Do you have ancestors with the last name of Bach, or Back, who came from southeastern Kentucky?
Then you certainly want to know more about them!
**Scroll down to the bottom of this page, to find out how you can get the well-researched book that documents the accurate genealogy of this family called, "We Came from Thuringia: Genealogy of the Bach Family in Breathitt County, Kentucky."
Bach or Back?: The family originated in Thuringia, Germany, which is one of the sixteen states in that country. As far back as 1520, and probably before that, their last name was spelled as Bach. In 1740, a member of the family, Johann Heinrich Bach (1709-1789), sailed to America on the ship Lydia. It landed in Philadelphia, that September. He sailed with his wife Anna Hoffman, their 2-year-old son John, his brother Johann Wilhelm Bach, and his third cousin Johann Jacob Bach.
After Johann Heinrich arrived in America, he changed the spelling of his last name to "Back," so that Americans could more easily pronounce it and spell it. He also Americanized his first and middle names to be, "John Henry." In fact, many immigrants changed the spelling of their name, for the same reason. His descendants continued to spell their last name as Back for the next several generations. But in the early and mid-1900s, some of his descendants went back to using the original spelling of Bach. This is why both spellings are used within the family.
Culpeper County, Virginia: Johann Heinrich Bach and his family settled along Crooked Creek, about one mile from where it flows into the Robinson River, in what later became Culpeper County, Virginia. (Crooked Creek was also known as Meander Run.) He eventually owned 786 acres of land there, and he worked as a millwright, building gristmills, operating them, and selling them, throughout the area.
Johann Heinrich and his wife Anna had four children: John (1738-1794); Henry (1743-1808); Joseph (1745-1819); and a daughter whose name was probably Anna (1755-1804). Two of their sons, John and Henry, married two sisters. John married Margaret Hoffman (1748-1831), and Henry married Elizabeth Hoffman (1746-1815). They were the daughters of John Hoffman and Maria Sabina Folg, who lived just a couple of miles away from Johann Heinrich.
Johann Heinrich's daughter married Benjamin Strother (1755-1834), the son of James Strother and Martha French, who lived in Fauquier County, Virginia. Benjamin fought in the Revolutionary War for three years, until he was badly injured.
And Johann Heinrich's youngest son Joseph was the one who later migrated to southeastern Kentucky. He married Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard, around 1773. She was born in 1755, in Augusta County, Virginia, the daughter of Nicholaus Hoffman and Barbara Elisabeth Koestnerin. Elizabeth was orphaned, in 1770, when both of her parents died. In 1771, she was adopted by her neighbors, Samuel and Catherine Maggard. That was how her last name became Hoffman-Maggard.
In 1762, Johann Heinrich bought an old family Bible from his third cousin, Johann Christian Bach, who still lived back in Europe. He was a musician, and the son of the very famous musician and composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. NOTE: Johann Heinrich Bach was the grandson of Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703), who was a very talented and well-known musician and composer, and the second cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach. In fact, Johann Christoph Bach was considered the best musician in the family, until Johann Sebastian Bach came along. Johann Sebastian looked up to Johann Christoph and he called him, "a profound composer." Therefore, the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky descend from the second cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach, which was Johann Christoph Bach.
Johann Heinrich's wife Anna died in 1782, and he died in 1789. They were both buried near their cabin along Crooked Creek.
Migrated to Kentucky: After Johann Heinrich Bach died, his youngest son Joseph, his wife Elizabeth, and their children left Virginia. They migrated to southeastern Kentucky, because Joseph had always wanted to live there. They arrived there, in the spring of 1791. They settled along Quicksand Creek, in what is now Breathitt County, and they built their cabin in a place known as the "Round Bottom." This was an area of land that was nearly completely encircled by the curves of the creek. However, Joseph did not buy that land. He and his family simply "squatted" on it, because he no longer had any faith in the land warrant process in Kentucky. He had already been cheated out of about $3,000 (1,267 pounds), trying to purchase a 791-acre parcel of land, a few years before (Warrant #13855). A man named Jacob Meyers, who had a reputation for stealing land in Kentucky, had stolen his parcel of land from him.
Joseph and his wife had four children: Joseph Jr. (1773-1802); John (1774-1854); Mary (1777-1807); and Henry (1785-1871). They lived in that small cabin alongside Quicksand Creek for several years. There were no other settlers anywhere near them. But that was exactly what Joseph wanted. He had wanted to live in the wilderness of Kentucky for many years, as did so many young men at that time.
In 1794, Joseph's uncle, Johann Wilhelm Bach, died. He had immigrated to America with his father, back in 1740, and had later married Mary Marberry. They lived on a large farm, at the juncture of Copper Creek and the Clinch River, in southwestern Virginia, in what was then Russell County. So Joseph sent his two older sons, Joseph Jr. and John, over there, to help Mary settle the estate. John's best friend Samuel Maggard went with them. While those three men were in southwestern Virginia, they each met a woman and got married. And then, they continued to live over there for several years.
In 1797, Joseph and Elizabeth left their isolated cabin along Quicksand Creek, and they moved down along Collier's Creek, which is a tributary to the Cumberland River, in what is now Letcher County, Kentucky. There was a community of settlers living there. They moved there, because they wanted their two youngest children, Mary and Henry, to be able to meet people, and hopefully, find a spouse. Joseph died there, in 1819. He was probably buried near his cabin. His wife Elizabeth died in 1826, and she was buried near the river, in a place that later became known as The Maggard Cemetery, because of her close connection to that family.
Joseph and Elizabeth's children: If you have ancestors with the last name of Bach or Back, and they came from southeastern Kentucky (Breathitt County, Letcher County, etc.), that means you descend from one of the four children of Joseph Back and his wife Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard. Below is some information about each of their children.
Their son Joseph Jr. (1773-1802): He got married, in southwestern Virginia, around 1795, but the name of his wife is not known. They had a son named Joseph (1796-1874, who married a woman named Sarah). Joseph Jr. was murdered, sometime around 1802, by someone in the Ford family, but no additional information about him is known.
Their son John (1774-1854): He married Catherine Robertson, in 1795, in southwestern Virginia. She was born on April 7, 1780, the daughter of John Robertson and Margaret King. John and Catherine had at least eight children: Mary "Polly" (1798-1863, who married John R. Roark); Catherine (born about 1800, but died young); Joseph Woodford (1802-1850, who married Permelia Hogg); Susannah (1804-1896, who married John Henry Holbrook); Lewis (1807-1891, who married Peggy Roberts); John Jr. (1810-1886, who married Elizabeth Cope); Solomon (1812-1874, who married Jincy Fields); and Isaac (1817-1873, who married Rachel Combs and Nancy Coldiron).
John Back and his family first lived in southwestern Virginia, along Copper Creek, on his great uncle's farm (Johann Wilhelm Bach). Most of John and Catherine's children were born there. In 1808, his cousin Lewis Back came to live with them, after his father Henry had died. In 1810, John and his family left Virginia and moved to Kentucky, where they settled along the Cumberland River, near his parents. In 1836, John and his son Joseph bought 2,500 acres of land along Quicksand Creek, including the land where he and his family had first settled, back in 1791. By Christmas of that year, John and his family were living back in the old cabin that he had helped his father build, back in 1791. John and Catherine lived there for the rest of their lives. John Back died on February 13, 1854, and his wife Catherine died on September 1, 1858. They were buried in the Roark Cemetery, in Breathitt County, near their cabin, under a stone sarcophagus. (Catherine was probably buried on top of John, under that stone structure.) Years later, a traditional gravestone was placed next to it.
