Who were the parents of Melchior Brumbach, the 1714 immigrant to Germanna, Virginia?

+3 votes

Before the 1964 publication of B.C. Holtzclaw's ''Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia, 1714-1750'', it was thought that Melchior Brombach, the 1714 immigrant to Germanna, Virginia, was born at Muesen, Nassau-Siegen in 1695, the eldest son of Johannes Georg Brumbach, a church elder with a complete list of baptized children.  The wife of Johannes Georg Brombach, Anna Barbara Wurmbach, was also the mother (by her first husband) of Johannn Jost Merten (Joseph Martin), another 1714 Germanna immigrant.  Joseph Martin's wikitree profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Merten-15

However, B.C. Holtzclaw's book cited a 1713 record showing that the emigrant Melchior Brombach had a brother Caspar (who was fined for Melchior's departure), and the existence of this brother disproved Melchior as the son of Johann Georg Brombach, who didn't have a son Caspar, and whose son Melchior died as a small child.  Holtzclaw concluded that Melchior could have only been the son of Johann Georg Brombach's brother Johannes, whose list of baptized children had suitable gaps in which to fit presumed sons Melchior and Caspar, and whose wife Anna Margaretha Kemper was the aunt of Johannes Kemper, yet another 1714 Germanna immigrant.  Johannes Kemper's profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Kemper-97

Much more recently Daniel Bly, whose 2002 book ''From the Rhine to the Shenandoah'' (Volume III) includes a chapter on the Brombach family, has argued that Melchior Brombach (the 1714 immigrant) was actually the brother of Johannes and Johann Georg Brombach, who did indeed have brothers named Caspar (b. 1655) and Melchior (b. 1664).  (Caspar and Melchior were two of the "three kings" who visited baby Jesus.  The third king was Balthazar, a name that wasalso used occasionally in German families.)

The basic problem with Daniel Bly's answer to this question is that it makes Melchior a 50-year-old bachelor who emigrated to the New World and married a much younger woman.

The basic problem with B.C. Holtzclaw's solution is that it requires us to accept two un-recorded births of sons of Johannes Brombach in a tight time frame.  Which one is correct?

WikiTree profile: Melchior Brumbach
in Genealogy Help by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
retagged by Traci Thiessen
Actually it requires us to accept three unrecorded births of sons of Johannes in a tight frame of time. From the list of Johannes's children on page 52 in Holtzclaw's book: "Johannes Brombach, b. probably c. 1693, who also petitioned Dec. 11 1713 for relief from his brother Melchior's fine."

Not only are there no birth / baptismal records for these three sons of Johannes, but there are no confirmation, marriage or death records at Müsen for any of them. There are other records for the seven other children of Johannes whose births and baptisms are recorded, including a son, Johann Melchior Brombach, born in 1704.
Well, one has to wonder at the gaps in the recorded births of Johannes Brombach.  Perhaps these unrecorded sons were bad boys who weren't allowed to be confirmed, and then were kidnapped by an army recruiter from Westphalia?  I'm thinking outside the box here, but the idea of a 50-year-old newlywed heading for the New World is also outside the box.

I've reached out to the Germanna Foundation regarding this question, because if an emerging Wikitree consensus is different from their internal consensus, there will be ongoing difficulties on Melchior Brombach's profile.

For those who aren't familiar, the Germanna Foundation preserves the memory of the 1714 and 1717 colonies at Germanna, Virginia, with a museum, an archeological dig, periodic reunions, and trips to Germany.  See https://germanna.org/

(My Coons ancestry goes back to the nephew of Joseph Coons, one of the Germanna ironworkers, and I also descend from Germanna's Fishback, Hager, Holtzclaw and Otterbach families.  Recently I've been working on the Wikitree profiles of the ancestors of all of the 1714 Germanna families.)
It is very important that the folks at the Germanna Foundation be aware of this issue, but I do think that it should be decided on existing information, not consensus. Adding more conjectures to explain the gaps between the children to justify what is already conjecture does nothing to meet the genealogical standards for proof of parentage set by the National Genealogical Society or WikiTree. There are baptismal records for children of Johannes and Anna Margareta in 1683, 1687, 1691, 1696, 1700, 1704 and 1708.  Could it be that four year gaps is the normal biological time table for this family?  Not everyone had the every two year cycle.

I too, am a direct descendant of Melchior Brumbach and want to get this right. If anyone can find primary evidence that Johannes and Anna Margaret had sons named Casper and Johannes who were around to petition for relief from a fine in1713, or that Margaretha, "widow of Johannes," who made a similar petition in 1714 (her husband died in April, 1714), is the mother of Melchior I will gladly accept it as fact. I have been working on family history for sixty years and with German church records and for almost fifty years and have seen quite a few men start new families in their forties, fifties and even sixties, so I think it quite possible that Melchior Brombach could have decided to go to Virginia and decided he needed a companion to go with him.
Daniel Bly, perhaps there is contrary evidence, and perhaps it's important to revisit Article I of WikiTree's Honor Code, and perhaps your talk of being a genealogist for 60 years will have the effect of intimidating others who might have honest questions about your INTERPRETATION of the available evidence.

