Friday, November 30, 2012

Update On Catharina Menge

I had previously posted that Catharina Menge who married Peter Sommer was a sister of our Ernst Menge.  But as our understanding of both the Menge's and the Sommer's has grown, I realize that Catharina was born too late to be a sister of Ernst.  So - ooops!  See how easily mistakes creep into the storyline?  It must happen to everybody doing this work, I think...

So who WAS Catharina Menge, if not a sister?  First we could go back and question whether she was a Menge relation at all, but then I revisit the fact that Catharina named her first child Johann Ernst Sommer and he was sponsored by Ernst Menge and his wife Maria.  There was most definitely a connection.  What I think now is that Catharina was a niece of Ernst Menge, and the daughter of Ernst's older brother Henrich.  From the village genealogy we have of the Menge family in Sodel, Germany, we know that Henrich had a daughter named Anna Catharina who was born in 1751 - which is the exact right age for our Catharina Menge - so she must have made the journey to America as a very small child.  Catharina's father Henrich died in April, 1773, just a month before the birth of her second child.

So there we have it, at least for now.  It's not that this correction represents revised history because after all, the relationships and events of 260+ years ago are not different from what they were.  Rather the story I tell about them is revised based on my ever-deepening understanding of who they really were and how they lived their lives.  As it turns out in this case, the story of Catharina's life as I told it previously does not change greatly because I am realizing she probably had different parents than I thought she did.  It remains that Catharina came from the same family group from the same area of Germany, and her life story continues to give us a wonderful view of the female experience in Philadelphia during Revolutionary times.  Thank goodness.

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