Third Generation – Petrus Mebreuer III and Maria Gertrudis Hissenauerin

Peter Mebreuer III

Birth: Circa December 12, 1717
First Marriage: Circa 1752
Second Marriage: January 09, 1764
Death: July 08, 1802

First Wife: Anna Maria Heimes

Parents: Anselmi Francisci Heimes and Christina (unknown)
Birth: Circa December 26, 1730
Baptism: December 28, 1730
Death: November 30, 1763

Second Wife: Maria Gertrudis Hissenauerin

Parents: (unknown)
Birth: Circa March 16, 1728
Death: March 15, 1796


In our last historical review we covered the birth of Peter III, and here we will pick up where we left off.  He married his first wife, Anna Maria, sometime in or before 1752.  I have not found the data for this marriage in the available church records so I cannot pinpoint an exact date.  Anna Maria was born in the village of Bingen Stadt in the Rheinhessen region of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany.  Bingen Stadt means Bingen City, it is now more commonly known as Bingen am Rhein, which literally means Bingen at the Rhein, in reference to the Rhine River of which the town cradles.

Bingen is a very old town, one of its most famous historical buildings is the Basilica of St. Martin, dating back to the 14th century.  It is also where the earliest records of icewine are found, a type of wine created using frozen grapes.  Just like the town of Geisenheim, Bingen has its own special history regarding fermented drinks.  Though icewine can still be purchased today, it is now mostly created in Canada due to Germany’s warming climate.

The Rheinhessen (literally the Hessen region of the Rhine river) is what is now the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  Hesse-Darmstadt was one of several landgraves or principalities within Hessen, Germany.  Peter III was born in the Hesse-Kassel landgrave.  Over the centuries these principalities of the Hessen state were divided and reformed by the different powers that controlled them, going through several name and border changes.  Darmstadt was the city of the seat of power and home to the landgraves (the title for the family in power) within that principality, hence the its name.  At that time they ruled under the control of the Holy Roman Empire, but were mostly Lutherans.  Those in the Hesse-Kassel principality were heavily Catholic.

Anna Maria was the fifth child of Anselmi Francisci Heimes, all together he and his wife had eight children.  Her mother’s name was Christina Maria Margarethae, the maiden name does not appear on any church records.  Anna Maria was baptized on December 28, 1730.  While the record mentions that the church was a “Roemisch-Katholische,” German for Roman Catholic, which Catholic church it was is not specified.  There are currently six churches in that city, how many of those existed in 1730 is not known to me either, but the Basilica of St. Martin was built sometime during the 1300’s so it certainly could be that one.  Her baptism record is archived in batch# C99470-6 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 996795 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898).

Based on her baptism, we can safely assume she was born within a couple days before that date.  As was custom in Germany, newborns were baptized as soon as possible after birth due to the high degree of infant mortality during the 17th and 18th centuries.  All of Anselmi and Christina’s children are as follows, all of their baptism records are archived the same place as Anna Maria’s.  Take note of the Latin and Romanization of their names, reflective of the influence from the Holy Roman Empire over the region.

  1. Maria Charitas (born on or before November 27, 1717)
  2. Casperus Adolphus (born on or before January 25, 1720)
  3. Joannes Petrus (born on or before March 30, 1724)
  4. Anna Christina (born on or before March 26, 1725)
  5. Anna Maria (born on or before December 28, 1730)
  6. Antonius (born on or before May 29, 1733)
  7. Christophorus Casimirus (born on or before March 5, 1736)
  8. A. Gertrudis (born on or before March 31, 1738)

I have not made any attempts to research the other children in this family, as my main focus was on Anna Maria.  What fate befell them, therefore, is not known to me and nor the fate of their parents.  Our story here is on the Mebreuer clan, and so straying too far beyond that line is outside the scope of my research.  Perhaps someone else will come along to look more deeply into this family’s history.

We do not know how the paths of Anna Maria and Peter III crossed, but it shouldn’t be surprising as their two villages, which still exist today, are about 4.5 miles apart along the Rhine River.  After they were wed in Peter’s village sometime around 1752, they had three daughters.

  1. Maria Elisabetha (born on or before March 17, 1756)
  2. Susanna (born on or before February 15, 1759)
  3. Magdalena (born on or before May 17, 1762)

The baptisms of these girls were recorded in church records archived in batch# C98487-1 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 958778 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898).