Their daughter Mary (1777-1807): In 1806, she had an affair with a man named John Colyer Jr., who was already married and had a family of his own. But she did not know that. He soon left the area, and she later gave birth to his son, on December 27, 1806. She named the child, Alfred Back (1806-1889). But Mary died a few weeks after Alfred was born, in January of 1807. It is not known where she was buried. Her brother John and his wife Catherine raised Alfred. Many years later, Alfred married Isabel Caudill.
Their son Henry (1785-1871): He married Susannah Maggard, in 1814. She was born on May 2, 1798, the daughter of Samuel Maggard and Rebecca Robertson. (Samuel Maggard was best friends with Henry's brother John Back, and Rebecca Robertson was a sister to John Back's wife Catherine Robertson.) Henry and Susannah had at least twelve children: John Back (1815-1886, who married Sarah Caudill); Samuel David (1817-1875, who married Mary "Polly" Caudill and Rhoda Malinda Day); Elizabeth (1820-1894, who married Isom Caudill); Henry (1822-1877, who married Frances Blair); Rebecca (1825-1875, who married David Day); Mary "Polly" (1827-1888, who married Jesse Caudill); Susannah (1829-1895, who married Henry Caudill); Sarah (born about 1832, but died as an infant); Lewis (1834-1905, who married Winfred Sumner and Mary Blair Brown); David (1837-1925, who married Rachel Caudill and Nancy Dixon); Sarah (1841-1921, who married James Sumner Jr. and Felix Combs); and James (1843-1915, who married Nancy Hampton and Rachel Cornett).
Henry Back and his family lived along the Cumberland River, in what is now Letcher County. Henry's wife Susannah died on October 16, 1865, and Henry died on May 28, 1871. They were buried in the Whitaker Cemetery, in Letcher County.
Fraudulent genealogy was published: Unfortunately, in 1994, a genealogy was published about this family which was deliberately incorrect. It was published by some people who gave themselves the official-sounding name of "The Back-Bach Genealogical Society," even though none of them were genealogists. Instead of stating that Joseph Back and Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard were the founders of the family in southeastern Kentucky, they claimed that Joseph's sister-in-law, Elizabeth Hoffman Back (who was married to his brother Henry Back), was the founder of the family in southeastern Kentucky! They also claimed that the four children of Joseph Back and Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard were born to Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman! But that was completely wrong. In fact, they actually knew that their claims were wrong, even before they published their false genealogy book! What those people did was fraudulent, and a scam. Here's what happened...
How the fraud began: It all started with a man named Troy Lee Back. He was born in Viper, Kentucky, in 1904. He never even graduated from high school, and he worked as a coal miner. He later became the safety director at his mine. In 1940, he got a job at the Coal Mine Safety Board, in Washington, D.C., and so he and his family moved up there. But it was just a meaningless, clerical position, with no responsibility. He just filed papers.
Because his job was so simple and so unimportant, he had lots of free time on his hands. Around 1960, he decided to write a book about the genealogy of his wife's family, the Brashear family. He self-published it, in 1963. Although the book was poorly written and contained countless errors, as well as "plugged information" and an unrecognized and bizarre numbering system, he thought that the book made him a genealogy expert. During his "research" for that book, around 1962, he had discovered The Germanna Foundation, which was a genealogical organization, located in Locust Grove, Virginia. It was only about two hours away from where he lived.
The Germanna Foundation: It was established in 1953. It is comprised of the descendants of a small group of Germans who had settled in that part of Virginia, back in the early 1700s. Those settlers had lived in the small communities of Germanna, Germantown, and Little Fork. Most of the people who founded The Germanna Foundation were highly educated and very wealthy. They purchased some land, near where their ancestors had lived, and they built some buildings there, including a Visitor Center. They created an extremely profitable business, by selling the genealogy of their ancestors. They turned genealogy, from a fun hobby, into a money-making machine.
Troy was mesmerized by The Germanna Foundation. He desperately wanted to join their organization, so that he could "rub shoulders" with all those rich, educated, upper-class people. He wanted to "show off" and impress them that he was a genealogy expert too. He also wanted to make lots of money from his genealogy, just like they did.
Hermann Bach: Troy found out that one of the ancestors of The Germanna Foundation was a man named Hermann Bach, who was from Freudenberg, Germany. Hermann, his wife Anna, and their 1-year-old son Hermann Jr. had immigrated to America in the spring of 1738, and later settled in Little Fork, Virginia, in the fall of 1739. However, The Germanna Foundation didn't have much information about Hermann, or his descendants.
Troy saw an opening, and he quickly jumped on it. He simply told The Germanna Foundation that he descended from Hermann Bach, so that he could join their organization. He had absolutely no proof of this claim, because it wasn't true, but that didn't matter. He simply told them that he had proof.
Here is the lie that Troy created...He told The Germanna Foundation that Hermann Bach had a son named Henry Back, who married a woman named Elizabeth Hoffman. He also told them that, after Henry died, in 1808, his widow Elizabeth left their home in Virginia and moved all the way down to the wilderness of southeastern Kentucky, with some of her children, and founded Troy's family there, even though she knew nobody there, and she had no reason to go there. The story was ludicrous, but Troy was persistent.
NOTE: Hermann Bach and his wife Anna had two children, who were twins: Hermann Jr. and Anna Ella. They were born on March 10, 1737, in Germany, as proven by their old birth records. But their daughter Anna Ella died, sometime before the family sailed to America, in the spring of 1738. There is no evidence whatsoever that Hermann Bach ever had any other children.
Henry Back: Now, there really was a man named Henry Back (1743-1808), but his father was not Hermann Bach. His father was actually Johann Heinrich Bach (see above). Henry really did marry a woman named Elizabeth Hoffman (1746-1815), and he really did die in 1808. But, after his death, his widow Elizabeth actually moved to Rockingham County, Virginia, with her son Aaron and two of her daughters. They were seen living there, in the 1810 Census Report (see below).
Elizabeth had moved to Rockingham County, Virginia, in order to live near her sister Margaret, who had moved there after her husband John Back had died, in 1794. (John Back was a brother to Henry Back.) Elizabeth and Margaret each bought land along Wolf Run, which was a stream near Harrisonburg.
Elizabeth Hoffman Back and her son Aaron Back were also listed in all of the Tax Lists, for both real property and personal property, in Rockingham County, from 1810 through 1815. They were listed together, because he was living with her, during those six years. (After he got married, his wife moved in with them.) Elizabeth and Aaron were listed as "Aaron and mother," in the Tax Lists. One of those Tax Lists is presented below. (All of these tax lists are available on the Internet.)
Elizabeth died in late 1815 or early 1816, and she was probably buried on her farm along Wolf Run. Her son Aaron and his wife Margaret Elizabeth left Rockingham County, in 1816, and they migrated to Preble County, Ohio. (They later moved to Huntington County, Indiana.)
This 1810 Census Report in Rockingham County, and all of the Rockingham County Tax Lists, from 1810 through 1815, provide absolute proof that Elizabeth Hoffman Back, the widow of Henry Back, actually moved to Rockingham County, Virginia, not to Kentucky. She never went to Kentucky, and so she could not possibly have been the founder of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky.
