Monday, March 21, 2011


I have told myself all along that if I can find the original immigrant to North American shores for the various lines of my family tree, that will be good enough. Seriously. Is there any REAL hope of finding records of MY blood relations across the pond? Well, I still don't know the answer to that question personally, but I just might be closer to getting my feet wet.

This last week has been incredible in terms of making giant strides in the progress of this line after, as I have mentioned, several years of not much. I think the real breakthrough was the day we located the 5 volumes of 18th Century Records of the German Lutheran Church at Philadelphia, PA (St. Michaels and Zion) [translated by Robert L. Hess]. The pieces have been tumbling together faster than we can fully appreciate what we've found. Dang, this part is fun.

So since this blog is a record of research progress, here is a summary of what we *think* has been found:

1. From the death record of Ernst Menge's brother, Johann Menge, we know that a) Ernst, Johann, and Henrich Menge were brothers and b) Johann was himself the son of Ernst Menge and Anna Catharina. Oh great, ANOTHER Ernest Mann! Ok, fine. Let's just assume these original ancestors lived across pond somewhere. They MAY have come to America too, but for sake of sanity, let's just say they stayed home.

2. Well, here is a very curious burial record:

3 Sep 1773, Anna Cathar. Kilmann(in); b. 23 May 1732 at Sodel?, dau.of the late Joh. Ernst Krainder? and wife Elisabeth Ries(in),? (both of a noble class). (Godparents were Ernst Menge? and wife Anna Catharina);. Immigrated in 1752 with her sister. She mar. Mr . Adolf Kilmann in 1754; had 7 children, of whom 2 sons and 4 daus. survive... (¼-page obit).

Hmmmmm. If this Ernst Menge and wife were godparents in 1732, then I must be looking at a SECOND reference to the pre-arrival generation. Let's just dial up familysearch. What's this?

Groom's Name: Johann Ernst Menge
Groom's Birth Date:
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age:
Bride's Name: Anna Catharina Riessin
Bride's Birth Date:
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age:
Marriage Date: 08 Nov 1709
Marriage Place: Evangelisch, Soedel, Oberhessen, Hesse-Darmstadt

Heart rate has JUST increased. Match on ERNST MENGE, ANNA CATHARINA, RIES, and location: SOEDEL. If these people are related to my direct line, they must be yet another generation back. Whoa.

I could go on. The Philadelphia church records are only adding to the evidence of connections between Menge, Ries, Kreuter (not Krainder), and Gillman families. Who knows what might be found on the other side.

What do you have to say about all this, great great grandmother Sarah Mann? I know, I know. She is saying good luck (Viel Gl├╝ck! in German)
with the task of proving my case. And not to worry about getting a little wet.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I have found genealogical reseach to be like life - many days, weeks, months go by that seem "ordinary" even though in truth within each and every segment of time something is happening on some level that propels us (whether one is going forward or backward when doing genealogy is another question altogether). What makes one day more special than another probably depends on some combination of our hopes and our expectations.

I met my cousin Janice online nearly 3 years ago when we discovered we have this Mann line (among others) in common. I guess you could say she mentored me by answering my frequent questions and offering always friendly advice and knowledgeable perspectives. We have taken to sharing not only every resource we come across but also our every thought on the subject of Mann's and the times in which they lived. We wonder together, and we cheer each other up when sometimes it feels there is really no sane reason for intelligent people to be spending their time this way. I have often imagined us separately and together physically turning the computer upside down and shaking it violently as if that effort must certainly yield us results and for no other reason than we have proven that we want to know that badly. Sometimes, occasionally, perhaps in association with the phase of the moon, this methodology works.

Like last night. Janice and I were exchanging emails at midnight - pounding the cyber-waves with our thoughts, ideas, questions. Then at 1:02 a.m. comes a simple email entitled "DAR". Attached was a PDF which she had just purchased from the DAR website for $10. It was an application from Rosalie S. Young, listing Ernest Mann, Ancestor #A073424 as her Revolutionary Ancestor.

It's not that we never checked the DAR before, but apparently their site never yielded much but an index, which never seemed to produce anything that was useful to us at the time. Ah but like so many things, the DAR site has been updated! If you haven't thought of it before or recently, think of it again:

It's hard to know what I want to say exactly. To Janice. To the DAR. To Rosalie Young, descended from Rachel Mann Beers who submitted her application in 1949. What does it mean exactly to do all this research and to know with no doubt whatever that it would not be possible without thanks to people I have not actually ever met in person. And for this technology being put to such amazing use because of the dedicated drive of historical researchers to share what they know. Even when they know what they don't know and might likely never know, they work mind, body and spirit in the trust that somebody else will recognize a piece of our stories and our heritage.

