11 August 1840 to Johann Hermann Schulte, who was christened [getauft] in Herzfeld on 14 December 1788. We have already seen the marriage record (above), and we'll get to that Herzfeld christening record in a moment, but before we leave this document, we might as well have a quick look at the other notation.

Elisabeth Hagedorn, Maria Gertrud's mother
[getauft?] 22 7 1798

Although this notation is very hard to read, a search for Elisabeth's christening record did turn up this entry for a Clara Elisabeth Hagedorn on 22 July 1798.

(click to enlarge)

Now, about that Herzfeld christening record. I was excited to have found the date cross-referenced in the Wadersloh churchbook, and when I got to the Herzfeld microfilm, I went straight to the record.

1788 christening record of Johan Hermann Meÿer
Herzfeld, Germany

(click to enlarge)

As expected, the record was dated 14 December 1788. The surname Schulte, however, does not appear in the record, as was written in the Wadersloh notation. Johan Hermann's father was listed as Johan Herman Meÿer, not Schulte.

His mother was listed as Clara Friderici, [illegible] Meÿer. I don't know what the illegible word is. I considered Weduwe (widow), although that doesn't look quite right with that high-rising letter toward the end of the word. And if it were widow, what might the meaning be? That the baby's father Johan Herman had died sometime during her pregnancy? That Johan Herman was perhaps a second husband and, say, brother or cousin of Clara's first husband?

27 November 1778 marriage record of
Hermann Meÿer and Clara Friderici
(click to enlarge)

Hermann and Clara were married in 1778. Even if she were a widow when she married Hermann, it seems unlikely that she would still be identified as such ten years later in the birth record of a child fathered by Hermann.

21 December 1755 christening record of Maria Clara Friderici
(click to enlarge)

Clara was born in December 1755, which means she was just 23 when she married Herman. It's certainly possible that she was a widow at that time, but seems unlikely. In addition, I did not find any prior marriage record to support that theory.
12 November 2007 Update: Many thanks to Georg Friederici, who contacted me to let me know that the illegible word which I thought might be Weduwe is actually condicta. I checked a couple of Latin genealogical word lists and didn't find it, but a Latin-to-English translation engine gave me "to agree, fix, settle, make arrangements." In this instance, I think it just means that Clara Friderici was Mrs. Meÿer. Thank you, Georg!
The other theory, that Herman died during the time Clara was pregnant with Johan Hermann, lost credibility when I found another christening record.

December 1795 birth (12th) and christening (29th) record
of Johann Bernard Meyer
(click to enlarge)
I like this record because it supports the idea that Clara and Maria Clara Friderici are one and the same person. But now we have another interesting twist in the Meyer-Schulte surname mystery.

Carl Schulte, natus

The Latin word natus means born. Exactly what is the meaning of this notation, Carl Schulte, natus? Let's add another document to the heap before we proceed. Oops, I mean, let's add another child to this family...

10 December 1791 christening record of Friderica Juliana... Schulte?
(click to enlarge)

Between the birth of Johann Hermann and Johann Bernard, a daughter, Friderica Juliana. But what is her surname?

The parents are listed as Carl Schulte and Clara Friderici in this record. So, what is this guy's name, anyhow? Let's bring on his christening record and see what we can find out from that.

24 March 1750 christening record of Joan Herman Meÿer
(click to enlarge)

I didn't find a record for anyone named Carl Schulte. I did find Joan Herman Meÿer, born in the appropriate timeframe to be our guy. (As a point of interest, notice that the July 20th christening of Clara Friderici's sister is listed on this same page.) I believe this is our guy, which means, holy cow, there's a Balthasar in my tree!

Yes, I know, I'll get over it. But what about Carl Schulte?? Got any more documents? Well, yes, I do...

1823 birth and christening record of Anna Gertrudis Meÿer
(don't bother clicking, the important parts are below!)

How does Anna Gertrudis Meÿer fit into our picture? I don't know! And right now, we are more interested in Carl Schulte, remember? So have a look at Anna's father:

Christoph Meÿer genannt Carl Schulte

The German word genannt means named, called, or alias. Who is Christoph Meÿer and why is he called Carl Schulte? I don't know! But his daughter's godfather was...

Joh. Herm. Carlschulte!
People, don't ask me! I don't know!

Larry O. Jensen's A Genealogical Handbook of German Research (available free online, in downloadable PDF format) explains patronymics and occupational naming practices (p. 39) as well as farm and locality naming practices (p.41). After reading these two chapters--in the old hard-copy edition I've depended upon for years as my guide to German handwriting--I'm encouraged that I may yet find an answer to the Meyer-Schulte question.

