My great-great grandmother Barbara (GENGEL) HAAS was born in Württemberg, Germany, on 15 February 1816 (1), exactly 150 years to the day before I was born. I would say that’s pretty close to my birthday, which is this week’s 52 Ancestors theme.
Barbara was my mother’s daddy’s maternal grandmother. She died in 1899, four and a half years after my granddaddy was born. I have no photographs of Barbara, no mementos, no images to show of her. Just these words on this electronic page.
Barbara’s maiden name is spelled GANKEL in her husband’s will, where, in the German precision fashion, he also gives us his own full name: Heinrich Jacob Friedrich HAAS (2). Anglicized, their names were Henry and Barbara. His full name and Barbara’s maiden name were big finds.
Barbara’s maiden surname is spelled in the funeral registry of Henry and Barbara’s son Henry as GINGLE (3), Henry Jr.’s marriage record as GENGEL (4), and a short biography of their son John G. HAAS from the American Atlas Company in 1901 as GOUGAL (5). I am below a novice when it comes to German genealogical research, but these are, to me, clearly phonetic spellings that varied depending upon who the informant was and how the record keeper recorded what he heard, so the original spelling – the one from Germany – is unknown to me. A classical voice teacher who knows German pronunciation told me that GENGEL is an option, as is GÄNGLE or it’s equivalent GAENGLE, both pronounced “geng-la” (with two hard Gs and a schwa at the end).
If all of that weren’t complicated enough, in all U.S. records that show her first name, some variation of Barbara is given except in the 1860 U.S. Census, where it is listed as Rachel (6).
I have read that two if not all German given names are from baptism, and it is often not the leading one which is used as a call name (7). For example, Henry may have been called any of his three German names in childhood. His full given names may have been in a different order than what he put in his will. Which one he used could have changed as he got older. The coming to America certainly had an influence, and the naming customs were different depending on the area of Germany where someone lived. The fact that Barbara’s given name is Rachel in their first U.S. Census in 1860 could mean her name was Rachel Barbara, Barbara Rachel, or that the census taker transcribed his notes incorrectly or didn’t understand their accent and made up a name. I am just sticking with Barbara for the purpose of this story.
At the time of Barbara’s emigration to America, she had a husband, four children ages ten and under, and she was pregnant. She gave birth to their son Heinrich during the journey.
The transatlantic ship was American Eagle out of London arriving in New York, New York, on 17 November 1851 (8). Although the passenger list is available on Ancestry, I have been unable to find information about the ship. The length of the voyage would be determined by whether it was a sailing ship (up to two months) or a steamship (approximately three weeks) (9).The family would have had to get from their home in Württemberg to where they would have boarded the ship. Perhaps that was by railroad, wagon, or foot. We know from baby Heinrich’s (who we now shall call baby Henry) birth evidence that the family traveled on the River Rhine to get to London (10). The River flows north but down, and empties into the North Sea. They would have had to cross to London where they boarded the American Eagle.
The American Eagle passenger list does not include a newborn infant (11), and the most detailed evidence I have of his birth is that baby Henry was born on a steamboat on the River Rhine (12) on 13 October 1851 (according to his tombstone). Other records say he was born “On the Atlantic Ocean between Germany and America” (13), “At Sea” (14), in Württemberg (15), and in Germany (16). (One census record states his birthplace as Indiana, but I think that was a mistake on the part of the census taker (17).)
Considering that baby Henry was born on 13 October 1851, on the water, either on the River Rhine, the North Sea, or the Atlantic Ocean (maybe Barbara was in labor for a very long time), and the ship arrived in New York City on 17 November 1851, I don’t see how the American Eagle could have been anything other than a steamship.
The image below is of the first full power American transatlantic steamship, built in 1847, and named the SS Washington (18). Although this was not the ship on which the HAAS family traveled, it would be similar.