Of course, there is always more to do, and I'm glad because I don't really want it to totally end. But today, I pause to celebrate my cousins present and past and all the circumstances that have enabled us to journey together in understanding both our history and our lives today. And to all the Ernest Mann's and all their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, and sons and daughters, I am proud to be a part of this collective remembering.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taverns in Revolutionary PA & NJ

I must admit this topic is an entirely new area of research for me. When I was at the NJ State Archives last year and the librarian kindly suggested that I check the card index for tavern applications, I assured her that MY ancestor was not a tavernkeeper. The only way I could be so certain of that was by virtue of the preconceived ideas I had about him. Every relation in my line is a farmer - that's just so. This is how I learn my lessons - the hard way.....

Luckily I went back to that card catalog that day at the Archives and to my astonishment found a tavern application in May, 1776 by my Ernest Mann in Oxford, NJ. Not only that, but he also offers up his previous experience operating a house of entertainment in Philadelphia for many years previous. Oh my.

Now that I'm looking, the occupation of tavernkeeper or innholder is showing up everywhere. George Ernst, who died in 1759 in Phildelphia and was apparently a friend of the Mann family, was a tavernkeeper. Ernest Mann's brother, John (Johannes) was an innholder in Northern Liberties, PA until his death in 1790. Ernest Mann bought land in Oxford, NJ from a relative, Thomas Hayes, who was yes, a tavern keeper.

According to "The Taverns of Colonial Philadelphia" by Robert Earle Graham, "Inns and taverns can be thought of as synonymous terms, referring to business ventures licensed to lodge travelers and to serve meals and beverages to both travelers and men-about-town."

Oxford must have been a bustling place in 1776 and the ensuing years of war with the British. Built up around the Oxford Furnace, one of the first producers of iron ore, Oxford was thought to have supplied Washington's troops with equipment. Indeed, in December of 1776, Washington would cross the Delaware River at Trenton and defeat a Hessian (German) army of 1400 (Hessians were recruited by and incorporated into the British army). What was going on in the mind and heart of my German ancestor in his tavern in Oxford? Or in his brother's inn back in Philadelphia? One thing seems sure - they and their taverns were in the thick of the American Revolution.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The History of Land

I spent today transcribing a document I found last year at the New Jersey State Archives which conveys 200+ acres from Thomas Hayes and his wife Margaret to Earnest Mange, believed to be the Ernest Mann of my family (one of them at least).

Besides the difficulties of reading the handwriting of old European script and the poor quality of the scanned image, I need to comment about what seems like the excessive length of this document for its purpose, which was to say Thomas Hayes was selling land to Earnest Mange. I think the document goes on at some extreme length for three reasons:

a) the document is apparently giving the entire history of ownership of the land in question. This is a BIG thing for a genealogist to realize - that a description of YOUR family's land transaction might well be recorded in the land transaction of those who came later. So in this particular case, if you are looking for surnames STACY, POUNELL, ATKINSON, POTTS, WRIGHT, KNIGHT, JANNEY, KIRKBRIDGE or SCOTT in Sussex County, New Jersey before 1783, you would probably find some interest in the document I have just transcribed.

b) the document gives loooooong descriptions of the boundaries of the land by degrees and chains and links, but also by cornerstones and lanes of neighboring lands. So in my case, the land in question is bordered by George SUMMERS (who would be father-in-law of my Ernest Mann), as well as SIMMS, PENROSE, PARKER, and VANATTA (spelling of these surnames may vary as transcription of this document was a challenge). Another great lesson: my family might be mentioned in the land descriptions of neighbors!

c) the legalese about heirs and executors and dowers goes on and on in what I assume is fine English tradition. This document was signed by a judge of the court of common pleas in the STATE of New Jersey, which in April, 1783 was almost but not quite yet a locale found in an independent nation. George Washington and the Continental Army had spent almost half of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. And yet now there was true hope of peace: Cornwallis had surrendered in Yorktown in 1781, the preliminary articles for a peace treaty had been signed in Paris in November, 1782, King George III would sign the treaty in September, 1783 and the American Congress would ratify the treaty giving them separation from Great Britain in January, 1784. The American Constitution and election of the first American President were on the near horizon.

So the length of this conveyance document aside, I find myself wondering about my ancestor whose first language was German, who had traveled so far to disembark in Philadelphia in 1754 and there work as a stocking weaver, who in 1776 applied to become a tavern keeper in Oxford, New Jersey, and who was now about to make himself an American landowner. I find myself imagining it was an amazing day for my Ernest Mange, the 13th of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty three.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting Started

Welcome to my research blog for Michigan Mann Genealogy. I hope to keep track of and share the research that I'm doing (along with others) on this family line. It's quite a journey! There are no shortage of questions and happily, with some perserverence, a story is starting to emerge! Be sure to check the link to my research page to see if you find anything familiar. If you do, feel free to contact me!