Schwaigern, Württemberg, around 1840, as painted by Franz Schnorr, Stuttgart. Presented in the Heimatbuch Swaigern 1994
As my wife and I sat on the hill due west of Schwaigern, Germany, looking at the peaceful, almost serene, town and the cultivated countryside, we realized that this was a mirror image of Washington County, Ohio. We were sitting in our rental car, eating lunch just off of highway 293, in late August, 1995. We were parked on the edge of a farm that could as well have been in Watertown, Ohio,
Every person who died in the thirty years war is painstakingly listed, as are all the births and Christenings. Frau Buggle diligently copied all of the records of Eberhard and Gottfried, and also the front of each book so we would know the reference for each entry. It had taken a discovery in the Rathaus, the city hall, to help us in our search. We had found the spelling of Mündling, instead of Mindling, for Gottfried’s departure from Schwaigern in 1847. It was this discovery that allowed Frau Buggle to successfully search the church records. The Rathaus, or city hall, official records only go back to 1874, as most of the city records were destroyed by fire in 1905.
They have organized most records which could be salvaged, and in addition, have printed a book of Schwaigern’s history. The book, Heimatbuch Schwaigern, published by the Stadtverwaltung, or city government, lists the tax, or tithe, paid by Gottfried Mündling to emigrate from Schwaigern in 1847 as 1000 Guilders. There is one other listing for Mündling in the book, the tax listing from Eberhard. The name is spelled Mendling and Mündling on the same document in several of the church records. We checked the telephone book, as did Frau Buggle, but there are no listings for Mindling, Mendling, or Mündling in the current telephone book.
The Romans thought the location in the rolling hills not far from the the Neckar River was a place for another of their permanent settlements in their defense of Germania Superior. The Upper Germanic Limes, or defensive wall, along with the Rhaetian Limes or simply the "Limes", was the border between the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes. The Limes extended from the North Sea at Katwijk in the Netherlands along the Rhine to Eining (close to Kelheim) on the Danube. The total length was 568 km. It included at least 60 castles and 900 watchtowers, and the village later called Suegerheim, the first Schwaigern. While the Roman ruins just north and west of Schwaigern have only recently been excavated, the demise of the Roman legions sometime in the 5th century to the invading Franks leaves a gap in the history of the area for many years. Stadt Schwaigern is located about nine miles due west of Heilbronn, on Bundestrasse 293, and about 45 miles southeast of famous Heidelberg, in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Schwaigern was first established during the 8th and 9th centuries as a convent on the Bergstasse, today known as Bundestrasse 293, the road to Heilbronn from Eppingen. The convent was Klosters Lorsch, established in the year 766. It was later expanded with the addition of Kloster Odenheim. The actual village was first formed during the 12th and 13th centuries with the formation of the royal family, die Herren von Neipperg, the Men of Neipperg, a family which still exists today. The village was known by various names throughout medieval times, but the name Schwaigern has existed since 1331. The town charter was issued in Prague on April 1st, 1372, when Kaiser Karl IV decreed a weekly marketplace to Schwaigern. The main market place in Schwaigern today dates to 1486.
The rolling hills around Schwaigern were easily transformed into farms and vineyards. A small stream runs through the edge of town. The center of town is dominated by one hill only slightly higher than the others. This hill in turn was dominated by the church and the adjoining kloster, later a schloss, or palace. A small, peaceful town with an often turbulent past.
Schwaigern and the surrounding countryside were torn by constant wars, and the records from the 1600's reflect the horrors of those wars. The entries in the Evangelical church records from the thirty years war (1618-1648), when 222 people died in 1625, and in the year 1635, when another 691 people died, are examples of the struggle to survive the times of religious and political upheaval. During the 30 years war, yet another disaster hit Schwaigern: In the 1630s, the "Black Death", the Plague struck Schwaigern, according to the official history Geschichte der Stadt Schwaigern, "hundreds of inhabitants lost their lives to the Pest." The death toll quite often included complete families. Barely twenty years passed from the end of the thirty years war before Schwaigern was again engulfed in war, this time by the Holl�ndische Krieg, the Dutch War,(1672-1679) which lasted six years. Ten years later, yet another horrible war, one considered worse than the others, the Pf�lzische Erbfolgekrieg, or The Pfalz War of Succession, also known as the War of the Grand Alliance and also as the War of the League of Augsburg, which lasted from 1688 to 1697. The area was engulfed by the French in 1688 during Louis the XIV's Rhenish Invasion. It was during this war that the not-so-distant city of Heidelberg was burned to the ground.
