Family tradition (via Rosa Heidler Lorenz) tells us that our Lorenz family were originally Alsatian; they came from an area which borders both modern Switzerland and Germany west of the Rhine River. Alsace includes the French towns of Strasbourg and Mullhouse; it is now part of Alsace-Lorraine, a region in northeastern France on the border with Germany. This area’s ownership has been the cause of many wars between France and Germany through the centuries. Circa 400 AD, Teutonic bands drove out the Celtic tribes then living there. Alsace-Lorraine beonged to Austrasia within Charlemagne’s empire, but then became part of central Germany (Alemannia) when his three grandsons divided the empire in 843. The treaty of Verdun gave Francia Media to Lothair (parts of Belgium, Netherlands, western Germany, eastern France, Switzerland and Italy), while Charles received Francia Occidentalis (the core of modern France) and Louis was given all the land east of the Rhine River, from the North Sea down to central Italy. Lothair’s central portion effectively divided parts of France and Germany, which led to a thousand years of warfare.
The region remained predominantly German for over seven hundred years; we can imagine our Lorenz forebears were settled on the fertile farmland of the Alsatian plain which stretches along the Rhine River (it now grows wheat, rye, barley and oats). Or perhaps they lived in the Vosges Forest and Mountain region near the Bruche River, whose slopes are today dotted with vineyards which produce both white and red wines. Or perhaps our Lorenzes were merchants; the Rhine River valley was a major medieval transportation corridor, with wine and other products being carried north on the Rhine to the North Sea markets with England, Sweden and Denmark.
During these centuries, skirmishes and wars continued between the French and Germans. During the 1500’s, France gradually gained control of the area. By the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1638, France had Alsace and Lorraine; many ethnic Germans left the area while others stayed (which set the stage for future conflicts and two eventual ‘World Wars’ in the 1900’s). This is perhaps when our Lorenz families left Alsace in search of a more hospitable German-speaking area. They may have moved gradually over several generations, sampling different places, or they may have moved directly to the area then called Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. Germans had lived for centuries in Bohemia, but they kept their separate language, culture and identity. It is an area which
became known during the 1930’s as the Sudetenland, or the German ‘Southeast’, when the presence of Germans became Hitler’s pretext for invasion and annexation.
Ken Meter tells the earlier story in Border People, the Böhmisch,
“The German presence was minor until 973 when the Catholic Church put Prague under the archbishop of Mainz. Missionary Catholics then brought more and more Germans into Bohemia, trying to bolster the influence of the church. German merchants set up shop in several Bohemian commercial centers in the tenth century. Families of farmers and craftsmen migrated to border zones from the 1100’s to the 1700’s. In Bohemia’s Golden Age under Karel IV (from 1346 to 1378), Germanic settlements became important even though the majority of the population was Czech. Germans were viewed as valuable settlers by a manorial lord who sought to increase his tax base. They worked diligently. . . At times entire communities were imported.
“An unusual deal was cut. The Germans were invited to settle the border and were granted freedom. Simply by populating these remote lands they brought stability to the border. . . Fluent in German, they could keep their ears tuned to changing political winds in the German territories. . . They could watch for invading troops . . . or potential smugglers. They were given free land to till and were exempt from robot, obligatory feudal service.”
The Thirty Years’ War had begun in 1618 with a Bohemian revolt, and this area shared in the general European devastation caused by the lengthy religious war. Fifty percent of the German population died from famine, disease or war during this conflict; industry, trade routes, markets and farming were all shattered. Towns were destroyed and culture suffered. War’s end in 1638 began a time of rebuilding; many moved in search of new beginnings.
In 1628, Bohemian King Ferdinand II had authorized the use of the German language and required conversion to Roman Catholicism. Many of the Protestant Ultraquists and Lutheran Bohemians left the area rather than convert. Wars continued and the populace bore the additional financial burden of defending the borders against the French and the Turks. During the 1700’s, Bohemia was eventually absorbed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Taxation continued for aristocratic courts and buildings. From 1740 to 1780, Empress Maria Theresa ruled Bohemia with the Hapsburg Empire. A gradual transition from the manorial system gave full ownership of land to the peasants. New agricultural methods were introduced, which increased productivity.