Perhaps an example will help.  You say that Johannes and Margaretha Brombach consistently had children every four years, as opposed to the norm of two.  (A biological point here: breastfeeding serves to block ovulation, so when women weened their babies on their first birthday, they became able to become pregnant again.)

But back to your point.  Imagine Joe Newcomer, who's smarter than the average bear, but he doesn't have your decades of experience.  Nevertheless, Joe wants to be involved in the discussion, and he's surprised that your four-year pattern has never been noticed.  So...Joe reaches for his dog-eared copy of Holtzclaw's book and turns to page 52 and ... WAIT A MINUTE!  What about child #4, Johannes Brombach, who was buried Sept. 27, 1689?  This child doesn't fit into that four-year interval, and furthermore, Holtzclaw says that there is no baptism record for him.  How about that?  Is Holtzclaw mistaken?  Are there other children (filling gaps in those four-year intervals) whose baptisms weren't recorded?

7 Answers

+3 votes
All I am asking for is any evidence that will further support Holtzclaw's conclusions.  I will gladly admit that I was wrong if this evidence is found.

So far the only records I have found in the Müsen church books are for a Melchior, son of Jost, who sponsored a number of baptisms for children of his siblings between 1695 and 1713.  After that there is no further record of him.
by Daniel Bly G2G6 Mach 5 (59.7k points)
edited by Daniel Bly
+2 votes
Daniel Bly, perhaps it is good to keep in mind that:

(1) The purpose of this thread is to strive for consensus regarding the parents of Melchior Brombach, or at the very least give opportunity to others to voice their skepticism or objections.

(2) Toward that end, I think it's important to fully present your case, with supporting evidence, so people who have not done your research can follow and test your chain of reasoning.

I think it's important to present Holtzclaw's case here, too, and I'll be getting around to that.
by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
+2 votes

Here is Daniel Bly's research on Melchior Brombach (b. 1664, son of Jost Brombach), which Bly posted (with footnotes and quotations in the original German) on the profile of Melchior Brumbach-28 at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Brumbach-28 

Melchior Brumbach son of Jost Brombach and Catherina Klein, was born at Muesen and baptized 15 May 1664. [1] Melchior was thirteen years old when he was confirmed at Müsen, Christmas, 1677 and first sponsored a baptism at Müsen in September, 1695, when he sponsored Johann Melchior, son of Johann Georg and Anna Barbara Brumbach. In that record he was identified as "Melchior Brombach aus Müsen noch Jungergesell "(still a bachelor). In the following years he may have left Müsen to work in nearby villages but was close enough to come back in 1704 to sponsor Johann Melchior, son of Johannes and Margaretha and a second son of Johann Georg and Anna Barbara in 1705. He was called "gewesen Melchior Brombach aus Müsen, noch ledige Gesell" (still single fellow formerly from Müsen), when he sponsored a child of Friedrich Höfer (brother-in-law) at Müsen in March of 1707. [2] He was listed as "Melchior Brombach von Müessen," when he show up at nearby Ernsdorf and sponsored Johann Melchior Kaltschmidt, son of his sister, Anna Catherina, and her husband, Friedrich Kaltschmidt, July 24, 1713. [3]

Here is a transcript of the complete records regarding Melchior Brombach:

Records of Melchior Brombach / Brumbach at Müsen, Nassau-Siegen. Birth: Anno 1664, den 15 Tag May ist Melchior, Jost Brombach und Catherina Eheleuth eheliche Sohn getauft, Pate: Melchior Eckhardt. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Taufen, 1649-1764, p 11a,

Confirmation: Nativitat 1677. Melchior Brombach, Jost Brombach Sohn von Müssen. (One of seven comfirmed at that time. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Konfirmation, 1660-1672, p. 153.

Sponsor of Baptisms: 1695-Dom 16 post Trinit. Johann Georg Brumbach, Anna Barbara, ehel, einen junge Sohn Tauffen lassen. Gev. Melchior Brumbach, noch jungergesell aus Müsen Das Kind gennant Melchior, natus, 2 Sept. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Taufen, 1649-1764, p. 39.

1704 20 Aprill Haben Johannes Brumbach, Anna Margaretha eheleuth einen junge Sohn taufft lassen. Gevtt, is gewesen Melchior Brumbach aus Müssen. Dess Kind is gennant worden Johann Melchior. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Taufen, 1649-1764, p. 50.

1705 Auff Pfingstmontag haben Georg Brombach, Anna Barbara eheleuth einen Sohn tauff lassen. Gevtt is gewesen Melchior Brombach dess Kind is gennant worden Johann Melchior. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Taufen, 1649-1764, p. 51.

