Friday, January 25, 2013

Sommer Marriage in Germany

There have been two major questions surrounding the marriage of Johann Georg Sommer.  First is that his wife's name was Anna Barbara Longstreet.  That her name was Anna Barbara, we have no doubt, but we have never found even the slightest clue about the surname Longstreet.  Second, we have debated whether Georg married in America or in Germany.  We think we are coming closer to an answer for both questions.

To address the second question first, we would need to know when Georg arrived in America.  When he died in 1785, his obituary stated he was a member of the congregation for 42 years.  This obituary was among records found for the St. James Lutheran Church in Greenwich, New Jersey.  To be a member for 42 years, would mean he was in America from about 1743.  Unfortunately, we've not been able to find any passenger records for that time that show his arrival.  What we have found is a passenger list for the ship Brothers which arrived in Philadelphia in September, 1752.  On board was Hans Georg Sommer, as well as Johannes Sommer and Hans Martin Sommer, names of younger brothers of our Georg.  So we are leaning toward a 1752 arrival.  Meanwhile we are still trying to locate the actual obituary to see if there might have been a transcription error.  Even if there was not, Georg Sommer might have been a member of a Lutheran congregation that started in Germany.  At this point, this investigation is still open.

But let's just go with the idea that Georg arrived in 1752.  He would have been about 30 years old at the time.  And given that we know his oldest son was born in 1747, this would most certainly suggest that Georg was already married when he arrived.  So we started looking for a marriage in Freistett.  Sure enough, on 19 Jan 1745, Johann Georg Sommer, son of Matthias, married Anna Barbara Ruben.  And sure enough, on 23 Apr 1747 their son Georg Jr. was born.

So, wow.  Georg Sommer WAS married with children when he arrived in America.  And his wife, Anna Barbara, was not originally a Longstreet!  How in the world did the name Longstreet ever get associated with her??  My current theory is that she remarried after Georg died in 1785.  But so far, we've simply not been able to associate the Sommer family with the Longstreet name.  And like so many of our women relations of this early time period, we have no idea whatever became of Anna Barbara from Freistett, Germany.

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