Original document reveals more about York widow
My last post was on Barbara Smith/Schmidt/Schmith (c.1724-1798), the affluent widow who left nearly her entire estate to the Lutheran congregation [now Christ Lutheran Church] in York, including the funds specifically designated to purchase an organ. That organ, the last organ built by master organ builder David Tannenberg, is now at York County Heritage Trust, where it is used for free lunchtime concerts by members of the York Chapter, American Guild of Organists every Friday through August.
Even though Barbara’s estate papers, combined with those of her husband Joseph, who passed away in 1784, gives us an idea of their wealth and their religious affiliations (some of his estate went to local Roman Catholics), there is still a lot to be learned about the Smiths.
One fact, which could open the door to more research, was available, but I don’t think that anyone ever really looked at it before. It is the little paragraph reproduced above.
Which brings me to one of my favorite themes–always look at images of original documents whenever possible. A good clear photocopy or microfilm image or scanned image is best because then originals documents do not need to be handled. Transcriptions, especially translations of a language you don’t know, are invaluable, but errors can creep in, so sometimes you just need to check an image of the original.
The original document above?
It gives the heretofore unknown maiden name of Barbara Smith. Barbara had a codicil drawn up to her will to provide for her “trusty maid” Barbara Zeigler. One of Barbara Smith’s executors was Jacob Barnitz, Revolutionary War veteran, Register of Wills, Recorder of Deeds, etc. Barnitz wrote the notation above in German script on the back of the codicil and signed it J.B. It tells us that Anna Barbara Schmidt, widow, was born a Kautzmann in Teutschland [Deutschland=Germany] and died January 18, 1798 in her 73rd year.
I had trouble deciphering the place names, so I emailed the scan to my friend, Corinne Earnest, who is very good at reading German script. Since some place names in Germany have changed in 200 years, she was a little puzzled, but suggests that Berlichlingischer might refer to Berlichingen in Baden. She says it is near Schöntal northeast of Heilbronn on the Jagst River.
Now we have a good idea where Barbara came from. Her maiden name, Kautzmann, is another good clue to track both her and Joseph. There were Kautzmanns in Lancaster County fairly early on, and Joseph Smith left money to both the Lancaster and York Catholics.
Your just never know what will turn up.