The Battle of Dürnstein – My ancestors in the Napoleonic War

On 11. November, a big battle of the Napoleonic Wars took place in Dürnstein and Loiben in the Wachau in Lower Austria. My Great-Great-Great-Great Grandaunt Barbara Artner was living in Dürnstein (then called “Thirrnstein”) at that time. Reason enough to look closer at this chapter of history and the horrific war experience of the inhabitants of Loiben and Dürnstein.

Napoleon’s rise

Napoleon, born on 15.August 1769 on this Island of Corsica,  made a steep career in the course of the French Revolution due to his military talent. After a coup, he became First Consul of the French Republic, until he declared himself Emperor of the French in 1804.

In April 1805, Great Britain, Sweden and Russia formed a Coalition against France. In August 1805, Austria joined this so-called “Third Coalition”. After Emperor Francis I. of Austria (formerly last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as Francis II. and founder of the Hereditary Empire of Austria) sent his troops to  Bavaria (an ally of France) on 8. September 1805, Napoleon declared war on Austria.  The Austrian Army lost several combats around Ulm in Germany, after which the French marched towards Vienna. That was when they arrived in Loiben and Dürnstein three weeks later, where an Austrian-Russian Army had retreated before already.

 

The Battle of Dürnstein and Loiben

On 10. November 1805 the French advance party reached Dürnstein and after skirmishes with some smaller Russian units, won the plain between Dürnstein and Rothenhof. The Russians and Austrians had made the close town of Krems their headquarter.

Continue reading

Paul Wiesinger, Musician and Dog Breeder in Linz, Upper Austria

Linzer Becken

“Das Becken von Linz mit der Landeshauptstadt” by Eduard Zetsche (1844-1927) from the book “Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild”, Band Oberösterreich und Salzburg, Wien 1886, Page 17

My Great-great-great-Greatuncle Paul Wiesinger was born on 28. June 1832 in the capital of Upper Austria, Linz, in the parish of St. Mathias. He was the son of the unmarried Josepha Wiesinger, “daughter of a house owner“.

In the baptismal book, no father is indicated, but the godfather, Philipp Klimitsch, a “master brewer in Auhof 1” is interesting, as I could not find any other connection to him. This might be a clue for Paul’s father.
By the way, Auhof is a manor in Linz which was owned by the family Starhemberg. The brewery was under lease in 1832 and was demolished in 1900 (Source: Wikipedia, Entry for Schloß Aufhof (Linz))

Paul’s mother Josepha married Ferdinand Mathias Frey in 1837. Due to this marriage, Paul was referred to as Paul Frey in later documents. The couple had no other children and in March 1863, Josepha Frey died aged 59.

Several months later, on 15.November 1863, Paul (then aged 31) married 39-year-old Juliana Bruckmüller, a maid and the daughter of the master miller Johann Bruckmüller from the “Grubmühle” in Thal. This can be seen in the Marriage Consent Book of the City of Linz as well as from the Marriage Book of the parish of St.Mathias.


„Austria, Upper Austria, Linz, Selected Documents of the Federal State Archive  1485-1894,” images, FamilySearch (accessed 22 May 2014), Ehekonsens-Protokoll 1850-1868 > image 416 of 517;  (Upper Austiran State Archives, Linz).

(Translation: “Name of the groom”-“Paul Wiesinger also known as Frey”, “Born on”-“Linz, 28.1.1832”, “Profession”-“authorized Musician”, “Marriage Status”-“single” and “Domicile”-“Linz 1057”
“Name of the Bride”-“Juliana Bruckmüller”, “Born on”-“Sigharding, 18.6.1824”, “Domicile”-“Linz 1055”, “Note” contains file number)

The profession of Paul Wiesinger is authorized musician which is interesting. The couple seems to have been neighbors, as their addresses are Linz 1055 and 1057.

The entry in the marriage book basically gives the same information as stated above. The witnesses to the marriage are interesting:

  • Johann Hofmeister, piano maeker in Bethlehemgasse 44
  • Simon Danzmayr, musician

I do not have any clue which instrument Paul Wiesinger played, but it could have been the piano!