Troy knew the actual genealogy of his family: There is no doubt whatsoever that Troy knew the actual genealogy of his own family, and it most certainly did not include Hermann Back, Henry Back, or Henry's wife Elizabeth Hoffman.
But because Troy desperately wanted to join The Germanna Foundation, he created a false genealogy that connected himself to one of their ancestors (Hermann Bach), which then qualified him for membership.
You see, for nearly two hundred years, the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky had been passed down, from one generation to the next, within the family. It was also discussed at holidays and family gatherings. Everyone in southeastern Kentucky knew what the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family was, including Troy Back. He had probably known it, since he was a boy. But he most definitely knew it, at least by the time he was about 30 years old, around 1933, which was thirty years before he went to The Germanna Foundation.
This is because, in 1933, the family started holding annual family reunions, at which they discussed their family's genealogy. The reunions were written about in several newspapers, including The Jackson Times and The Lexington Herald, from 1933 until 1990 or so. There were dozens of those articles. They stated that the family descended from Johann Sebastian Bach, and that the founder of the family in southeastern Kentucky was Joseph Back and his wife Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back. In fact, there is proof that Troy attended those reunions, because his name was mentioned in the 1957 and 1960 newspaper articles as being there (see below).
These articles prove that Troy attended the reunions, and so he definitely knew the actual genealogy of the family, several years before he went to The Germanna Foundation. Here are a few more articles about the reunions, which discussed the family's actual genealogy (see below).
Dr. Wilgus Bach: It is also important to note that a man named Dr. Wilgus Bach had already documented the actual genealogy of the family, back in the early 1900s. His friends and his patients called him, "Dr. Wilgus."
Everyone in southeastern Kentucky knew and respected Dr. Bach, not only as a excellent physician, but as an excellent genealogist. He spent many years researching the genealogy of his family, as well as several other families in the area. He hired genealogists in America and Europe, and he also interviewed a large number of elderly people in southeastern Kentucky. He wrote about the results of his research in a book titled, Manuscript of Families in Breathitt County. His book is available at this website: Dr. Wilgus Bach's book.
Of course, Troy knew all about Dr. Bach's genealogical work, and his manuscript. Everyone in southeastern Kentucky did. Dr. Bach attended the family reunions, and the family's genealogy was discussed at the family reunions. In fact, Dr. Bach was considered the "genealogist of the family." Everyone knew him, everyone liked him, and everyone trusted him. Everyone also knew that Dr. Bach's genealogy was correct, because it was the same genealogy that had been passed down within the family for hundreds of years. It had been documented in the old Bach Family Bible, and other historical records.
Dr. B.C. Holtsclaw: Dr. Benjamin Clark Holtsclaw was the official historian at The Germanna Foundation, from about 1956 until 1985, which included the period of time in which Troy Back was there. Before Dr. Holtsclaw became the historian there, he had earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and he had been a professor at the University of Richmond for 36 years.
In 1963, while Dr. Holtsclaw was writing a book about the ancestors of The Germanna Foundation, including his own ancestor, Jacob Holtzclaw, Troy somehow convinced him to include his false genealogy about Hermann Bach and his (alleged) descendants in that book, so that he could join The Germanna Foundation. Dr. Holtsclaw's book was titled, Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia 1714-1750, and it was published in 1964.
However, Dr. Holtsclaw was clearly suspicious of what Troy had told him, because he wrote in his book that he "had difficulties" with Troy's stories. He also wrote that, "There is no...proof that John and Henry Back...were the sons of Hermann Bach of the Little Fork group..."
Dr. Holtsclaw wrote that his main reason for doubting Troy's stories was the fact that the old Bach Family Bible, which had belonged to the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky for nearly two hundred years, had a handwritten statement inside of it that said, "We Came from Thuringia." (The book was actually a Catechism, which is very similar to a Bible. Dr. Holtsclaw referred to that old book as a "prayer book.")
And since Hermann Bach was from Freudenberg, Germany, which was nowhere near Thuringia, Germany, Dr. Holtsclaw believed that there were actually two Bach (and Back) families: one was from Thuringia, and the other one was from Freudenberg. Dr. Holtsclaw was, of course, absolutely correct. But Dr. Holtsclaw included Troy's story in his book anyway, so that Troy could become a member of The Germanna Foundation. That was the first step in Troy's plan.Troy's plan was to write a book about the genealogy of his Bach (and Back) family, which would connect him and his family to Hermann Bach, and thus, to The Germanna Foundation. Of course, that genealogy would be false, but he didn't care. He only wanted to create that connection to The Germanna Foundation, so that he could use the credibility of that organization to make himself rich, by selling the false genealogy that he planned to write.
But before he could write that book, he had to first get rid of any evidence of the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. So that is exactly what he did.
The old Bach Family Bible: This old, antique book (see below) is actually a Catechism, which is similar to a Bible. A Catechism teaches people about the principles of Christianity, through a series of questions and answers. Because Bibles and Catechisms are so similar, Catechisms are often simply referred to as Bibles. For hundreds of years, people have written family information onto the pages of Bibles and Catechisms, including the names of family members, their dates of birth, their marriage dates, and their dates of death. And then, the book is passed down within the family, from generation to generation, with each generation writing in family information as well. Over time, the book becomes a historical record of the family.
The old Bach Family Bible was probably printed during the 1600s. It is believed that it was first owned by Johann Sebastian Bach, because he owned a large collection of Bibles and Catechisms. His youngest son Johann Christian Bach later owned this book.
In 1740, Johann Heinrich Bach left his home in Thuringia, Germany, and he sailed to America, with his wife, his son, his younger brother, and his third cousin. He was the actual immigrant in the Bach (and Back) family that later lived in southeastern Kentucky (see above).
Johann Heinrich Bach and his family settled in Culpeper County, Virginia, along Crooked Creek. Twenty-two years later, in 1762, he bought that old book from his cousin, Johann Christian Bach, who still lived back in Europe. When the book arrived in America, Johann Heinrich opened it up, and he wrote on the flyleaf, "We Came from Thuringia." He wanted to be sure that his descendants would know that their family had originally come from Thuringia, Germany. That handwritten statement was later seen by many people, including Dr. Holtsclaw, who wrote about it in his book; and Dr. Wilgus Bach, who wrote about it in his manuscript.
After Johann Heinrich Bach died, his son Joseph, his wife Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard, their children, and a young boy named Samuel Maggard, migrated to southeastern Kentucky, in 1791, and they took that old book with them. For nearly two hundred years, entries were made by the family into that old book.
Around 1911, the old book was given to Dr. Wilgus Bach, so that he could study it, during his genealogical research of the family. The book was kept at his house for many years. He and his wife Amanda let anyone come over to their house and look at it, and they even let people take to their own homes to look at it. After Dr. Bach died in 1936, his widow Amanda continued to keep the old book at her house, until her death in 1977. Many years later, in 2009, her descendants donated it to the Breathitt County Library, in Jackson, where it is now on display.
Troy ruined the old Bach Family Bible: In the spring of 1969, Troy Back retired from his government job, and he returned home to southeastern Kentucky.