This is when we find the earliest documentation for our Lorenz ancestors, a wedding in 1789. These documents were researched in 1990 by a professional genealogist at the archives in Plzen; PhDr. Vladimír Bystricky CSc was hired via the Czechoslovakian embassy in Washington DC. His report was written in Czech, and the records that he found in the old German parish registers were written in the German language (these have been translated by Kathy Bertsch Compagno and Judith Lightner Baker). PhDr. Bystricky also correlated the names of the old German villages and parishes with those of their modern Czech equivalents, which enabled us to easily find them on modern maps (and confirmed the earlier work done by Hugh and Kathy Bertsch). The towns are all in the northwestern area of the modern Czech Republic. Picture a triangle formed by drawing one line north and another line west of Karlovy Vary (formerly Karlsbad), whose hypoteneuse is the modern border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Within that triangle you will find our ancestral villages, in the political region now called West Bohemia.
In 2004, research at the Pilsen Archives commissioned by Glenn Allen Nolen established a link between the ancestors of his family in Texas and our ancestral Lorenzes in this area. This work was done by Christine Obermeier, Familien Geschichts Forschung, Haus-und Hofchroniken, Wasenmeistereien in Westböhmen; family history research in West Bohemia. Several towns were named Schönlind in old Bohemia; ours was Schönlind bei Heinrichsgrün, which is now called Krásná Lípa near Jindrichovice. Nolen’s website, Benner, Gotthardt, Hagelgans & Lorenz Genealogy, gives precise map coordinates for some of our ancestral villages:
The area of Schönlind 83.3 miles WNW of Prague includes these towns in the Czech Republic: Rothau, coordinates - 5018 1235, 1.9 miles SW of Schönlind, coordinates - 5019 1237; Ptaci (Vogeldorf), coordinates - 5020 1238, 1.4 miles NNE of Schönlind, coordinates - 5019 1237; Graslitz, coordinates - 5020 1231, 4.6 miles WNW of Schönlind, coordinates - 5019 1237; Neudek, coordinates - 5020 1245, 6 miles E of Schönlind, coordinates - 5019 1237; and NeuHammer, coordinates 5022 1244, 6.2 miles NE of Schönlind, coordinates - 5019 1237.
Nolen states, “Schönlind, 83.3 miles WNW of Prague, was first mentioned in 1508 and Vogeldorf 1555 in connection with the founding of a glass-hut or glass manufacturing facility. The village around the glass-hut was developed later. Schönlind was a very small dominion headed by a tribe of the Schlick family.”
The villages lie within the hills of the Ore Mountains, called Krusné Hory by Czechs and Erzgebirge by Germans. The hills rise to an elevation of more than 2,500 feet and contain large deposits of coal and uranium ore (other metals, such as silver, nickel, lead, copper, cobalt blue smalt glass, tungsten, tin and iron, were more important during the 1600’s and 1700’s). Keilberg, now Klínovec, is the highest peak, reaching 1244 meters; it offers stunning vistas of surrounding valleys and mountains. Gottesgab (now Bozí Dar) is the highest village at 1028 meters; both places are in St. Joachimsthal Bezirk, now Jáchymov District.
A German Genealogy website for the Sudetenland area states that despite a harsh climate (much appreciated by wintertime ski enthusiasts) and meager soil, farming reaches up to 1,000 meters in elevation, although the harvests are not bountiful. Many in the Erzgebirge were dependent on cottage industries for their income, such as Holzspielwaren, wooden toys; Spitzenklöppeln, pillow lace work; Sticken, embroidery; Musikinstrumente, musical instruments; and others. The Erzgebirge remained a mainly agricultural area until the 1800’s (with pockets of mining and smelting), when the industrial revolution encouraged large scale manufacturing and mining industries and the construction of roads and rail lines.
The Sudetenland German Genealogy website also has a timeline of various natural disasters and military occupations beginning in the 1500’s; we can only imagine the suffering of our forebears as they endured these events.