During the early 1700's, witch hunting took a dark and horrible place in the annals of Schwaigern's history. One woman, Anna Maria Heinrich, was offered the appeasement of death before she was burned if she would confess to being a witch. If not, she would be burned alive. Her daughters were forced to watch as she was put to death. After decrees from the Universities of Mainz and Giessen, they were also put to death on August 3, 1716. Georg Nicolaus Mündling was nineteen years old at the time.
Wars continued to be a constant way of life not only in the rolling hills of Württemberg, but all of Europe. The Spanishe Erbfolgekrieg, the Spanish War of Succession, 1701-1714, followed by the Polnische Krieg, the Polish War of Succession, from 1733 to 1738, the �sterreichische Erbfolgekrieg, the Austrian War of Succession, 1741 to 1748, and the Siebenjahrige Krieg, the Seven Years War, from 1756 to 1763 continued the exhausting toll on the area. The book, Heimatbuch Schwaigern, states the only times the wars subsided was when the countryside was exhausted, not just with crops, but with the people to raise them. There were simply too few men left to farm, much less fight. With the constant movement of armies from all sides and countries, encampments and bivouacs, the area was constantly occupied by military forces.
It was during the Austrian War of Succession in 1743 that Eberhard Mündling was born to winegrower Georg Nicolaus Mündling and Ursula Elisabeth Münzin Kober. The Münzin family name was shortened to Münz in subsequent record of the documents. See Eberhard Mendling's family Journal for the original spelling
Above: Uniform of a Bavarian Kürassier, circa 1700
Napoleon, and yet another war, brought the end to the Holy Roman Empire in 1805. The area was under French domination for yet another time when Gottfried Mündling was born three years later, in 1808, to winegrower Eberhard Mündling and Elisabeth Dorothea Kaufman.
The confederation of kingdoms and duchies of the Holy Roman Empire were not to be reunited on religious grounds after the defeat by Napoleon's army. The Kingdom of Württemberg became a sovereign kingdom, or country, until the German unification of 1871. Germany did not exist as a sovereign country prior to 1871, when Bismarck united over 300 separate kingdoms and fiefdoms into a new German state. Until that time each kingdom issued its own visas and passports. The documentation and exit visas from Schwaigern stated "Schwaigern, K�nigsreich Württemberg" with the nearby town of Brackenheim listed as the issuing authority.
The peoples of the area began to emigrate to Russia, Poland, and later the United States. They were eager to emigrate to safer, better, and more tolerant places. The religious intolerance was a burden, along with war and taxes, which prompted the emigration from not only Württemberg, but all of the Germanic states. The "auswandering", or emigration, which started early in the 1700s, continued, reaching its peak the ten years between 1846, when twenty people left for America, and 1856 when eleven left. Thirty four people left Schwaigern in 1847. Over 74,000 people immigrated to the United States in 1847 from all regions of Germany. Over a quarter of them, some 27 percent, were from Württemberg or the Palatinate.
Gottfried Mündling, his wife Christina, and their children, Rosina, age ten, Johanne Heinrich, age eight, and Maria Dorothea, age three, were among the families that
left Schwaigern in 1847. Christina was five months pregnant when the family arrived in Washington
County, Ohio, giving birth to Nicolaus Mindling on October 16, 1847. Not
only was Nicolaus the first Mindling born in America, he was the first
person born with the name spelled Mindling.
Left: Evangelisches Stadtkirche Schwaigern, its origins dating to 1514.
