The mystery of the Mortons

We’re taking another look at the mystery of the Morton family of Colchester in Essex, and their South African connections.

Over the last week or so, as you can see from the previous posts, we’ve been looking at the family of Val’s paternal grandmother, Emma le Sueur, formerly Green, formerly Chelin, born Decker. When we started looking into the family history, soon after we were married in 1974, she was our only survivang grandparent, and so we started with that side of the family, and within a couple of years had got down most of the (then) current generation in Southern Africa. A few years later a German genealogist helped us to trace one branch of them back to the Brandenberg Huguenots. But one branch we were stuck on was the Mortons.

Val’s gran and her surviving brother Cecil Decker, and her sisters, told varying stories. She told us her father was Edward Decker. Turned out he was actually Edwin Robert Morton Decker, and we found his baptism in King William’s Town. Grandmother and great aunts told us that Edwin’s father was De Nevard Decker, a Swedish nobleman, or a French nobleman, and that his wife Mary Morton came from Colchester in Essex and had an aunt or a sister who was Lady Mount, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.

St Botolph's Church, Colchester

We found August Decker’s death notice in the Cape Archives. Not a Swedish nobleman, but a German waiter, died at Mr S. Grussendorf’s house, no property, buried by public subscription. The real disappointment was the family connections — parents unknown, spouse unknown, one son, name unknown. Well, we found the link to the son in the King William’s Town Anglican baptism register, but also in the KWT museum we asked if they had anything not on display, and they had a card index of the German military settlers of 1857, and August Decker was there, and it said he came from Auerstedt in Prussia. We knew that a lot of the German military settlers of the British German Legion had come from Colchester Camp, where they had trained to fight in the Crimean War, and that gave us a date – 1856. So we wrote off to the General Register Office in England for the marriage certificate, and got it. August Decker and Mary Nevard Morton were married at St Botolph’s Church in Colchester on 31 Oct 1856. His father was Carl Decker, farmer. Her father was George Morton, gardener. That helped with the Decker family, but what about the Mortons?

Some time soon after that we trawled through microfilms of the 1851 census of Colchester at the LDS Family History Centre, but found nothing. Perhaps we missed it, perhaps we were looking in the wrong place. At that point we more or less gave up 0n the Mortons.

We visited Colchester when we went on holiday to the UK in 2005, and even looked in at St Botolph’s Church, where they were preparing for a play or a concert of something. We had heard many things about Essex girls, and wondered if their reputation had been the same in 1856, when Val’s great great grandmother got married. A sign in a shop window in Colchester seemed to confirm what we had been told about Essex girls.

After the death of her first husband, Mary Nevard Morton married another German military settler, Ernst Bergesheim or Burgersheim, from Stralsund in Prussia. At one point they ran the Butterworth Hotel in the Transkei, and she also ran the Waverley Hotel, between Tarkastad and Queenstown, and Val’s gran was brought up there after her father died when she was 8. Mary Burgersheim died in Durban during the flu epidemic of 1918.

Now, looking at that side of the family again, we did manage to get hold of the 1851 census which shows Mary Morton, aged 8, with her parents, George and Elizabeth Morton, both aged 45, and therefore born about 1806. Elizabeth came from Boxted, up near the Suffolk border (perhaps nearly not an Essex girl!). Mary had an older brother G. Fred, and an older sister Emma, aged 10. Her younger siblings were Thomas (3) and Catherine (1). And here’s where the mystery deepens.

If she was 8 in 1851, she was surely too young to get married in 1856, when she would have been only 13, even as a minor with her father’s permission. It must be the right family, unless there was another George Morton in Colchester who was a gardener and had a daughter Mary. And the FreeBMD site shows Mary Nevard Morton being born in 1843.

FreeBMD also shows an Emma Morton being born in 1838 (when we would have expected Mary to be born) and dying in 1839. Then there is Mary Nevard Morton in the June Quarter of 1843. Emma is dead, long live Emma. She shows up alive and well and aged 10 in the 1851 census.