1707 13 Martii hat Friedrich Höfer, Anna Magdalena eheleute einen Junge Sohn tauffen lassen, Gevatter is gewesen Melchior Brumbach aus Muessen noch lediger gesell. Das Kind is gennant worden Johann Melchior. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Müsen, Volume I, Taufen, 1649-1764, p. 52a.

1713 Ernsdorf, July 18th Friedrich Kaldschmidt Kirchen Elster hiesig Gemeinde, Anna Catherina Eheleuthe einen Sohn. Gevatter war Melchior Brombach von Muessen. Dess Kind Johann Melchior, getaufft 24th ej. Kirchenbuch Evangelisch-Reformierte Ferndorf, Taufen, Volume 3, 1677-1716, p. 333.

No further records for an adult Melchior Brombach / Brumbach can be found in the existing Müsen church books until Johann Melchior, son of Johannes and Margaretha came of age (confirmed 1720, married 1737).

The July 1713 baptism at Ernsdorf is the last reference to Melchior in any church records. A reasonable argument can be made that he is the Melchior Brombach, who left in 1713 with a group of others from the area, went to Virginia and established the Germanna Colony in 1714.

In my next post (perhaps tomorrow), if this discussion doesn't go off on a tangent, I will present Holtzclaw's evidence and what he infers from it. 

by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
+3 votes

Now to discuss Holtzclaw's "proof," which Daniel Bly is challenging.  Page numbers below refer to Holtzclaw's Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia.  Holtzclaw writes that "the petitions in 1713 and 1714 prove positively that the 1714 Melchior Brumback was a son of Johannes Brombach and Anna Margaret Kemper." (pp. 49-50)

1.  Holtzclaw did not do his own research in the Muesen records.  For the church records he relied on the research of a man named Kurt Schuette, and for the civil records he relied on the book, "Eisen, Erz , und Abenteuer." (p. 49)

2.  For Melchior Brombach (b. 1664), Holtzclaw had a bare baptism record, and no other information.  Holtzclaw probably presumed that this Melchior died as an infant.  In addition, a 1664 birth year would have meant that Melchior was almost 50 years old when he decided to go to the New World and become the first husband of a woman from a respected family (descended in the male line from an Iron Master), a supposition that approaches the ludicrous.  There is a saying that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  Does that apply here?

3.  Anna Margaretha Kemper, the wife of Johannes Brombach and supposed mother of Melchior the 1713 emigrant, was the aunt of Johannes Kemper, also one of the 1713 emigrants to Germanna, Virginia.

3.  Moving on to Holzclaw's "positive proof":
"On Dec. 4, 1713 Caspar Brumbach of Muesen asked relief from a fine of 68 Reichsthaler that had been levied on his brother, Melchior Brumbach, who had 'wandered off (presumably without permission) to the island Carolina,' the fine to be paid from Melchior's inheritance." (p. 49)
"On July 2, 1714 Margareta, widow of Johannes Brumbach of Muesen, petitioned for relief from a fine of 7 1/2 Reichsthaler 3 1/2 Albus, levied on Melchior Brumbach of Muesen, who had 'gone to foreign parts.'" (p. 49)


I will continue, with discussion of why Holtzclaw considered this to be "positive proof," in my next post (unless I get distracted by a tangent).

by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
+3 votes

Continuing from my previous post:

4.  The two records cited in point #3 showed that Melchior Brombach, the 1714 immigrant, had a brother Caspar, and that he was from the family of Johannes and Anna Margaretha (Kemper) Brombach.  CONCLUSION:  Melchior and Caspar were sons of Johannes and Margaretha, who also had a nephew going to Virginia.

5.  FURTHER SUPPORT OF HOLTZCLAW'S CONCLUSION:  The fine that was levied on members of the Brombach family was to be paid out of Melchior's inheritance.  This indicated (as Holtzclaw evidently concluded) that the inheritance HAD NOT YET BEEN RECEIVED, meaning that either the father of Melchior and Caspar was still alive or the widow was entitled to the use of his property, which wouldn't be divided among the children until she passed away.  (This of course rules out Melchior Brombach, b. 1664, as the 1714 immigrant, because his parents were long dead.)

Johannes Brombach, husband of Anna Margaretha, was still alive when the fine was levied on Caspar Brombach, and then he died and his widow was apparently hit with a much lower fine, less than one seventh of the amount that Caspar had to pay.  Maybe there's a story in that: Who knows what else is in the court records?

LOOSE ENDS: There are two loose ends in all of this, and sometimes tugging at a loose end causes the whole skein to come unraveled.  I'll discuss these two loose ends in a following post.

by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
Why was the fine levied on Casper if if both parents were still living in 1713- that makes no sense.  Further critique of Holtzclaw will follow when you conclude your comments
That's a question worth discussing.  Stay tuned...
+1 vote

The first loose end is the problem of the recorded baptisms of the children of Johannes and Margaretha (Kemper) Brombach, the presumed (by Holtzclaw) parents of Melchior Brombach, the 1714 immigrant to Germanna, Virginia.