Klavier

On 16.September 1865 the only child of the couple was born, a daughter named Franziska. At the time of birth, the family was obviously renting rooms/a flat in the house of the carpenters Großpointner in Schulerberggasse 945 in Linz. Franziska Großpointner was the godmother of the child.
Sadly, the baby died 18 days later as she was “too weak to live”.

On 12.February 1867 Paul’s stepfather Ferdinand Frey died of Tuberculosis at the age of 64 years.

Paul Wiesinger is mentioned twice in the newspapers (“Linzer Tagespost”). However, this is not in context with his profession, but relates to dogs:

Auszug aus der Linzer Tagespost vom 25.6.1865, Seite 5, Quelle: Anno der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek

 

At the occasion of a fair in Linz in 1865, Paul Wiesinger/Frey won second place in the category “Hounds and Bloodhounds” („Jagd-, Schweiß und Brackirhunde“) with a Dachshund. (The Count of  Graf Starhemberg won the first place).

Dackel

From the book “Meyers Kleines Konversations-Lexikon”, Seventh Edition, Leipzig and Vienna, 1909; Entry “Hunde”

Possibly Paul Wiesinger was a dog breeder or a huntsman which could also be related to the breeding of hounds. However, I could not find any indication in that context.

In 1882, the following was published:

Thus, Paul Wiesinger also won a price for his dogs in 1881. His address at that time was Donatusgasse in Linz.

Only some moths after the advertisement above was published, Paul Wiesinger died on 25.July1883 due to Tuberculosis at the age of 51. His wife Juliana died four years later on 7.March 1887 aged 61 from senility (“old age”).

By the way, as I realized when writing this post, there is clear message here: Additional information such as witnesses of births or marriages can contain valuable clues for family history research.

Seigniory of Heidenreichstein, Lower Austria

Many of my ancestors were subjects of the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein in Lower Austria. That is reason enough to give you some information on the history and on research in this area.

Georg Mätthaus Vischer Topographia archiducatus Austriae Inferioris modernae 1672, Wien 1672

Georg Mätthaus Vischer Topographia archiducatus Austriae Inferioris modernae, Vienna 1672

General Introduction of the Manorial System

In the beginning, I would like to give you some background information on the manorial system in Austria which was the basis of economy and society in the time before 1848. There were certain rights over people living in an area tied to the possession of the land. These rights encompass rights of jurisdiction and administration, the commitment of subjects to work for the Lord of the Manor at defined days (“Robot”) and the right of taxation. As a service in return, the Lord of the Manor was responsible for the safety of his subjects.
The title Lord of the Manor was reserved for members of the nobility and certain clerical institutions. With the royal patent dated 7th of September 1848, the manorial system was abolished in Austria and all the rights involved were transferred to public administrative bodies. [1]

History of the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein

In Heidenreichstein, the biggest moated castle of Austria is situated. Its first parts were built around 1180 by the first Lord of the Manor, called Heidenreich. In the 13th century, the town Heidenreichstein was documented for the first time. In the late Middle Ages, Heidenreichstein became an important emporium. Later on, in the 17th century, the textile industry’s importance grew in the area. In the 19th century, weaving mills were widely spread in the dominion. [2] Another important industry was the production of glass which benefitted from the abundant supply of wood. There were glass factories in the villages of Aalfang and Nagelberg.

The Seigniory of Heidenreichstein suffered from the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century as well was from the War with the French in the 19th century, when the area was occupied by the French military. [3]

Villages within the Seigniory:

The Seigniory of Heidenreichstein included the following villages:
Heidenreichstein, Altmanns, Thaures, Reichenbach, Roitrechts, Willings, Kleinradischen, Ebersweis, Dietweis, Motten, Pfaffenschlag, Artolz, Arnolz Steinbach, Rohrbach, Brandt (Brand), Finsternau, Aalfang (Eilfang), Nagelberg, Reinberg, Pfaffenschlag, Eisenreichs, die Waldhütten Schwarzenberg, Kiensaß, Wiesmaden, Steinbach as well as Zuggers, Schwarzbach, Grundschachen and Rottenschachen, which are situated today in the Czech Republic.