And get this: on the same index page as Mary Nevard Morton’s marriage to August Decker, TWO Emmas married a George David Julius Casdorff — Emma Morton and Emma Rodwell. As if that were not enough, on the previous page of the FreeBMD index, an Elizabeth Mount Decker married another German. Perhaps she was the “Lady Mount”!

It looks as though we will need to order the other two marriage certificates, as well as Mary Nevard Morton’s birth certificate to see what happened.

One of the interesting stories about the German military settlers is that some of them were married on board ship (presumably to Essex girls) just before the ship sailed. At the end of the ceremony one of the ship’s officers remarked to the chaplain who married them that he thought some of them were holding the wrong hands. “Don’t worry,” said the chaplain, they can sort themselves out when they get outside.” The result was that a special Act had to be passed by the Cape Pasrliament, to remove doubts concerning the marriages of certain German settlers. Now I’m wondering if there wasn’t a similar chaotic scene in St Bololph’s Church, with hundreds of German soldiers marrying Essex girls, and perhaps two Emmas marrying poor old George Casdorff. And somewhere, in the back of my mind, is a memory of one of the documents in the family history being signed by a George Castorff, as a witness or something.

And one last thought. Val’s middle name was Muriel, and it was said that she was given it after her paternal grandmother, Emma Muriel Decker. And perhaps the Emma came from her aunt. But there are more mysteries. When she signed for her share of the Koch inheritance (see earlier post), a fifth of a sixth of a third, she signed Emma Isabel. So we thought we would order her birth certificate to see what names she was registered with. The certificate came back with a rubber stamp in the space for the first names: Not Stated. Attempts to see if she was in the baptism register for Butterworth in 1900 were not successful. Perhaps we should try again. But at any rate we now have a lot of things to try for on that side of the family.

Schultz, Koch and related families of the Eastern Cape

Last week I had a phone call from someone in the USA, asking about the Boyle family of the Eastern Cape.

I said as far as I knew we had no Boyle ancestors, but we did have a relative who married a Boyle. It was so long ago that we had looked at that branch of the family tree that I had to look it up, and yes, it was Phyllis Elaine Witte who had married Denis Richmond Boyle. We had no record of Denis Boyle’s parents, so I promised our caller that I’d try to contact people on that side of the family, and let her know. Most of the addresses we had were out of date, but I searched the web, and managed to find the daughter of Denis Richmond Boyle and Phyllis Elaine Witte and sent her a message, and she told us that her mother had died the previous day. That seemed terribly sad, somehow, and yet that so often happens in family history. You try to make contact with a relative, for the first time ever, or for the first time in many years, only to find that they have died the week or even the day before.

Phyllis Elaine Boyle (nee Witte) was the daughter of Albert Witte and Amy Amelia Koch (1885-1966), and there the story gets complicated, because Justine (Jessie) Schultz and her daughter married two Koch brothers. I’ve told the story more fully on our Posterous site here, where it is possible to illustrate it by means of family group sheets.

When we started researching our family history we spoke to Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur (born Decker) and she told us that her mother was Jessie Falkenberg, and so was her grandmother. But her father died when she was 8 years old, and the kids were all split up, and she was brought up by her grandmother on her father’s side, Mary Nevard Decker, who ran the Waverley hotel between Queenstown and Tarkastad, so she knew little about her mother’s side of the family. She did know that her grandmother Jessie Falkenberg had remarried a Koch when her first husband died, and told us that “the Kochs got all the money”.

On a trip the the Cape in 1975 we visited archives and looked at church registers to get more details. Among other things we found that it wasn’t true that the Kochs got all the money — Charles John Koch’s will was scrupulously fair in the way he divided things between his children and stepchildren, and Val’s gran had signed for her share, which was a fifth of a sixth of a third, and was a little over £43.

