Relating the Two Stern Families of Frankenmuth

My curiosity in the Stern families of Frankenmuth, Michigan stems from my paternal grandmother who was a Stern. She was a descendant of Johann Michael Stern and his wife Anna Sophia (Stern). (To clarify, Anna Sophia’s maiden name was also Stern.)[1] They were the parents in the second Stern family to arrive in Frankenmuth, emigrating in 1847.[2] The first Stern family to arrive there was headed by Georg Martin Stern and his wife, Anna Sophia (Kraus). They emigrated in 1846 aboard the Brig George Duckwitz with the second wave of settlers to Frankenmuth.[3]

Early into my genealogical endeavors, I began to wonder how and if the two original Stern families of Frankenmuth were related. Odds are they were; both families originated nearby one another in Mittelfranken, Bavaria (see following paragraph). They both immigrated within about a one year span to the same settlement in North America.[4] The two families shared not just a surname but many given names, as well.[5] The challenge was finding evidence that the two families were indeed related. No examined North American sources provided this evidence. It would likely be necessary to explore German documents to find the answer to the research question.

Articles from a German government-sponsored newspaper provided emigration information and the names of the villages of origin of the two Stern families. Georg Martin & Anna Sophia (Kraus) Stern hailed from the village of Gräfensteinberg, Landgericht Gunzenhausen, Mittelfranken, Bavaria.[6] Brombach, Landgericht Gunzenhausen was given as the place of residency for Johann Michael & Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern.[7] Brombach lies approximately 1.3 kilometers south of Gräfensteinberg.

Grafensteinberg_Brombach_map
Detail, 1893 map depicting Gräfensteinberg and Brombach (upper right).[8]
Since civil vital-record registration did not begin in Bavaria until 1876, it was essential to consult German church records in an effort to determine the relationship between the two families.[9] The 1801 birth and and 1832 marriage records for Anna Sophia Stern, wife of Johann Michael Stern, revealed her parents as Johann Michael Stern and Anna Sophia (Stotz).[10] The 1797 birth record for Georg Martin Stern indicated the same parentage as that of Anna Sophia Stern.[11] Both children were born at Gräfensteinberg in house number 22.[12]

Thus, the two original Stern families of Frankenmuth are related. Georg Martin Stern, father of the Stern family to immigrate in 1846, was brother to Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern, wife of Johann Michael Stern and mother in the family to immigrate in 1847.

In an effort to construct my Stern pedigree, I continued research in the parish records of Gräfensteinberg. Stern proved to not be a particularly common surname within the parish records (which also includes the records for Brombach). It was plausible that Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern was related to her husband outside the bonds of marriage.

Johann Michael Stern, the husband of Anna Sophia (Stern), was born in 1806, the son of Leonhard Michael Stern and his wife.[13] Records show the parents of Leonhard Michael Stern as Johann Conrad Stern and Anna Margaretha (Huber).[14]

Parish records disclose that Johann Michael Stern, the father of Anna Sophia (Stern) Stern, was also the son of Johann Conrad Stern and his wife Anna Margaretha.[15] This results in Johann Michael Stern, the 1847 emigrant to North America, marrying his first cousin Anna Sophia Stern.[16] This Johann Michael Stern was also therefore a first cousin to Georg Martin Stern, the 1846 emigrant and brother to his wife.

Research is presently on-going to reconstruct the German lineage of the Stern families of Frankenmuth. Thus far, investigation reveals a continuous line of Sterns residing in the Gräfensteinberg parish from the middle-1800s extending back into the 17th century.

Reference Notes:

1. Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book I: (1847-1857),” (typescript, 1990, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Office, Frankenmuth), no. 41.

2. “8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1847), 24 February 1847, cols. 331 & 32; digital images, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 13 February 2016).

3. “7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” Königlich Bayerisches Intelligenzblatt für Mittelfranken (Ansbach, Bayern: Brügel, 1846), 31 January 1846, cols. 165 & 66; digital images, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Bavarica (http://bavarica.digitale-sammlungen.de : accessed 13 February 2016).

“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 7 February 2014), manifest, Brig George Duckwitz, Bremen to New York, arriving 9 May 1846, p. 2, Martin Stein [sic] family; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 61.

4. Ibid.

“7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 165 & 66.

“8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 331 & 32.

5. Ibid.

“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com, manifest, Brig George Duckwitz, Bremen to New York, arriving 9 May 1846, p. 2, Martin Stein [sic] family.

Huber, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book I: (1847-1857),” no. 41.

6. “7. Bekanntmachung der beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 165 & 66.

7. “8. Bekanntmachung beabsichtigter Auswanderungen nach Nordamerika,” cols. 331 & 32.

8. Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, Karte des Deutschen Reiches: Sheet 577, Gunzenhausen, composite (n. p. [Germany]: Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, 1893); digital image, David Rumsey Map Collection (http://www.davidrumsey.com : 2 March 2016).

9. Holly T. Hansen, compiler, German Research Guide (Morgan, Utah: Family History Expos, Inc., 2015), 88.

10. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 407, no. 15, Anna Sophia Stern (1801); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).

St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Trauungen [Marriages] 1812-1870, pp. 6 & 7, no. 3, Stern-Stern (1832); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).

11. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 377, no. 8, Georg Martin Stern (1797); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 17 February 2016).

12. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 407, no. 15, Anna Sophia Stern (1801).

St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 377, no. 8, Georg Martin Stern (1797).

13. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 473, no. 47, Johann Michael Stern (1806); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).

14. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 163, no. 25, Leonhard Michael Stern (1774); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 11 February 2016).

15. St. Martinskirche von Gräfensteinberg (Gräfensteinberg, Bayern, Germany), Taufen [Baptisms] 1753-1836, p. 130, no. 18, Johann Michael Stern (1768); browsable images, Archion (https://www.archion.de : 3 March 2016).

16. In genealogical terms, this illustrates what is known as pedigree collapse; that is, a reduction in the number of distinct ancestors of an individual. (And before the jokes begin, let me remind you that pedigree collapse exists in the family trees of every human.) For more information see “Pedigree collapse,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedigree_collapse : 2 March 2016).

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