Daily Life around 1840

Freiherr von Schweickhardt gives a good impression of the daily life in the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein around 1840 in his book called  “Darstellung des Erzherzogthums Österreich unter der Enns” (Illustration of the Archduchy of Austria below the river Enns) [4]:

The  Seigniory then contained „1320 houses, 2195 families, 4787 men, 5104 women and 1336 school children as well as 147 horses, 1706 bulls, 1802 cows, 903 sheep, 84 geese and 1415 pigs“.

„People cultivated grain, oat, some barley and spring wheat, and large amounts of potatoes, as this plant is the best aliment for the biggest part of the poor, (…) and flax in almost all villages. As the crop yield is very poor due to the rough climate here, it is no wonder that all produce of the soil is eaten and there is no surplus left. The inhabitants would therefore find it hard to pax their dues, if they would not have an additional source of income through weaving. Almost everyone around is a weaver and all day long, the hand looms are rattling. (…) Stock farming is only done for one’s own end. (…) The benefit from stock is small, as there is a shortage of pasture and breeding generates no good result.”

„The poorer subjects are busy wood cutting for the glass factories in the Seigniory and they are producing Hecheln, a utensil for cleaning flax.”

Webstuhl 1830 Wikimedia

Hand loom, 1830 by Johann Schieß (1799-1844), Source: Wikimedia

Documents and Information

If you have ancestors in the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein, you are actually very lucky, as      many documents and books for research are online, at Familysearch as well as at the State Archive of Lower Austria:

  • Familysearch: Collection „Austria, seigniorial records, 1537-1920“, (path to the documents: Lower Austria/Litschau/Seigniory of Heidenreichstein and Weissenbach); here the direct link
  • State Archive of Lower Austria (German only);
    Follow the menu as follows: Gerichtsarchive/ Bezirksgerichte/Grundherrschaftliche Provenienz/Litschau/Heidenreichstein und Weissenbach, Herrschaft
; here the link

(There was a district court installed at Heidenreichstein in 1850. However, in 1868 it was moved to the close town of Litschau. Therefore, documents regarding the Seigniory of Heidenreichstein are to be found at the district court of Litschau.

The books which are available online include the following:
– Land registers 1715 – 1885
– “Gewähr” books 1786 – 1851
– Marriage Protocols 1747 – 1851
– Inventar Protocols 1758 – 1843
– Protocols of Acquisitions 1654 – 1838
– “Satz” Protocols 1775 – 1851

(There will be a separate post soon on which information you would find in the different seigniorial books.)

  • Beside that, there are of course also church books at Matricula.  Here a link to the all new map of Matricula, where you can see all parishes as red marks. There is a search field in the upper right corner, where you have to enter Heidenreichstein.
  • Regarding the villages of the Seigniory which are today situated in the Czech Republic, relevant documents can bei found in the Archive of  Wittingau/Trebon. In the upper right corner is a toolbar to switch languages and in the menu on the left, there is a search field. You can look for the old German name of the village (e.g. Zuggers).

Sources

[1] Wien Wiki Geschichte, Entry on the Manorial System
[2] Book: Dehio Niederösterreich Nördlich der Donau, Verlag Anton Schroll & Co, Wien 1990,
Eintrag Heidenreichstein, Seite 412ff
[3] Wikipedia Entry Heidenreichstein
[4] Book: Friedrich Schweickhardt (Freiherr von.): Darstellung des Erzherzogthums
Oesterreich unter der Ens, durch umfassende Beschreibung aller Burgen, Schlösser,
Herrschaften, Städte, Märkte, Dörfer, Rotten,C., C., topographisch-statistisch-
genealogisch-historisch bearb., und nach den bestehenden vier Kreisvierteln gereihet,
Sechster Band, Viertel Ober-Manhartsberg; Wien, gedruckt bei Anton Benko, 1840,
Seiten 37ff

