Can anyone help me solve German ancestor mystery?

+5 votes
My direct ancestor, Nikolas Mengel was born in Gera, Saxony, Germany in the early 1700’s. I recently found an article from the Allentown Democrat 9/1914 about a Mengel reunion in Pottsville, PA. This article indicated Nikolas was the progenitor of all Mengels in PA and refer to him as The Redemptioner. They mention he briefly lived in Russia where he was asked to denounce his Protestant faith and he refused and escaped to the US. Nice story but, I was told he and some friends had tortured a Rabbi who refused to say Jesus. I’m really curious as to what the truth was about Nikolas. There was also some mentions of royalty etc that I’m curious about. I’m having a difficult time understanding exactly what the article is saying. Any help would be much appreciated!
in Genealogy Help by Lyndsay Matthews G2G Crew (970 points)

1 Answer

+6 votes
Best answer

For those who are curious (and have access to, the newspaper story is at

Nicholas Mengel has a profile at (there seems to be no profile at Wikitree yet for him, though there is one for his son of the same name). The "Redemptioner" bit refers to the means he got to America, and has essentially the same meaning as "indentured servant" - he sold his services for three years in order to pay for his passage across. The story at does not have the bit about Russia, but states that he and several of his friends did try to coerce the Rabbi into saying Jesus and then had to flee because the Rabbi, being rich, was able to get the local constable to go after them - this is when he and his friends sold their services to get to America. All of these stories seem to have circulated in the early 20th century; no idea how they relate to what actually happened in the early 18th century.

by Anonymous Geschwind G2G6 Mach 8 (82.0k points)
selected by Dieter Lewerenz

I had never heard indentured servants being called Redemptioners. I will have to keep digging for information on Nicholas. My interest is definitely peaked. Of course I’d love his departure from Germany not be due to anti semitism and what would now be considered a hate crime. But, either way I hope to find some kind of documentation.

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