On the way back from Cape Town we visited relatives we had discovered in the Eastern Cape, and during a lengthened sojourn in East London due to a car breakdown we found and chatted to Lil Falkenberg, Val’s gran’s first cousin, and the same age (born 1900). She had lived in the Eastern Cape all her life, and knew most of the family there, and told us about them all, and promised to write to those she hadn’t been in touch with for a while and get up-to-date information on all of them, which she did.

So Lil Falkenberg’s information was the basis of most of what we have in our family tree, and some of the cousins she wrote to later wrote directly to us, and so expanded the information.

But that was 35 years ago, and families don’t stand still. The older generation die. Lil Falkenberg died in 1977, two years after we met her. Val’s gran died in 1980, 30 years ago. Meanwhile the younger generation, the cute toddlers we were told about in letters from Lil Falkenberg and other cousins, have grown up and married and/or had kids of their own, and so we’re losing the older generation and losing track of the younger generations.

So we’re trying to do catch-up, and ask all descendants of Justine Wilhelmine Schultz (1849-1927) to get in touch and let us have news of their side of the family, especially since about 1975-1980. Justine Wilhelmine Schultz (alias Jessie Schultz) married first Michael John Christian Falkenberg, and then Charles John Koch, by whom she had another four children. And her daughter Emily Falkenberg married John Daniel Koch (Charles John Koch’s brother) and had nine children. There is more information about them on our Wiki pages. So it’s their descendants we are looking for to update the family tree. And to those who are keen family historians among them, we can give information on earlier generations, going back to the Huguenots. You can see what we have already on our Posterous site, where you can download the last of descendants we have. If you know of any that aren’t listed, please let us know so we can add them.

Germans in the Eastern Cape

There’s a new website on Germans in the Eastern Cape. Or perhaps I should rather say that it is an old site that has been revamped and moved to a new address.

Two groups of German settlers came to the Eastern Cape (well, the part of it then called British Kaffraria) in 1858/59. The first to arrive were the military settlers of the British German Legion, who had been recruited to fight in the Crimean War, but the war ended before they could be deployed, so it was decided to send them to the Eastern Cape instead. The civilian settlers followed about a year or two later. The web site explains the background to the emigration of both groups, and gives quite detailed information on the military settlers.

Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur (formerly Greene, formerly Chelin, born Decker) descended from both groups. Her Decker ancestors were among the military settlers, being Carl August Decker, who married Mary Nevard Morton in Colchester just before leaving (the British Germaon Legion was trained at Colchester in Essex). The civilian settlers included the Falkenberg and Schultz families from the Ueckermark in Brandenberg. The Schultz family were of French Huguenot descent, and they are the ones we know most about in the earlier generations, but practically nothing since they arrived in South Africa.

We’ve also discovered other links, not direct ancestors, but people who married into other branches of the family. Another of the military settlers was Captain Carl Arthur von Lilienstein. He was a customs official in Holstein 1839-1848, then joined the British German Legion and led a party of 100 military settlers to Berlin in British Kaffraria in 1857. He was also a Count (Graf). His daughter Ida married Henry Green, brother of Val’s great great grandfather Frederick Thomas Green.

The Falkenberg and Schultz families came on the Wilhelmsburg, which sailed from Hamburg on 19 October 1858, and arrived in East London on 13 January 1859. According to the web site, 64 children and one adult died on the voyage. We know that one of the children who died was a member of the Schultz family, three-year-old Wilhelmine Caroline Schultz, because she was on the embarkation list at Hamburg, but not on the disembarkation list at East London. The web site does not give details of the children who travelled, just the parents, though perhaps one day it may be possible to include the complete passenger lists for both ends of the voyage.