1542: Plague in the Upper Erzgebirge Mountains; Pest.
1561: 88 children died in one children’s hospital; Kinderkrankheit.
1561/1562 &1581: Many men froze to death during an especially harsh winter.
1562, 1567, 1582, 1589, 1607: The Hungarian Plague; die Ungarische Pest.
1590: Drought. Strong earthquake; many died under collapsing buildings.
1593: The Turkish Tax was levied on cities and landowners, to help Vienna repel the siege of the Turkish invaders; Türkensteur um die Belagerung Wiens.
1597: Drought and forest fires in Erzgebirge mountains; Dürre, Waldbrände.
1607: Another disease epidemic; over 200 people died in the Platten area.
1608: Another cold winter; danger from wolves close to towns; Wolfsgefahr.
1612: Wars come closer, with the occupation by Mansfeld Troops [they were remnants of a Protestant Army during the Thirty Years’ War, remembered mostly for their vicious and widespread plundering]; von Truppen besetzt.
1617: Another drought caused famine and high inflation; Teuerung.
1622: The Protestants were expelled at the Battle of the White Mountains.
1632/1633: Croatian Troops under General Holk came to settle the Erzgebirge Mountains, especially at Neudek and Bärringen; Kroatische Truppen suchen heim.
1635: Spanish troops were quartered in the Platten District, which was nearly as bad as a plundering; Die Einquartierung war fast so schlimm wie eine Plündering.
1640: Swedish troops occupied the area; most of the people fled to the forests; die Bevölkerung flieht größtenteils in die Wälder.
1651: All Lutherans were ordered to leave the country. Many of those from the cities emigrated to Saxony until 1676; Reformationspatent.
ca1670: Decades after the end of the Thirty Years War, the mining industry revived in the Erzgebirge area; Bergbau wird allmänlich wieder aufgenommen.
1758: During the Seven Years War, Prussians were captured near Neudek.
1843: Central Committee established for promotion of gainful employment of Bohemian Erzgebirge and Reisengebirgs Inhabitants under Richard von Dotzauer; Zentralkomittees zur Förderung der Erwerbstätigkeit der böhmischen bewohner.
1849: Hereditary subservience and patronage jurisdiction was abolished; Aufhebung der Erbuntertänigkeit und der Patronatsgerichtsbarkeit.
Nolen has collected records of various Lorenz families in nearby areas. No links have yet been documented to our Lorenz family, but the records are shown here as they are posted at his website in hopes of encouraging further research.
LORENZES FROM SCHOENLIND (NOW KRASNA LIPA) & NEARBY TOWNS
MATTHES LORENZ from Bockau, Saxony, Germany was born circa 1440 having numerous descendants who lived at Vogeldorf, Czech Republic, which is 15.2 miles S of Bockau.
JOSEF LORENZ, the son of THOMAS LORENZ, was christened on 3 May 1549 in Grünhain, Zwickau, Saxony, which is 19.1 miles NNE of Vogeldorf, Czech.
MICHAEL LORENTZ was born circa 1634 in Neugruen, Falkenau, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. MICHAEL LORENTZ and his wife had a son: PHILIP LORENTZ, christened 14 October 1660 in Neugrün, Falkenau, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. Ober Neugrün and Unter Neugrün (Lower and Upper) were 4.7 miles S of Schönlind, which was 83.3 miles WNW of Prague. Falkenau was 9.2 miles S of Schönlind.
MARTIN LORENZ, son of JOHANN LORENZ, married ANNA WERNER, daughter of WOLFGANG WERNER of Werth, on 15 Nov 1667 in Gossengrün, Bohemia (Krajkova). Gossengrün is located 9.2 miles SSW of Vogeldorf. MARTIN LORENZ and ANNA WERNER had the following children who were born in Plumberg, Bohemia: 1. JOHANN LORENZ born on 7 Oct 1668; 2. BALTHASAR LORENZ born 21 Jan 1670; 3. GEORG LORENZ born 15 Feb 1672; 4. MATTHAUS LORENZ born 3 Oct 1674; 5. EVA MARIA LORENZ born 19 Feb 1676;
6. SUSANNA MARIA LORENZ born 18 Nov 1677; 7. SIMON LORENZ born 4 March 1679 married SUSANNA MAYER on 30 Oct 1708 in Gossengrün and died 17 Feb 1753 in Hartenberg, Bohemia, at the age of 73; 8. ANNA LORENZ born 27 Dec 1681.
