Gronau from above

Marquardt Meet Gronau

This is a guest post from my father. Warning: if your last name isn’t Marquardt this will be pretty boring for you.

This weekend I’ve been staying with Dave and Sasha in Bonn, Germany. Dave got interested in genealogy in the last year through Mom’s common interest. Dave traced the paternal Marquardt lineage to Gronau, Germany. (Say GROW now). Gronau is roughly an hour south of Frankfurt, in the Hessen region. Even though my entire family bought some story that we came from Alsace Lorraine, Dave traced us back to Gronau, Germany.

Dave and Sasha visited Gronau in May. They visited local cemeteries and found a book about the Marquardt family and Gronau.

Dave and I decided to visit Gronau on my visit to Bonn. Gronau is a town of about 1200 people along a mountainous road that was a major north south passage for centuries. Dave tracked down one of the oldest living Marquardts in the area and the pastor of the local church. He set up meetings with each for this weekend.

Our lineage traces back to Hans Caspar Marquardt who was born in 1624. We visited the house where he lived in Gronau. He was the mayor of Gronau between 1680 to 1693. He died in 1693. He lived during the time of the 30 Years’ War that raged across Continental Europe as the Catholics struggled for political domination of Germany’s Protestants. The inhabitants of Gronau were plagued by hunger, disease and attacks by the troops passing through. By the end of the war, 20% of Germany’s population lost their lives. It was a very hard time to live. In 1694, Hans’ 7 year old grand daughter froze to death while begging on the street behind the family house.

School was important during this time. It was organized by the church. Teachers were often hard to fine. The pastor was in charge of the school.

St. Anna’s (the church of Gronau)

Hans’ son was Johann Dietrich Marquardt. Johann was born in Gronau in 1668 when his dad was 43. He didn’t get married until he was 34 but the next year had the first of ten children. Eight of those children died before they were one year old. Johann died in Gronau in 1745 after a long 77 years.

Gronau began to re-build in 1700 and the population began to increase. In 1708 the population of the town was 150. By 1715 the population was 161.

One of Johann’s children, number 9 of the 10 kids, was Georg Frederich Marquardt, born in Gronau in 1714 when his dad was dad was 46. Georg, a road builder, had four children.

Georg’s son was Johann David Marquardt, born in Gronau in 1744, when his dad was 30. He had four children in 12 years. He died in 1818 at the age of 73.

Johann David’s fourth son was Johannes. Johannes was born in 1782. He had nine sons and five daughters.

It’s all in German. But you can pick out Marquardt and Johann David in the middle paragraphs

Our branch came to the United States through Johannes Marquardt. He was born in 1782 in Gronau and died in 1855 in Whetstone, Kentucky at the age of 73. Johannes was the only one of Georg’s four children that went to the U.S. Johannes had nine sons and five daughters. His 14 kids were all born in Gronau, the last being born in 1825. Sometime thereafter he took his surviving children (a few died as children) to Kentucky. Huge numbers of Germans, including some Marquardts, emigrated to the U.S. and Denmark from Gronau in that time period as a result of famine and the search for a better life.

One of Johannes’ 14 children was Philip Marquardt. He was born in Gronau in 1814. He was married in Montgomery County, Ohio in 1840 and fathered nine children. He died in Dayton, Ohio in 1895 at the age of 80. He’s Williard Marquardt’s grandfather.

William Frederick Marquardt was the third of Philip’s nine kids. He was born in 1847 when Philip was 32. He also had nine children. He died at the age of 84 in Marysville, Ohio and was buried in Dayton. He was my great grandfather.

My grandfather, Willard Horace Marquardt, was born in June 20, 1890 in Dayton. He married Enid Mae Gilbert and they had five children — Elizabeth Lou, Willard Horace, David Gilbert, Richard Frederick, and Robert Louis. Willard died on January 10, 1936 at the age of 45.

Heidi and Wilhelm Marquardt

Back to our trip to Gronau… Dave had set up a meeting with Wilhelm and Heidi Marquardt. Wilhelm was born in 1935. They showed up with a huge poster which had our family lineage from the 1600’s to the 1800’s. It matched exactly the family tree that Dave had put together. We both traced our history back to Georg Frederich Marquardt. Wilhelm came from Georg’s son, Johann Peter Marquardt, and we came from Georg’s son, Johann David Marquardt.

Wilhelm was a cool dude. He was a farmer. He grew a number of crops but grapes for wine was one of the principle ones. He wore a funny German hat. He was cheery and was interested in our common history and what we did now.

We met Wilhelm and Heidi in the town church. It was built in 1836. We went through their Marquardt geneology poster and compared the names that David had in his ancestry app. Then we went with them to see Hans Caspar’s house in town. There was a full page picture of the same house in Dave’s Gronau/Marquardt book. It was amazing to think the house was built in the 1600’s. The house next door was still in the Marquardt family, but the current family had a different name, as a woman inherited it at some point.

Hintergasse Hausnummer 26, where it all began.

We also went with Wilhelm and Heidi to the town cemetery. There were quite a few Marquardt head stones. The headstones were all from the last fifty years. Families have to pay a fee to keep the headstone in place after a certain number of years. Otherwise they get tossed for new ones. Not too many old ones were left.

There were a couple Marquardts on a memorial of soldiers who died in WWII. I guess that means they were fighting for der Fuhrer. (The dark side of the family history.)

There was a branch of the family that broke off to Denmark about the same time Johannes brought our branch to the United States. A couple years ago Wilhelm and Heidi had visitors in town from Denmark doing the same thing we were.

After we finished talking to Wilhelm and Heidi, we went back to the town church for our appointment with the pastor. She had only lived in the town for about a year, but she wanted to show us some books she had in a locked bookcase in the basement. In the bookcase were handwritten books that listed all the services of the church over the years — baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. We grabbed the books for the 1600 and 1700’s. All the entries were in chronological order, so we took the birth and death dates we had with the names in Dave’s ancestry app, and found the same names in her books. It was pretty cool paging through the entries from the 1600’s to find the handwritten names for our ancestors. The pastor told us a little more about life in the area over the Centuries, the local economy, and stories about her congregation.

The towns of Germany seem to be void of young people. The young people have moved to the major cities. In 2012, the birth rate in Germany was 1.38 births per woman — one of the lowest rates in the world. These little towns may have limited futures. Gronau doesn’t have any restaurants so we went to a town next door for lunch. I was by far the youngest person in the crowded restaurant. We bought a couple bottles of a white wine from Gronau. It was pretty good!

So goodbye French heritage. Hello German roots. It was great to connect with our ancestral home. All Marquardts should make the visit.

Welcome to Gronau!
Like what you read? Give Dave a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.