Holtzclaw did not examine the baptism registers.  His source, Jost Stuell of Germany, found a first daughter baptized in December 1693, and then a six-year gap until the Sept. 1689 burial (not baptism) of son Johannes (who probably died as an infant before he could be baptized -- thanks to Daniel Bly for pointing this out).

This means that, in Holtzclaw's reasoning, brothers Melchior and Caspar (proved to be brothers by Caspar's above-mentioned 1713 petition) would conveniently fit into the gap, one being born around 1685 and the other around 1687. (Holtzclaw, p. 52)

However, Daniel Bly, searching the parish records, found the baptism of a different son, Johann Georg, in January 1687, cutting off part of the gap in the birth order that Holtzclaw imagined.  This means that the only way that Melchior and Caspar could fit into the narrower gap would be if they were twins born around 1685.

I think this "loose end" is not insurmountable, but one has to imagine that the minister forgot to record the baptisms of a pair of twins, and Holtzclaw's conclusion about Melchior's place in the family is a bit uncomfortable here.

The second "loose end" is Melchior and Caspar's presumed younger brother Johannes, born "probably ca. 1693, who also petitioned Dec. 11, 1713 for relief from his brother Melchior's fine."  (Holtzclaw, p. 52)  Once again, there is no baptism record for this son Johannes, and apparently no other record at all (according to Daniel Bly, who searched the parish records).  My question here:  Did Holtzclaw have a record that clearly stated that Johannes was the brother of Melchior?  Or did he just jump to that conclusion?  The answer to that question will affect my speculation about what is really going on here:  I surmise that the Johannes of this 1713 record was NOT identified as Melchior's brother, and he was actually the husband of Margaretha Kemper (Holtzclaw's presumed parents of Melchior the immigrant), and after his death his widow made a follow-up petition in July 1714 (mentioned in a previous post).  If Johannes WAS clearly identified in the petition as Melchior's brother, that would seem to give support to Daniel Bly's reconstruction of the Brombach family (because otherwise we have to imagine -- as Holtzclaw did -- Johannes as a 20-year-old petitioner with no baptism record, no confirmation record, and apparently no marriage record or death record in the Muesen parish registers), except for the all-important phrase, "to be paid out of his inheritance."

by Silas Coons G2G1 (1.2k points)
Your two loose ends are right on, the complete text of the December 4th December 11, 1713  documents and the July 2, 1714 documents are critical.  I also want to thank you for basically stating the first major point of my position; Prof. Holtzclaw did not have enough information from the original records to draw a sound conclusion.

 Prof. Holtzclaw was an excellent historian who compiled a remarkable history of the Germanna colony, but for his German genealogical work he did not have access to church and archival records, but instead relied on several German researchers. His researchers either did not provide him with the complete transcripts of the civil records regarding Melchior’s departure, or he chose to quote only snippets of the transcripts. The only family relationships mentioned in his quotes are Caspar and Johannes as, “brother” of Melchior and Margareta,“widow” of Johannes.  There were three well documented brothers, Johannes (born 1653) Caspar born 1655), and Melchior (b. 1664), living at Müsen in 1713. Did Holtzclaw even consider that the civil records referred to them, especially since Johannes died in the spring of 1714 and the July 1714 petition by his widow, Margaretha, suggests that? We don’t know the answer to that question, but he did assume that Margaretha was the mother of Melchior, “who had wandered off to foreign parts.” This required him to also assume that there was a younger generation of three brothers, Johannes, Caspar and Melchior, son of Johannes and Margaretha. That is not the way to solve a genealogical problem, unless you have some supporting evidence.

     The problem is that there is not one piece of evidence in the records of Müsen to support this assumption. There are no baptismal or confirmation records or subsequent marriages, baptismal sponsorships or deaths, for a younger generation of Johannes, Caspar and Melchior Brombachs, sons of Johannes Brombach and Anna Margaretha Kemper. This couple did have a son, Johann Melchior, born in 1704, far too young to be the Melchior who left in 1713. It is most unusual to name a second son the same name of an older living brother, but no notice of that is taken, even though Holtzclaw and others have mentioned how unusual it was that Philipp Fischbach had two daughters named Maria Elisabetha.

Another puzzling aspect is the fact that Casper and Johannes were being asked to pay the fine from their brother Melchior’s inheritance, but Johannes and Margaretha, the presumed parents, were still living in December 1713 and so that should also have raised the  question-“What inheritance?” If it referred to a future inheritance, why did authorities try to collect from the brothers instead of the living parents?

Given these questions and concerns, it appears that Prof. Holtzclaw misinterpreted the civil records because he was not aware that Melchior, born in 1664 was still living at Muesen in 1713, or that there were confirmation records that could be search for evidence that Johannes and Margaretha had children whose baptisms were missing from the church records.