ANDREAS LORENTZ married MARIA SCHUERER, born in Doglasgrün, Elbogen, Boehmen, on 2 NOV 1664 at Lanz, Falkenau, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. Doglasgruen is 6.5 miles SSE of Vogeldorf.
JOSEPH LORENTZ was christened on 4 May 1718 in Prausnitz, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria the son of FREIDRICH LORENTZ and his wife MARIA.
ANNA MARIA LORENZ was born about the year 1722 in Griesbach, Elbogen, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria marrying JOHANN MODER about 1743 at Griesbach, Elbogen, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. Griesbach was 4.5 miles SE of Schönlind.
The following records are much closer to our ancestral villages; although we are probably related, the link has not been documented:
SUSANNA LORENTZ was born circa 1659 in Scheft, Neudek, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. Scheft was 2.5 miles ESE of Schönlind, and Neudek was 6 miles E of Schönlind.
ANNA MARIA LORENTZ was born circa 1697 in Schönlind, Neudek, Boenmen, Austria. Nejdek (Neudek) is 5.1 miles E of Vogeldorf.
JOHANN LORENTZ was born circa 1716 in Schönlind, Neudek, Boehmen. Nejdek (Neudek) is 5.1 miles E of Vogeldorf.
JOHANN LORENZ of Nejdek and his wife had a child JOSEPH GEORG LORENZ born circa 1750 at Schönlind, Nejdek. JOSEPH married KATHARINA RUDERT on 6 Nov 1775. Nejdek (Neudek) is 5.1 miles E of Vogeldorf.
JOHANN CAROLUS LORENTZ of Schönlind, Neudek, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria married MARIA ELISABETH HOYER of Rothau, Graslitz, Boehmen, on 29 April 1749 in Henrichsgruen, Graslitz, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria.
ANTONY LORENTZ born circa 1740 in Schönlind, Neudek, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria married ANNA MARIA PLECHSCHMID on 4 February 1766 in Rothau, Graslitz, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria. ANNA MARIA PLECHSCHMID was born about the year 1744 in Rothau, Graslitz, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria.
JOSEPH ANTON LORENZ, born circa 1814 in Schönlind, Neudek, Boehmen, Koenigreich, Austria, married KATHARINA OBENDOERFER circa 1839 in Waldl, Falkenau, Boehmen. Waldl is 6.9 miles S of Vogeldorf.
FRANZ XAVER LORENZ was christened on 27 Nov 1852 in Scheft, Neudek, Boehmen, the child of JOSEPH KARL LORENZ and THERESIA ROSSMEISSL.
HAUSWIRT AUS VOGELDORF
Our earliest known ancestor Josef Lorenz, “Hauswirt aus Vogeldorf”, house owner at Vogeldof, is only known to us from the marriage records of his two children, a son and daughter. The elder Josef Lorenz was already deceased by 1789, when his son Josef Lorenz, aged twenty years, married Anna Maria Franziska Rudolf at Schifferhütten, a village within the parish of Frühbuß. Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the elder Josef’s wife; the mother of his children was not named in their wedding records.