Shortly after that, he went to see Amanda Bach, the widow of Dr. Wilgus Bach. She was then living in Lexington. Troy told her that he wanted to look at the old Bach Family Bible, and of course, she was more than willing to show it to him. But when she left the room, he pulled out a razor blade from his pocket that he had brought with him, and he cut out that 1762 handwritten statement from the old book that said, "We Came from Thuringia." As astonishing as that sounds, it is true. Nowadays, the old book is at the Breathitt County Library, and you can clearly see where that statement was cut out (see the picture to the right).
Troy cut out that handwritten statement from the old book, because Dr. Holtsclaw had told him that it was the primary piece of evidence that was in conflict with Troy's false genealogy about Hermann Bach. By simply cutting it out of the book, Troy got rid of the main proof that the family was from Thuringia, so that he could claim that they were from Freudenberg.
But this was just the beginning of Troy's obsession with destroying the actual genealogy of his own family, so that he could write and sell a false genealogy of his family, hoping to get rich, by "riding on the coattails" of the credibility of The Germanna Foundation.
Troy vandalized Dr. Wilgus Bach's manuscript: Around 1978, Troy went to Frankfort, Kentucky, to visit the Kentucky Historical Society. He went there because Dr. Wilgus Bach's manuscript was kept there. (Dr. Bach's family had donated the manuscript to the Kentucky Historical Society, in 1977, shortly after his widow Amanda had died.)
Troy was able to get hold of that document, and while he sat alone, somewhere in that building, he used an ink pen and a bottle of "white out," to change Dr. Bach's research. Wherever Dr. Bach had written the name "Joseph Back" as being the founder of the family in southeastern Kentucky, Troy crossed it out and wrote "Henry Back" next to it. He did this because his false genealogy claimed that Henry Back was a son of Hermann Bach, and he used Henry to create a connection between the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky and Hermann Bach (and The Germanna Foundation).
Troy also used "white out" on the manuscript, to eliminate Joseph's name, as well as other information. Just one example of this extraordinary vandalism is shown below. NOTE: "White out" was not even invented until 1951, which was fifteen years after Dr. Bach died, so you know that Dr. Bach could not have used it on his manuscript.
Troy destroyed the section of Dr. Bach's manuscript about the Bach (and Back) family. He did that, in order to remove proof of the actual genealogy of the family, and replace it with his false genealogy. His goal was to make it seem as if Dr. Bach's manuscript described Troy's false genealogy, and not the actual genealogy. Nowadays, when you look at Dr. Bach's manuscript, it is really confusing, because of Troy's scribbling. In addition, you can tell that pages are missing, which, of course, were removed by Troy. And, to top it all off, Troy even inserted a typed page of his false genealogy that he had brought with him, right into the manuscript! It even had his name and address on it! You can easily tell that it was typed on a different typewriter than the actual manuscript was. The man had no shame.
Troy stole, and altered, books in libraries: For many years, Troy and his cohorts visited libraries and historical societies, all across the state, looking for books and documents concerning the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. If they could, they simply stole those items from those facilities. But if they were unable to get them out of the building, they took out an ink pen and, when nobody was looking, they crossed out the name "Joseph Back" and wrote in "Henry Back." And wherever they saw the word "Thuringia," they crossed it out and wrote in "Freudenberg." Librarians, from one end of the state to the other, know all about this, including some of the staff at the Breathitt County Library.
Troy lied to Bud Phillips: Mr. Phillips was born around 1930, and he was a descendant of Samuel Maggard (1774-1858) and his wife Rebecca Robertson (1776-1855).
Samuel had been best friends with John Back (1774-1854), the son of Joseph Back and his wife Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back, who had founded the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. In fact, Samuel had migrated to Kentucky with the Back family, in 1791.
There are even more connections between Samuel Maggard and the Bach (and Back) family. Samuel's wife Rebecca was a sister to Catherine Robertson, who married his best friend John Back. And Samuel's grandfather was the man who had adopted Elizabeth Hoffman (John Back's mother), when she was orphaned, back in 1770, which made her last name Hoffman-Maggard.
After Samuel and Rebecca got married, they lived on her parent's farm in southwestern Virginia, for about ten years. In 1805, after her father died, Rebecca, Samuel, and their children moved to Kentucky, and they settled along the Cumberland River, in southeastern Kentucky.
In 1987, Mr. Phillips decided to write a book about his Maggard ancestors, and so he went to southeastern Kentucky, on a research trip. While he was there, he met Troy Back. Troy told him all about his false genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family, and he convinced Mr. Phillips to include it, in his upcoming book. Mr. Phillips' book, Coming Down Cumberland: A History of the Maggard Family of Eastern Kentucky, was published in 1991.
Several years later, Mr. Phillips learned about the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family. He later told several people (including Tilden Bach) how much he regretted including Troy's false genealogy in his book. But just like what had happened with Dr. Holtsclaw's book, the damage had already been done.
Troy destroyed the gravestone of Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back: In 1988, Troy and his cousin Custer Back were in The Maggard Cemetery, probably looking for any proof of the actual genealogy of the family, so that they could get rid of it. They found the gravestone of Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back, who was the wife of Joseph Back (see the picture to the right).
Joseph Back and his wife Elizabeth were the actual founders of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. Dr. Wilgus Bach called Elizabeth, "the matriarch of the family in southeastern Kentucky." Dr. Bach had actually found her original gravestone, back in 1922, which was just a small, simple stone with only her name on it. He wanted to honor her, and so he had a large gravestone made for her grave, inscribed with additional information. That was the gravestone that Troy and Custer found (see the picture to the right).
Her gravestone said that she came from Thuringia, and so Troy and Custer simply pulled it out of the ground and threw it over the hill. Again, as astonishing as that sounds, it is true. Custer even admitted that they removed Elizabeth's gravestone, in an article that he wrote, in the October, 1988 edition of the Filson Club History Quarterly. He wrote that article to promote Troy's false genealogy, and it included the statement that, "action has been initiated to replace" Elizabeth's gravestone.
NOTE: Back in 1922, Dr. Wilgus Bach had made two small errors in the inscription on Elizabeth's gravestone. First, he had her date of birth as July 13, 1746, because that was the date of birth that he had seen in the old Bach Family Bible for a woman named Elizabeth Back. He thought that was the Elizabeth who had married Joseph Back. But that was actually the date of birth for the Elizabeth who had married Henry Back (Joseph Back's brother). Both men had married women named Elizabeth Hoffman, although Joseph's wife's name was actually Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard. Second, Dr. Bach had her gravestone inscribed that she was born in Thuringia, however, she was actually born in Virginia. It was her parents who born in Thuringia, as were the parents of her husband, Joseph Back.
A woman named Hazel Bach Craft heard about what Troy and Custer had done, and so she and her husband, Rev. Wardie Craft, went to The Maggard Cemetery. They retrieved Elizabeth's gravestone, and then they took it back to their house, which they had converted into a museum called, "Memory Hill," many years before. They placed it out in their backyard, next to a small cemetery that was back there.
When Troy and Custer found out what Hazel and Wardie had done, they were furious. So they sent someone over to Hazel and Wardie's house, to chisel the word "INCORRECT," in big, black letters, across the bottom of Elizabeth's gravestone (see the picture to the left). They weren't going to allow any piece of evidence to escape unscathed!