It is also possible that Holtzclaw, like many contemporaries, excluded the older Melchior because he thought it implausible that a 26 year old woman “from a respectable family” would marry a 49 year old man and start a life together in the wilderness of the New World. Aside from the fact that countless older men married younger women and started families, it is quite plausible that this 49 year old man was a hardy, healthy man with experiences that would be far more valuable for starting a new life in an unknown land, than an inexperience younger man would have.


Daniel Bly, it appears that you may have misinterpreted the record, and/or possibly the translated snippet that we have is not clear.  Before discussing that, I'm going to give a cautionary tale about interpretation of primary sources:

Once upon a time, a medieval English estate holder had an eldest son who died young, leaving an infant son by the same name.  The estate holder, in his middle age, married a younger woman, and then died, leaving a will that identified the son of his son (by his first wife) as his own son.  The Inquisition Post Mortem correctly gave the age of this young grandson, but also incorrectly identified the GRANDson as the SON of the estate holder.  So when modern-day genealogists came along, they mistakenly identified the GRANDson (who was the son and namesake of the eldest son by the first wife) as a SON by the second wife, falsely giving this son a Magna Carta ancestry through the mistaken mother.

Now, moving on to what you wrote in your previous comment:

"Another puzzling aspect is the fact that Casper and Johannes were being asked to pay the fine from their brother Melchior’s inheritance, but Johannes and Margaretha, the presumed parents, were still living in December 1713 and so that should also have raised the  question-“What inheritance?” If it referred to a future inheritance, why did authorities try to collect from the brothers instead of the living parents?"

 The issue here is your assumption that the phrase "his inheritance" refers to Melchior's inheritance, as opposed to the natural reading that the phrase refers to Caspar's own (future) inheritance.  (As has been mentioned, we really need full quotations of the relevant court records to make clear sense of this.)

Imagine this scenario:  Papa Brombach gives a cash settlement to young Melchior, in lieu of Melchior's interest in the family's house and field, which will be divided among his brothers who remained in Germany.  The local authorities get wind of this, and decide to impose a punishment that won't cause the elderly Papa and Mama Brombach to lose their home:
Caspar (and his under-age brothers) will have to pay a stiff fine WHEN THEY INHERIT, after the death of Papa and Mama.  If they don't pay the fine by that later date, they will forfeit the house and field.

In addition, Papa Brombach is assessed a much smaller fine (payable immediately), to make it clear that his role in Melchior's emigrating without government permission cannot be condoned.  Papa then dies, and widowed Mama petitions in July 1714 for relief from this smaller fine.

Please understand that I am not claiming that this is what happened;  I am speculating.  Do you (or does anyone else) think that my speculation is not plausible?  If not, then we need a different interpretation of the available evidence.  But if my speculation IS plausible, then it is perilous to rush to judgment in favor of your conclusion.  To quote the first sentence of Holtzclaw's Brumback-Brombach chapter (p. 49): "Genealogy, so liable to error, is always a hazardous venture."

You are providing more speculation about this than Holtzclaw!  There are simpler scenarios than the ones you are providing. Clearly, Casper, Melchior and probably Johannes had an inheritance due them. Rather than assuming a future inheritance (which could change quickly due to deaths), it makes more sense that the property of Jost and Catherina had never been divided among their seven surviving children. Catherina died in 1704- nine years earlier and the property was probably occupied by Casper or Johannes, or maybe both. Nine years is not all that long for heirs to wait to finally settle up. When Johannes died in 1714, his children and widow were the heirs, and German law was not the same as English law, which we are more familiar with.  Widows only counted as much as a child and in some states two shares instead of one.  That is why she had a smaller fine.  I suspect there is more in those civil records than we have seen and that is why they are so important.

You say that I am "providing more speculation than Holtzclaw!"  That would seem to be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.  I hope it is incorrect to see your statement as rudely dismissive, bringing to mind Point #4 of the WikiTree Honor Code.

With your above-quoted statement (rudely dismissive or not), you sidestepped my question about the plausibility of my speculative explanation of the court records.
I think the problem with the court records is trying to explain why Casper and Johannes were singled out to pay and not the other children. Johann Georg is the oldest son according to baptismal records and according to Holtzclaw's calculations, only Melchior would have been older. Because of that I think my scenario of Casper and Johannes, sons of Jost, still occupying the property is far more plausible.  As for being dismissive you crossed that line when you dismissed my experience as attempt to intimidate and then proceeded to tout your connection to the Germanna Foundation, I said nothing at the time because in these exchanges there will always be a bit of hyperbole.

Perhaps you will agree that the careful use of words is important for honest communication.  Earlier, in my comment on Sept. 25, I did not "dismiss your experience as attempt to intimidate."  I brought attention to your touting of your experience as possibly having the effect of intimidating.  There is big difference.