How to find your ancestors in Vienna

IMG_8403

“Parterre in Schönbrunn” by Alois Greil (1841-1902) from the book “Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild”, Band Vienna, Vienna 1886, page 115

History of Vienna

Particularly in the second half of the 19th century, Vienna, then capital of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, was a fast-growing city. During this area, the city railway and the “Hochquellwasserleitung” (water pipeline from the Schneeberg mountain) were built.
While Vienna had 726,000 inhabitants in 1880, this number grew to 1,365,000 in 1890 through the incorporation of the suburban villages. In 1910 2,031,000 people were living in Vienna (1).
Additionally, many war fugitives came to Vienna during World War I.
Currently, Vienna has 1,841,000 inhabitants, by the way.

Due to this massive migration to the city, Vienna also becomes interesting for genealogists whose ancestors moved there.

Family Research Sources for Vienna

It is actually not so easy to find ancestors in Vienna. Therefore, I would like to introduce you to some useful sources and give you some tips.
Some of the links I provide in the following, are only available in German, but I will try to explain the functionality and hope, it can provide help to English-speaking researchers.

Address Book of Vienna: “Adolph Lehmann’s allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger”

The socalled „Lehmann“ („Adolph Lehmann’s allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger“) is a very good start for Viennese research. It is a directory of Vienna’s inhabitants which has been published annually in the years 1859 – 1942. The Lehmann directory has been digitised and is available online for free on the Homepage „Wienbibliothek Digital“ (follow this link).

The directory includes the head of the family (not wife or children), mostly with a profession. Servants, trade assistants and day laborers are not included.

Each annual book consists of several chapters which can be chosen in an online register. There are (among several others) directories of magistrates, companies, sights and newspapers. For genealogists, the directory of names (“Namenverzeichnis”) is surely the most important one.

Very often, there is also a street directory (“Straßenverzeichnis”), in which the responsible parish for the address is included.
For some years (e.g. 1925), there is also a directory of houses (“Häuserverzeichnis”). This is a directory of inhabitants sorted by address. Through this directory, you can establish who lived in a certain house, for example to find neighbors of your ancestors.

Functionality:
Here, you are at the right page to choose a year. Once, you have established the year, you will see a page, where you can choose the part of the directory (“Band”). As the content of books varies, try all available options, until you find, what you are looking for. The chapters written in bold script, are the important ones. Look for the clues: “Namenverzeichnis” – Directory of names
“Häuserverzeichnis” – Directory of houses
“Straßenverzeichnis” – Directory of streets
Subsequently, you can select a letter or an address to proceed.

Search for Deceased Persons by  Viennese Cementeries (“Friedhöfe Wien”)

The search for deceased persons of the Viennese cemeteries (follow this link) is available for currently existing graves and for graves that no longer exist and thus is a valuable source to find deceased ancestors.

This is the search form:

Fields:
– Name: Enter first and/or last name of the person you are looking for
– Friedhof (Cemetery): You can restrict your search for a specific cemetery, but do not
  have to
– Jahr der Bestattung (Year of burial): You can restrict the time frame you are looking for.
– Historische Grabsuche: Select “aktuell” for existing graves and “historisch” for graves
  that no longer exist.
– Suchen: Search / Neue Suche: New Search

The search result can contain very useful information as age, date of birth, and date of death (varies from record to record). Additionally, all other persons buried in the same grave are shown which are very probably relatives, wife, husband or children. However, it has to be noted, that for the historic search, other people buried in this grave do not necessarily have to be related, as they may have been buried there at a different time.

In any case, it is usually worth to try both searches – historic and current. There is also a map showing the exact location of the grave.

Population Cards Familysearch

Familysearch offers an interesting collection in its catalogue:
Austria, Vienna, Population Cards 1850-1896

The time period given might be confusing. The collection actually includes population cards as of approx. 1905, which have been issued for persons born before 1897.
The search result includes information on the date and place of birth, spouse/wife and district in which the person lived (no detailed address).
The original population cards are available in the Vienna Municipal and Provincial Archive. You can search the collection for free there. There is also a possibility to ask the Archive for the document and detailed address (see here for details). However, there is a fee charged by the archive for research: EUR 35 for every half hour.

