Coincidentally, many genealogy records begin first with the rise of literacy in the late 1500s, and second with the end of the Thirty Years War in the 1600s—especially in southwestern Germany and Northeastern France. The church (through christenings, marriages, and funerals) and government (through taxes and wills), recorded citizens; a few towns preserved documents from war devastation. For the first time, as average people learned to write, they started keeping family records. So it is the beginning for most surname databases.
With about twenty Hessian ancestor surnames that begin in the 1580s, I read about the history of their villages. Most were destroyed in the war, along with many family members. Based on data, most women and children survived. There are town documents of “war damage” reports as the dust settled. Some families rose in status, others perished.
History says that when villages were in the path of the marching armies, the women and children fled to a walled village for safety or a hidden refuge in the woods. But beyond knowing that, something happened in the late 1630s; finding out what happened is the hard part! I look specifically for the Giessen and Wetzlar regions of Hesse. The family numbers reflect that by the time of the treaty in 1648, it had been resolved for a while. Marriages and birthrates had gone back to normal.
In thinking about the experience of abandoning home for safety led me to have an image idea. Click here to see the full illustration. I changed the farm to a village, as both were vulnerable. The larger one better expresses the large army.
Determined to understand these beginnings, the early 1600s are the dawn of the modern era for many reasons:
• distribution of printed information
• rise in literacy
• improved weapons
• fall of feudalism
• increase of private ownership
• increase in diversity of religion
• consolidation of principalities
• beginning of urbanization
• end of the Renaissance
• setup for Age of Enlightenment in 1700s
• era of exploration prior to mass colonizations
How these qualities filter down to the lifestyles inherent in small villages is the true measure of change. The tragedy is to be the location of war after a long period of peace. Along with invasions came plague and starvation, so those who survived all of this were influential. The stories can be told in the data numbers and the comparison, or embellishment, of the history going on around it. Solving mysteries in the family charting means the effect of their context.
My exploration proceeds in “The Thirty Years War Reset.” It makes me want to know what happened to them, and I am sure many others with similar roots share such a fascination. —Always inspired, Liane
Beginning a historic portrait, I have illustrated some of the living residential treasures in Allendorf an der Lahn, Giessen Germany. With several family branches that go back to the late 1500s, the story against a tumultuous background is developing.
Please see these other examples of my informational illustrations:
“Search for Sebastian Surname” identifies my search for the origins of my surname, Sebastian, in Baden, Germany. Other than my ancestor that came to Milwaukee in 1845, it seems that back in the homeland, they may have perished. Unlike other surnames on my family tree, it is not easy to trace this one to now. I created this graphic to use in my appeal for information. I have isolated an individual in Germany that drops off the information records in the mid-1700’s. So this is a test to see if anyone in the network can offer assistance. I prepared a simple graphic to attract the eye versus just pose the question, and composed a blog entry with more detail.
“See the Clues: Dangerous Behavior of the Narcissist” identifies the insidious manipulations of the narcissist that are easy to miss. Don’t be a victim of this common personality disorder that undermines progress. As an artist, I have dealt with many in my career, and victimized by a few. The illustration is my visual depiction on how the narcissist manipulates. The article, “The Control of the Narcissist” is what to do about it. I also include a research project on the topic I wrote a few years ago that has helped many friends and associates who have suffered from the sting of narcissistic behavior.
Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.