Then, Troy and Custer put up a new gravestone in The Maggard Cemetery, over Elizabeth's remains, which purposefully described a different woman. It described Elizabeth Hoffman Back, the wife of Henry Back. They did this to "prove" that she had moved to Kentucky, after her husband had died in 1808, and to "prove" that Troy's false genealogy was correct (see the picture to the right). Nowadays, the people who cling to Troy's false genealogy actually point to that gravestone that Troy and Custer put up as being the "proof" that Troy's false genealogy is correct. It is incredibly bizarre.Meanwhile, the remains of Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back, the matriarch of the family, continue to be ignored and disrespected.
Troy Back probably eliminated much more proof of the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family than what is documented here. But these instances are the only ones that have been confirmed. We may never know the full extent of the damage that he caused. We may never know what other precious relics, antiques, or historical records of the family's ancestry that he got rid of.
The Back-Bach Genealogical Society:
The Back-Bach Genealogical Society was formed: By 1990 or so, Troy Back and his cousin Custer Back had decided that they were finally ready to publish their false genealogy book, because they had eliminated as much of the family's actual genealogy as they could. NOTE: They were not able to get rid of the old newspaper articles about the actual genealogy that were on microfilm, at various libraries and historical societies. Thankfully, that documentation still remains.
They were so anxious to publish their book, based on Troy's false genealogy. They couldn't wait to get rich! They figured that, if they created a genealogy that connected their family to Hermann Bach, whose descendants were part of The Germanna Foundation, they would make lots of money selling their genealogy, just like The Germanna Foundation did. They were going to use the credibility of The Germanna Foundation to create the illusion that their false genealogy was correct. Plus, any actual descendants of Hermann Bach would buy their book too!
Troy and Custer teamed up with Custer's son Kenneth, and one of their friends, Dexter Dixon. They decided to call themselves, "The Back-Bach Genealogical Society," to make it appear as if they were real genealogists who knew what they were doing. However, not one of them was a genealogist, or a historian, and not one of them had any experience as a professional genealogical researcher or historical researcher. This was all part of the scam. They also enlisted the help of Troy and Custer's cousin, Reedus Back, simply because he had a Ph.D. They thought that it would "look good," to have someone who had an advanced degree, to provide additional credibility for their book. But Reedus had no experience in genealogical research or historical research either. Strangely, he was basically known for turning storage rooms into classrooms. But they made him the "president" of The Back-Bach Genealogical Society anyway.
Reedus soon made contact with The Germanna Foundation, and they worked out a deal in which The Back-Bach Genealogical Society would collect dues for The Germanna Foundation, if The Germanna Foundation would go along with the false genealogy about the descendants of Hermann Bach that he and his cohorts were going to publish.
In addition, a few years earlier, The Germanna Foundation had created a story that Hermann Bach had sailed to America on the ship Oliver, in order to "juice up" the story of his life, to spark new interest in their organization and bring in more money. The Back-Bach Genealogical Society was more than eager to include the story about the ship Oliver in their book as well. Everyone loves a good story, and good stories sell books! The Oliver was one of the most well-known immigrant ships, because it sank, just off the Virginia coast, in January of 1739, and two-thirds of its passengers had died. But Hermann Bach was definitely not onboard the Oliver. (That was actually another fraud.)
The Back-Bach Genealogical Society was a scam: Reedus, Troy, Custer, and the others gathered a few more people together, and they started holding meetings, to discuss publishing the book. They tried to make their meetings seem so official and so important, by following "parliamentary procedures." This means they made decisions by first having someone propose an idea, and then someone else "moved" it, and then, if a third person "seconded the motion," the idea passed.
They actually wrote pages of rules and by-laws, and they even wrote a constitution! They elected "officers," including a president, a vice president, a secretary, a treasurer, and a financial secretary. (Why a financial secretary was needed, in addition to a treasurer, was never explained.) They also announced that the treasurer and the financial secretary were bonded, "for the protection of the Society." (Notice that the bond was not to protect the members' money, but to protect them!) Obviously, they were expecting a huge amount of money to be pouring in! But they never explained what all the money was needed for, or what it would be spent on.
They set up several committees, including a Membership Committee and a Steering Committee (as if they were needed). They voted on everything, no matter how trivial or how absurd. They also spent a lot of time congratulating each other. They even published the minutes of their stupid meetings in newsletters, and distributed them to as many people as they could find. It was all so ridiculous. But they did these things, in order to try to create the appearance that they were a legitimate organization.
They even announced in their newsletters that they were "obtaining a tax number" from the state of Kentucky, because they were "setting up their organization as a non-profit." But they only said that, to make it appear that they were philanthropic. They never applied for a tax number, and they never were a non-profit.
The Kentucky Secretary of State has no record of The Back-Bach Genealogical Society ever applying for a tax number, or ever registering as being a non-profit. In fact, there are no records of them ever registering as any type of entity. The state has no record of them at all. It was all such a scam.
The false genealogy they created: The basic premise of their false genealogy (as described above) was that the founder of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky was Elizabeth Hoffman Back, the widow of Henry Back. They claim that, after Henry died, in Virginia, in 1808, Elizabeth (who was then 64 years old) and some of her children moved all the way down to the dangerous wilderness of southeastern Kentucky, even though she had never been there before, she knew nobody there, and she had no reason to go there. They further claim that Elizabeth's husband Henry was a son of Hermann Bach, who had immigrated from Freudenberg, Germany, and then settled in Little Fork, Virginia, in 1739.
However, they cannot produce one piece of evidence to support any of these claims, because there isn't any.
The 1810 Census Report (see above) proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Henry's widow Elizabeth moved to Rockingham County, Virginia, after he died, and not to Kentucky. Her sister Margaret was already living in Rockingham County. And the Tax Lists in that county prove that Elizabeth lived there, from 1810, until her death in 1815/1816 (see above). She lived there with her son Aaron, who was the only Aaron Back living in America at the time. Aaron married the girl next door, Margaret Elizabeth Hammer. There is extensive evidence that Aaron Back, the son of Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman, married that woman. But, just for fun, let's dig in, just a little bit, and see just how truly absurd their claims really are.
First of all, there is no evidence that Hermann Bach ever had any more children, besides the twins that were born, back in Germany, in 1737. And there is no evidence of a man named Henry Back, living in Little Fork, or anywhere near it, from the time that Hermann settled there, in 1739, until long after Henry died, in 1808.
Hermann's son Hermann Jr. (one of the twins) is his only documented son. Hermann Jr. inherited his father's land in Little Fork, after he died, which was sometime before 1789. And then, in 1789, Hermann Jr. sold that land. (The deed specifically started that Hermann Jr. had inherited that land.) Hermann Jr. then moved to Garrard County, Kentucky, which is in the central part of the state, where he lived for the rest of his life. So, if Hermann Jr. really had a brother named Henry, why didn't Henry's widow Elizabeth move to Garrard County, after Henry died, to live near him? Why in the world would she have moved all the way down to southeastern Kentucky, where she didn't know anyone?
Now, a man named Henry Back really did marry a woman named Elizabeth Hoffman. They lived near the Robinson River, in what became Madison County, Virginia, on land that she had inherited from her father. This was twenty miles south of Little Fork, where Hermann Bach and his family lived!
Elizabeth's parents were John Hoffman and Maria Sabina Folg. Her father was a very wealthy and prominent man, who owned over 3,500 acres of land along the Robinson River. He would never had allowed his daughters to marry the sons of a poor farmer who only owned 100 acres, like Hermann Bach. Plus, Hermann Bach and his family lived all the way up in Little Fork. (How would John Hoffman's daughters have even met Hermann Bach's sons?) In fact, John Hoffman's daughter Elizabeth married the Henry Bach who was the son of one of his neighbors, Johann Heinrich Bach, who owned 786 acres, and was a highly-respected millwright. In addition, Johann Heinrich Bach's family was related to the famous musician and composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, which also increased his social standing. John Hoffman and Johann Heinrich Bach not only lived very close to each other, they were also in the same social and economic class. So it was only natural that their children would marry each other. (John Hoffman's daughter Margaret married Johann Heinrich Bach's son John.) NOTE: Back then, people nearly always married within their same social and economic class. And they nearly always married someone who lived close to where they lived.
NOTE: John Hoffman had immigrated to America in 1714. He first lived in Germanna, which was a community that had some ties to Little Fork. However, Germanna was about thirty miles southeast of Little Fork, and about thirty miles due east of where Mr. Hoffman later lived, along the Robinson River. More importantly, Mr. Hoffman had moved away from Germanna, in 1729, which was ten years before Hermann Bach arrived in Little Fork. Therefore, the chances that John Hoffman and Hermann Bach ever knew each other were extremely remote.
Furthermore, at Christmas of 1787, Johann Heinrich Bach wrote down in the old Bach Family Bible the name of "Elizabeth Back," and her date of birth of "July 13, 1746" (see below). This woman was definitely Elizabeth Hoffman Back, the daughter of John Hoffman and Maria Sabina Folg. It is well-known and well-documented that John Hoffman wrote down the names and dates of birth of all of his children in his Family Bible, including Elizabeth's name and date of birth. And the dates match exactly. This is absolute proof that Elizabeth Hoffman, the daughter of John Hoffman and Maria Sabina Folg, married into the family of Johann Heinrich Bach, not Hermann Bach. Also at that Christmas of 1787, Johann Heinrich Bach wrote down in the old Bach Family Bible the names of his grandchildren who were there at this house that day (see below). There was John Back (born November 19, 1774); Mary Back (born November 1, 1777); Henry Back (born February 6, 1785); and Lewis Back (born October 14, 1787). This is absolute proof that these children were in Johann Heinrich Bach's family, not Hermann Bach's family.
There are so many problems with Troy's false genealogy. Let's start with the first two children, John and Mary, who they claim belonged to Henry and Elizabeth. You have to ask these questions...(1) What was John Back doing, getting married in 1795, in Russell County, Virginia, and then living there with his wife and children, until 1810, when he returned to Kentucky, if he was supposed to be living up in Madison County, Virginia with his alleged parents, Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman? (2) What was Mary Back doing, living along the Cumberland River, in Kentucky, in 1806, when she got pregnant there and gave birth to Alfred, if she was supposed to be living up in Madison County, Virginia with her alleged parents, Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman? No, John and Mary were not the children of Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman. They were the children of Joseph Back and Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard. Let's move onto the other children.
Two sons that Troy's false genealogy claims were children of Henry Back and Elizabeth Hoffman (Joseph and Benjamin) really were their children. But those two men remained in Madison County, Virginia, and they got married there and died there. So they never went to Kentucky.
Henry and Elizabeth's son Aaron was clearly in Rockingham County, Virginia by 1810, and then he moved to Ohio in 1816. So he never went to Kentucky either. And their son Lewis had moved to Russell County, Virginia, to live with his cousin John Back, in 1808.
That only leaves one son, Henry, whose whereabouts cannot be proven, in 1808 (although we know he was living along the Cumberland River, in Kentucky). So...are we to believe that a 64-year-old widow woman moved all the way down to the dangerous and remote wilderness of southwestern Kentucky with just one son (allegedly Henry) to protect her, especially when she knew nobody there and had no reason whatsoever to go there? And yet she didn't move to Garrard County, where her husband's (alleged) brother Hermann Jr. lived? It is all so completely ridiculous!The Back-Bach Genealogical Society offers no marriage records, no birth records, no church records, no census reports, no tax lists, no death records, no letters, no wills, no land deeds, nothing, to prove their ridiculous claims. There is not one shred of evidence that Elizabeth Hoffman Back, the widow of Henry Back, ever went to Kentucky, or that John, Mary, or Henry were her children. More importantly, there is also not one shred of evidence that her husband Henry was a son of Hermann Bach.
But Reedus, Troy, and Custer couldn't be bothered with evidence, proof, facts, or the truth! They were too excited at the prospect of connecting themselves to The Germanna Foundation, and getting rich by selling their genealogy!At no time did The Back-Bach Genealogical Society ever bring in any professional genealogist or researcher to review or verify the genealogy that they were planning to publish. That was because they knew that there wasn't one piece of evidence, not one shred of proof, that connected the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky, to Hermann Bach up in Little Fork. Not one. And so that's why there is no proof in their book either. There is not one piece of evidence to support any of their genealogy, before John Back Sr. (1774-1854), his sister Mary Back (1777-1807), and his brother Henry Back (1785-1871). Please note that their false genealogy did not even mention the fourth sibling, Joseph Back Jr., who was murdered in 1802. They forgot about him!
Their deceitful Acknowledgements Page: When Reedus, Troy, and Custer wrote the "Acknowledgements Page" for their book, they even had the nerve to "thank" people who were not even involved, as well as other people who did not go along with their scam at all. It was incredibly dishonest, insulting, and misleading. They made it appear as if all those people on that list supported, and agreed with, their false genealogy, but most of them certainly did not!
For example, they "thanked" Dr. Wilgus Bach, but yet they had destroyed his manuscript! They actually changed his research, with an ink pen and a bottle of "white out," to make it appear that he believed that Henry Back's widow Elizabeth founded the family in southeastern Kentucky. Dr. Bach must have been rolling over in his grave!They "thanked" Dr. B.C. Holtsclaw, but he never even researched the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky! In fact, he clearly stated in his book that there were two separate Bach (and Back) families: one was from Thuringia, Germany (the one who owned the old Bach Family Bible, and migrated to southeastern Kentucky); and one was from Freudenberg, Germany (the Hermann Bach family, whose descendants later lived in central Kentucky). Troy Back lied to Dr. Holtsclaw, so that he could join The Germanna Foundation.
They "thanked" Hazel Bach Craft and her husband Wardie, but they were the people who had retrieved Elizabeth's gravestone from The Maggard Cemetery, and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with them!
They "thanked" Josephine Wheeler (Nancy Josephine Wheeler Bach), but she had told them repeatedly that their genealogy was all wrong. She had extensive proof that the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky was related to Johann Sebastian Bach, and that Joseph Back, the son of Johann Heinrich Bach, the well-known millwright, founded the family in southeastern Kentucky. She was married to John Everett Bach (1900-1982), who was a Kentucky state legislator (see the article below). She was the head of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Breathitt County, and she was a professional genealogist. She knew the truth about the family, and she wanted nothing whatsoever to do with The Back-Bach Genealogical Society.
They also "thanked" Mary Edith Marley, who really was a descendant of Hermann Bach, through his only son Hermann Jr., who had moved from Little Fork, Virginia, to Garrard County, Kentucky, in 1789. She had repeatedly told Reedus, Troy, and Custer that their genealogy was all wrong, and that her Bach (and Back) family, the Hermann Bach family, who lived in central Kentucky, had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. Mrs. Marley was also a recognized, professional genealogist, and so she knew what she was talking about. She knew the genealogy of her own family very well, and she had hundreds of documents to prove it. But they weren't interested. They even returned her letters to her, just to insult her.
