Tag Archives: Germany

April 16, 1521: Martin Luther arrives at the Diet of Worms.

April 16, 1521: German reformer Martin Luther arrives at the Diet of Worms, convinced he would get the hearing he requested in 1517 to discuss the abuse of indulgences and his “95 Theses.” He was astounded when he discovered it would not be a debate, but rather a judicial hearing to see if he wished to recant his words. In defending himself the next Day , Luther said, “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning . . . then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen!” When negotiations over the next few Day s failed to reach any compromise, Luther was condemned (see issue 34: Luther’s Early Years).

http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/today/april-16.html

The origins of my grandmother’s paternal line has been lost to later generations — until now.

The German Connection

hay_catechism_book_edit

Using a multidisciplinary approach, including DNA and a family religious artifact, helped me confirm that my grandmother’s paternal line had its origins in Germany.

The artifact is a book, printed in Philadelphia in 1814 with text in German. This alone is significant. The language is not American English. This is German.

When I first saw this, after a copy of it was reproduced in a book on the family history called Michael Hay and His Descendants, I knew that I had to pursue this. I had to unravel this story.

One of the compiler’s of the book, Lucy Bayley, lived in Oregon. And one day years ago my grandmother, her brother Everett, and I made the short road trip to her home. She was welcoming, but when I began asking questions about the family, she was reticent to give much information.

She was publishing a book and did not want to share, as if I was a competitor. It was a strange experience. I certainly had no intentions of publishing a book. But she treated me like a spy. So I was frustrated. Grandma said that I should just let her handle it.

Funnily, when the book was finally released, many in our branch of the family were disappointed. It was a typical genealogical book, with a bunch of names and dates, but little else. And there were some errors. I much prefer a narrative format, rather than the routine one.

This is not to say that the book is without merit. The first few pages are worthwhile and quite informative. These include maps and photographs, of land where our ancestors farmed and the long-neglected cemetery on private land where many were buried, more than a century ago.

Lucy was convinced of a Scottish connection, that the family had been in Scotland, part of the Hay clan apparently, but had then relocated to Germany. She was obsessed with this theory. To this day I have no idea if there is one. But I have seen no evidence of it.

However, the link with Germany is solid. I convinced my great uncle, the same one who made the journey to visit Lucy, to submit his DNA, and the results proved a link to a man named Kettering, who had traced his line back to a particular place in Germany.

So now I am working on a translation of this catechism book. I don’t know if I can do it on my own, using online translators such as Google Translate. But I am gonna try.

ajh

I’ve been wondering. I’ve been trying to learn more about the Jews in my ancestors’ neighborhood. ✡

A photograph of a street with the surrounding shops and homes in the town where my great grandparents married in 1880 before emigrating to the United States. The German name is Bütow. It is now within Poland and the Polish name is Bytów. In America it is often known as Buetow.I just learned that the town in Germany where my great-great grandparents married in 1880 did indeed have a synagogue, which was destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, when the Nazis encouraged people to target the Jews after the assassination of the German ambassador in Paris. I am hoping to learn some of the names of these people, the Jews of Bütow.

ajh