In 1760, this region of Hessen fell under new rule, it was a time of political uncertainty.  For many of the German families during the 17th and 18th centuries, political, religious, and economic troubles carried a heavy burden.  Situations sometimes got so dire that parents had to choose which of their children they would try to keep alive.  Unless an older child had some form of illness, it was typically the youngest child(ren) that were left to starve to keep the older children alive.  In David Blackbourn’s History of Germany: 1780 – 1918, he writes that parents would leave their youngest child or children in the forests to die of starvation or be eaten by the wild animals so that their older children would survive hard times, when the parents did not have the food or funds to keep them all fed.

There are no records to account for just how many children died in this way in Germany during these centuries of turmoil, but considering how large many families were based on church records and the later 19th century stories by the German authors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, we can assume this was not an uncommon occurrence.  The story Hansel and Gretel was based on this practice in Germany, though the more modern version has been watered down to seem less filicidal (when a parent kills their own child).  In the original story the two children didn’t just accidentally get lost in the woods, they were abandoned there by their father, who left them there to die because he and their mother could no longer afford to feed them.

On November 30, 1763, a month before her thirty-third birthday, Anna Maria passed away.  Her death at such a young age does make me wonder if perhaps she had been suffering an illness.

Following his wife’s death, Peter III married a second time on January 9, 1764, less than two months after his first wife’s death.  It might seem cold-hearted to us, that he would move on so quickly after his first wife’s death, but during these centuries a woman being or not being in the home was a matter of life and death.  A man could not both work and also cook and care for three children, one of which was not even two years old.  Peter III would have been desperate to find a second wife to help him keep his daughters provided for and cared for, so we should remember the time in which these events were taking place.  Marriage was not intended to be about love, it was about survival and procreation, but if you were lucky you may still find love after the wedding.

Peter III and Maria Gertrudis Hissenauerin’s marriage was recorded in church records of the Geisenheim, Hessen, though the specific church was not listed, only stating that it was “Katholisch,” German for Catholic.  This record is archived in batch# M98487-1 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 958778 (Germany, Marriages, 1558-1929).

The children born of Peter’s second wife are recorded in the same baptismal church records as his first wife’s and there were several of them, again the dates shown are their baptismal dates and so we can only surmise that their actual dates of birth were either on that day or within a couple days before:

  1. Heinrich (born on or before December 14, 1764)
  2. Joannes (born on or before March 19, 1767)
  3. Peter IV (born Circa 1769)
  4. Gertrudis (born on or before June 2, 1772)
  5. Elisabeth (born on or before May 12, 1778)

Peter IV’s baptismal record has not been located, his year of birth is an estimate based on his marriage record and the child he later had.  There is a six year span between Gertrudis and Elisabeth which makes me think there may have been another interruption in the family.  There may have been another child between the two girls who’s record has been lost or just not yet translated.  Maria Gertrudis died on March 15, 1796 at the age of 68, but Peter III would live on several years longer until he died on July 8, 1802 at the age of 84.

Despite Peter IV’s name, he is not the child we will be continuing with.  The Mebreuer clan bloodline that we are following will actually continue with Heinrich, but as I did with the last generation I will give as much information as I can about Peter III’s other children based on historical records available.  Sadly, I have found no records for the other children except for Peter IV.

Peter Mebreuer IV

Birth: Circa 1769
Marriage: January 8, 1787
Death: (unknown)

Wife: Catharina Kilianin

Parents: (unknown)
Birth: (unknown)
Death: (unknown)

As you can see above, very little is known about this couple.  One of only a few records available is there marriage occurring in Geisenheim, Hessen-Nassau, Prussia (Germany) on January 8, 1787.  This marriage is recorded in batch# M98487-1 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 958778 (Germany, Marriages, 1558-1929).  Though it gives Catharina’s maiden name it does not list her parents.  In my search I found many Catharina Kilianins, but none of them match up with her marriage to Peter or her specific location except for the other records, which were baptisms in Geisenheim.

  1. Gertrudis (born on or before December 1, 1787)
  2. Susanna (born on or before May 9, 1789)
  3. Magdalena (born on or before September 8, 1790)

These baptisms are recorded in batch# C98487-1 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 958778 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898).


In Addendum: The Mehrbreuer Family

In addendum I would like to bring up another family line I discovered while researching the Mehlbreuer line.  I won’t cover them too much, but more in passing than anything else, simply because it is an interesting subject.  There was another family living in Germany who’s last name was Mehrbreuer, with the Latin version of Merbreuer often used.  It cannot be known whether this family has any blood connection to our own Mehlbreuer/Mebreuer family that we have been covering, and it is difficult to say how far back we would have to go to find a common ancestor if they were connected.

As I have mentioned in a previous historical review, families often changed their last names when they moved to a new region.  It is certainly possible that this family has some connection to our own.  The only difference in their surname is the “r” that is recurrent in the records I’ve reviewed.  In its original German spelling of Mehrbreuer, the surname’s literal translation is “more brewers,” so again a connection to an occupation around the fermentation work of an early ancestor.  Not to mention the prevalence of the name Peter as you will see.

All the records place this family in the state of Bayern, Germany, also more commonly known in its English translation as Bavaria.  This state is on the southern border of Hessen and slightly west of the town of Geisenheim, the town where much of the Mehlbreuer family resided.  Therefore, it is again possible that this family descended from the same original bloodline.

The eldest member of this family that I can trace was a Peter Mehrbreuer who I will give the suffix Sr. to, in order to differentiate him from his son.  His date of birth is unknown but would have likely been sometime around 1730.  The only child I have found of his and his wife Margaretha Stauch, was a son unsuprisingly named Peter Merbreuer, who I will give the suffix of Junior to.

He was born in 1755 in the village of Knopp-Labach, Bayern, the record containing this information is archived in batch# I00642-7 of the Germany-EASy system, microfilm number 434714 with the reference ID of CN 5, (Germany Deaths and Burials, 1582-1958).  In this record we are given Peter Jr.’s birth year, but also his exact date of death, November 2, 1822 and the name of his wife – Catharina Mayer.

From the marriage of Peter Merbreuer Jr. and Catharina came a number of children based on birth records archived in batch# C97091-1 of the Germany-ODM system, microfilm number 351903 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898).  We also have a couple marriage records for their children as well as one death record.  Their children were as follows:

  1. Margaretha (born in 1782)
  2. Catharina (born November 5, 1785)
  3. Peter (born October 27, 1791)
  4. Peter (born January 1, 1793)
  5. Elisabetha (born August 24, 1797)

Their first child, Margaretha, married a Peter Strasser on February 12, 1804 in Knopp-Labach, Bayern, the church record indicates that Peter Strasser’s father was also named Peter Strasser.  The marriage record is archived in batch# M97091-1 of the Germany-EASy system, microfilm number 351903 with a reference ID of P 74-3 (Germany, Marriages, 1558-1929).  Additionally there is a record for the birth of their daughter Maria Anna Strasser, who was born on March 12, 1825 and was baptized on March 14, 1825.  This church record is archived in batch# C97091-1 of the Germany-EASy system, microfilm number 351903 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898).

That record notes two villages, first Knopp-Labach, Bayern as the location of family residence, and Labach, Bayern as where the daugher was baptized.  These two villages both still exist today and are less than two miles apart.  The only church still in Labach, Bayern, Germany is Mariä Himmelfahrt Katholische Kirche, German for Assumption of Mary Catholic Church.  My attempts to find when that church was built were fruitless, so it is not known whether this church existed in 1825, but the odds are pretty good this is the church where their daughter was baptized.

Margaretha died in Knopp-Labach on May 25, 1848 as archived in batch# I00642-7 of the Germany-EASy system, microfilm number 434714 with a reference ID of CN 6 (Germany Deaths and Burials, 1582-1958).  This record names her father Peter Merbreuer, mother Catharina Mayer, and husband Peter Strasser.  No further records could be found for this little family.

Peter Jr’s second child, Catharina Merbruer married Joannes Ferber on June 18, 1805 in Knopp-Labach, Bayern.  This marriage record was archived in the same batch and microfilm as her sisters, but was given in the reference ID of P 75-3.  The record lists her father as well as her husband’s father, Michaelis Ferber.  I found no further records for Catharina and her husband Joannes, and there were no additional records to be found for her two brothers, Peter and Peter, nor her youngest sister Elisabetha.