Hans Theis AHLBACH
born [?] circa 1640 [?]
married (1) Anna Margaretha (----); (2) Unknown
died before 1703
The genealogical investigations of the late Carla MITTELSTAADT-KUBASCH prove beyond doubt that Hans Theis AHLBACH, of Flammersfeld, Grafschaft Sayn-Hachenburg, was our earliest documentable ancestor. Carla visited the parish church at Flammersfeld on several occasions, gleaning facts from its surviving registers. She also did extensive research at the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Wiesbaden, where she read through die Rechnungen von Sayn-Hachenburg - the archived civil records. Her findings were that Hans Theis AHLBACH [apparently] had two wives, the first of whom was Anna Margaretha [maiden name unknown]. By this wife, Hans Theis had six children: Anthonius [aka Thunes, aka Thonges, aka Thonies]; Hermann; Barbara; Johann Nolgen; Conradt; and Anna Margaretha. Both Thunes [31 Mar 1688] and Hermann [30 Nov 1703] are identified as 'sons of Hans Theis AHLBACH' in their Flammersfeld marriage records. While church records were available from 1669 onwards, Carla conceded that there were gaps. She added that Hans Theis died before 1703. If she uncovered other facts about this first and earliest Hans Theis AHLBACH, these did not make it into print in Henry Z. 'Hank' JONES' book, 'MORE PALATINE FAMILIES.'
What of the additional 'information' presented in the Mormon church IGI [International Genealogical Index] - those precise dates for Hans Theis' birth, marriage, and death - and the supposed names of his parents? Is all of this legitimate? Gentle reader, please ponder the provenance of such information. Does it derive from a primary source of Baroque era Sayn-Hachenburg? If so, which one? If not, where else might such information have originated? The IGI database is full of well-meant contributions from individuals whose zeal to 'fill in the blanks' exceeds their concern for historical accuracy. Tradition carries considerable weight, and may hold within it elements of truth. But what percentage is fact, and what proportion romantic fiction?
Not all tradition is without merit. Legend has it that the AHLBACH clan originated in the AUSTRIAN TYROL. Perhaps they did. According to Noah H. ALBAUGH and Josiah A. AULABAUGH [authors of the privately-printed monograph, 'GENEALOGY OF THE ALBAUGH FAMILIES'], a certain Peter AULABAUGH of Hampton, Pennsylvania once had in his possession a certain family heirloom - a coin passed down the generations by way of the youngest sons. It bore the date 1632 - supposedly marking a marriage year in the ancestral homeland. Perhaps it was not just coincidence that this date fell at or near the height of the Thirty Years' War ... Does 1632 also mark the time of the AHLBACH exodus from AUSTRIA's TYROL during the Wars of Religion? The coin's Latin inscriptions were faithfully recorded by its then-owner for posterity. So much so that it was possible for the present author to pinpoint it geographically and historically.
The coin was a 1632 'Thaler' or 'Taler' issued in the final year of the reign of Archduke Leopold V HAPSBURG of Austria. It was struck in solid silver at the mint in the little village of 'Hall' (just east of Innsbruck) high in the Tyrolean Alps -- thus, this coin is sometimes referred to as a 'Hall Thaler.' Its front (obverse) is described thus: 'crowned and armored half-length bust of the Archduke right, holding sceptre and sword by its pommel; date in field.' The circular inscription on the front of the coin reads: 'LEOPOLDUS D.G. (Dei Gratia) ARCHIDUX AUSTRIAE.' The coin's reverse is described as follows: 'crowned arms within order chain, framed by arabesques.' The inscription on the back reads: 'DUX BURGUNDI; COMES TIROLIS.' ... This coin is identified in the DAVENPORT catalog as #3338 [KM 804.4]. For further information, please CLICK HERE.
Pictured below are the obverse and reverse sides of this treasured ALBAUGH heirloom, with a pair of snapshots of the Austrian village of Hall-in-Tyrol.
Hans Theis. What an interesting name! 'Hans' is a low German or Dutch form, in contrast to the high German 'Johann' (sometimes Latinized to 'Johannes'). Our English equivalent is 'John.' 'Theis' corresponds to the English 'Matthias.' If we Anglicize Hans Theis, therefore, we have John Matthias. |
This seems an appropriate point to introduce the traditional German scheme for naming children -- 'rufnahmen' (REWF-naw-men). According to tradition, all boys (or girls) in a given family shared the same first name (their 'saint's name'). This supposedly was done to baffle Satan, should he appear to claim the soul of any of the family youngsters. It was their middle name that children were known by. Thus Johann Wilhelm, Johann Jacob, and Johann Zachariah would be addressed as Wilhelm, Peter, and Zachariah; while Anna Margaretha, Anna Christina, and Anna Eva would be called Margaretha, Christina and Eva, respectively. The choice of that name usually reflected certain ancestors, in a specified rotating pattern. A first-born male might be named for the husband's father, the second-born male for the wife's father, and so on. Females are sometimes denoted in records with an 'in' suffix attached to their surname (e.g. Anna Maria AHLBACHIN, or Maria Margaretha SCHNEIDERIN). Quaint and curious, these old customs!
Speaking in a broad linguistic context, the high German dialect correlates roughly with the higher altitudes of southern Germany and Switzerland [i.e. the upper watershed of the Rhine]. Low German was spoken downstream, as it were, in northern Germany and the Netherlands. Old Anglo-Saxon English is actually quite similar to low German. From a geographic standpoint, the AHLBACHs of Grafschaft Sayn-Hachenburg likely spoke either the Mosel Franconian or Ripuarian dialect of Middle (transitional) German. These dialects were common to the adjacent electorates of Cologne (German Köln) and Trier.
At what point did our AHLBACH ancestors first inhabit the little village adjacent to Flammersfeld which bears the family name? The answer to this question may be lost in the mists of time. References are made in the Flammersfeld church ledgers starting about 1700 to individuals 'at Ahlbach' or 'of Ahlbach.' Clearly by that date, a recognizable community existed. How long did it take for the original (and perhaps isolated) AHLBACH homestead to lend its name to the developing hamlet? And were the AHLBACHs the first settlers in the valley just northwest of Flammersfeld? We simply do not know.
We do know, however, at Hans Theis' death, sometime prior to 1703, the torch of history was passed to his eldest son - Anthonius - our next-generation direct AHLBACH ancestor. Known otherwise as Thunes, Thonges, or Thonies, it was he who led the family through the turbulent and trying times which soon followed. Click the link below to meet