A quite recent discovery we have made is that a Devantier family on board the Wilhelmsburg was related to the Schultz family. It is possible that several other families who emigrated may have been related as well. And ironically, though we have been able to trace the Schultz ancestry furthest back, to Calais and Flanders in the mid-17th century, once they reached South Africa they all vanished without trace, all, that is except for Justine (nicknamed Jessie), nine years old on the voyage out, who married Christian Falkenberg after his first wife died, though we haven’t been able to find a record of that marriage either. So if anyone sees anything possibly related to this Schultz family, please contact us!

Family Group Record for Martin Schultz


Husband Martin Schultz-[26]


           Born: 11 Aug 1822 - Wendemark, , , Germany
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

         Father: Martin Schultz-[25] (Abt 1781-          )
         Mother: Marie Payard-[23] (1785-          )

       Marriage: 9 Jun 1844 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia [MRIN:13]

Events


1. Emigration, on Wilhelmsburg, 19 Oct 1858 – Hamburg, Germany


Wife Justine Holtzendorff-[37]


            AKA: Justine Holzendorf
           Born: 16 Dec 1825 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:  - Cape Colony
         Buried:

         Father: Friedrich Holtzendorff-[36] (Abt 1788-1846)
         Mother: Dorothea Kaeding-[35] (1796-          )

Events


1. Emigration, Ship Wilhelmsburg, 19 Oct 1858 – Hamburg, Germany


Children


1 F Wilhelmine Luise Schultz-[38]


           Born: 3 Sep 1844 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: 14 Nov 1850 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
         Buried:

2 M Wilhelm Friedrich Schultz-[39]


           Born: 3 Aug 1847 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

3 F Justine Wilhelmine Schultz-[40]


            AKA: Jessie Schultz
           Born: 22 Jun 1849 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: 21 Apr 1927 - East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
         Buried:
         Spouse: Michael John Christian Falkenberg-[44] (1827-1882)
           Marr:  [MRIN:20]
         Spouse: Charles John Koch-[336] (          -1940)
           Marr: Mar 1883 [MRIN:19]

4 F Marie Luise Schultz-[41]


           Born: 22 Jun 1852 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:

5 F Wilhelmine Caroline Schultz-[42]


           Born: 9 May 1855 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died: Abt 1858 - At Sea
         Buried:

6 M Karl Wilhelm August Schulz-[43]


            AKA: August Schultz
           Born: 2 Jan 1858 - Meichow, Ückermark, Brandenburg, Prussia
       Baptised:
           Died:
         Buried:


General Notes (Husband)


Knecht und Tagelõhner in Meichiow, emigrated to the Cape Colony with his family in 1858.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2008

There’s more on the Falkenberg family here and here, and more about the Decker family here.

Decker family of the Eastern Cape

Clyde Hannan left a comment about a school friend of his, Ben Decker, who lives in Transkei. As far as I know he isn’t related, but it prompted me to start a page for the Decker family on the family Wiki.

Val’s grandmother was Emma Decker (1900-1980), who married Joseph Theodore Christopher Chelin in Bulawayo, then Allan Dudley Greene, and finally Ed le Sueur.  Her grandfather, August Decker, came to South Africa with the British German Legion in the 1850s with his wife Mary Nevard Morton, whom he married at Colchester, Essex.  They had one son, Edwin Robert Morton Decker, and he died a few years later.

A quiet week

Not too much to report on the family history front over the last couple of weeks. We’ve been recovering after Easter and all the pigging out in bright week. You can say what you like about Easter eggs — I like mine fried, with bacon. Actually our Bright Week breakfast was the BEST breakfast: Bacon, Egg, Sausage and Tomato.

Taking some people back home after the Easter vigil at about 3:30 AM we fell into a hole in the road, because another car would choose just that place to come down the hill with its lights on bright, and the streetlights were out too. So I’ve had an enforced stay at home after buying two new tyres and waiting for the wheel to be repaired.