The earliest listing we found for a Mündling is Nicolaus, father of Georg Nicolaus Mündling. There is no birth listing, only a reference to page 1360 of the Familienblatt, the family record. Nicolaus is listed as "Kürasier-Reiter unter Lobl. Gronsfeltischen Regt", a mounted soldier with the "Distinguished Gronsfelt Regiment". Kürassier is a German word was taken from the French word "Cuirassiers", a name given to mounted soldiers wearing an armored chest plate and armed with pistols. A handwritten reference under the corrected spelling of Gronsfeltischen is "(s. Ehebuch 1723", Marriage book 1723). The distinguished regiment is that of Graf Franz Joseph of Gronsfeld, noted as having distinguished for many battles.3
It is not known if Nicolaus was a resident of Schwaigern, or encamped nearby as part of his military duties to the Graf von Gronsfeld. The Gronsfeld Kürrasier Regiment is known to have been called the
Katholisches Kreis-Regiment zu Pferd," or Catholic Region Horse Regiment2, 3 for five years, during the years 1672 - 1677, but again called the Gronsfeld Kürrasier Regiment during 1697. The regiment was a Schwabish mounted unit from the south in what is today the transistion between Bavarian and French Alps. The area includes the village of Mündling. While the area was predominately Catholic, from 1542 until 1614 the populace was mainly Evangelical (Luthern). Reverting back to Catholicism in 1614, the dialect of village of Mündling is noted as both Schwabish and Bayeriche (Bavarian).
The history of Nicolaus Mündling is not known, his birthdate and birthplace are as yet unknown. The archives of the village of Mündling4 in Schwaben have yet to be examined.
Georg Nicolaus Mündling
Georg Nicolaus Mündling does not have his birth date listed in the Familienblatt, yet the notation on his death entry on September 23,
1761, lists his age as "64/-2 mo". This would put his birthdate
as November, 1697. Georg is listed as a "Weingartner", a wine
grower, or vintner. He was married twice, as most of the people of the
time were. His first wife was Agnes Maria Busch, geboren (nee) Hiller.
Her birth date is not listed. Her father is listed as Hanss Leonhard Hiller
z Brackenheim, and her deceased husband as Philipp Busch, küfer, a
barrel maker. Agnes Maria and Georg Nicolas were married on February 2,
1723 in Schwaigern. Their three children were:
Agnes died on February 6, 1741, and Georg married Ursula Elisbetha Kober,
Münz[in] on June 6, 1741, also in Schwaigern. Ursula's
birth date is not recorded. Her father was Dietrich Münz[in], and
her deceased husband was Dietrich Kober. Georg and Ursula Elisabeth had
four children. They were:
Ursula Elisabeth died October 22, 1786, age unknown. Georg Nicolaus fathered four children with Ursula while he was 53 to 59 years old! Georg Nicolaus died September 23, 1761, at the age of seventy one.
Eberhard, at the age of twenty six, married Susanna Catherina Rüde, age thirty, on May 1, 1770 in Schwaigern. Susanna Catharina was born February 3, 1740. They had four children. They were:
Susanna died on January 22, 1804 at the age of sixty four. Eberhard then wed Elisabetha Dorothea Kaufman on August 12, 1804, in Schwaigern. Eberhard was sixty and Elisabetha was twenty eight, born on June 26, 1776. They also had four children. They were:
Elisabetha Dorothea's parents were Balthofar Kaufman and Sabina Zollerin. Elisabetha died October 9, 1830, at the age of fifty four. Eberhard fathered an amazing number of four children with his second wife while he was between the ages sixty two and sixty seven years old! The second child born to Elisabetha, Gottfried, who later emigrated to the United States, was born when his father was sixty four years old. We verified all the dates and names found in the records with the Evangelical Church office and they are proven to be correct. Eberhard died on March 16, 1819, at the age of seventy five.
Gottfried, age twenty six, married Christina S�tzler, age twenty two, on January 24, 1835. Christina was born on February 12, 1813, also in Schwaigern. Christina's father is listed as "Jos.." S�tzler, p.571, and her mother as Ana Maria Kober.
Gottfried and Christina had seven children before leaving Schwaigern in 1847. They were:
According to Charles T. Mindling, Gottfried and Christina left Schwaigern in March, 1847, with Rosina (Rosa), Johanne Heinrich (Henry), and Maria Dorothea (Mary).7
An itinerary published by general agent "Washington Finlay," in Schwaigern in 1849, advertised the journey from nearby Heilbronn, on the Neckar River, to Mainz, then to K�ln (Cologne) by "Dampfboote", or steamboat. From K�ln, on the Rhein, it was overland by train through Paris to Havre, France. The trip to New York was advertised as "safe" and "comfortable" and lasting a duration of thirty to thirty five days. The route is most probably the same one taken in March, 1847, by Gottfried Mündling and his family as it is known they sailed from Havre [Le Havre], France.