And, for the record, I never "touted my connection to the Germanna Foundation."  Why you would say such a thing?

You write, "I think the problem with the court records is trying to explain why Casper and Johannes were singled out to pay and not the other children."

You make the questionable assumption that "Caspar and Johannes were singled out."  What basis do you have for that assumption?

Finally, in case it isn't already clear, I think that your case for Melchior (b. 1664) being the Germanna immigrant is plausible and well worth considering.  The problem arises when there is also a plausible alternative, even if your scenario is "more plausible."  I strongly suspect that careful attention to the exact wording of the various 1713-14 petitions will do much to rule out one case or the other.  

By the way, Holtzclaw got his references to those 1713-14 petitions from a published book, "Lueck's Eisen, Erz, und Abenteuer," as he mentions on page 49.  Perhaps you or your contact at the Germanna Foundation could track down that book as a way into the actual records, which may or may not be indexed.

EDIT: You write that "according to Holtzclaw's calculations, only Melchior would have been older" than Johann Georg, son of Johannes and Margaretha (Kemper) Brombach.  Not, as I already mentioned, if Melchior and Caspar were twins.  This would be a fitting choice to name twins, because, according to Catholic tradition dating back to the early Middle Ages, Melchior and Caspar were two of the Biblical "Three Kings."  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caspar_(magus)

Of course there could be other records regarding the other children, but only Caspar, and Johannes are mentioned as brothers by Holtzclaw. I am trying to point out that Holtzclaw should have also given some more thought the the limited information he had. We can keep coming up with more scenarios and speculation but what we need is more information. That is something on which we both can agree.

Barbara Price, a trustee of the Germanna Foundation has sent me photocopies of the original documents, that refer to Melchior Brumbach's immigration and his brothers, Casper and Johannes, along with English translations of them.  Following is a listing of Holtzclaw's references which he got from other researchers, each followed by  a full translation of the original documents  

 “On Dec. 4, 1713 Caspar Brumbach of Muesen asked relief from a fine of 68 Reichsthaler that had been levied on his brother, Melchior Brumbach, who had “wandered off (presumably without permission) to the island of Carolina,” the fine to be paid from Melchior’s inheritance. Siegener Landesarchiv, 11, nos 28a, vol. 2, p. 149.

Here is a translation of the full document: “Monday 4th of Dec. 1713, very humbly submitted a pleading petition for the relief of 68 Reichsthaler for which he is indebted because his brother, Melchior Brumbach left for island of Carolina and his assets are no to be confiscated.  With extraordinary graces we will dispense of payment of the 68 Reichsthalers because of the stated reasons.

Holtzclaw, p. 52

“Johannes Brombach, b. probably ca. 1693, who also petitioned Dec 11, 1713 for relief from his brother Melchior’s fine” (inserted in the list of the children of Johannes and Margaretha).

Here is the full document: Monday Dec 11 1713- Johannes Brumbach of Muesen very humbly submitted a pleading petition regarding the verdict of the 6th of Dec. 1713 for relief of the 15 Reichsthalers and 7 Albus for which he is indebted because  his brother Melchior Brumbach left for foreign lands and now to be paid to his majesty according to his verdict.  With extraordinary grace we will dismiss the reported 15 Reichsthalers, 7 Albus, if he will pay the other half of 7 Reichsthalerss and 26 Albus immediately.

Holtclaw, p.49. 

“On July 2, 1714 Margareta , widow of Johannes Brumbach of Muesen, petitioned for relief from a fine of 7 and half Reichsthaler, 3 and half Albus, levied on Melchior Brumbach of Muesen who had “gone to foreign parts.”  Siegener Landesarchiv, 11, nos. 28a, vol. 2, p. 200. (Margaretha’s husband died in April, 1714).

We do not yet have the entire entry for Margaretha, but the 7 and half and 3 and half Albus is exactly what Johannes, brother of  Melchior was asked to pay, but he obviously died before he was able to submit it.

Benjamin Holtzclaw, concluded that these partial civil records referred to a younger Melchior Brombach, Casper Brombach, both born between 1685 and 1687 and Johannes Brombach, born about 1693 to Johannes and Anna Margaretha, but no baptismal or confirmation records can be found for any such person  Now a more complete translation leaves no doubt that Margaretha was the widow of the brother of Melchior, not his father.


Thank you Daniel Bly; those documents demonstrate that Johannes Brombach (d.1714) had brothers Melchior (the Germanna immigrant) and Caspar, as well as a widow Margaretha, leading directly to the conclusion that Johannes can only be the son of Jost Brombach and the husband of Anna Margaretha Kemper, with the further conclusion that his brother Melchior was as you supposed, baptized 1664, son of Jost.  I have no objection if you want to go ahead and edit the relevant profiles accordingly.
+2 votes
Can you please add the Germany tag to the OP, so we can get the Germany project aware of these changes.