And then yesterday the Internet went off again. No, not again, we said. We increased out limit from 2 Gig to 3 Gig, but it still ran out. So while waiting to get that sorted out, I spent less time on line and played around with askSam for Windows, the program I use to record a lot of information in the archives etc. I used to use askSam for DOS — still do, in fact, and find it easier to use. But the new Windows printers don’t print from DOS programs, so you have to go through all, the schlep of outputting to a file, and then pulling it into a Windows program like Wordpad to print. So I thought I’d play with the Windows version, and it’s producing some quite decent reports now. But, unlike the DOS version, it’s not so easy to just pull the output into e-mail and send it to family members around the world. But if I keep playing with it, maybe I’ll find out. I’ve been using the DOS version for 16 years now, and it’s still hard to beat for sheer usefulness. I use it more than any other program.

And then we did get an e-mail from Val’s cousin Peter Decker, which was very encouraging. We visited his father 30 years ago, just after we got married, and pumped him for information about the family, but then he moved away and we lost touch, and so having his son contact us was a nice surprise.

Now our internet connection is working again, so I’m writing this after a couple of disconnected days, but looking at the usage I suspect that it may be caused by spyware or something like that. The uploads are tracking the downloads, which makes it look as though someone is using one of our computers to disseminate spam or something, so we’re updating our antivirus and anti spyware programs.

Falkenberg breakthrough – after 30 years

When we first started doing family history, soon after we were married, we asked Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur about her ancestors. She often couldn’t remember their names, but she remembered what they had died of and what pills they took. But she did tell us that her mother was Jessie Falkenberg and her father was Edward Decker (and that he had died when she was about 8, at Covimvaba).

About a year later, with special permission from the magistrate (I was banned at the time) we went to Cape Town on holiday, stopping to visit relations and do family history on the way. We visited Violet McDonald, a Growdon relative, in Queenstown, and spent a morning looking through the parish registers at St Michael’s Anglican Church, and right away got lucky. We found not only Growdons, but Falkenbergs as well. lots of them. Jessie Decker, nee Falkenberg, was there, though it turned out that her full name was actually Justine, along with several brothers and sisters. Her father was Michael John Christian Falkenberg, and her mother was also Justine, alias Jessie.

We recorded all this, and went on to Cape Town, where in the archives we found more about them in death notices and immigration lists.

Michael John Christian Falkenberg came from Germany in 1858, with his wife Dorothea and 3-year-old son Friedrich. But at some point his wife had died and he had remarried to Justine Schultz, who had come over on the same ship with her family, but was 9 years old at the time. He married her when she was about 15, but we still have not been able to discover where.

On our way home again we called at Stutterheim, and there found a grave for a Frederike Falkenberg, born Luthow. The age was right, so could she have been Michael John Christian Falkenberg’s first wife? But the name was different — Dorothea/Frederike?

We traced descendants of both wives. But ancestors were harder. They were in East Germany, and the government there did not encourage genealogical research, and communication was difficult. But a Mr Hans Georg Bleibaum in West Germany was interested in South Africa-Germany connections, and offered to help. He sent a parcel of groceries to an East German researcher, who found the Schultz ancestors, and then a Martin Schultz who married a Marie Payard and traced the Payard side back to the Huguenots in the 17th century.

But the Falkenberg side was a dead end.

Then, last week, along came Peter Woddow. He asked in a South African genealogy mailing list about Germans from the Ueckermark who had settled in South Africa. I mentioned the Falkenbergs to him, and within a short time he had confirmed for us that Frederike and Dorothea Falkenberg, born Luthow, were one and the same person, solving the mystery of the grave we saw in Stutterheim more than 30 years ago.

And now he has given the parents, brothers, and sisters of Michael Johann Christian Falkenberg, which we had despaired of ever finding.

Oh, incidentally, on our trip in 1975, we also visited King William’s Town and found the baptism of Val’s grandmother’s father, who turned out to be Edwin, not Edward. Edwin Robert Morton Decker, to be precise.

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