Monday, August 01, 2005

The Krauss family from Becherbach

Our Krauss (Krauß) ancestors lived in the village of Becherbach in what is now the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz.

One Village Many States

Becherbach is nestled in the mountains east of the Rhine (Rhein) River in the parish of Gangloff, near the town of Roth. Coins and other artifacts found in this area show that it has been occupied since Roman times. (Map of Becherbach and region)

The earliest documented use of the name "Becherbach" was in 1325. The name apparently has nothing to do with drinking (bechern). Instead, a "Becher" or "Pecher" was a vessel for collecting pitch. "Bach" refers to the town's proximity to a brook.

Over the centuries, the region around Becherbach has been claimed by numerous states.

• In the 15th Century, this area was part of the Graftschaf Veldenz, then the Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrücken.
• 1688-1697: War of the Palatinate, between France and a coalition lead by Britain.
• 1795 : France occupies the west bank of the Rhein. The region around Becherbach became part of the Cantonof Lauterecken, Département of Mont-Tonnerre (Donnersberg).
• 1816 : After the defeat of Napolean, the region became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria (Königreich Bayern). Note that this is not near the present day state of Bavaria. This region was known as Payrische Pfalz, Rheinpfalz, or Rheinbayern.

Becherbach was part of Bavaria until 1935

The Krauss Family
The earliest record we have of the Krauss family is the marriage of Johann Daniel Krauss and Marie Elisabeth Hoffmann on December 22, 1810 in Becherbach. Based on my (very rough) translation from the French, "Jean Daniel Krauss", age 28 years 8 months, was a bachelor farmer in Becherbach, the son of Jean Daniel Krauss, deceased and Anne Marguerithe née Krauss. He married Marie Elisabethe Hoffmann, age 16 years 6 months, daughter of Pierre Hoffmann and Marie Barbe neé Porr of Roth, both deceased, and granddaughter of Abraham Anne Elisabeth Hoffmann of Desloch.

Johann Daniel and Marie Elisabeth had at least seven children.

Their eldest daughter Catharine, born in 1811, married Abraham Maurer in Becherbach in 1834. The Maurers and their children Johann and Catharine emigrated to America in 1837. Abraham died in 1839 in Monroe County, Illinois. The widow Catharine married a second time, to Jacob Rau, and had three sons, Jacob, Peter and Benedict. Catharine died in Columbia, Illinois in 1869.

Johann Daniel's oldest son (and our ancestor), Daniel Krauss, was born in 1817. In about 1839 he married Catharine Jaeger, of Schönborn. In November of 1839, Daniel's parents gave him property in Becherbach, and by 1845* he had a residence with cellar, barn, stalls for animals and barnyard. As recalled by his daughter Caroline:
“Land was precious, and sheds for livestock were often attached to the house to save space. Cows were taken out each morning to graze where land was not being cultivated. Every member of the family had his work. In many respects it was a simple life.” (from “The KRAUSS Family of Columbia, Illinois and Descendants of the Second Daughter, Caroline” by Florence Young Barnes)

Daniel and Catharine and their eight children (Daniel, Catherine, Caroline, Phillip, John, Jacob, Elizabeth and Peter) emigrated to America in about 1861. They lived a couple years in Whitewater, Wisconsin before finally moving to Columbia, Illinois, joining Daniel's sister Catharine, and his cousins John Maurer, Catharine (Maurer) Kuehner, and the Rau boys. Catharine Krauss died in 1882, and Daniel died in 1887. Both are buried in Evangelical St. Paul Cemetery in Columbia.

*Becherbach Anno 1845 (property tax register). Copy received by Ralph Knowles from the Becherbach Burgermeister in May 1988, and kindly shared with me.

MAPS
1789 Map of the Pfalz (Becherbach is in the northwestern quadrant, in Herzogtum Pfalz-Zweibrücken (light blue) south of Meisenheim).
1813 Map of the Pfalz
1820 Map of Central Europe (the Pfalz region is part of the Kingdom of Bavaria (Bayern)). This is essentially the same as the 1860 map.
1837 Map of "Rheinkreis" region of the Kingdom of Bavaria

BECHERBACH (and related) LINKS
Photos and History of Becherbach (Stefan Arndt)
Official Site of the Meisenheim Region (including Becherbach)
Wikipedia entry for Becherbach (rough English translation - note that "Becherbach" literally means "Cup brook")
Rockenhausen area (includes Schönborn and Bisterschied)
History of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate)
Emigration from Bavaria to America

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