The evidence, when taken collectively, seems to point toward the birth of baby Henry occurring on the River Rhine while they were still in Württemberg (19). It would seem that a ship’s captain would have to record a birth in some sort of register; however, if the American Eagle embarked from London, there would have been another ship (or steamboat) that would have taken the family from their home. That is a record that would be in some archives somewhere in Germany, or that would not exist at all. Then there is the question as to why he is not listed on the American Eagle passenger list. I’m sure it’s a logical, perhaps legal, reason, but I don’t know it at this time.
Their family group on the American Eagle passenger list consisted of the following (20):
- Heinrich Haas, age 32, male, occupation Cooper
- Barbara Haas, age 30, female
- Gattfried Haas, age 10, male
- Marie Haas, age 8, female
- Frederick Haas, age 5, male
- Rosine Haas, age 1-1/2, female
Birthplaces of Henry, Barbara, and their German born children are given as a mixture of Germany; Württemberg; Stuttgart, Germany; Bavaria; and, “Sulzbach Wartenberg Germany.” The last one, although the spelling is a bit off, is from the obituary of their daughter Marie (who we will now call Mary) (23).
This is the town where I believe they lived. I questioned whether they were from Stuttgart the town or Stuttgart the district. Since the obituary of their first daughter Mary gives her birth location as Sulzbach, Württemberg, Germany, I think that Stuttgart the district makes sense, as Sulzbach is within that.
Today’s Sulzbach is called Sulzbach an der Murr. The Murr is a tributary of the River Neckar which itself is a tributary of the River Rhine. The place name is derived from “Sulz” and “Bach,” meaning “swampy brook,” or something like that.
Sulzbach is surrounded by national forest, hamlets, and houses. It is historic, and even has a castle. There are so many wonderful photographs on the web for this town, but I only know for sure that I can use this one, of the castle.
After coming to America, Barbara may have lost a child, Rosine. Rosine was on the passenger list but not in the 1860 census with the family (24). Rosine was about 18 months old when they emigrated, so did she die under the age of eleven? Was she just left off of the 1860 Census?
After coming to America, Barbara had two known children, daughters Barbara and Elizabeth. Barbara was born in Pennsylvania (25). Elizabeth was born in Indiana (26).
The late Mrs. Helen HENSLEY was a great-granddaughter of Henry and Barbara (GENGEL) HAAS. She was my first cousin, once removed. Helen died on 10 March 1995, at the age of 84 (27). A partial text of a letter to me from Cousin Helen is as follows:
Mom [Lestina (WILSON) KENNEDY] said Grandmother Haas never learned much English only what she picked up from her children. The Haas family came here when Godfrey was 15 yr old and would soon be taken in the German Army. They were barrell [sic] makers. They came to Lapel In. as there was a German settlement there. They are buried there. I don’t know for sure but expect they buried at a Luthern cemetry [sic] as they went to church there. I never knew of any of them visiting Grandma Wilson. Grandpa Isaac was a very strange man… (28).
Henry and Barbara (GENGEL) HAAS are not buried at a Lutheran cemetery but rather at Grove Lawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana (29). The passenger list occupation of Heinrich Haas as Cooper and Helen Hensley’s saying they were barrel makers agree with each other. He brought his profession with him. Godfrey was not 15 when they emigrated, but he was about 15 when they came to Indiana from Pennsylvania. The HAASes did live in Lapel, and Isaac WILSON may have indeed been “a very strange man.” We WILSONs are a bit strange.
Barbara Rachel (GENGEL) HAAS died on 16 April 1899 (30). She had lost her husband Henry four months prior (31). The Madison County (Indiana) Health Department Death record book(s) that cover the period of both Barbara’s and Henry’s deaths were missing or non-existent in 1999. I will check again when I continue some HAAS research, as well as search for obituaries.
I’ve desired to go to Germany since I did my initial HAAS research in 1999. I wonder how I could find out who lives in Sulzbach now? Do I have relatives there? That would be such an emotional experience, and well worth the physical pain.
Whether I ever get to travel to Barbara’s homeland or not, I vow to do all I can to piece together the history, life, and home that she left behind.
