I have been browsing a Lutheran church book for the town of Wetter, Marburg-Biedenkopf, Hesse in Germany that details 18th century birth and marriage records, and am trying to establish a link between a known Anna Maria Henckel and her parents and grandparents.

We start here:

Johann Conrad Mahrt & Anna Marria Henckel – marriage record

I think this is pretty clear. On the 11th November 1774, Johannes Marth, son of Daniel Marth, and Annia Maria Henckel, young daughter of Johann Jost Henckel, were married (in Wetter).

Now, there was only one Anna Maria Henckel with a baptismal record (23 April 1754) in the church book for this town in the previous 40 or so years, and the father's name matches, so I conclude this must be the right person.

Anna Maria Henckel – baptism – record A

Here I have my first problem. The leftmost column is for parents (usually just the father), the middle for the name of the baptised child, and the rightmost for the godparents/sponsors. The father is clearly Johann Jost Henckel, but I can't make out what the word(s) below his name, although I would guess it starts with "von", and indicates either the town in which he was born or lived at the time. The column for godparents (patrini in Latin) is pretty clear, and translates as: Anna Maria, Wilhelm Schmitt's daughter from Kirchhain (a nearby town).

For the same date, in another book of baptisms for this town, I have the following record. (Don't ask me why baptismal records are duplicated between these books.)

Anna Maria Henckel – baptism – record B

This is not the clearest, even for Gothic handwriting, but here's my attempt at a transcription, with some abbreviations expanded to the best of my knowledge.

Montag d (der) 23 April T (Tag) ist Joh. Jost Schmidt ein(e) Tochter getauft hat gehaben das Kind als/alt Mutter Johannes ???els Frau ih?? ????????? v. (von) Kirchhain Joh. Wilhelm Schmitts Tochter und ist das Kind Anna Maria genannt(?).

Since I don't really know German, and am missing a few possibly key words, this is proving difficult. The date of baptism matches precisely, but I'm not even sure it is a record for the same child, despite both records mentioning a "Wilhelm Schmitt" and "Kirchhain", albeit in different places, seemingly. But then I'd wonder why one baptism for that day was present in one book, and the other in the other book, but not both in either book (whereas for most baptisms it seems a record is usually present in both books.)

Now, here is a possible marriage record for Johann Jost Henckel and his wife, Anna Maria's parents, dating to 22 Jan 1751.

Johann Jost Henckel – marriage

This is not so easy to read either. Here's my attempt:

Der 22 Jan. Joh. Jost Henckel von Oberrosphe(?) i: Anna Cath. (Catharina) Mic. (Michael) Schmidts/Schmerzens/Schneiders f. (filia)

My reading of the town name as "Oberrosphe" is very unsure, but I know this is a name of a nearby town. A big problem is that this town name doesn't seem to agree with the one in the above image (birth record for Anna Maria). Likewise, the name of Anna Catharina's father is quite tentative. I've made three surname suggestions based on other individuals I've seen in the records (and expecting them to be in genitive case).

So, can anyone help me with deciphering / translating / generally making sense of the above? I'm really not sure if I've established the right connection here, or am going up a blind alley. Thanks in advance.

  • Oh, and there's another record that may relate to the above Johann Jost Henckel, in case it's of help: i.imgur.com/4VYsQN5.png
    – Noldorin
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


I agree with your transcriptions and abbreviation interpretations. For the 3rd image, you have an unnecessary repeat of April and a missing phrase:

Montag d[en] 23t[en] April ist Joh. Jost Schmidt eine Tochter getauft[,] hat gehoben[?] das Kind als Mutter Johannes Zekels[?] Frau vor ihre Schwester v[on] Kirchhain Joh. Wilhelm Schmitts Tochter und ist das Kind Anna Maria genan[n]t.

I'm interpreting this as the baby's aunt took the role of the mother at the baptism. The mother may still been incapacitated by the birth.

Regarding the multiple records created
I can't explain this, may be unique to this region; can only recommend checking the record collection descriptions and, perhaps, regional research pages for Hesse.

Regarding your real question on identity,
these all look to be the same family/individuals, but only looking at the whole community will reassure you as to the uniqueness of the name combinations.

In response to comments:

Deciphering the placename in the 2nd image is complicated by the descender from the previous line and the smudges. It might start with E but that's a guess from too small a sample.

I would increase the size of that part of the image, break the word into (probable) letters and match each with known letter forms from elsewhere on the same page or nearby pages. For examples, see Did the spelling of this surname change or is it misread? and What is this first name for Gregorčič witness to marriage?.

I would also check German gazetteers for candidate placenames. Be creative with spelling. Check for older versions of the placename. Since the record has only 1 word (no Kreis or region), the place was somewhere nearby.

  • Many thanks for your reply. That interpretation definitely makes sense. Would you conclude that the mother's name is Anna Catharina Schmidt then? I'm still confused on a couple of points however: the father of Anna Catharina seems to be named Michael, unless I'm misreading, while the father of her sister (?) who was present at the baptism was named Johann Wilhelm Schmidt. Also, there "von Oberrosphe" (?) for Johann Jost Henckel in the 4th image doesn't seem to match the "von ???" in the 2nd image, so what do you make of that?
    – Noldorin
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 15:59
  • There's actually a Johann Jost Henckel born in Wetter in late 1733, which would make him 17 at the time of his marriage to Anna Catharina Schmidt and 19 at the time of his daughter's birth, but the records seem to indicate this Johann Jost Henckel didn't come from Wetter, per above... my alternative theory is that he moved between local towns a lot, hence the conflicting place names, but that seems dubious, and I think the "von" generally indicates place of origin rather than residence, right?
    – Noldorin
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 16:04
  • Curiously, I could also find no mention of a Johann Jost Henckel born in Oberrosphe (or Unterrosphe) from 1705 to 1735. Given he was married in 1751 (in Wetter), this should pretty much rule out him being born there, right?
    – Noldorin
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 19:26
  • Since I not familiar with Hesse & these records, it's hard to make definitive statements. Some individual recorders use different phrasing when naming a former residence vs the birthplace, but consistency is hard to prove. Errors can be made. People can live their whole life in one place but were actually born elsewhere (ie an expectant mother traveling to HER hometown for her 1st child's birth, so her mother or sisters can be with her). Religious affiliation affects which set of records may apply to the individual, and might change under some circumstances. And so on, for caveats and maybes.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 23:56
  • Yeah, there are so many factors, it's hard to tell... but you can't read the town name in the 2nd image either, can you? In which case the only town I can make out is Oberrosphe, and it seems unlikely Johann Jost Henckel was born there, judging by the records lacking his name.
    – Noldorin
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 1:57

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