Our German Ancestors
The name GNÄDIG is found in early Catholic Church records in the German states of Baden, Prussia and Wuerttemberg. The earliest christening record found to date is for a MARIA ELIZABETHAM to parents MATHIAS GNÄDIG and ANNA SCHMIDIN in 1679 in the State of Wuerttemberg.
As occurred throughout all of Europe during the 16th - 18th centuries, the Gnädig’s began switching from the Catholic faith to the Protestant faith and back again (the Reformation and Counter-Reformation). Since only Catholic Church records have been reviewed, only a partial representation of the possible whole picture was reviewed. More research of Protestant records (if any) and land records (if any of our Gnädig ancestors were land owners) needs to be accomplished. According to the “genealogical search machine” (i.e., the so called genealogical experts), most of us cannot trace our lineage back to before the 1600's unless we are descended from those of noble birth. Does this mean that Church records (either protestant or catholic) as well as civilian records were kept only for those individuals who were nobles (land owners)?
After a detailed analysis of the Catholic Church records and passenger ship manifests, one theory as to whom our ancestors were stands out as the most viable. Between 1649 and 1669 at least seven male GNÄDIG’s were born whereby they developed into heads-of-family units. The relationship (e.g., brothers or cousins) among these individuals is not proven. However, using the State in which children were christened, two and possibly three sets of brothers materializes.
(1) In about 1654 MATHIAS GNÄDIG was born; in about 1658 an unknown first-name male GNÄDIG was born; and in about 1660 HEIRONYMUS GNÄDIG was born. All three of these individuals had children christened between 1679 and 1708 in the State of Wuerttemberg; more specifically, at the Catholic Church in Haisterkirch, Donau County. For this reason, the conclusion is made that these three male Gnädig’s were brothers.
(2) In about 1663 HANNS GNÄDIG was born in Prieros, Brandenberg County, State of Prussia. In about 1667 MRS. HANNS GNÄDIG was born, also in the State of Prussia. This Gnädig couple had three sons christened in the state of Prussia: GEORGE GNÄDIG (1689), MARTIN GNÄDIG (1695), and CHRISTIAN GNÄDIG (1699).
(3) In 1649 HANS (added to record) BENEDICT GNÄDIG was born. Because as an adult Benedict was protestant, no Catholic christening records for his children were located, so a determination as to where he raised his family is unknown. In about 1655 DOROTHEA GNÄDIG was born; she married Conradus Nigelin. In about 1656 M. MARTIN GNÄDIG was born; Martin’s children were christened at the Catholic Church in Bohlingen, Konstanz County, in the State of Baden. In 1669 HANNS JOANNES GNADIG was born; some of Hanns Joannes’ children were christened at the Catholic Church in Bohlingen, Konstanz County, in the State of Baden. Based on the location of the christening records as well as name associations of children to an ancestor, the conclusion is made that these three Gnädig’s were brothers.
The first mass emigration from Germany (to America) occurred in the spring of 1709. This immigration was to be a two-stage event by England whereby the first stage was from Rotterdam, Holland to England; and the second stage from England to America. The second stage never occurred to the extent that was anticipated. Two male Gnädig’s were in this emigration; it appears that they were brothers. On 6 May 1709, BENEDICT GNÄDIG (age 60) arrives in England with his wife, 24-year old son and 25-year old daughter; he claims his religion as Reformed. On 2 June 1709, JOHN GNÄDIG (age 40) arrives in England with his wife, 11-year old son, 5-year old son, and 1-year old daughter; he claims his religion as Catholic. By 1709 England was a protestant-controlled country and as such would not tolerate persons of the Catholic faith entering their country. Historical writings on this migration disagree on the number of German immigrants but the general consensus was between 12,000 to 20,000. Queen Anne was forced to return all Catholics to Germany; it is estimated that thousands were returned. Of the remaining immigrants in England, approximately 3,000 were sent to Ireland, some were sent to Jamaica, some were incorporated into the English military, and the remainder were assimilated into English society. JOHN GNÄDIG and his family, being Catholic, were returned to Germany. BENEDICT GNÄDIG and his family probably remained in England but it is not known where his family was dispersed. Many more German immigrants arrived at Rotterdam during the summer of 1709 than was originally estimated by England and many more than could be accommodated by England. Because of this, England instructed the Dutch to return all those awaiting transferral to England; thousands of these German emigrants were returned. There are no records indicating the names of these individuals; therefore, we will never know whether any other Gnädig’s migrated down the Rhine River to Rotterdam in 1709 only to be turned back.