Vogeldorf was a small town located about two kilometers from Schönlind bei Heinrichsgrün; the 1930 German census counted 364 inhabitants with a school and a mill. The major industry then was the Rothau-Schindelwald Iron Works, while others worked at a glove factory in Frühbuß, a lathe works for mother of pearl (Perlmuttdreherei, which probably made buttons), or forest work, Waldarbeit. Some made Klöppelei, pillow lace, which was one of the local cottage industries, while still others (surprisingly!!) bred canary birds (die Kanarienvogelzucht). An area of Vogeldorf called Mühlhäuser dates from a glassworks established there in 1555. The Schlick brothers, lords at Heinrichsgrün, permitted Georg Reckenzagel and Melchior Ditrich to be glass masters, Glashüttenmeister. The glassworks continued
to operate after the Thirty Years’ War, although the Lutheran owner Weidl had emigrated to Saxony to avoid forced conversion to Roman Catholicism. Vogeldorf village developed along the core of the glassworks, entstand das Dorf, and by 1654 the cluster of seven houses was called Vogeldorf. A map dated 1726 put the name Alte Hütte, ‘Old huts’, next to that of Vogeldorf. The town belonged to the manor, Rittergut, of Schönlind, and is called Ptací in the Czech language. Although a German Genealogy website for Sudetenland Orte states that the town no longer exists, der ort nicht mehr existent, the name Ptací can still be seen on a modern map on the northeast edge of Krásná Lípa, while Ptací h. appears on the same map as a hilltop just north of Krásná Lípa.
The Nolen documents found another child of the deceased Josef Lorenz, Hauswirt, house owner, at Vogeldorf Number Two. Maria Anna Lorenz, born circa 1766, married the widower Karl Hergeth on 23 June 1795 at Schieferhütten (now Bridlova), Früehbuss Parish (Fary Prêbuz). Karl was Hauswirt, house owner, and day-labourer in Mühlhäusen, aged 51 years. The wedding witnesses were Anton Lorenz, house owner in Vogeldorf, and Johann Hergeth, house owner in Mühlhäusen. Could this Anton Lorenz be Maria Anna’s uncle, standing in for his deceased brother Josef, or was he possibly another brother to Maria?
AND ANNA MARIA FRANZISKA RUDOLF
On 3 November 1789, at Schieferhütten (now Bridlova),
“Brautigam: Lorenz, Joseph, des + Lorenz Joseph Sohn aus Vogeldorf, Alter 20 Jahre, Stand ledig; mit Braut: Rudolfin, Franziska, des Rudolf Christoph ehel. Tochter in Mühlhäuseln, Alter 18 Jahre, Stand ledig;”
“Bridegroom Josef Lorenz, age twenty, son of Josef Lorenz from Vogeldorf (now Ptací, in the parish of Krásná Lípa), married Anna Maria Franziska Rudolf, age eighteen, daughter of Christof Rudolf of Mühlhäusen.”
This Mühlhäusen, now called Mlynske Domky, was the old glassmaking area of Vogeldorf (another Mühlhäusen, now Mylnske Chalupy, is found slightly to the north). These towns are close together in an area south of Prêbuz and east of Kraslice (both Vogeldorf and Mühlhäusen appear to have been incorporated within the modern Krásná Lípa town limits). Although a German Genealogy website for Sudetenland Orte states that the town no longer exists, der
ort nicht mehr existent, variants of the name remain in the area: Stahlerovy Domky, Anyzovy Domky and Guntrovy Domky. Ptací (which still appears as a hamlet near Schönlind) and Mylnske Chalupy are in low valley plains along the road from Prêbuz to Jindrichovice, while Bridlova is slightly west of Mylnske Chalupy at a higher elevation in a forested area. We do not know why they chose to marry at Schieferhütten; perhaps it was a festive outing to a more scenic location.
It is interesting to note that the meaning of the names of the towns did not really change in most cases when Czechoslovakia became a nation after World War I and the Czech language replaced German. For instance, both vogel and ptací mean birds in their respective languages, while Mühlhäusen and Mylnske Domky both translate as small house by a mill, although the Czech Domky is more precise with domkar meaning a ‘crofter’. The OED defines croft as “a piece of enclosed land used for tillage or pasturage, a plot of arable land attached to a house, or a smallholding worked by a tenant”, suggesting the Rudolphs were farmers.
We also have the baptismal record for Anna Maria Francisca, dated 2 August 1773 at the Roman Catholic parish of Frühbuß:
“Locus: Mühlhäussln Nr. 14; Infans: Anna Maria Francisca; parentes: Ruttolph, Christophorus et Maria Susanna uxor”;
“Anna Maria was born at Mühlhaussen in house numbered 14, the daughter of Christophorus Ruttolph and his wife Maria Susanna.”
Frühbuß, now called Prêbuz, is located about five kilometers to the north of Krásná Lípa; with an elevation of 2,924 feet, this is the highest village in that area. The German Genealogy website for Sudetenland Orte states that Frühbuß was founded on the southern side of the western Erzgebirge during the 1300’s (the modern town office displays a coat of arms with the founding year ‘1347’). It belonged to Herrschaft Falkenau, who later ceded the town to Grafen (Count) Schlick. Local mineral resources include tin, tungsten, cobalt, arsenic, bismuth and pitchblende uranium, while blast furnaces are a major industry. Embroidery is a local craft, while pearl buttons are made in a factory founded by the town. In 1869, a huge fire consumed the city hall; many documents and records were lost.
The parish includes the hamlets of Frühbuß (Prêbuz), Sauersack (Rolava), Schieferhütten (Brîdlová), Mühlhäuser (Mlynske Domky), Vogeldorf (Ptací), and Hochgarth (Obora). In 1930, the parish counted 2422 Catholics and 113 ‘not Catholics’. In 1552, Graf, Count Viktorin Schlick appointed a Lutheran preacher, Johannes Frentzel from Lösnitz.
Another important Protestant minister was Adam Zepfel, who published theological works. The last Protestant minister, Matthäus Betulius, was removed in 1624, during the Counter Reformation, and the parish became Catholic once again. By 1672, 400 Protestants (called Ketzer, heretics) still remained in the parish; Book One of the Parish Records includes the names of 86 Evangelische, Protestant families, while only nineteen had converted to Catholicism. Father Daneil Ignaz Josef Mayer was appointed the Catholic parish priest in 1679; thanks to his eforts, 394 Protestants converted to Catholicism by 1684. Father Mayer later became Archbishop of the Prague Archdiocese.
The 1789 wedding record tells us that Josef Lorenz from Vogeldorf was born circa 1769, but without his birth record, we do not know the name of his mother. Josef’s father Josef Lorenz was deceased by 1789.
Young Josef and Anna Maria Franciska settled in Vogeldorf, now Ptaci, for that is where their son Franz Wenzel was born circa 1800. The researchers have found no birth records for children of Josef and Anna Maria, but wedding records reveal two siblings for our Franz Wenzel. One Philip Lorenz married circa 1815 at then Schönlind, Bohemia, now Krásná Lípa, Czech Republic; his bride was Maria Anna Moeschel, daguhter of Joseph Moeschel, Hauswirt at Vogeldorf, and Theresia née Schoedl of Schönlind. Their wedding witnesses were Georg Moeschel, Hauswirt at Vogeldorf, and Wenzl Rudolph, Spitzenhändler, lace dealer, from Schieferhütten (perhaps Philip’s uncle or cousin by his mother Anna Maria). Philip and Maria Anna settled in Vogeldorf, where they were still living in 1831 when they served as godparents for the baptism of their nephew Philip (son of Franz Wenzl). In 1831, Philip was a Hauswirt, house owner at Vogeldorf.
Circa 1820, one Maria Anna Lorenz married Anton Pleyer at then Schönlind, Bohemia, now Krásná Lípa. Maria Anna was ledig, single, age 19, daughter of Josef Lorenz, deceased farmer of Vogeldorf; her mother Franziska née Rudolph of Muehlhausen was still living at the time of the wedding. Anton, age 24 and single from Kohling (now Milirê, this village is located very close to Krásná Lípa on the road leading to Nejdek), was the son of Andreas Pleyer, bauer, farmer, and Katharina née Ott; both parents were also from Kohling. The German Genealogy website for Sudetenland Orte states a sawmill was the major local industry; Milirê is now part of Sîndelová, or Schindelwald. In 1938, Kohling had 873 inhabitants.