According to family stories, it was believed they sailed aboard a ship called the "Goldene Dame"7, a sailing ship, and spent fifty three days at sea. However, New York immigration records for Garden Castle, the immigrant arrival center in New York, show that:
arrived at Castle Garden, on the Battery in New York City, on
The Havre Line originally consisted of 4 sailing ships: the "Albany," "Gallia," "Carolus Magnus," and the ship Gottfried and his family sailed on, the "Duchesse d' Orleans." The above painting, from Heimatbuch Schwaigern, depicts conditions for emigrants aboard one of the unnamed four ships of the Havre Line.
Also listed on the same May 3, 1847, manifest is Christina's sister, Elisabeth. Her name is also misspelled: instead of S�tzler, it is listed as:
and the Leibrand Family,
According to the Heimatbuch Schwaigern,9 accompanying Gottfried Mündling and his family on the journey were Christina's two sisters, Elisabeth S�tzler, single, who paid 600 guilders to settle all debts and taxes, and Hannah S�tzler Leibbrand and her family.
They all arrived in Washington County, Ohio, in June, 1847. Gottfried was thirty nine and Christina was thirty four years old.
The Name Change
Gottfried Mündling's name was changed to Godfried Mindling on his
arrival in America in 1847. Not only was his given name anglicized from Gottfried to Godfried, (Gott is German for God), but his last name was altered also, from Mündling to Mindling. Gottfried, however, continued using Gottfried as his given name as his 1850 petition for U.S. citizenship is listed and signed as Gottfried.
There are references to both Mündling and Mendling in the old documents, especially Eberhard's, where the name is predominately spelled Mendling. However, the name on most documents for all other family members is usually found spelled Mündling. Both spellings have even been found on the same document!
The German language contains 5 vowels not found in English:�, �, �, �, and the ü found in Mündling. When translating German to English, it was a common practice to change to unique German character "ü" to a closely sounding combination of "ue" in English. One example of the confusion over the vowel sounds that seem odd in English is illustrated by the confusion over Elizabeth S�tzler, where her last name is interpreted in English in the immigration records as Sitzler. The translated Württemberg Emmigration Index translates Mündling to Muendling, a common practice when encountering any umlaut vowel in German. The last German record, the emigration tax in Schwaigern [Brackenheim] in 1847 of Gottfried's tax of 1000 guilders, is listed as Mündling.
The name change, however, is to the letter "i," not to "ue". One thought is as there is no umlaut in English, and the letter "I" more closely sounds like the original German pronunciation than the letter "E", the name became Mindling. That isn't phonetically correct, however, as the original German pronunciation is "ue", not "i" or "e".
There is another thought that appears to be more correct, especially when researching the name Miller, as the name in German was Müller and suffered the same Americanization as Mindling. When the German name Mündling or Müller is written longhand, they appear to have two letter "i's, side by side, as in Miindling or in Miiller. The German umlaut "u" is written exactly as two lower case "i"s. The answer appears to be the Immigration officers simply struck off the extra letter "i"!
Welcome to America
Christina was in the final stages of pregnancy during the month of Gottfried's accident and subsequent illness, and gave birth to a child eleven hours after Gottfried's death. The child, thought to be the infant Albert, apparently died at birth. Christina was left a widow at the age of forty with six children, ranging from seventeen year old Rosine to Jacob, who was not quite two years old.
In the 1880 census, Gottfried's widow,
The same census, for Watertown township, also lists
Christina died in Washington County, Ohio, on June 11, 1905.
The Mindling Family in Ohio
Web Page under Construction - Link may possibly be added sometime in the future
The Nicolaus Mindling Log House, now part of the Oliver Tucker Museum, Beverly, Ohio. The Log house was deconstructed, each piece carefully numbered and its location painstakingly documented. The pieces were carefully moved and meticulously restored by Phillip L. Crane and volunteer junior high school and high school students, working with the Lower Muskingum Historical Society. The time consuming project began in June, 1974 and was finished in time for the 1976 bi-centennial celebration.
1: From: Geschichtliches über die Hohenzollern-Kürassiere
2: The term Kreis (circle) is today loosely translated as "County." During earlier times a kreis was more closely related to pfarr, or parrish.
