Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lorig family lineage

Church in Biewer, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
[photo: courtesy of Google images]

Some of you may have wondered if the Lorig/Lorich family could be traced back further than the father of Henry Lorig (the immigrant) who was Franz Lorig, born about 1767 probably in Kordel or Biewer, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and his wife, Angela Zimmer who was christened in Biewer on 4 May 1778. Franz and Angela were married 26 May 1803 in Biewer. They had twelve children (see the earlier post on Henry Lorig). Franz died 10 February 1854 and Angela died just two years before on 21 January 1852. Both died in the town of Biewer. You will note that Henry left Germany for America the year before his father died. I do not have photos, portraits or even drawings of them or those who came before but I can trace the family back a few more generations.

Surnames are rather interesting. In the beginning people just used a given name but as more and more people had the same given names it became important to have a way to distinguish this John from that John so a second name was added. It could be descriptive such as John Baker, John Stout or telling us that this John came from a certain place, or was a soldier, or had red hair, or any number of things that would make him different from the John who lived and worked next door. As I mentioned in an previous post there is a small town named Lorich located near Biewer with Biewer being more or less a suburb of the larger city of Trier. I believe at some point in time the family originated from Lorich and took the name of the town as their fixed surname.* To date, however, I have not gone back far enough to find the first Lorig/Lorich living in that town.

This area of Germany is predominantly Roman Catholic and our Lorig/Lorich ancestors were Catholics. We are digging into a time long enough ago that Germany was not a truly unified country but was warring within itself with each small duchy fighting its neighbors. In addition to fighting among themselves they often fought with the French therefore from time to time the control of the area switched hands and the records changed from being written mostly in Latin and German to Latin and French or just German or French. A quarrelsome bunch of folks it seems, although we need to remember it was the ruling class that instigated the wars not the common people who were forced to fight them.

Franz Lorich born about 1767 was the son of Nicolaus Lorich, born 16 April 1737 in Kordel not very far from Biewer and Gertrud Adam, born 19 January 1740 in Biewer. They were married 24 January 1760 in Biewer. The first child I found listed in the records was Franz or Frans born about 1767.** I think it is most probable that there were at least two other children born earlier who may have died in infancy or who appear listed in another church register. So far I have only found two other children Maria Angela who is listed as a child but no birth or christening information is provided and Margaretha born about 1781. With this many years between the children I would be very surprised if we don’t eventually find several other children born into the family. With a 50% mortality rate among children a common factor, however, it is likely that about half of the children born into the family did not survive childhood.

Nicolaus Lorich was the son of Johannes sometimes written as Joes or Josephi Lorich born in Kordel about 1702 and his wife Anna Bartz daughter of Theodore Bartz. They were married 6 February 1726 at Kordel. Johannes and Anna had seven children:

1. Hubertus born 1727
2. Elisabeth born 1729
3. Mathias born 1731
4. Angela born 1733
5. Catharina born 1734
6. Nicolaus born 1737
7. Anna Maria born 1740

Johannes or Josephi Lorich was the son of Johannes Lorig born about 1680 and Eulolia Thespern. Johannes and Eulolia were married 26 January 1701 at Kordel. So far I have only found the one child listed for them.

Joahnnes Lorig was the son of Severius Lorig who was born about 1655. Severius’s wife’s name is not listed but one other child besides Johannes is, a girl named Anna.

This is as far as the Lorig line has been traced to date. I can also trace the maternal lines back to approximately the same time period.

Burg Eltz, Germany
[photo: courtesy of Google images]

This area along the Mosel River where the family lived is rich farmland mostly producing grapes for wine. It is beautiful scenic countryside with a meandering calm looking river winding its way through the lush farmland. There are a few schloss or castles too. The photo is of Burg Eltz. I thought this was near Leiwen (it was labeled as such on Google Images) which is in the same general area where our Lorigs lived but just learned from Stephan Lorig, a "cousin," in Germany that this is not the case. It is a lovely castle, however, so I have left the picture up.

Example of half-timbered buildings, Germany
[postcard sent by Jackie Allen]

The houses are half-timbered. Included above is a postcard sent by Jackie Allen when she was visiting Germany a few years ago. It is not from Biewer but does show the half-timbered buildings that would have been typical of the area where our Lorigs lived. Workdays would have begun at sunrise and ended at sunset. Meals would have been simple, probably a hearty bread, cheese, sausage, cabbages and onions for vegetables, perhaps a soup or stew, beer or wine with milk for children although children were often also given watered wine or mild beer to drink as well.

Many people even in the towns would have had a pig, chickens, perhaps a milk cow or goat and a small garden if possible. Dirty washing water and general refuse was simply tossed out the window to run down the gutters in the streets. The sanitation issues involved with living like this are mind boggling for those of us in the 21st century. Transportation would have been by foot with the rare cart or wagon. The people stayed were they were because each duchy taxed them if they moved and they often had to secure permission before they could move to a different place. Acceptable reasons for moving might be marriage for a woman or employment for a man. The tiny towns where our ancestors lived, worked, and died were within walking distance of each other. Men could be drafted into military service by the local ruling authority. Since the land was in turmoil a good part of the time this was a significant factor in their lives and a cause of migration later.



* Stephan Lorig suggested that the Lorig name may also be originally a reference to the son of a man named Laurenz or Lorenz rather than the name of the town Lorich. He has gathered information on the name and many of the people with the name Lorig. I thank him for sharing his information and hope to have more contact with him to add to what we know at this end.

**Just before and during WWII records about families in Germany were compiled in books called familienbuch. They list complete families much like modern census records but not always the month and day sometimes just the year for vital records such as births, marriages and deaths.

Please see previous posts about the Lorig family for more background and information about Walt, Clara and Harry their father, Edd, and grandfather, Henry.


  1. Such beautiful country! I hope we can visit some day.