Michael and Magdalena

Little is known about Michael Noehl and Magdalena Hoffman, a couple who spent their married life in the village of Holsthum, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Holsthum was described by one of their sons as “situated in a lovely valley of rich agricultural land, crowned with fruit trees, and further off, with magnificent forests, between nurseries and rose plantations.” Even now it remains a quaint, pastoral village.

Michael Noehl, one of at least eight children of Johannes Noehl and Elisabeth Gierens, was born in Niederstedem, Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on 22 June 1828. Nothing is known of his childhood, but as a young man, he entered the military. According to the memoirs of his son, Michael served as a Prussian soldier in Koblenz between the years 1847-1851; during the Baden Revolution in 1848, he stood sentry at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

After his service, Michael married Magdalena Hoffman, who was born on 21 Jul 1833 in Holsthum, one of at least four children of Mathias Hoffman and Magdalena Ehr. Michael and Magdalena were married on 12 February 1857; Michael was twenty-eight and Magdalena twenty-three at the time of their marriage, which was recorded at Schankweiler. The Schankweiler Klaus is an eighteenth-century chapel and hermitage tucked into the forest approximately two miles from the village of Holsthum, and still stands today.

Schankweiler, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany photograph, 2009; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

Together, the couple had seven sons: Mathias (1858), Michael (1860), Nikolaus (1864), Nikolaus (1866), Mathias (1868), Johann (1870), and Jakob (1873). Notably, despite name repetition among their sons, it is believed that all survived to adulthood. (This is not the first case of name repetition among children of this region that I have observed.)

Mathias Noehl (1868-1950), second from right, with brothers, perhaps Nikolaus, Johan, and Jakob Noehl, Holsthum, Germany, 1938; digital image 2009, privately held by Roland Noehl, Holsthum, Germany, 2009.

A great-grandson of Michael and Magdalena remembered being told that Michael was a forester, and Magdalena certainly had her hands full raising seven sons, but few details are known of their adult lives. One of their sons recalled completing school at the age of fourteen and going to work herding sheep to help his parents pay off a debt on their property; later this same son was apprenticed to a rose grower, so it may be assumed that their other sons were similarly established with apprenticeships.

Michael saw several of his siblings immigrate to America in the nineteenth century; his sister Susanna and his brothers Matthias and Johann all settled in Minnesota. Likewise, Magdalena saw a paternal aunt and a paternal uncle immigrate to Minnesota and Iowa. Later, Michael and Magdalena bade farewell to two of their own children who left their homeland to try their luck on American soil: Michael in 1881 and Mathias (1868) in 1886. From these two sons then came fifteen American grandchildren whom Michael and Magdalena never had the opportunity to meet.

Michael and Magdalena lived out their lives in Holsthum, surviving at least to their sixties, as it is known that their son Mathias came from America to visit in 1894 and found them in good health at that time. To the best of my knowledge, however, their graves, according to German custom, have long since been recycled and are no longer marked.

Copyright © 2022 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

SOURCES

Buscher, Richard F. and Paul Hart, Bush: Forester for Wilderness (Oregon: Richard Buscher and Paul Hart, 2021). Richard F. Buscher is a great-grandson of Michael and Magdalena (Hoffmann) Noehl.

“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2022), manifest, S.S. Noordland, Antwerp, Belgium, to New York, arriving 28 May 1886, Mathias Nocke [Noehl], line 450; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 495.

Noehl, Mathias. “Memoirs.” MS. New Hampton, Iowa, ca. 1938-1950. Privately held by Melanie Frick. Note: Excerpts from an unpaginated German to English translation. Mathias Noehl (1868) was a son of Michael and Magdalena (Hoffmann) Noehl.

Marriage Record, “Kirchenbuch, 1697-1939,” digital images, FamilySearch.org (www.familysearch.org : accessed 26 October 2021), marriage of Michael Noehl and Magdalena Hoffmann, 1857, Schankweiler, Germany; citing Katholische Kirche Schankweiler (Kr. Bitburg), FHL microfilm 556050. Record accessed via the Family History Library Remote Access Request Team.

Pick, Thomas, “Families in Holsthum, Eifel, Germany,” index, Homepage for Eifel Birth and Marriage Data (https://freepages.rootsweb.com/~pick/genealogy/holsthum.txt : accessed 25 March 2022).

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