The false genealogy book was published in 1994: As soon as they printed 500 copies of the book, Reedus Back suddenly announced that, "all the plates were destroyed." This meant that they could not publish any more copies, unless they started over from scratch. Apparently, someone in the family was so angry at them for publishing that false genealogy book that they were somehow able to get hold of the plates and then destroy them. But Reedus later used a copy of the book to create a CD of the book, which they then began selling (for $45).
One of the first things they did was to make sure that copies of their false genealogy book got into every library and historical society in Kentucky, the big Family Search Library in Utah, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. And then, they announced that, since their book was in all of those places, it meant that the genealogy it contained must be accurate! But of course, that's absurd! Anyone can ship a book to those places. It meant nothing. But that was all part of the scam.
Not only did the book contain a false genealogy about the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky, it was also full of typographical errors, misspelled words, and countless mistakes. The carelessness was extraordinary. And the book contained the same, goofy numbering system that Troy Back had created for the book he wrote about the genealogy of his wife's family. Now, there are several well-established genealogical numbering systems, and they have been around for a long time because they work. But neither Troy, nor any of those other people in The Back-Bach Genealogical Society, knew anything about them, of course, because they were not genealogists.
The book immediately caused a huge uproar in the family, because everyone knew that it was wrong. It tore the family apart. The "old-timers" were particularly upset, but some of the younger people thought that maybe the false genealogy book could be correct, since it looked like it was professionally done. After all, it was published with a fancy orange cover that had gold-foil letters on it!
The Back-Bach Genealogical Society took over the family reunions: As soon as they published their false genealogy book in 1994, Reedus Back, and the "officers" of his little club, simply took over the annual family reunions. From that point on, they ran the reunions, and they used the reunions to make money for themselves.
First of all, they moved the reunions from Quicksand (where they had been held for over sixty years), down to Whitesburg, because most of their club's "officers" lived down there. Then they changed the entire format and function of the reunions, to resemble the reunions held by The Germanna Foundation. In other words, instead of the reunions being the way they had always been, ever since 1933, which was a pleasant afternoon for family members to bring a covered dish, and share stories and pictures, they were transformed into a money-making, two-day fundraiser for Reedus and his buddies. The sole purpose of the new reunions was to get the attendees to open up their wallets.
Now, before each of the new reunions took place, The Back-Bach Genealogical Society sold tickets to attend them (about $25 per person), even though nobody had ever paid anything to attend their own family reunion before. There were also additional fees ($15-$25) for various "side trips," in which the attendees could go to cemeteries, or other places. And since most of the attendees were coming from outside the area, they would need a hotel room to stay in. So, The Back-Bach Genealogical Society arranged for blocks of rooms to be reserved at all the local hotels, for which they got a kickback on. They also encouraged the attendees to donate items to them, before the reunion, which they would then auction off, at the reunion, to raise even more money for their little club.
Of course, they sold their false genealogy book at the reunions, but they prohibited the sale of any books about the actual genealogy of the family, including the books that Tilden Bach wrote. And they even sold trips to Freudenberg, Germany, just like The Germanna Foundation did. That was actually the biggest rip-off of all, since the Bach (and Back) family from southeastern Kentucky came from Thuringia, Germany, NOT Freudenberg, Germany. NOTE: Reedus headed up all of those trips to Freudenberg. (Wonder if he paid for his own trip, or if their little club paid for it, with money from the members and the reunions?)
At every reunion, Reedus gave speeches about their false genealogy, and he went on and on about "Hermann Bach and the tragic shipwreck of the ship Oliver." He also talked endlessly about how wonderful their little club was. He encouraged the attendees to give money, to "support" his little club, and he tried to make them feel guilty if they didn't. He also brought in other speakers (friends of his) who begged the attendees for money as well. And if someone asked about the actual genealogy of the family, the "officers" quickly dismissed them, with a wave of their hand, and then they openly laughed at them.
Most of the people in the Bach (and Back) family, whose ancestors were from southeastern Kentucky, were so upset and so angry about that false genealogy book, and how The Back-Bach Genealogical Society swooped in and took over the family reunions, that they just stopped going to the reunions.
Before 1994, upwards of 1,000 people used to attend the reunions every year, and the people looked forward to going back, year after year. The reunions were wonderful and lots of fun.
But after The Back-Bach Genealogical Society took over, the attendance at the reunions suddenly dropped to below 100 people. Since then, most of the people who attend the reunions have never attended a reunion before, and so they know nothing about the fraudulent genealogy. Every year, less and less people show up. In recent years, less than a dozen people have shown up. That is a good example of what that terrible book, and those greedy people, did to the family. They virtually destroyed the family, and the family has never been the same. A few years ago, a man named Larry Back brazenly appointed himself "the new genealogist" of the family, and he took over the reunions. He actually believes that HE is "in charge of" the family's genealogy, and that HE decides what the genealogy of the family is. He is so obnoxious that he has driven away the last few people who used to attend the reunions.
The Back-Bach Genealogical Society even sold memberships: Starting around 1995, The Back-Bach Genealogical Society actually started selling memberships in their little club! They constantly promoted the ridiculous concept that a person had to buy a membership, in order to be involved with the genealogy of their own family!
The memberships cost $20/year, or you could buy a "lifetime membership" for $100! A membership also included a very strange and childish "newsletter," which was printed twice a year. But there was no news in it. It was just a few pieces of paper, boasting how wonderful their little club was, and begging the reader to solicit other people to buy a membership. In several issues, Reedus Back even wrote about how much he wanted "to build an ongoing and profitable genealogy business." That was a really strange comment to put into print.
Reedus also tried to make the readers of his newsletter feel guilty, if they had let their membership expire, or if they had not solicited other people to buy a membership. He wrote that, by buying a membership, "then you could enjoy being family." Apparently, you really weren't a part of the family, unless you bought a membership in his stupid little club. (What was all that membership money used for? Where did it all go?)
The newsletter also printed the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the newest members. What a violation of privacy that was!
Where's all the money? The Back-Bach Genealogical Society printed 500 copies of their false genealogy book, which they sold for $80 apiece. That comes to $40,000. What happened to all of that money? And what happened to all the money that they raised at all of those reunions, or from selling all of those memberships, or from selling all those trips to Germany? Where did it all go? What was it used for?
Since they had no tax number, and they were not legally organized as any type of entity, how did they report all of that income to the IRS? (Or did they report it?) Frankly, it looks like it all just went into someone's pocket, tax-free. If so, that's fraud.
In 1997, Troy Back died suddenly, of a massive heart attack, just three years after his false genealogy book was published. It is not known how much money he got from the scam that he started...a scam that began with him lying to his own family, and destroying the ancestral records of his own family.
And Reedus Back never did achieve his dream of building an ongoing and profitable genealogical business, like The Germanna Foundation had. Apparently, The Back-Bach Genealogical Society just made a quick buck, and then disappeared. It is suspected that, by 2014 or so, too many people had become aware of the fraud, and too many people were asking questions, and so they decided that it was time to wrap it up. The organization appears to be defunct now.
