The theme for Week 6 of the 2015 edition of the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge is “So Far Away”. This theme asked “Which ancestor is farthest away from you either in distance or time/generations?” My answer would have to be my 14th great-grandfather, Six Welshofer. I found it quite appropriate that a man with the first name of Six would be fit the theme for Week 6! At sixteen generations back, he is definitely the ancestor who is farthest away from me. I find the concept of sixteen generations mind-blowing since my goal when I started researching my family history was to discover where my eight great-grandparents were born in Europe.
This is the part of the weekly post where I regale my readers with the story of my ancestor’s life and explain why I chose them for this week’s theme. However, I have one problem in telling Six’s story – there aren’t enough facts to fashion a life story. I am not even certain of his birth or death dates. What is known, however, based on the house histories for the town of Armetshofen in Bavaria, is that a man named Six Welshofer, a farmer, existed and lived in the town. He is assumed to have been born approximately in 1487 based on when he appears in the town’s history. I don’t have evidence of his death date, but the name of his son and the next several generations were recorded in the house-owner history of the town.
While I don’t know anything about the man who was Six Welshofer and the dates are mostly unknown until the 1600’s, I know that names that make up his line of descent lead down to me. Five generations of Welshofer men after Six lead to a female descendent. From there, another five generations of females lead to my 3rd great-grandfather. The final six generations from him to me are three pairs of fathers and daughters. So, in the absence of a story about the man named Six, I’d like to present his line of descent ~
Line of Descent
- Six Welshofer, b. circa 1487, born & died in Armetshofen
- Georg Welshofer, b. circa 1515, born & died in Armetshofen
- Johann Welshofer, b. circa 1555, born & died in Armetshofen
- Georg Welshofer, b. circa 1600 in Armetshofen, d. Dachau
- Johann Welshofer, b. circa 1620 in Armetshofen, d. 16.04.1662 in Viehhausen
- Ursula Welshofer, b. circa 1640s in Viehhausen, d. 22.10.1688 Webling, m. Wolf Hintermayr in 1661
- Maria Hintermayer, b. circa 1660s in Webling, d. 11.07.1735 in Breitenau, m. Martin Jaiß in 1694
- Katharina Jaiß, b. 06.07.1696 in Breitenau, d. 29.11.1739 in Breitenau, m. Johann Märkl in 1724
- Rosina Märkl, b. 28.02.1734 in Breitenau, d. 05.04.1808 in Röhrmoos, m. Andreas Baumgartner in 1751
- Anna Baumgartner, b. circa 1755 in Röhrmoos, d. 07.12.1793 in Schönbrunn, m. Jakob Sedlmair in 1780
- Katharina Sedlmair, b. 22.04.1781 in Schönbrunn, d. ? in Prittlbach, m. Josef Dallmayr in 1818
- Josef Dallmayr, b. 02.03.1819 in Prittlbach, d. ? in Asbach
- Ursula Dallmayr, b. 21.09.1846 in Asbach, d. 21.01.1911 in Regensburg, m. Josef Bergmeister in 1871
- Josef Bergmeister, b. 12.02.1873 in Vohburg a.d. Donau, d. 30.05.1927 in Philadelphia, PA, United States
- Margaret Bergmeister, b. 11.04.1913 in Philadelphia, PA, d. 14.01.1998 in Philadelphia, PA, m. James Pointkouski in 1934
- James Pointkouski (my father)
- Donna Pointkouski
Looking at the names and town names for Six Welshofer’s descendants offers a great history lesson on what life was like in Bavaria from the 16th through the 19th centuries. In fact, these lessons match my research on another family line in the Bavarian town of Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm in which I used church records to get back to the 1600’s (research on Six’s line has been primarily through town histories). Comparing the information I found in both places leads me to make a few generalizations about what life was like during that time and in that place:
- Men usually lived and died in the town of their birth – but they did move, and when they did it was usually for their profession or if they were not the eldest son inheriting the land from their father.
- Occasionally a man “married up” and moved to a different town to marry a wife of a higher social status
- Women generally moved from the town of their birth to a nearby town in order to marry someone. After marriage, they would have a lot of children (by today’s standards)!
- Infant mortality was very high.
- When either spouse died young, they remarried – quickly!
In my ancestral line back to Six, it was his great-great grandson Johann Welshofer that apparently moved from the ancestral town of Armetshofen. He moved to Viehhausen, about 85 miles northwest of his birthplace, and got married there. My line after Johann switches to six generations of females, and all but one move to a different town to get married (and live the rest of their lives there). Only Johann’s great-granddaughter marries and dies in the town of her birth (Breitenau). Her story illustrates several of my generalizations listed above. She gave birth to 9 children in 10 years, but only five survived past infancy. She died at the age of 44 (leaving children aged 4, 5, 12, 14, and one who’s age is unknown). Her widower remarries seven weeks later! But her daughter from that marriage (the 5-year-old), lives to the age of 74 and outlives her own daughter.
After that first move up north to Viehhausen, the family moved back down towards Dachau (Armetshofen) in the next generation. All of the town names in the following generations are all in this general area – until generation #13 when my great-great grandmother moved to Regensburg – near Viehhausen. The biggest move of all comes from her son, my immigrant to Philadelphia.
It’s certainly hard to fathom sixteen generations. And humbling to realize that someone who lived and died so long ago made it somehow possibly for my own life in my time and place five hundred years later.
Written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition– Week 6: So Far Away