I see a large number of changes Melchior Brombach-69 over the last week. It seems that Melchior Brumbach-28 now represents the spouse of Maria Elisabetha Fishback, which is the Melchior Brumbach that emigrated from Musen, according to the Germanna Foundation.



However, it appears that his information and parents are incorrect, according to the Germanna Foundation, which has the emigrant, Melchior's, parents listed as Johannes Brombach (1653-1714) and Anna Margareta Kemper (1658-1733).



In addition, I noticed that Anna Margareta Kemper is now married to her husband and her father-in-law.

I could certainly use some help understanding these recent changes and I think it would help if sources were added to the affected profiles to back up the changes and explain the contradictions with the Germanna Foundation.

Thanks so much!
by Allison Mackler G2G6 Mach 5 (52.5k points)
I added the Germany tag to the post, Allison. Thanks for suggesting it - I agree with you 100%.

These profiles now seem to be a conflated mess with multiple duplicates in the family needing merges. Keep in mind that there may very well have been two Melchiors born in Germany to different parents and we will need to determine which one emigrated.

Although I have not researched this family, nor do I intend to, I cannot stress enough that when newer research contradicts that of a reliable source (Germanna Foundation), we need to add extensive research notes about the rationale behind the contradictory evidence. Primary sources need to be added to back that new evidence up.

The discussion in this thread needs to be incorporated into the biographies of all related profiles. Most importantly, please come to an agreement before making any merges, creating new profiles, and/or changing relationships.
Allison Mackler and Traci Thiessen,

I wish that the two of you had been part of this G2G discussion earlier!  Daniel Bly, based on preliminary research, changed the birth date and parentage of Germanna immigrant Melchior Brombach, and I put the brakes on that and insisted on a thorough discussion of the evidence, which led to a discussion that went on for two weeks, which was conclusively resolved with input from Barbara Price of the Germanna Foundation.  She provided quotations from the court documents cited by B.C. Holtzclaw, proving that the Germanna Foundation was indeed wrong about the identity of Melchior Brombach, and Daniel Bly was right. Bly has added a lot of documentation to the relevant profiles, and I helped a bit by setting up three pending merges but, if profile managers aren't active, we have to wait a few weeks before a merge can go through.

Beyond that, if you see a specific problem with any of the Brombach profiles, please bring it up here or help improve the profile.  As Daniel Bly did the research overthrowing the previous assumptions about Melchior Brombach, he has been taking the lead in adding documentation and explanations to the relevant profiles.  I think he has been doing a good job, but perhaps there is room for improvement.

P.S. I would hesitate to refer to the Germanna Foundation as a "reliable source."  They do have a poorly-sourced database that includes assumptions and suppositions.
This is why properly tagging your G2G posts is important. I only added the Germany tag yesterday - nobody following the Germany tag saw the post until yesterday, when I brought it to their attention.

I simply ask that you explain your changes/new research fully in the research notes. I have no personal interest in this profile and am not inclined to improve or clean up what you two have already done.
I didn't even know that a "Germany" tag existed.

Melchior Brombach's correct identity has been thoroughly documented on his profile that is currently attached to three of his four daughters.  As I already mentioned, merges are in the pipeline.

p.s. Traci, if you had time and inclination to expedite the merges for the three profiles for Melchior Brombach, I'd be happy to work on the cleanup.

My concern is with the identification of the correct Melchior as the 1717 emigrant from Musen. As it stands after the changes, that is undetermined and he is represented by more than one profile.

So if you can point me to the correct (and hopefully permanent) profile, I would be greatly appreciative.

It's not clear based on the profiles themselves since the profiles do not have sources nor research notes that clarify why they differ from the Germanna Foundation's information.

I would assume, that if new information has come to light that the Germanna Foundation DB will be updated soon?

I would recommend for a broader audience in the future that you and Daniel join the Germany project and that you include the Germany tag on your posts. The Germany project also has an email group for discussions. We'd all love to know what you are working on.

Allison, all three profiles of Melchior Brombach are "correct," but only one has Daniel Bly's well-sourced research: Brumbach-28, which has a slightly wrong LNAB.  Eventually, the three will be merged into one, of course.  I'd expedite the merges if I had a leader's "super powers."  Perhaps a leader will show up and do that.  Once again, I look forward to working on the cleanup when these profiles are merged.

p.s. I have no expectation that the Germanna Foundation's database will be updated.  I get the impression that, for decades, they have maintained a "sanitized" genealogy of early Germanna families, apparently hiding the existence of what could reasonably supposed to be bastard children.  The case of Henry Martin, proven to be too old to have been the son of Joseph Martin, is a prime example.  The Germanna Foundation people know about this and, as far as I know, continue to refuse to talk about it.  My impression is that the case of Melchior Brombach could be similar, if they wanted to hide the evidence that he was actually a 50-year-old bachelor when he joined the Germanna colony and married a much younger woman.
I maintain the Germanna Foundation Database of Descendants that is available to members. Am currently busy working on a huge Broyles family project and simply have not had time to consider and evaluate all of this although I have read some of the comments.I am one person doing ALL of the families and you are all just researching your own line or a single family. Please understand and also understand that my own descent is from Second Colony families about which I have more information. The printed genealogies are a starting point for the research, I don't want to sanitize or hide anything. All this research takes TIME. I believe that my fellow Germanna Foundation Trustee Barbara Price who is a First Colony Descendant has done research on the proofs (or lack thereof) of immigration for the First Colony men. If I remember correctly, not only was Melchior Brumbach's brother Caspar fined, but his mother was as well because Melchior "wandered off to the island of Carolina [sic]". I will have to confirm that and get back to you all. I've been burned before by some Back descendants who insisted that BC Holtzclaw was wrong only to find out they were claiming that they were related to the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Found out they had a website calling the Germanna Foundation a rich and prestigious organization (I wish!), and claiming that others wanted to be affiliated with the Germanna family because of that yet they claim to be related to a famous historical figure. That doesn't make any sense! Wouldn't most people want to be related to almost everyone has heard of instead of some immigrants who obscure except to their descendants? Anyway, now I have a mess in the database that needs to be fixed before I can upload any updates.

Hi Cathi, and thank you for taking the time to write.  I hope you can understand that I am not just researching my own line or a single family.  I descend from at least four of the First Colony families, as well as from three Little Fork families.  My interconnected family tree has TWO direct descents from the Holzklau, Jung, Fischbach and Heimbach families, and of course there are links to all the other families in B.C. Holtzclaw's book on the Nassau-Siegen immigrants (including direct descents from Cuntze, Otterbach and Hager), which I have been using as my principal source to improve the wikitree profiles of the ancestors of all the Nassau-Siegen immigrants.  I also intend, as far as possible, to improve the wikitree profiles of all of the known children of the immigrants.  This has been slow going, as time permits.  Often these wikitree profiles have nothing but gedcom upload chatter, which means that quoting (and citing) a few sentences from Holtzclaw is a big improvement.

In the course of this project, I came across the Brombach family (they are not my ancestors), just as Daniel Bly was adding his own research.  I was skeptical and played "Devil's Advocate" on this G2G thread, arguing as well as I could against his conclusion, which in my opinion wasn't all that conclusive.  This led Daniel Bly to reach out to Barbara Price, who provided a transcript of what I had already identified as the critical court document that could prove or disprove Daniel Bly's revised ancestry of Melchior Brombach.  

As mentioned earlier on this G2G thread: This court document and the related documents prove that

(1) Johannes Brombach had a brother Melchior who went to America; and Melchior had a brother Caspar.

(2) Johannes Brombach was alive in December 1713 and died before July 1714, leaving a widow Margaretha.

The only conceivable reconstruction of this Brombach family, which just happens to be a perfect fit, is that Johannes Brombach's wife/widow Margaretha was Anna Margaretha Kemper, and his brother Melchior was the one baptized in 1664 (who was mentioned, without any further information, in Holtzclaw's book).

As I pointed out earlier, a published version of these court documents was available to Holtzclaw when writing his book, which brings up the question of why Holtzclaw chose not to quote the critical document that disproved his speculative supposition about Melchior Brombach's parentage.

A similar issue comes up with Barbara Price's misrepresentation of a critical land record that conclusively proves that Henry Martin was NOT the son of 1714 immigrant Joseph Martin.  This leads immediately to the inference that Henry Martin was on the ship in 1714, challenging the Germanna Foundation's list of the 42 immigrants in 1714.  (I am not descended from the Martin family.)

Furthermore, the Germanna Foundation makes a groundless assumption about which of 1714 immigrant Joseph Kuntz's two daughters named Catharine married Harman Kemper, when either one could have been his wife.  This groundless assumption arbitrarily rules out the possibility that the elder Catharine was the mother of John Counts of Glade Hollow, whose eldest daughter was married by Rev. John Counts/Koontz, grandson of 1714 immigrant Joseph Kuntz, implying a close family connection even though the Y-DNA doesn't match. (I am not descended from 1714 immigrant Joseph Kuntz/Counts.  I descend from his nephew and godson, Joseph Coons of the Little Fork community.)

I could go on about the evidence supporting the conclusion that Harman Hit was the eldest son of Peter Hitt, being the son known to have been born in New York, per Holtzclaw (2019 edition).

p.s.  I have an alleged descent from Johannes Hoffman and his second wife Maria Sabina Volck.  I understand that this marriage was a rare link between the first and second Germanna colonies (1714 and 1717).  Do you know of any other family connections between the two Germanna colonies?

The various Melchior Brumbach / Brombach profiles have now been merged and cleaned up, with extensive explanations and documention to explain why his biographical data on various websites and databases needs to be revised.
Thank you Daniel!
Daniel, Fantastic, thank you!!

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