1) Henry and Barbara Haas tombstone, southeast section, Grove Lawn Cemetery, Anderson Pike (SR 9 Business), Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana; transcribed and photographed by the author, 10 October 1999. This stone shows full birth and death dates. It is the only source I have for these dates.
2) Heinrich Jacob Friedrich Haas will (1899), Madison County Will Book 2: 430, Madison County Building, Central Records, 16 E. 9th St., Anderson, Indiana 46016, (765)641-9434.
3) Nancy E. Wallace-Horn, J.C. McCarty Funeral Home (Funeral Register), volumes 1-9, 27 August 1896 – 1 April 1946 (n.p.: Privately printed, 1988-1989), typed and bound (softcover), Lapel Public Library, Lapel, Madison county, Indiana. Henry Haas entry, J.C. McCarty Funeral Home, Stony Creek Township, Lapel, Madison County, Indiana, page 41, no. 192.
4) Indiana Works Progress Administration, Index to Supplemental Record: Marriage Transcript, Madison County, Indiana, 1895-1920 inclusive, letters A-Z inclusive (Fort Wayne, Ind.: Allen County Public Library, 1984, c1938). Located at Anderson Public Library, 111 E 12th St, Anderson, IN 46016. Actual record located at the Madison County Clerk’s Office in Marriage Record Book W-3:36 and needs to be obtained. Groom is Henry Haas [Jr.], with father listed as “J.F.H.” and mother as “Barbara Gengel.”
5) American Atlas Company, compiler, “John G. Haas,” Atlas and Directory of Madison County, Indiana: Including a Directory of Freeholders and Official Register of the County with Illustrations (Cleveland: American Atlas Company, 1901), 178.
6) First name given as a variation of Barbara as follows: 1870 US Population Schedule – Barbary; 1880 US Population Schedule – Barbara; New York Passenger List – Barbara; Husband’s will – Barbara.
7) FamilySearch.com. “Germany Names, Personal” web page (https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Germany_Names,_Personal), accessed 25 January 2015. This Wiki page contains information about German surnames and given names, including naming customs, changes upon immigration, the difference between baptism and call names, and the importance of not making assumptions about the naming customs.
8) Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Year: 1851; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 107; Line: 13; List Number: 1682. Images: 614 and 620.
9) Wikipedia.com. “Ocean Liner” topic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_liner), accessed 24 January 2015. In the section entitled “History,” when describing the SS Great Western, it is stated that “It took 15 days to cross the Atlantic, as compared with two months by sail-powered ships.”
10) Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Year: 1880; Census Place: Stoney Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: 293; Family History Film: 1254293; Page: 165C; Enumeration District: 025; Image: 0331. In the Henry Haas family, son Henry’s birth location is given as “Steamboat on R. Rhine.”
11) Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. List Number: 1682. Images: 614-622. I checked all pages of list 1682 and saw no newborns or infants under 6 months.
12) Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1880; Census Place: Stoney Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: 293; Family History Film: 1254293; Page: 165C; Enumeration District: 025; Image: 0331. In the Henry Haas family, son Henry’s birth location is given as “Steamboat on R. Rhine.”
13) Wallace-Horn, J.C. McCarty Funeral Home (Funeral Register), 41, no. 192. Birthplace given as “On the Atlantic Ocean between Germany and America.”
14) Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1900; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: 386; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0112; FHL microfilm: 1240386. AND Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1920; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: T625_449; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 142; Image: 808. Both the 1900 and 1920 censuses give Henry’s birth place as “At sea.”
15) Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1870; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: M593_336; Page: 278B; Image: 562; Family History Library Film: 545835.
16) Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Year: 1910; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: T624_365; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0125; FHL microfilm: 1374378.
17) Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1860; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: M653_277; Page: 429; Image: 428; Family History Library Film: 803277. There are all sorts of things wrong with this household entry and the Ancestry.com index record. In the index, the birth locations for the Indiana children were indexed as “Iowa.” In the image, the surname is written as “Hoser” instead of “Haas,” although the children are correct. Also, the order of children Barbara, age 6, and Henry, age 9, is reversed, leading to child Barbara’s birthplace being recorded as Germany and child Henry’s as Indiana. Neither of those is correct. This is also the census record where Barbara the mother’s first name is given as Rachel.