Tilden Bach tried to show them: In 2003, Tilden Bach wrote a book about the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky. It was titled, Our "Bach" Family Ancestral Heritage. His book was based on the research done by Dr. Wilgus Bach. In addition, Tilden discovered the connection between the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky, and the famous musician and composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Here is how that happened. Tilden found a copy of the Family Tree that Johann Sebastian Bach had made, back in 1735, and he saw that Johann Heinrich Bach's name was on it. Tilden was able to confirm that this was the same Johann Heinrich Bach who had immigrated to America in 1740 and settled in Culpeper County, Virginia. Johann Heinrich Bach's grandfather was Johann Christoph Bach, who was a second cousin to Johann Sebastian Bach. This was the specific connection that everyone had been looking for! So, as it turns out, the "old-timers" were right...the family really was related to Johann Sebastian Bach! They descend from the second cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach.
For many years, Tilden tried to provide the people at The Back-Bach Genealogical Society with the proof of the family's actual genealogy, but nobody in that club would listen. (Tilden knew that they already knew the truth, but he wanted to actually put it in front of them.) Tilden wanted to show them the documentation that the founders of the family in southeastern Kentucky were Joseph Back and his wife Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard, and that the family really was related to Johann Sebastian Bach. Finally, around 2000, Reedus Back, and another member, David Risner, agreed to go to Tilden's house, to meet with him.
While they were there, Tilden showed them an enormous amount of proof of the actual genealogy of the family, but neither man had much to say. A few hours later, as they were leaving, and standing on the front porch, Tilden asked Reedus what he thought about what he had just seen. Reedus replied, "Well, since we got our genealogy our first, that's the one that will go down in the records as the history of the family." Then he just turned around and walked away. He never spoke to Tilden again. Tilden was shocked by what Reedus had said.
But a few years later, David Risner contacted Tilden. He told him that he knew that the genealogy that Tilden had shown them was correct, and he also knew that the genealogy put out by The Back-Bach Genealogical Society was all wrong. David said that he "knew for a fact" that they had "simply made up the story about Hermann Bach," and that they had "plugged" information to create their false genealogy. He also said that he was "tired of going along with the lie," and that he was "ashamed" of what he had done. He stopped associating with The Back-Bach Genealogical Society, and he and Tilden became good friends. David died in 2008.
In 2004, a man named Larry Back, who supported The Back-Bach Genealogical Society, told Tilden that he wanted to see the old Bach Family Bible. Back at that time, the old book was kept at a lady's house in Lexington, who was a descendant of Dr. Wilgus Bach. Tilden arranged for a meeting at her house, so that Larry could get in to see it, and Tilden met him there that day. As they were leaving, Larry told Tilden that he wanted to buy a copy of his book, but he claimed that he didn't have any money on him at the time. Tilden handed him a copy of his book, and Larry promised him that he would mail him a check for $35. But he never did. He stole Tilden's work, even after Tilden had gotten him in to see the old Bach Family Bible!
Then, Larry posted Tilden's work all over the Internet, giving it away for free. Larry never even gave Tilden credit for his research. Instead, Larry took credit for Tilden's research, by making it appear that it was his research! Tilden died in 2009, but Larry never did pay him for the book. That's the kind of person who belongs to The Back-Bach Genealogical Society. (Tilden's book is no longer for sale.)
Fake "DNA evidence": A few years ago, a woman named Karen Simmons, who is a cousin of Larry Back, suddenly claimed that she had "DNA evidence," which proves that the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky descends from Hermann Bach. However, her "DNA evidence" only shows that, hundreds of years ago (about 14 generations ago, and before the year 1500), the two families may have shared a common ancestor. It does not prove that the Bach (and Back) family in southeastern Kentucky descends from Hermann Bach. DNA tests are not able to provide that kind of information! But she lies about it anyway. It's all part of the scam.
T. Bach also published a book: In 2012, a new book about the actual genealogy of the Bach (and Back) family was published by a woman named T. Bach. It was titled, We Came from Thuringia: Genealogy of the Bach Family in Breathitt County, Kentucky. It was a massive book that took over a decade to research and write. It included the research of Dr. Wilgus Bach and Tilden Bach, plus a great deal of additional information. She included countless source documents that proved the actual genealogy of the family. She also included copies of the pages from the old Bach Family Bible, on which family members had written down genealogical information that proved the family's ancestry. (That old book is now on display at the Breathitt County Library.) But within just a couple of months, the people who cling to that false genealogy sprang into action.
First, Reedus Back, the "president" of The Back-Bach Genealogical Society, had a friend of his (Diana Back) buy a copy of the book. Diana made a copy of the book, and then she mailed it to him. That way, his name was not involved. Then Diana contacted the author, T. Bach, and demanded a refund. Because Diana had purchased the book through PayPal, and PayPal always sides with the customer, T. Bach had to refund her money. However, when the book was returned, it was all torn up, and it could not be resold. But Diana had taken a photograph of the book, before she destroyed it, which she sent to PayPal, "proving" that she had returned it, in excellent condition. That's the kind of person who belongs to The Back-Bach Genealogical Society.
Reedus Back then started emailing T. Bach, threatening her, and saying some really nasty things to her. He even claimed that he had never been in The Maggard Cemetery, and he knew nothing about Elizabeth Hoffman-Maggard Back's gravestone. Of course, that was all a blatant lie! That's the kind of person who belongs to The Back-Bach Genealogical Society.
And then, Larry Back (the man who stole a copy of Tilden Bach's book) stole a copy of T. Bach's book from an elderly relative. He made a PDF copy of it, and then he emailed it to as many people in the family that he could find, telling them that they "didn't need to buy it." Not only was that hateful, it was illegal. Then, Larry posted her research all over the Internet, giving it away for free! And just like what he had done to Tilden, Larry took credit for T. Bach's research, by making it seem as if he had done all the work. He even posted entire paragraphs of her book, word for word, on the Internet, pretending that he had written them himself. He also posted pictures from her book, on the Internet, that had taken her years to locate. Many of those pictures were given to her with special permission, that they were only to be printed in her book. But Larry made it seem as if the pictures were his! T. Bach didn't even know Larry Back!
And then, in July of 2016, Larry Back and his cousin Karen Agee went onto Amazon.com, where T. Bach's book was for sale, and they posted negative and untrue reviews of her book, just to deliberately discourage people from buying it. (Strangely, Amazon allows people to post reviews of a product, even if they have never purchased it.) After Larry and Karen did that, nobody ever bought another one of T. Bach's books from Amazon again, and so she later removed her book from Amazon.
Shortly after that, Larry and another cousin of his went onto a popular genealogy website and destroyed some of T. Bach's research. And then, someone removed information about the correct genealogy of the family, and any mention of T. Bach's book, from Wikipedia. Even worse, someone started uploading T. Bach's book to the Internet, giving it away for free, in a stunning violation of her copyright, and a blatant violation of the law.
It is illegal to upload an author's copywritten book to the Internet and give it away for free. It is also illegal to download an author's copywritten book from the Internet, without paying the author for it.
Furthermore, many of the websites that T. Bach's book was uploaded to contained dangerous malware. So whenever someone tried to download her book, all sorts of viruses and spyware were installed onto their computer.
Legal action has been initiated, to remove the illegal copies of T. Bach's book from the Internet, and prosecution of those responsible is underway. So if you see her book being offered as a free download, somewhere on the Internet, please avoid that website. If you want a copy of her book, you can easily purchase one from her publisher's website (see below). The DVD version is only $39.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids