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April 29, 2009

Skeletons in The Closet

Many of us have Genealogical Skeletons in our Closets. Not our own, but an ancestor's closet. Some we know about or have heard whispers about. Others are quite a surprise when we accidentally stumble on them in our research.

My 8th. great grandmother Anna Kuhn was born about 1659, and in 1674, at the age of 15, she was married to Jorg Bruning. Jorg was an older man, and the marriage was a most unhappy one for Anna. While living at Huttengesas with her husband, she fell in love with Nicholaus Bellinger.

Ann and Nicholaus ran off together and had a son (my 7th Great-grandfather), Marcus Bellinger in 1682. Nicholaus Bellinger and Anna finally received church permission to marry, and were wed on 25 November 1685.

How do I know this? The minister of their church wrote about it in his church register book. Imagine my surprise (and delight!) when I read this entry:

"Nicolaus Bellinger and Anna, daughter of Hans Kuhn, were married 25 Nov. 1685 as per the order of the noble government. She had married some years ago Jorg Bruning at Huttengesab, but she was not compatable with him, so Bruning went from her and she from him. She went away with this Nicolaus Bellinger and had an illegitimate child - a little son, so that the aforementioned Jorg Bruning has contracted another marriage. After all this however, the above mentioned Bellinger has remained as a stranger. She sent a request to the honourable government to let them stay in the country, and this finally has been permitted by the aforementioned honourable government which ordered me to marry them with prior published penitence and to avoid further trouble and also to legitimize the rearing of this blameless child"

Nicolaus and Anna fled Germany for America with the Palatine immigration of 1709, settling in New York. Rumours persist that after a few years, the apparently perpetually unhappy Anna ran off with Nicolaus' nephew!


Patti Browning said...

Wow, that's a lucky find indeed! Your ancestress sounds like she believed the grass was always greener somewhere else, haha! It's great when you get a glimpse into the personality of a long-ago ancestor instead of just some dry words on a page. I'm in genealogy envy!

Snowbird said...

What a great find. My way back great great whatever grandfather was Laurens Duyts. A man by the name of Jonas Bronk paid Laurens' passage to New Amsterdam. Laurens paid him back by clearing the man's land. That land is now the Bronx. The skeleton, though, was that Laurens sold his wife into adultery. For doing this Peter Stuyvesant, himself, tied a rope around Laurens' neck, cut off his ear, and banished him to New Jersey. (I think banishment to New Jersey would be punishment enought! LOL). Anyway, Laurens ended up marrying his wife's sister. This is all documented in histories of New Amsterdam.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Snowbird - I'm well acquainted with the story of poor Laurens' wife. In fact when I told my husband I was going to write Skeletons in the Closet I said that I wished I was a descendant of Laurens so I could write about him selling his wife! I felt sorry for his wife, who with the man who bought her, was banished from New Netherland.

Great story - sad but interesting

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Patti, I agree, finding a story about an ancestor, no matter whether it's bad or good, is so gratifying. Much better than the dry facts but really a matter of luck if there is a story and if we can find it.

I must have very bizarre (eccentric?) ancestors as I have found quite a few contemporary entries describing something unusual they were involved in.

alineskee said...

I would like to add this note,a lot of people have skeletons in their closets, at one time it was a terrible thing. Our ancestors hid the truth. My mother in law had a secret she did not want revealed, and when I asked her questions about her family, she did not want to talk about it.Why? well her mother died in a mental asylum, so it was not something my mother in law wanted to talk about it. Now thinking about it, my late husband died of Alzheimer, his sister has it, so could their grandmother have had it and been declared insane?
But that was her skeleton in her closet.