Further Data Bases

The data bases of  genteam (free registration required) and of Familia Austria (partly free, partly tied to a membership) both give information on baptisms, marriages and deaths of Viennese inhabitants. At Familia Austria, the deceased persons whose death was published in the Viennese Newspaper have been collected. Those are also available at ANNO of the Austrian National Library through a search for the name.

Historic City Maps and Photos

There is a  Wien-Wiki which offers historic maps of Vienna.

There is also a street directory (“Liste topographischer Objekte“), where you can search for a street and get information, as e.g. responsible parish or special sights in the street.

In the Photo Gallery (“Bildergalerie“), there are several pictures of historic houses. If you are lucky, the house you are looking for is among them. If not, you at least get an idea, how an area in Vienna looked like in the past centuries.

There are also interesting historic maps at the Vienna Library Online (“Wienbibliothek digital).

Source:

(1) https://www.wien.gv.at/kultur/archiv/geschichte/ueberblick/stadtwachstum.html

Land Registers and Family Research – Family Weihs in Sachsendorf, Austria

As entries in land registers offer a good insight into family history, I would like to write about this topic today.

Introduction of the land register in Austria

Maria Theresia started a first register of houses in 1770 (see also here) which was the predecessor of our modern land register. Land registers contain a lot of information on properties and their owners. Today, I would like to focus on the owners.

Documents at Familysearch

At Familysearch, there are many Austrian seigneurial records available online (free registration required). To get to the right records, use the menue “Search” and there “Catalogue”.  As location, enter “Austria”. You will get to a long list of different records, where you have to select “Court Records” and there you are:
Austria, seigniorial records = Österreich, Herrschaftsakten, 1537-1920

Family Weihs in Sachsendorf, Lower Austria

Using the example of the family Weihs of Sachsendorf (district Kirchberg am Wagram, Lower Austria), I would like to illustrate the support which a land register can offer for family research.

Mathias Weihs was my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. So far, I know that he was born in 1724 in Kollersdorf close to Sachsendorf and that he was married to Anna Maria Leuthner (widow of Stephan Kienast). I did not do much more research on his family yet (except for my direct ancestor, his son Paul).

Titel Grundbuch Sachsensdorf, NIederösterreich

Title page of the land register Sachsensdorf, Lower Austria, source citation see end of the blog post

Transcription and Translation: “Land register of the village of Sachsendorf of all properties with houses and all agricultural properties”

Through the above shown land register  („Haus-Überland-Grundbuch Amt Sachsendorf“) which is available online at Familysearch (Source citation see end of the blog post), I found out that Mathias Weihs owned several properties in Sachsendorf.
This was one of them:

 

Titel des Grundbucheintrages, Quellenangabe siehe Ende des Posts

Name/Title of the property, source citation see end of the blog post

Transkription and translation: “Von einem Bauernhaus, dareingehören 3 1/2 Joch Acker” – Of one farm house, including 3 1/2 Joch fields; Joch is an old square measure

From the entry in the land register, one can see the following chain of owners:

Besitzerkette Eintrag Grundbuch Sachsendorf, Quellenangabe siehe Ende des Posts

Owners in land register entry Sachsendorf, source citation see end of the blog post

Thus, the following persons were owners of the farm house:

  • Mathias Weihs and his wife Anna Maria („ux.“ is short for uxoris, wife) as of 1759
  • Franz Weihs, first unmarried as of 1788 and subsequently with his wife Elisabeth as of 1790 (from Sachsendorf, formerly written as Saxendorf)
  • Joseph Weihs, unmarried as of 1817 by acquisition (for 4,000 Gulden, the former Austrian currency, abbreviated as „fl.“)
  • Joseph Weihs und his wife Anna Maria as of 1817 by marriage
  • Johann Weihs, unmarried, living in the farm house- by acquisition in 1849 for 1,200 Gulden

All this information give a good overview and there are enough facts for a more detailed research. As mentioned in the illustration of the scope of the parish Kirchberg am Wagram at Matricula-online, the parish Kirchberg am Wagram includes Sachsendorf until 1784, afterwards, the parish Altenwörth includes the records for Sachsendorf (both are within the Arch-Dioceses of Vienna).