Approximately 20 to 25 years after 1709 (or 1729 to 1733) heavy emigrations from Germany with a destination of America began. These migrations were neither a two-stage event nor financed by England as passage to America was accomplished from Rotterdam to America aboard Dutch ships. In 1732 two Gnadig’s were included in this immigration. On 11 August 1732 the ship Samuel arrived in Philadelphia; on board this ship was ADAM GNÄDIG (age 29) with wife Margretha (age 28) and son Phillip (age 6). On 23 September 1732 the ship Adventure arrived in Philadelphia; on board this ship was HANS LEONHARD GNÄDIG (age 28) and wife Margreate (age 25). In 1732 at age 29, Adam would have been born in about 1703. In 1732 at age 28, Hans Leonhard would have been born in about 1704.
(1) The five-year old son with JOHN GNÄDIG on 2 June 1709 in England would have been born in about 1704. Our common ancestor, HANS LEONHARD was born in about 1704. Because of the birth date of about 1704 being an exact match and because of name associations within the family unit both to ancestors and descendants, Hans Leonhard is determined to be one in the same as JOHN GNADIG’s 5-year old son. This, then, makes HANS LEONHARD’s father HANNS JOANNES and places Leonhard into that immediate family unit. Another connection which places Hans Leonhard in this particular family unit is that this family unit was from the State of Baden. “Folklore” or facts/stories handed down through our American family-line state that our family originated from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Germany. During several periods throughout history the State of Baden included the counties (or areas/duchies) of Alsace and Lorraine.
From what records we have reviewed, HANS LEONHARD GNÄDIG’s father was HANS JOANNES GNÄDIG born in about 1669 and his mother was VERENA (VERONICA) HOFFMAN. HANS LEONHARD GNÄDIG had two older brothers (Josephus born in 1694 and Benedict born in 1698), one older sister (Magdalena born in 1701), and one younger sister (Ursula born in 1708/9). At the time of Hans Leonhard’s birth the family was living in or around Bohlingen, Konstanz County, State of Baden; therefore we conclude that Hans Leonhard was also born in and/or around Bohlingen, Konstanz County, State of Baden, Germany.
The connection that 1649 BENEDICT and 1669 HANS JOANNES were brothers is by name association. In 1726 an ABRAHAM GNÄDIG was christened to a BENEDICT GNÄDIG. Using 25 years as an average age for the father, this relates to BENEDICT being born in about 1701. JOHN GNÄDIG had an 11- year old son with him along with a 5-year old son when he was in England in 1709; the five-year old son is determined to be HANS LEONHARD and the 11-year old would have been born in about 1698 which is only a 3 year discrepancy in age with Abraham’s father’s age. In addition, a son is christened to Abraham and the name of the son is JOHANNES LEONARD; several years later a daughter is christened to Abraham and the name of the daughter is MARIA MAGDALENA. A logical conclusion to this data is that Abraham named one of his sons after one of his uncles and one of his daughters after one of his aunts. With this conclusion, that places Benedict (Abraham’s father) as the 11 year old son of John who was in England in 1709; John probably named him Benedict after his own older brother, Benedict.
(2) The placement of ADAM GNÄDIG into a German family unit has not been determined at this time. The reasoning for this is that the only homeland records reviewed have been Catholic and ADAM GNÄDIG was probably a member of a Protestant family unit and that is why a record with a close birth date match has not been made. There is no doubt ADAM GNÄDIG was related to HANNS LEONHARD; whether they were first or second cousins remains to be determined. There is a possibility that ADAM GNÄDIG born in about 1703 could have been the son of MARTINUS GNÄDIG who was christened in 1702 as JOANNES to MARTINUS GNÄDIG as the birth dates are a close match. If this is true, then Adam was a first cousin once removed to Hans Leonhard.
Approximately 20 years after Hans Leonhard and Adam Gnädig immigrated , more male Gnädig’s emigrated from Germany to America (Philadelphia) in 1753 and 1754. However, these Gnädig’s (Hans Leonard, Adam, Daniel, Johannes, and Mathias) arrived in America 13 years after our Isaac was born. The relationship of these Gnädig’s to our family-line as well as to each other is unknown at this time.
Referring to the story that our German ancestors originated from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Germany which is physically located on the west side of the Rhine River and is now physically located in France, perhaps a review of records from France should be conducted.
Note: anyone having access to any of these sources and wishes to supply additional information may do so by contacting us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via snail mail: Lynne (Needy) Weltzin, 7650 NE 178th Terrace, Williston, Florida 32696; (352) 528-9989