3: From: Geschichtliches über die Hohenzollern-Kürassiere
3.1: The village of Mündling, near the town of Harburg, has not yet been fully researched. Religious differences and administration between the two areas (Mündling and Swaigern) may be a critical factor that has not yet been resolved. A common name between the references is Kloster Lorch, another facet yet to be researched. One can only assume the Mindling origins are somehow connected with the village of Mündling, but exactly how is not yet known.
4: "The municipality (Mündling) possesses its own coat of arms since 1959: In red a narrow golden bar, considers with a freely floating, double-armed silver cross with foot bars. The bar comes of the coat of arms of the old local aristocracy, the cross against it of the monastery holy cross in Donauw�rth."
5: Schwaigern Tauf-Register (Baptism) vom 1.Jan.1808 bis 31.Dez.1834: (Original hand written records!): Evangelische Kirchengemeinde, Frau Inge Buggle (1995) Schloss Strasse 9, Schwaigern, Germany, 74193
6: I found there are no exact translations of the illness "Nervose Schleimm Fieber." However, a dark slime around the gums and teeth were a sign of typhoid fever in old medical journals, such as Typhoid Fever and Its Homeopathic Treatment, C.F. Panelli, 1878. The Family History Center reference material lists "Nervenfieber" as typhoid fever. We have similar problems with English such as the disease "consumption." Today consumption is called pulmonary tuberculosis.
7: "In 1847 Gottfried and Christina, and their children Rosine, Heinrich, and Maria Dorothea sailed for America on the "Goldene Dame", probably from a French port. They were accompanied by Christina's two sisters, Elizabeth Satzler and Hannah Satzler Leibrand with her husband and family. The voyage took 53 days. As they neared New York harbor a storm blew the ship back to sea for another ten days. During this time a shipmate took advantage of their seasickness to steal their savings. As a result they had to change their plans for purchasing land in northern Ohio and settle in the less fertile southern part of the state." "This information is from Charles Mindling's letter. He credits cousins Lizzie and Oscar with details. Information on the ship crossing was obtained from Emma Mindling Meyers and from a letter written by Henry Mindling to Charles' grandmother, Osie." From research by Tony Mindling, Cool, CA, 1997
Castle Garden, New York’s First Immigration Center, Historical Archives, The Battery, NARA On Line Records Search: Aug 11, 2009
9: Heimatbuch Schwaigern page 532, Stadtverwaltung Schwaigern 1994,
1: Familieblatt (Family Journal) pages 1360, 1556: Evangelische Kirchengemeinde, Frau Inge Buggle (1995) Schloss Strasse 9, Schwaigern, Germany, 74193
2: Heimatbuch Schwaigern page 168, Stadtverwaltung Schwaigern, 1994
3: Heimatbuch Schwaigern page 351, Stadtverwaltung Schwaigern, 1994
4: Schwaigern Familien-Register Band 1, Band 2 (Original hand written records!): Evangelische Kirchengemeinde, Frau Inge Buggle (1995) Schloss Strasse 9, Schwaigern, Germany, 74193
5: Wuerttemberg Emigration Index, Vol. One, Compiled by Trudy Schenk and Ruth Froelke, Salt Lake City, UT, Ancestry, Inc., 1986., (1995, Broward County Library, FL)
About the Author
We started in Koblenz, Germany, at the Bundesarchives, the Federal Archives of Germany. It was llse who arranged for us to meet with Herr Wolf Buchmann, one of the directors, and his secretary, Frau Schlucher. We had the opportunity to search the indexes of records on file at the Archives, but they have little information about family matters. It was Herr Buchmann that suggested we start with the Rathaus and evangelische stadtkirche in Schwaigern. I started looking into the family history while doing research in 1994 for my mother’s family, the Stubblefields, and found a list compiled by Charles Mindling in 1955, and a letter from an great uncle, John Mindling, listing Schwaigern as the origins of the Mindling family.
I began putting a family history together for our daughter, Monica. A major source of information was sent to me by my aunt, Ruth Sparks, of Denver, Colorado. She had a copy of the work done by Tony Mindling, John Mindling’s grandson, written in 1986. It was Tony's work that prompted my wife and I to visit the archives in Koblenz after we had been invited to Trier, Germany, for the wedding of Ilse's cousin in August of 1995.
We had been on a German vacation two years before in 1993 and had made a point of visiting Heidelberg. We did not know at that time how close we were to the town of the Mindling family origins.~ GM