From research in the church books, I found out the following:

  • Mathias Weihs and Anna Maria Leuthner married on 22.7.1759 in Sachsendorf.
  • According to the land register, Franz Weihs married in 1790, which simplifies the search in the book of marriages of the parish Altenwörth:
 On 22.1.1790, Franz Weihs, son of Mathias Weihs and Anna Maria Leuthner married Elisabeth Nesterl. From the entry, one can also deduct the year of birth of Franz Weihs: He was 25 years of age at the time of the wedding, therefore he was born in 1765. It actually was on 27.5.1764, as the baptismal book of the parish Kirchberg am Wagram shows.
  • Joseph Weihs acquired the property from the couple Franz and Elisabeth Weihs (who by the way died in 1830 and 1828 respectively).
 Now it is getting more difficult, as the land register does not give information on the relationship between Joseph and Franz. Brother? Son? Nephew?
    As the next two entries in the land register have both been made in 1817, it can be assumed that it is for the same Joseph, who was married to a woman named Anna Maria in 1817. And there really is a wedding of Joseph Weihs and Anna Maria Entlang on 11.11.1817 in the church book. The church book gives us the information that Joseph was the son of Franz and Elisabeth Weihs and that he was born in 1791.
    By the way, this is the starting point for further research, as I have to try to find the purchase contract between Franz and Joseph. How could son Joseph afford to buy land for 4,000 Gulden which was quite some money at that time?
  • The next and last owner in the land register is Johann Weihs who also acquired the property. He was unmarried.
    During the time in question, there were three baptisms of boys named Johann Weihs. It is most probable that the right Johann is the son of Joseph and Anna Maria Weihs who was born on 15.8.1825. Any doubt can however only be eliminated through looking at the purchase contract.

Finally, I could establish the following facts with the support of the land register:

Ahnentafel Johann Weihs Kopie

Source Citation Familysearch – Land register:
“Österreich Herrschaftsakten 1537-1920,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9K9-BS3H?cc=1929847&wc=MYCG-BZQ%3A1062206102%2C1047408502%2C1062215703%2C1062215702%2C1062221701 : 20 May 2014), Österreich  \> Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) \> Kirchberg am Wagram \> Herrschaft Grafenegg mit Freihof Etsdorf \> image 13 of 200; Landesarchiv, Österreich (national archives, Austria).

Michael Stangerer, “Ship rider”

Today, I would like to introduce you to my 6times Great-Grandfather, Michael Stangerer. He lived in the 18th century and his profession was “Ship rider”. Until I wrote this post, I had no idea what a ship rider was doing. Now I know that he led an exhausting life.

Michael Stangerer was born on the 7th of May 1712 under the baptismal name Johann as son of Georg and Eva (maiden name unknown) Stangerer. They were living in Perg, Upper Austria, at the address “In den Judenleüthen”.

This address is derived from the term „jugent“ which means “Young Forrest”. “Leithen” is a slope. The address therefore describes a slope with a forrest.

On 22nd of September, aged 27, he married Rosalia Rüttner, the 45-year-old widow of Simon Büttner, an inhabitant of St.Johann close to Grafenwörth at the river Danube in Lower Austria.

(Translation: “here, Michael, currently ship rider in Stockerau, legitimate son of Georg Stangerer, dead, in the Judenleuthen from the parish of Perg and Eva his wife, living, with Rosalia, widow of Simon Rüttner, inhabitant of St.Johann”
Transcription in German: „allhier, Michael derzeit zu Stockerau ein SchiffReuther deß Georg Stangerer, sel. in den Judenleüthen auß der Pfarre Perg, Eva dessen Ehewirthin noch im Leben beider ehelich erzeugt hinterlasster Sohn mit Rosalia deß Simon Rüttner gewester Nachbar zu St. Johanns hinterlasstene Wittib“)

This marriage entry gives important information on Michael Stangerer: At the time of the marriage, Georg Stangerer, father of the groom, had died already. The profession of the groom is given as “ship rider” in the town of Stockerau in Lower Austria. The profession of the best men is also interesting: Gabriel Hann and Hans Walleneder were both boatmen in Stockerau.