18) Wikimedia Commons. File:Steamship Washington – 1847 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steamship_Washington_-_1847.jpg), accessed and downloaded 26 January 2015.
19) Other than in the 1860 Census, which contains quite a few errors for this household (see note 17), all birth locations for Henry, Jr. are consistent with his being born during the voyage. Although more of the sources say he was born on the Atlantic Ocean or at sea than not, I think that the detail of the 1880 Census, that he was born on a steamboat on the River Rhine, would logically be more from an eyewitness event (e.g., his mother or father who were in that 1880 household) rather than a secondary party (e.g., Henry, Jr., or another informant).
20) Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. List Number: 1682. Image: 620.
21) Godfrey and Cornelia E. Haas tombstone photo, viewed on FindAGrave.com (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39407091), accessed 27 January 2015. Godfrey’s birth date on his stone is January 4, 1841. I have been to the cemetery and seen this stone but do not have my own photograph available at this time.
22) Letter from Helen (Kennedy) Hensley (Trafalgar, Indiana) to Elizabeth Ellen Wilson, 11 November 1990; Held in 2015 by Elizabeth Wilson Ballard (Indiana). Helen wrote, “Grandma Wilson was born in Phili Penn. I know she had other family but I only knew of Godfrey. He was the last one I ever heard of. He died before Grandma…. The Haas family came here when Godfrey was 15 yr old and would soon be taken in the German Army.” The age of Godfrey’s immigration is incorrect in Helen’s letter, but Godfrey was about 15 when the family migrated to Indiana.
23) Daddycummins1, Ancestry.com user. Transcription of Mary Jane Cummins’ obituary attached as a Story to Mary Jeannette Haas (http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/1109515/person/-1855000091). Originally published in New Castle (Indiana) Daily Times, April 1928. I have not seen the original obituary.
Middletown April 29 Mrs. Mary Jane Cummins 84 died at her Home on south 5th street last night. She was born in Sulzbach Wartenberg Germany and was the widow of Nathan Cummins. She is survived by 3 daughters, Mrs. Foster Hoffer, Richmond; Miss Ola Cummins of Indapls; Miss Alta and a Son J.C Cummins of Middletown. Funeral services will be held Tues. afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home in charge of Rev. R.B. Givens, now Pastor of the Sixth Street Christian Churchof which the deceased was a member. Internment will be made in Miller Cemetery, Monday 30 April 1928.
New Castle Daily Times
24) Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1860; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: M653_277; Page: 429; Image: 428; Family History Library Film: 803277. Household members are Henry, Rachel (this represents Barbara), Godfrey, John, Barbara, Henry, Elizabeth. With all of the problems in this household that I mention in note 17, above, I suppose it is possible (well, it’s always possible) that a child is missing. If Rosine were in the household in 1860, she would have been about 11, and by 1870 age 21.
25) Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1870; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: M593_336; Page: 278B; Image: 562; Family History Library Film: 545835. This is just one of the censuses that gives child Barbara’s birth location as Pennsylvania.
26) Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. ear: 1870; Census Place: Stony Creek, Madison, Indiana; Roll: M593_336; Page: 278B; Image: 562. This is just one of the censuses that gives child Elizabeth’s birth location as Indiana.
27) Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Helen Hensley, born 20 May 1910, died 10 March 1995.
28) Letter from Helen (Kennedy) Hensley (Trafalgar, Indiana) to Elizabeth Ellen Wilson, 11 November 1990; Held in 2015 by Elizabeth Wilson Ballard (Indiana).
29) I have been to the cemetery and seen and photographed the stone.
30) Henry and Barbara Haas tombstone, southeast section, Grove Lawn Cemetery, Anderson Pike (SR 9 Business), Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana.
31) Henry and Barbara Haas tombstone, southeast section, Grove Lawn Cemetery, Anderson Pike (SR 9 Business), Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana.