I’m on the hunt for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn’s marriage date and place. Previously I posted a timeline for Katherine’s life, mapping out what I know about her. (If you missed that timeline, here's the link). Through that exercise I established a place and time to start my search. Since Katherine’s daughter’s family record gave her birthplace as Ruhlkirchen, Hesse, I’m looking there first for a marriage record. Custom tells us that the marriage would more likely have been in the bride’s church. If I need a second place to look, I’ll travel six miles north to Neustadt, Hesse. I know from immigration and will records that her husband, Martin, and their nine children were born in Neustadt. The years where I’ll begin to search are 1833 to 1836, based on the birth date of their first child in 1836.
How should I begin? Civil records? Do any exist for these places in the
1830s? Church records? Where are they?
Before diving into any type of records searching, I need to be sure of where
exactly the bride’s and groom’s hometowns were located in Europe. Since the
rules varied from one region to another as to keeping records of births,
christenings, marriages, etc. Were they east or west of the Rhine River? That
could make a difference. I know that recording of civil records west of the
Rhine started much earlier. Napoleon required records in the late 18th century
and ruled in a variety of areas. So, I’m going to first find my two towns of
Although I had located these two family birthplaces casually in the past, I
forced myself to grab the Europe maps and pinpoint Ruhlkirchen and Neustadt in
Hesse. I could use the geography and European history review anyway.
I began with my own book shelves. There I found two or three good maps of
Central Europe in 1815 - 1866. I combined information from one that was too
detailed to use here with a basic map from an old atlas. I was able to hone in
and pinpoint the Hesse area where these two towns are located, east of the Rhine
River. My map below points to the location of Hesse with the blue/green arrow
and to the winding line of the Rhine River with the red/green arrow. The river
isn't easy to see, but it's there. The Birkenstock and Kuhn families were
definitely situated east of the Rhine River.
These boundaries of the German Confederation were in place from 1815 to 1866.
From the website entitled: Electorate of Hesse-Cassel 1815-1866 (Germany), I
excerpted the following information:
Hessen-Kassel or Kurhessen [Electoral Hesse] was until 1866 a German
Kurfürstentum [electorate] consisting of 4 provinces: Niederhessen with
Schaumburg, Oberhessen, Fulda with Schmalkalden and Hanau.
That concludes my geography/history lesson for this session. The Kuhn family
was proud of being from Kurhessen. I'll be pleased to continue learning more of
So where is my research going to lead next? I have established that
the locations in Hesse where I am concentrating were not in the region where
civil registrations began as early as 1792. Although I will make an effort to
investigate any and all Hesse records I dig up for the 1830 dates, my
concentration will be on finding church records.
I’m ready to dig deeper for Katherine’s marriage in Ruhlkirchen about
1834. More to come on this quest here at Indiana Ties.
Thanks for visiting,
German Civil Registrations at familysearch.org
Electorate of Hesse-Cassel website
on Ruhlkirchen at Wikipedia
You may be interested in these related posts:
Katherine Birkenstock Kuhn's Will Discovery
Charles Anthony Kuhn Will & Estate Proceedings, 1916