By the way, some church books in the parish of Grafenwörth have a very informative idea, including all information of the entry, which makes working with these books very easy:

Sipping on the Danube in the 18th Century

Before the course of the river Danube was regulated, St. Johann was situated at the bank of the river and was a trans-shipment center for all kinds of goods and a resting place for boatmen.

Shipping on the Danube was the most important way to supply the fast growing City of Vienna with wood from the forrest of Bavaria and Bohemia. Also salt was transported frequently on the river.

However, the Danube was never as important as other European rivers as Rhine or Rhone for transportation purposes, as the Danube’s waters flow in the “wrong” direction, away from the trading centers in the West and the North of Europe.

Ships going upstream were tied together and were pulled by horses (up to 60, depending on the size of the ships) which were going on the path beside the river, the “Treppelwege”. The whole process was called “Treideln”.

The chain of ships was built according to a certain scheme, the biggest ship being first in line. After that, smaller ships followed. The chain of ships was accompanied by smaller dinghies.

There were ropes with a length of about 80 meters tied to the mast of the ships. The steersmen had to try to keep the ships away from the banks of the river. In that manner, ships were moving slowly and could only make 4-6 hours per day.

So, what exactly does a ship rider do? The ship rider was the person riding on the horses which were pulling the ships, directing the horses on the path beside the river. Mostly, they were sitting sideways on wooden saddles, thus keeping an eye on the ship and the rope.

Bild: Alois Greil in Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, Band Oberösterreich, Wien 1889

Picture: Alois Greil in Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, Band Oberösterreich, published in Vienna in 1889

By the way, in 1812 the first steamboat started its operations in Vienna, through which the profession of ship rider lost importance.

Coming back to my ancestor: Through the mentioned marriage, Michael Stangerer no longer had to accompany the ships. His wife obviously has inherited a house in St.Johann from her late first husband. Thus, Michael Stangerer subsequently became an inhabitant of St.Johann and stayed there.

 

He married there four times and had seven children, two of whom died in infancy.

(Translation: Geburt=Birth, Heirat=Marriage, Tod=Death)

On 24th of October 1790, Michael Stangerer died from a lung disease at the age of 78 as widower at the address St.Johann No. 10.

Sources (in German):

Joseph Prankl, Blacksmith in Gaming, Lower Austria

Gaming is a village close to the mountain Ötscher in Mostviertel in Lower Austria and is situated on the Iron Trail. The Iron Trail has been an important site for the production and processing of iron since the 16th century. Subsequently, grand forges, but also many smaller hammer mills were built in the area.

Due to the Napoleonic Wars, the region was cut off from trade and from new technologies and could no longer compete with other areas with better infrastructure.

My ancestor Joseph Prankl, was a blacksmith for horseshoes and nails who settled in Gaming. He was married to Anna Maria (nee Eder) from Purgstall. The couple had 16 children. At least five of whom did not survive infancy. The children were born in the time period between 1795 and 1814 in Gaming.

The Viennese newspaper “Wiener Zeitung” published the following article in May 1813 about Joseph Prankl:

In this article, the foreclosure sale of the house of Joseph Prankl with the address Hofstadt in der Au no.7 which he has only built two years before was announced.

The house is described in detail: There were two rooms on the ground floor, a spacious kitchen, a pantry and a cellar. On the first floor, there were seven rooms and a kitchen. There was also a stable for two horses, three cows and a big barn.
Close to the house was the smithy.

Joseph Prankl tried to succeed as blacksmith in Gaming, but it was right at the time of economic downturn of the region. He seems to have overextended himself on the new house and could not repay his liabilities.

So far, I could not find out, where Joseph Prankl came from, nor where he and his family went after the foreclosure.  A brick wall, I still have to overcome!

I do know that two of his sons settled in Gresten, a village nearby and were blacksmiths there.