Monday, May 12, 2014

52 Ancestors -- Thank Goodness for Elizabeth Kamp Wilmsen’s Church Records

     Uncovering family history can be very challenging.  But there are those discoveries of fruitful records that make the search so much fun.  Among the most rewarding finds are church records.  In the case of Elizabeth Kamp, if it weren’t for the parish records of the Catholic church in Emsdetten, Westphalia, Germany, and generous researchers who help to translate them, we might not know her at all.  But thankfully,  I can say that Anna Elizabeth Kamp Wilmsen is the third great grandmother to my daughter, Kristen UWikipedia Commons photo, Author: NordhornerII, The Catholic church in Emsdetten, 2 Apr 2014, source: own work.nderwood. (See chart below.)  Since we’re celebrating Krissy’s birthday in May, I’m including her in this family history story.
 Kristen Underwood and Nancy Niehaus Hurley

From Elizabeth’s baptismal record we know that she was christened as Anna Elizabeth Kamp on 28 July 1813 in the St. Pankratius Catholic Church in Emsdetten, Westfalen, Prussia.  Her parents names were Johan Heinrich Kamp and Anna Christina Dreyhues.  (See footnote 1. below)
Kristen Underwood's ancestry to Anna Elisabeth Kamp.      St. Pankratius Church was the location of numerous events of our family.  The church photo above is a recent scene from the Emsdetten Town Centre, thanks to a generous photographer’s posting on Wikipedia Commons. (2)  The church was only a few miles north of the Kamp family home in Hollingen.   You can also see beautiful photos of this church, inside and out, at this website: Link to St. Pankratius photos.  Can’t you just imagine the family members walking in for a baptism or to celebrate a wedding?
     Speaking of marriages, on the 24th of November, 1846, Elizabeth Kamp and Gerhard Heinrich Wilmsen took their wedding vows at St. Pankratius. (3)  How do I know?  The church left us a thorough accounting.   I am posting the actual record below.  The translation, reading from left to right on each of the two excerpts from the church book for November, 1846, Page 1: Groom: Gerhard Heinrich Willemsen; father day laborer from Ibbenburen; Age:26; Parents give consent for marriage; he is not a widower; Bride: Elizabeth Kamp.  Page 2: Bride’s father, Kamp, kotter from Hollingen; age: 32; (next column not translated); she is a widow; marriage date: Nov. 24; last column is pastor and witnesses. 
Page 1:
Heading for St. Pankratius marriage Nov, 1846
Wilmsen Kamp Marriage, 1846
Page 2:
Heading for Wilmsen Kamp Marriage Nov 1846Wilmsen Kamp Marriage, 1846
          Although it takes determination to decipher these aged German records considering the language, the script and any deterioration of the record book itself, it is well worth the efforts.   I was fortunate to have help from not only the translators at the Family History Library, but also from the German Genealogy Facebook page researchers.   Along the line I have also had assistance from fellow researchers and friends who are German speakers.  There are people out there willing to provide assistance in pulling the information out of these records. 
     For instance, when I asked for help on the German Genealogy Facebook page after I was doubtful of my notes on this record, I received confirmation of the column where Elizabeth’s record states she was widowed at the time of her marriage.   These folks confirmed that her maiden name is listed as Kamp even though she is also a widow.  I am told that it’s customary in the old German church records that a widow is listed this way, rather than with her married name. 
     And then, another helpful researcher went an extra step in assisting me.  He found an online church index record at  that may be her first marriage!  This record lists Elizabeth Kamp marrying a Carl Heinrich Wennemann in St. Pankratius on 7 October 1845.  Only 13 months before her marriage to Gerhard Wilmsen?  Oh my!   But wait… If this additional record does relate to our Elizabeth, there’s a viable reason. This would be another example of the marriage customs of those days. Many people remarried in what we now might consider a short time after losing a spouse.  There were practical, economic reasons for these choices.  It was necessary for a woman to recognize a man who offered the financial opportunity for her livelihood and future, including to raise a family.  That’s just the way people looked at these decisions.  Regardless of how, why or where Elizabeth chose Gerhard, they married and thus we are her descendants. 
     Without the preservation of these events in the church records of St. Pankratius and the microfilming of them by the Mormon church, this particular part of our family history would be tremendously difficult to learn.  And there are undoubtedly more records tied to the Kamp, Wilmsen families waiting for us in the microfilm.  If there are other family members curious about where to look, below is a listing of the microfilm that’s available for the Catholic church in Emsdetten at the Family History Library.  The indexes for some of these records are posted on the website. And you can order the microfilm for viewing at a local Family History Center.    As you can see, it’s possible we might be able to trace some of our people back to 1648 on this fabulous resource:  
Kirchenbuch, 1648-1875
Authors:  Katholische Kirche Emsdetten (Kr. Steinfurt) (Main Author)
Language:  German
Taufen, Heiraten 1648-1821 Tote 1679-1705, 1757-1821, Family History Library, International Film, 864358
Taufen 1791-1809 Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1822-1875, Family History Library, International Film, 864359
Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1844-1875, Family History Library, International Film, 864360
Taufen, Tote 1864-1875 Mitgliederliste, Family History Library, International Film, 864361

Another source for help with research in Westphalia:
Thanks again for visiting Indiana Ties!
You may want to read these related posts:
Wilmsen/Kamp Descendants
Ladies In My Line: Elizabeth Gertrude Wilmsen Niehaus
1. Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898, index online, Family Search ( : accessed 29 April 2014), Anna Elisabeth Kamp, Baptism 28 July 1813, St. Pankratius Catholic Church, Emsdetten; FHL microfilm 864358.
2. Wikipedia Commons photo, Author: NordhornerII, The Catholic church in Emsdetten, 2 Apr 2014, source: own work.
3. Catholic Church, Steinfurt, Westfalen (Emsdetten, Germany), Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, Marriages 1822-1875, 1846, page 95, no. 25, Marriage, 24 Nov 1846, Gerhard Heinrich Wilmsen and Elizabeth Kamp; FHL microfilm #864359, # 864360, Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Niehaus Hurley

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