You probably thought this was going to be like a cheap mystery novel where all the loose ends are tied up on the last page. It's not. It's more like the cliffhanger season finale of some weekly prime-time drama on TV, albeit without the guns and car chases. Next season, well, we may or may not resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Part 3 of this series is coming right up. Think of it as a spin-off...


The Meyer Schulte Appendix

With gratitude to Randy at Genea-Musings for the hook-up, I visited Ancestry's free Family Facts page to look up name meanings relevant to this story. The results were, shall we say, fairly conclusive?
  • MEYER - German and Dutch: from Middle High German meier, a status name for a steward, bailiff, or overseer, which later came to be used also to denote a tenant farmer, which is normally the sense in the many compound surnames formed with this term as a second element. Originally it denoted a village headman (ultimately from Latin maior ‘greater’, ‘superior’).
  • SCHULTE - North German and Dutch: status name from Middle Low German schulthete, Middle Dutch schulte ‘village headman’. Compare Schultz, Schultheis.
  • SCHULTEIS - German (Schultheiss) and Dutch: status name from Middle High German schultheize ‘village headman’. The term originally denoted a man responsible for collecting dues and paying them to the lord of the manor. See also Schultz 1.
  • SCHULTZ - German: status name for a village headman, from a contracted form of Middle High German schultheize. The term originally denoted a man responsible for collecting dues and paying them to the lord of the manor; it is a compound of sculd(a) ‘debt’, ‘due’ + a derivative of heiz(z)an ‘to command’. The surname is also established in Scandinavia.
  • CARL - 1. Variant spelling of Dutch, German, and Scandinavian Karl. 2. English: from the Anglo-Scandinavian personal name Karl(i), ultimately from Germanic karl ‘man’, ‘freeman’. See also Charles. 3. English: status name for a bondman or villein, from the vocabulary word karl, carl, which had various different meanings at various times: originally ‘man’, then ‘ordinary man’, ‘peasant’, and in Middle English specialized in the senses ‘free peasant’, ‘bondman’, ‘villein’, and ‘rough, churlish individual’.
  • KARL - German, Dutch, Scandinavian, and eastern and southern Slavic: from the personal name Karl, from a common Germanic word, Old High German karl ‘man’, ‘husband’, ‘freeman’. The popularity of this name and its cognates in central and northern Europe was greatly enhanced by its status as a royal and imperial name; in particular it was bestowed in honor of the Frankish emperor Charlemagne (in Latin, Carolus Magnus).


Juliane's granddaughter said...

This Meyer Schulte stuff is so bizarre and we just have to solve this riddle. To think of all the generations in my line that have included Meyer as a 'middle' name from our Joseph Meyer Schulte to my great-grandfather, Rudolph Meyer Schulte, to my grandfather, Elmer Meyer Schulte, to my uncle Melbourne Meyer Schulte, to his son, Melbourne Meyer Schulte, Jr. to HIS son, Robert Meyer Schulte. And whenever I would question that over the years I was told "oh, Meyer was just some family name". Well, girl we are uncovering WHERE that 'family name' started. Now just to firm it all up. I still say it will take a trip to Germany to do that - and next year - the big -60- for both of us (oops, should I have shared that) would be the perfect time to do so.

T.K. said...

LOL, no! You shouldn'ta!

Sheesh, with two Marys and a Cheryl all trying to drag me off to Germany, I should go into the travel business, organize a tour, and write the whole thing off as a business expense. But then I regain my senses and think, write it off of what? ;-)

Angela Schwentker said...

This stuff is not as bizarre as it seems. Just keep in mind that farmers were usually known by the name of their farm, no matter if that was their birth name. Just an example: Carl Schulte owned a farm. He died without a male heir. One of his daughters inherited the farm, and married someone named Meyer. From now on, Meyer would become "Meyer genannt (vulgo) Schulte". During the generations, the name Meyer would disappear eventually. Carl would be known as Schulte. As Schulte is a very, very common name, there were probably a few Schulte farms in the area. If you wanted to point out that you referred to a special farm, you'd give that name, for example "Carlschulte", as opposed to "Hermschulte", which would be Hermann Schulte.
(Sometimes it's easier when you live in the area you're researching. It's really common here.)
Hope this helps!

TK said...

That does help, Angela... it helps a lot! Thank you so much for your insight on this. You're so right--local customs can be confusing to people from someplace else.

Normally I don't publish comments with someone's email address, but since this is the address of your genealogy research business, I'm inclined to go ahead and post it. Someone may need your services. If you'd rather I didn't post it, let me know and I'll take it down.

I just visited both of your genealogy blogs. I don't speak German, but used Google Translate to read some of your posts at Familiengeschich... aus Ostwestfalen - und darüber hinaus..., and I must say your English is much better than Google's! Still, I did enjoy what I read there, and wish you the best with your English blog also.

So nice to meet you!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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