Searching and Serendipity
Among Uncle Hugo's notes is a scrap of paper that says his grandmother, Barbara Wirth, was from "Mandel, Bavaria". However, there is no Mandel in Bavaria. There are a couple of villages named "Mandl" and there is a town named Mandel in another part of Germany. But while researching another family in Cedarburg church records, by chance I found a John Paul Wirth, whose father had the same name as Barbara's: Bartholmäus Wirth. And it said he was from "Mantel, Bavaria". There are in fact two villages named Mantel in Bavaria. But for these Cedarburg church records, all I had access to was someone's typed transcription of the originals, so I wasn't sure how reliable they were. Which spelling was correct?
Then I found Barbara's marriage record in the Trinity (Milwaukee) church records. Her father's birthplace looked like "Mandel" or "Mandele", but could have been "Mantel[e]" too. Her mother's name wasn't listed, but her mother's birthplace was given as "Colburg". There is no place with that name in Bavaria, but there are several named "Kohlberg" or with similar spellings. And there is only one place in Bavaria where a Mantel/Mandl was near a Kohlberg: in the Oberpfalz region, near the city of Weiden, where Mantel and Kohlberg are only a few miles apart.
Barbara's death certificate supplied one more clue: her mother's maiden name was listed as "Margaret Kunz".
The Lutheran Church of Bavaria has an archive which has a website; it indicated that the archive did not have the church records for Mantel. So I wrote to the archive asking whom I should contact. They wrote back and provided the address for the church in Weiden. (This was early in 2003, when Lucy and I were starting to plan our trip to Germany.)
I wrote to the Weiden church, and a few weeks later got a reply from the church in Mantel. It seemed like I did have the right place, though there was some confusion: Bartholomäus's wife was named Elisabeth Kunz, who was from Kohlberg. Margarethe Kunz was married to a Johann Paul Wirth--though presumably not the same one I found in Cedarburg. The letter gave the name and address of Oskar Kammerer in Mantel, who (it said) was also researching this family.
By this time (late March) we had our itinerary set, and had planned to spend one night in Weiden. I wrote to Oskar, to see if were related, and to find out if I could see the Mantel church books. A few weeks went by, and then I got an email from Oskar's daughter, Renate Pöhnl. We were, indeed, cousins. This was my first contact with one of my German relatives.
John Bartelt 2006-01-30